Love, Lindsay

'Is It Harmful To Date Multiple People, Or Are You Giving Yourself More Opportunities To Meet Someone?'

All your relationship questions answered — right here, right now.

Lindsay here, A Plus's resident relationship guru/columnist. While I may not know everything, I do know a lil something about love and our seemingly endless pursuit of it. Having written dozens of A Plus articles about dating, relationships, and sex, I'm ready and willing to investigate all of your romantically-inclined questions (submit here!) — because I've asked them myself. What I hope to bring to A Plus's readers is a sex-positive, body-positive, and most importantly, you-positive perspective on modern love. Consider Love, Lindsay your digital Cupid. 

Dear Lindsay, 

I've been casually dating for a while now, and most of the time it's really fun. Sometimes, though, I wonder whether dating many people at once is a good thing or bad thing. On the one hand, it allows you to be open and not focus too much on one person. You can also see how your relationships develop with multiple people in the early stages of dating. On the other hand, it can get messy when you start to develop feelings for both, or you run into them at a bar at the same. damn. time. (Obviously, if you couldn't already tell, that happened to me.) With dating apps making it easier than ever to go on multiple dates a week, is it really harmful to date multiple people at once, or are you giving yourself more opportunities to meet someone?

- Megan

Dear Megan,

Instead of getting tied up in whether dating multiple people is inherently "good" or "bad," focus on what feels "right" for you. Multi-dating can be one of the most effective ways to learn about yourself, what you like/dislike, and what you want out of your romantic life — which, hey, might be dating only one person at a time.

From your submission, it seems like you've got a good grasp on the general pros and cons. When deciding if this dating method is right for you, however, it's important to think about your intentions, especially since it sounds like you're not 100 percent comfortable playing the field. 

Take a cue from the TV show that turned the art of dating multiple people into a full-blown pop culture phenomenon  — The Bachelor. The show nobly taught us you need to be there for the "right reasons." That means using multi-dating as a method of genuine self-discovery, not because you feel like you need to prove a point to others, or that it's a mandatory stage of your single life. Before your next date, ask yourself why you're going. Your answer will tell you a lot. 

"If you aren't serious with one person and aren't ready to be exclusive, dating multiple people allows you to experience several personality types to determine the best match for you," Cyber-Dating Expert Julie Spira says. "If you focus on one person and put all of your digital eggs in one basket, you could be missing out on the opportunity to meet someone more compatible." 

According to her, multi-dating is the "new normal" in a world brimming with dating apps and, consequently, romantic prospects. So chances are, the multiple people you're dating are dating multiple people, too. 

While you're immersed in this dating scene, you don't need to explain your situation unless asked. If the exclusivity conversation arises, that's when you should clearly communicate your dating wants and needs, as not everyone may be comfortable with a non-exclusive situation. After all, everyone has different emotional capabilities due to timing, location, and other personal reasons. Being open about your relationship status will give your partner the information they need — and deserve — to decide whether or not they want to keep dating you on transparent and agreed-upon terms. 

That said, you may eventually want to transition from an open relationship to an exclusive one yourself. If/when that happens, Spira says, "You'll just know when it's time to stop playing the field." She recommends giving your relationship with that person a real, honest chance by deleting, not just removing or hiding your mobile dating apps. "If the relationship doesn't work out, you can easily set up a new profile and start swiping again," she adds. "Hopefully, they will feel the same." 

Even if dating multiple people doesn't always work out the way you plan, Spira nonetheless notes, "It allows you to cast a wide net by expanding your social circle. You might make a new friend, find a business contact, and if you're lucky, you just might find someone and fall in love."

Regardless of what your long or short-term dating goals are, it's important to establish how much you, as an individual, can handle emotionally before getting involved with other people. Spira recommends dating no more than three people at a time, so there aren't too many cooks in the kitchen  — or bar, in your case. "Any more, then it can be confusing," she explains. "You might mix Jimmy up for Johnny, or confuse Debbie with Donnie, which will backfire." And who really has the time or energy to go on more than three dates a week, anyway? (I mean, if you do, congrats because you are far stronger than I.) 

All joking aside, take these suggestions as general recommendations to help you win the numbers game of modern love. Ultimately, it's important for you to recognize what makes sense for your romantic life right now and stay true to that. No matter who or how many you're dating, the right persons will understand. 

Love, Lindsay 

Cover image via  Stokkete I Shutterstock

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