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The Benefits Of Non-Exclusive Dating

February 25, 2010

Earlier this week, Ana from ChicagoNow blog Accidentally Sexy asked the Twitterverse a question. Is it OK to date multiple people at the same time?

Ana’s answer is a definitive No. And you can’t knock her reasoning: you either like someone or you don’t.

Well that is precisely my problem. I like everyone. At least at first. I’m so unpicky that I start to adapt to whatever quirks or faults my new love interest might have.

A while back I read Patti Stanger’s book on dating. Patti promotes the “Pair and a Spare” dating technique, where you always date two guys simultaneously and keep one in the friend zone.

My approach isn’t quite as rigid, but as a rule, I always try to keep multiple irons in the fire. The benefits, as I see them, are many.

1. Date like dudes date. Guys are less likely to rush in, they like to play the field and only settle down when it’s someone they actually WANT to commit to. As a girl who loves to be a girlfriend, to whatever boyfriend, this is an enticing concept.

2. Retain some dignity. If I’m dating just one guy, I tend to push him towards a relationship. This comes across as Crazy Girl Syndrome and can wreck a good thing real fast.

3. Avoid settling. Hate Guy A’s sarcasm but love his attentiveness? Not sure whether one is worth giving up the other? Another guy with different traits can help you decide which characteristics are most important. Or can remind you that there are other guys out there that think you’re just awesome.

4. Options, duh. Remember Irishman? Well that just wasn’t right. Luckily, when I scrapped him I had other options left. I didn’t have to start from scratch with my man-hunting. Luckier still, Love Interest E is working out nicely, for now. Good thing I didn’t cut him loose when I thought that Irishman and I might be something legit.

Of course, I’m not advocating dishonesty. Non-exclusive dating is only for the beginning. Once it starts to feel dishonest to go out with someone else, evaluate whether you like this guy enough to cut off other options. It may sound a bit cruel, but you can bet that’s the same decision he’s wrestling with.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2010 1:59 pm

    I am not sure how I missed this post — in any case, I like it, as it is something with which I have been dealing of late.

    A couple of months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of almost a year. Since then, I’ve been missing him (and, to be honest, missing being with someone, not just the guy himself) and dating around a bit. I tend to attract guys who want relationships, but I have been pretty forward about not wanting another relationship right now. I still have some healing to do, etc.

    However, I told an ex (with whom I love to travel, and who is AH-mazing in the sack) that I would meet him in St. Louis this spring (this upcoming weekend — but we planned it a month ago) for a sex & travel weekend. The “problem” is that there is a very sweet local boy I have been on 3 dates with over the past month. We are not exclusive (it’s a bit of a long story; feel free to email me at: if you’re really interested, but no worries if not) but I felt the need to tell him about my weekend in STL with an ex. He took it well and thanked me for being honest. I think the key in all of this — I mean relationships [romantic & otherwise] — is communication. Of course, it is especially important when it comes to romance because real feelings can be involved. So when I have dated more than 1 person at once, I have done my very best to be open & honest about it. Some guys are ok with it; others aren’t. But they need to know.

    As always, your blog is interesting & thought-provoking!

    • March 17, 2010 2:16 pm


      Can i just say, a “sex & travel weekend”? Good god, that as got to be up there with “sliced bread” and “snuggie.”

      Communication is absolutely the key! I never want to keep anyone in the dark, or feel like i’m being dishonest. I would be pissed if it were me on the other side of that dishonesty! That’s for sure.

  2. Matt permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:13 pm

    I have a question related to your blog post. I dated a girl for three and a half years. It started when I was only sixteen and ended a few months ago. In other words, it took up all the time the average person would’ve spent gaining experience and understanding how to date.

    Okay, here’s the situation: I met a girl recently who is 22 and lives across the country from me. However, that’s not an issue for either of us, as we’ve made explicitly clear, if we feel that this could go somewhere. And she seems really interested; in fact, I’m certain she is, considering that I got her number immediately, along with “hell yes” I want to talk to you again. And when I woke up this morning I had a text that read “Good morning, sunshine” with a smiley face. But she also told me she is seeing a guy. She said he’s not a boyfriend, and he isn’t “the one,” but they enjoy each other’s company. I understand that, because I’m the same way — I like to be with someone even if we’re not going to stay together forever. But my question is, what is the best way to handle this until we get to a point when we’re ready to start dating exclusively? I don’t want to say the wrong things or come off the wrong way about it. I’ve never dated a girl who I wasn’t dating exclusively, so this is really new to me.

  3. February 23, 2012 6:14 am

    Hi Suzanne here. Incredible quest there. What occurred after? Thanks! I would also take the opportunity to let you all know i found a great friends trough MBL. Click on my name and find me on the site with my nick suzanne1980 x

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