Are You Playing the Field, or Just Playing Games?

Here’s something that comes up a lot in my coaching sessions: Is it okay to date more than one guy at a time? I say it depends on how you define dating, and where you are in the dating cycle.

There is a huge difference between casual dating and an ongoing dating relationship. The first is lighthearted and informal and has few expectations. It’s coffee in the park or lunch on a Saturday. On the other hand, deliberate dating is more involved, and shows a certain level of commitment – even if you don’t call it that. It’s holiday dinners with your family and breakfast in bed.

Casual dating gives you a chance to learn a little about him and see if you “click.” In fact, it might help to think of your first few dates as the interview process. Flirt a little (or a lot), get to know him better, and decide if you want to take it to the next level. At this point, dating several men is simply the most efficient way to narrow the playing field.

If casual dating is the interview process, then deliberate dating is the trial period, during which you decide if you want to keep him around permanently. Once you’ve entered this phase, multiple partners are generally not a good idea, for several reasons.

Number one is the issue of sex. It’s just not smart to have more than one sexual partner at a time. Both your physical and emotional health can suffer when you’re being intimate with more than one guy.

And how do guys feel about being one of many? Men might like the thrill of the hunt, but they certainly don’t want another hunter in their territory. Many men will pull back at the first sign of a competitor. And if the guy is serious about you, knowing that you’re dating more than just him may drive him away.

Then there’s the risk of sending a message you don’t mean to send. Just as men who date many women simultaneously gain a reputation of being a player, women who do it will earn the dubious title of serial dater. That’s a big turn off for a lot of guys – especially those who are in a commitment frame of mind – you know, those guys you’re trying to attract.

So go ahead, date a lot of guys. The only way to find the right man for you is to “interview” a lot of applicants. But before Saturdays at the farmer’s market turn into a romantic bed-and-breakfast getaway, make sure you focus your attention on one special man.