In Defense of Dating Multiple Guys at Once

I got my first “real” boyfriend when I was 14. I asked him to Sadie Hawkins, and that night he asked me to be his girlfriend. We dated for a magical eleven months, which is actually a pretty long time for a 14-year-old girl. It still happens to be my longest relationship ever – but that’s a different tragic story. When I told my mom about him, she asked if we were “going steady” or if we just went on a date. I was confused. Going on a date implied he was my boyfriend, right? Wrong.

Flash forward a few years, and things aren’t as black and white as they were when I was 14. There are so many different definitions of relationships. There’s “having a thing”, “hooking up”, “dating” and a whole mess of stuff in between. It can be a little confusing figuring out where you stand with your Ish (Boyfriend-ish/Girlfriend-ish). Here’s the thing: If you and your Ish have not had the talk about being exclusive, you’re not exclusive. In the wise words of my mother, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

I just don’t see the harm in having dinner with someone on Tuesday and maybe another date on Saturday. As long as you’re honest with both of your dates, you shouldn’t feel guilty for dating more than one person at a time. You don’t have to get into the details, but as long as both dates know that you’re not exclusive, then you’re not doing anything wrong or leading anyone on.

Dating more than one guy at a time really helps you decide which qualities you’re looking for in someone you want to make the plunge into exclusivity with. It’s kind of like sticking a toe in the shallow end of the pool before you jump, and maybe trying out the hot tub before deciding if you’re in a pool mood or a Jacuzzi mood. Okay, so that metaphor was stupid, but I don’t understand why girls can’t date more than one guy at once. I’m not saying run out and grab a date with your school’s entire football team, but put yourself out there. Sew some wild oats. Have a good time; don’t get too serious until you’re ready. There’s no harm in trying on like eight pairs of jeans before picking out one you really want to wear all the time. Another cheesy metaphor, but you get the point.

Molly is a senior Journalism/English/Broadcasting major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She’s not very good at small talk and English Bulldogs are her only vice. Follow her @gwacamolly on twitter or on Tumblr at

    Related TopicsDating Love Advice Relationship


    1. geminiunleashed says:

      About 4 months ago I would have been against this an while it's slightly disturbing an a huge power imbalance. The fact that knowing you have to impress someone because tomorrow she's gonna be giving some other guy a shot can be intimidating an cause men to not be themselves. After reading a lot of blogs I realized that women already do that an if more women did it maybe I could actually get a date lol. Granted women would naturally get fatter an less broke because of all the free food they would be getting but hey what does it matter in the long run. Women get all the Pros while men stack on the cons lol.

      1. Danielle says:

        Really? Because men definitely do this more than women.

    2. Jeff says:

      I’m all for the none exclusivity thing when you just want some fun, but it really isn’t how I want to start a relationship!! (congratulations, you happened to be the best of 3 guys I was dating when we met)

      I’m all for trying on 8 pairs of jeans before deciding on which to wear… But even a really hot pair of jeans just doesnt fit iif you try them all on at once…

    3. […] • Serial daters rejoice! In defense of dating multiple guys at once: (CollegeCandy) […]

    4. achilles says:

      Wow ,.,, as a male this brings up bad memories. Many years ago, I knew I had only 3 months before i moved from this town I was attending university. I wanted female companionship and to take out a few women. At the time, I was not wanting to lead anyone on and was very upfront. Well 2 of the women in particular were happy with my directness. I had told both that I was not looking for anything serious. Both were cool with this. Things were going well, I was not having intercourse with any of the girls I was spending time with. Well 2 of the girls decided that they wanted the relationship to go further and both turned around and said I never told them that I was seeing other people. One threatened to commit suicide. The other said that I should have never been direct and that I should have sexed both and claimed to be exclusive,,,,(i kid you not) The whole thing got out of hand and one year later one of them borderline stocked me, I admit I was an enabler. For years after I was so careful and did not know whether to be evasive or direct…I used to tell my friends ,,,It does not matter what you tell your date,,,,they are going to say you said something else….

    5. Grammar Cop says:

      My inner grammar policewoman is wondering why a Journalism/English/Broadcasting major would not know that the idiom is "sow wild oats," not "sew wild oats." Sewing requires the use of a needle and thread, while sowing is a common agricultural practice.

