A DG reader wrote:
“I’d love to see a blog from you on how and when to decide to date just one person. I do struggle with this issue. I figure I’ll wait ’til they bring it up, but they haven’t, and I’m pretty sure they’ve assumed we’re an item and I’m not dating others. Although I prefer to keep my options open and date more than one until we have an agreement, I think I risk alienating really great guys who might be surprised and dismayed to find I’m open to dating others. And yet, I do like to keep a full social schedule. Such a predicament
“I seem to have a high capacity for socializing at this time in my life, and am looking for a guy who ultimately wants to be together maybe 4 or even 5 nights a week. Perhaps that’s higher than average? Just like I wanted, I’m finding wonderful, balanced men who have friends and outside activities. however, they don’t seem to have the same dating capacity I do. So although I want an exclusive relationship, I feel that rather than have unrealistic expectations of them or (worse!) compromise what I want, perhaps I should just continue the odd additional date here and there to keep my schedule as full as I like. Really, 2 men would be perfect, and I even have the 2 lined up, but would they go for that? And would dating 2 ‘exclusively’ jeopardize both? Should I just do it and not bring it up?”
I am facing this issue myself, so will share my thoughts, though am still sorting it out.
The “experts” say to let the guy bring up the exclusivity talk, otherwise you’ll sound needy. I’ve recommended this myself. But frankly, I’ve not brought it up even if I’ve dated a guy for a while because I knew we weren’t long-term material. So not bringing it up allowed me to still date around with impunity.
At this point, I’ve decided it depends on how interested I am with focusing on just the beau du jour. It there isn’t anyone that pulls your attention away from him, and you think you are pretty well suited, why not focus on just him and see how it plays out?
However, if you don’t think he can fill your social needs, why settle on just one? But maybe he doesn’t realize you’d like to have more together time, so I’m all for bringing it up. While these conversations are difficult to begin, they are so much better than assuming. Perhaps he is willing to see you 3-4 days a week, then you can tell him your other options are to see other guys or go out with gal pals. See what he says. If he says, “Go ahead and see other guys,” you know he’s not serious about you, and if that’s okay with you, great. You can still play together when it fits your calendars, but he may also be playing with other women.
But if you’ve dated him multiple times and don’t say anything about seeing others, I think you are setting yourself up for some drama. Best to put the cards on the table and if the chips fly, so be it (sorry for the poker metaphor!).
For me, I’m leaning toward having the exclusivity discussion as you get nearer having sex together. At that point, I think it appropriate to ask how the other feels about dating others and share your truthful opinion. I think he will get it if you couch it like, “I don’t think you’d like it if I was sleeping with other men, and so I don’t want you sleeping with other women while we’re being intimate. While I’m not asking for or expecting a long-term commitment, I am asking for and expecting we both won’t see others while we are seeing each other.” Then ask what he thinks about this.
You’ll find out very soon how he feels — assuming he is honest.
And no, girlfriend, you cannot date two men “exclusively!”
Let us know what you do and how it turns out!