Here’s an easy question: what’s your favorite movie? Fight Club? Steel Magnolias?
Star Wars? Citizen Kane? Weekend At Bernie’s? Think about it for a second, and answer again. What’s that? You can’t pick just one? Okay, let’s switch gears. What’s your favorite color? Blue? No, wait — maybe you look amazing in orange. But you painted your bedroom green, remember? Favorite food? Sushi? Waffles? Haggis? Cap’n Crunch? Still can’t decide, huh? Interesting isn’t it? It seems that you can have more than one favorite thing in any given category. That being said, wouldn’t it be entirely possible to have more than one person that you’re interested in while still being able to like them both equally? Some people say yes and some people say no, but the truth of the matter is that this situation falls squarely under the often confusing and vaguely indefinable term that we call dating.
The world is teeming with people of all shapes, colors, sizes and personalities. Even though the promise of “The One” has been hammered into our heads from the moment we learned about love and relationships, the fact of the matter is that the odds are stacked towards finding more than just a single person who lives in your heart. When you are living the single life, you meet people who capture your attention. There is no law, written or unwritten, that states that being with more than one person when you’re single is a bad thing, and when you aren’t committed to just one person you are free to do whatever you want as long as you’re honest about it. In other words, if you’re in a relationship, this doesn’t apply to you.
There are people that look down on this, however, and seem to believe that it makes you a player if you have more than one person that you’re kissing goodnight. When you are a free agent and you find yourself interested in more than one person, that doesn’t make you a player. A player is someone who lies about seeing other people while telling you you’re the only one. Dating means dating. Simply put, you aren’t in a relationship and maybe you’re not ready to be in a relationship, so you are spending time with different people you are attracted to while deciding if any of them will take the next step into exclusive territory. It’s pretty simple. It doesn’t mean that the person you met first will fall under the grandfather clause of the dating rules either. If you are interested in two or three people, you keep them on the same level until one of them pulls ahead in the race or one or both of you puts an end to your dating relationship.
Let’s say you just broke up with someone or you’re still wounded from a past heartbreak and you want to date different people so you don’t make the same mistakes you did before, or you want to make sure that what you feel is real and not a rebound emotion. Isn’t that being fair to the people you’re dating? Shouldn’t they want honest feelings and genuine emotion from you instead of falling into the patterns you made before that led to the end of your last relationship?
When you go on a first date, or you meet someone amazing, sometimes the sparks fly immediately and the ball is set in motion. But sometimes, you have to date someone for a while before the chemistry starts to sizzle. If you exclude other people from the moment you meet someone and then realize two months in that the person you met initially is not the person you want to be with, you may have to go through a lot of small relationships to get to the one that’s right for you. And that, to me, sounds like a waste of time.
Plus, dating more than one person at a time gives you perspective as you get to know them better. Is one of them funnier than the other? Does one of them make your heart beat faster when they kiss you? Or maybe each of them makes you feel the same? As long as you respect the feelings of the people you are dating and are truly keeping yourself open to the possibility of making something more than casual, dating multiple people shouldn’t be an issue.
Think about it like a job hunt: you apply at a lot of places and it’s never something that you view as a trivial endeavor. Each time you interview you get less and less self- conscious and you learn how to sell yourself. The same thing goes when you go on a date; when you have other options open, it eases your mind and takes you out of the make-it-or-break-it mode and you can truly be yourself. You’re less nervous and more focused on how the date is going as you use your clear head to spot the signs of chemistry instead of worrying if this goes wrong you will end up alone with 30 cats.
As you get to know someone, you begin to feel how their personality meshes with yours and how you relate in the physical sense. Even after a few dates you can’t be sure if this is someone you want to be with exclusively, so the fact that you are dating other people as well will invariably show you clearly what you want and how- far to take your relationship. Dating is like car shopping. You test drive different cars before you commit to buying, so why wouldn’t you do the same with people?
A relationship is a high-level commitment so it’s important to be sure that you have made the right decision and not wandered blindly into something that doesn’t suit you. How much can you really know about someone after two dates? Or four? Or even six? How do you know that when you interact with someone outside the parameters of your actual dates if you want to commit to a year or four or the rest of your life?
Dating more than one person can lead to some challenges, however. They may both know about the other but it’s better off if they don’t have to hear every detail about the person they are sharing you with. And when you run with the same crowd, the odds are all of you may end up in the same place at the same time. This may sound amusing when it’s Jack Tripper dating two stewardesses on Three’s Company, but it’s not usually an ideal situation. Dating more than one person means you have to honor their feelings by making sure you are giving each of them emotional respect. That being said, another detail that should be made clear is that the people you are dating can date other people, too. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander and all that.
Even though I’ve compared dating to car shopping and job hunting, I’m not trivializing the dark and murky waters of the dating world. When you venture out into this uncharted territory, you are risking your heart — and there’s nothing trivial about that. If you find yourself enamored of more than one person, try it out and see if it works for you. Just be open and honest and you may discover an enriching and beneficial experience. That way when you find Mr. Right you can be confident in the knowledge that you made the correct choice because you took the opportunity to explore your other options. There’s nothing wrong with dating a boy or two. And just like a certain character said in one of my many favorite movies: there are worse things you can do.