      1. William says:

        My thought for this young lady is, if you put your name on something for public display — something that will live on indefinitely in a Google search, for future employers to find — you ought to produce a more competent effort than this.

        This piece was inarticulate to the point of being unprofessional. This may sound harsh to her, but she needs to learn that when she publishes something, she is branding herself, both to the public and to future employers. If you were a station manager or a news editor, after reading this piece, would you think to yourself, "Hmm, this is someone that we've got to hire?"

        So my thought for this writer is, do better than this, or find another profession. This piece suggests that you don't truly love journalism, and you don't have much of a future in marketing or public relations if you can't be more articulate. Of course, if you are especially pretty and voluptuous, and are 5-9 or taller, an outfit like Fox News might overlook an obvious lack of talent and feature you prominently. The money might be good in that case, but then you can't complain about a glass ceiling and not being taken seriously as a professional, can you?

      2. Who Cares? says:

        My thought is, this blog is supposed to be for fun. Who cares? If you don't like it, don't read it. No need to be mean. This is a college blog, not a major newspaper or magazine.

    6. […] • Serial daters rejoice! In defense of dating multiple guys at once: (CollegeCandy) […]

    7. Guest says:

      Be gentle in how you break it to a guy though, particularly for the ones who are new to the dating scene. Not realizing that a date or a hook up doesn't necessarily mean exclusivity can be deeply hurtful, regardless of gender.

    8. Same guest as above says:

      And as an aside, when a girl tells me she's seeing other people too, my first thought is "oh, you're a whore then?" (Justified or not)

      My second thought is "She can get her own goddamn check, wish I had people lining up to buy my dinner." But I squelch that uncharitable thought, because I came prepared to buy this dinner and that would be rude.

      Then I turn on the charm, make it a wonderful evening, hang on her every word and allude to a deeper attraction and understanding. I pay the tab and we go some place romantic, I get her chair, her coat and door for her. I walk her to her door and there is from time to time a kiss goodnight, but I leave her wanting more.

      And then we don't go out again and I stop returning her calls.

      Let her feel what it's like to think you might have something special, lose it and not know why.
      I have issues.

      I won't be measured against the standard of some phantom man who I imagine to be better than me in all things and made to feel like shit, and I won't invest myself in a relationship, come to care about someone and hinge my happiness on theirs only to be dumped for some guy I never had a chance against. I also won't take part in a competition that promises to make another man unhappy. He never did anything to me.

      If you're single, date one at a time and judge a man by his own merits. If you don't like the one you're with, become single before dating again. Anything less is cowardly and calculating, taking an insurance policy out on the best catch and it is GUARANTEED to make some guy you liked feel inadequate and generally miserable when you finally make up your mind, even if only for a little while and maybe for a long while.

      And ladies, you may argue "Well men do this all the time!" Well, the hell with them too, they're wrong for doing it, but two wrongs don't make a right. Be a decent person and maybe you'll attract decent people.

      1. Not a slut shamer says:

        You sound charming. I'm sure those ladies were absolutely devastated to lose you.

        Fun idea: If you don't like dating people who are dating other people, DON'T DATE THOSE PEOPLE. It's really that simple!

        And as an aside, those "whores" are being honest with you. Yet you proceed to lead them on (And who are we kidding, I doubt any of them really want to see you again) because they don't follow the moral guidelines you have oh so helpfully thrust upon them. Maybe you should take your own advice and try being a decent person sometime.

    9. […] In Defense of Dating Multiple Guys at Once ( […]

    10. Chloe says:

      First, I should probably say that I'm not in college; I'm reflecting back on my college and dating years. I'm a happily married 49-year-old woman. So I hope that my comments are still valid in the current dating scene.

      But I tend to think that while there is nothing wrong with dating multiple people (as long as you are keeping things light and just friendly), it's always going to have the potential to create bad feelings. People want to be confident and progressive-minded – and we all know that we probably aren’t going to meet Mr. or Ms. “Right” with the first person we date — but inside we are often insecure and more conservative than we think. Intellectually, people can see the need to date multiple people, but emotionally, it’s uncomfortable to think that someone is comparing you to another potential mate and you are likely to get rejected. No one likes to be rejected, male or female.

