Beware of multitasking when multidating

When friends learn I have sometimes dated multiple men simultaneously, they ask how I am able to do so.

Logistically, I keep notes in my Date-A-Base, logging facts like children (names, ages, locations), parents (living or not, location), marriage/LTRs (how long, how long ago), where he grew up, went to school, or important jobs or locations. Also, if he reveals deeper feelings, fears or concerns, I log that. But I’m better at remembering those conversations than facts and figures.

I can go from a conversation with one man to another pretty easily. It makes me realize how quickly we vilify those who date around, saying “How could he take one woman out to dinner one night and another the next?” We call these people “players” even if there is no purposeful behavior to lead one to believe you are committed to them.

I now understand how men — who we stereotypically think of when we think of multidating — can go from woman to woman in a short period of time. Compartmentalizing is not that hard. I’ve been known to carry on two IM conversations simultaneously and not miss a beat. Or have lunch with one guy and dinner with another on the same day.

Even though I can multitask while multidating, generally, successful multidating means you have to pay attention to each man in turn. If you let your focus wane while conversing with him, he may say something that he expects you to know later. You’ll have to fake it or admit you don’t remember, even though it might only be hours later.

And you not only have to remember what he says — you have to be present to whom you told what. This prevents you from retelling a story to the same guy.

The difference in multidating and playing is how far one goes. The more physical or verbal affection that is expressed, the more committed the other feels you are, even if that is not explicit. And undisclosed sleeping around is generally considered not acceptable in the midlife dating world, even assuming safe sex precautions. (If only there were emotional condoms — protection to safeguard one’s heart.)

They key, I believe, is not to claim exclusivity or make statements that would make him believe you are seeing only him. Ideally, you state even before meeting, or in the first two dates that you are seeing others. But if you aren’t seeing others at that time, and soon someone comes along you want to get to know, it is awkward to go to the first guy and say, “By the way, I’m also getting to know another guy.” Which of course, makes a mess if he assumes you are seeing only him and you’re not. But the second could easily fizzle after a few phone calls or a lunch date where you clearly see you’re not a good match.

I wish I could offer watertight rules for successfully multidating. Mostly, I’ve learned to not lead someone on with talk that makes him think you are devoted to only him, and not sleep with someone while you are seeing others, or still open to other invitations.

If you have dated others simultaneously, what have you found works and doesn’t work?

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