      I think this explains what “achilles” said in his earlier post. The women he dated who said they were fine about not being exclusive probably felt that way when they started dating, but got more attached and more invested in the relationship than they expected – maybe even assumed that it had become exclusive. Or they said they were fine with it because they feared not getting another date with him, even if they really weren’t fine with it. They hoped they would win him over and he’d want to become exclusive with them.
      This is something that happened to me when I was in college. I dated a guy who I really liked and ultimately fell in love with, but he was never that serious about me and ultimately chose someone else. It was devastating to me and even though he was open about not feeling the same about me, I continued to see him because he was willing to keep seeing me and because I hoped he’d change his feelings about me. I blamed him for continuing to see me, even though that was not fair considering that he was up front about not feeling the same. Sometimes our emotions and hopes don’t let us be very wise.

      So, I think when it comes down to it, this is all individual. Some people are comfortable with non-exclusive relationships, some aren’t. I never was – I dated several different guys over the course of a few years before I met my husband, but I didn’t feel comfortable dating more than one simultaneously. I don’t think there are hard and fast rules and I think that people who are dating need to be as sensitive to the feelings of the person or people they are dating as possible. And expect that sometimes the relationship can blow up in your face; it’s tough to deal with, but unfortunately it’s one of the hazards of any relationship.

      And I highly recommend that women at least offer to pay their way for their share of the date. And offer to pay for the guy’s way, too. I think that the economic imbalance traditionally associated with dating has a subtext of its own that hasn’t changed despite the women’s movement. In the old days (i.e., through the 1950s and 1960s), girls generally didn’t have jobs and had to wait until guys asked them out and guys paid for everything. This model continued through marriage – men were seen as the providers. But economically, men and women today are much more equal. So there is no reason why the economics of dating has to continue as it was before women fully joined the job market.

      Oh, one final item of importance: always be yourself. There’s no point to pretending to be someone you are not when ultimately if you get involved with someone seriously they are going to find out who you really are eventually. You can still be on your best behavior, of course! People of both sexes should open doors for and bring gifts to show their affection for each other.

    11. Lena says:

      In theory, dating multiple people should be okay, but in practice it's tricky. If both parties understand that they're just going out for fun, then it's fine, but you never know when one might get serious when the other doesn't. I guess being open and honest as much as possible as often as possible is best, but these things can be complicated. Just don't make the mistake of thinking "it's all good" or that it's simpler than it is.

    12. becca says:

      I am kind of confused why all of the guys here are so upset about this. I have had plenty of guys I went on a couple of dates do the "slow fade" or if I do actually get to ask them what's going on they just say something like "it was only a date/couple of dates what's the big deal? Why does it matter?. I was under the impression that until you have the talk about being exclusive everyone is dating or at least open to dating others. Maybe these guys are taking this very literally like a woman is going out with you Friday, then another on Saturday… really it is not that easy to line up dates like that. You and your competitor will probably not end up with a date in the same week. And for everyone that complains that they shouldn't pay the bill for a woman because she gets all the perks, then just go dutch! It honestly would not offend me and probably not for other women as well.

    13. Tomas says:

      Have a good time… depends, of course, who is the one having a good time here. Ego stroke at the expense of others? Do the people know you're playing them? Thanks, but no thanks.

    14. Lee says:

      I’m going to dissent here–I DON’T think you have to be honest that you’re dating others while dating (and by dating, I mean even sleeping with) multiple people. In this first place, it’s none of their business. Just because someone’s feelings would be hurt if they find out doesn’t mean it’s their business. Secondly, even if someone asks you if you’re seeing others, no one wants to hear “Yes” to the question. Hearing that you’re one of a bunch of people someone is dating is none too appealing. If you’re honest about it, you’re going to have a much harder time getting anywhere with anybody. It’s true that there’s always the possibility of them finding out and everything blowing up in their face. But I think the automatic turn-off factor in being upfront about this outweighs that possibility. So, I’d recommend not disclosing that you’re seeing other people (even if the “seeing” includes sex), and if they ask you, lying about it. Just make sure that if there’s sex involved, you always use protection–you owe it do whomever your dating to protect them against STDs.

    15. Lee says:

      Sorry, I meant to say "blowing up in your face," not "blowing up in their face."

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