When we sign up for Tinder or Bumble (or one of the other 20 dating apps that exist), we automatically know that we’re signing up for potentially multiple “relationships” that occur simultaneously. This also means we’re aware that the person on the other end of the Bumble conversation may also be seeing multiple other people.
There seems to be this mutual agreement - that isn’t included in the Terms & Services - that dating apps allow, and actually welcome, seeing more than one person at a time. And the truth is, dating apps make it pretty damn easy to do so. There are an endless amount of options, and a high chance that you can “score” multiple dates in one week.
“At least this week I don’t have to buy groceries” - a direct quote from one of my friends. She was set up with pizza one night, tacos the next, and I don’t even need to mention the third because it’ll make the pretty pathetic looking omelet I had for dinner that night seem even worse. Meals aside, she was also set up with multiple nights of (hopefully) good company, good conversation, and the possibility that something would work out past that initial date.
Personally, I was never able to do it. I tried once during undergrad. I had this moment of “empowerment as a woman who wanted to date freely!” which actually is nothing to judge or feel guilty for doing.
Women are just as “allowed” as men to sleep around, have one night stands, and think a little less on emotion and a little more on their sex drive.
So, it was two guys I was seeing for literally not more than two weeks. Ultimately, it came down to a battle between the mac & cheese we ate at Bub City, versus pancakes the size of my head with a chocolate chip in every bite for breakfast. Both were quality meals! So you can imagine the challenge I had. Just kidding. Sort of. I did care about more than just the food.
In all seriousness, I couldn’t imagine dating around given the issues I had with just dating two people.
- Storytelling can become repetitive. I felt pretty exhausted from telling the same story over and over to multiple dates. I think by the second date with both guys, I started to really hate the sound of my own voice. My stories also started to lose whatever comical aspect I first thought they had (which actually isn’t saying a lot). The other difficulty: make it a conscious effort to remember what you’ve already said! And also keep your date's stories in line. The worst possible mistake you can make (besides mixing up names… that really makes you look like an asshole), is mixing up your date’s stories. “How was seeing your family this past weekend? …. Oh, you didn't have plans to see them... And your family lives in Texas... That's right...” (Fuck).
- Texting is a great and terrible invention when it comes to dating around. Great, because it allows for planning dates with ease and avoiding potentially awkward phone conversations. Terrible, because texts can occur at any time of the day, which leaves you with the very high possibility that your date from last night will be texting you while you’re on a new date the next night. So you’re left with the option of waiting until you or your date have to use the bathroom to respond to your previous date’s text. If you weren’t sneaky or capable of this before, you become a pro at it pretty quickly. And we do this to reassure our other dates that we are in fact around, we are in fact still interested, while avoiding the fact that we are on another date.
- The risk of running into your date when out with another. Chicago is a huge city, and yet it hardly feels this way when it comes to dating around. While it’s never happened to me, saying it would be slightly uncomfortable is an understatement. Chances are (and lucky for you), your previous date will be mature and won’t confront you on the spot. Chances also are, they will give you a passive aggressive staredown from across the bar. That being said, if you wanted a second date with them, you probably won’t be getting it. My best advice is to get a feel for date #1’s favorite bars and restaurants, and do NOT go there with date #2. Also, maybe stay clear of date #1’s neighborhood.
- Caring about more than one person at a time. Here’s where I admit I’m completely biased when it comes to non-exclusivity. When I was dating around a bit, I found it extremely difficult to show that I cared for each guy (especially when one was visibly more respectful and caring). It’s not that I felt insincere regarding my feelings, because I did actually care for both in some way. However, I did feel dishonest to both given that they didn’t even know the other existed. This is where communication is huge. Had I been open about what I wanted, I may have quickly learned that they also wanted the same thing and were already doing the same thing.
I believe you can like multiple aspects of multiple people at the same time. I have heard from friends who have several dates in one week that dude #1 is witty and sarcastic and makes her laugh until she pisses her pants (I’m not ashamed to admit it’s happened to me too), dude #2 is intellectually stimulating and holds a conversation that doesn’t feel forced, and dude #3 is sexually stimulating and she’s ready to get on top of him right there at the bar if it was socially acceptable.
So here you see that different traits from different people fulfill different needs (the record for using the word “different” the most in one sentence goes to me). And when all traits occur in combination, you’re set.
When I got on Bumble last year, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a relationship, and I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to date around casually. So what was I even doing on Bumble? Hell if I know, but it did lead me to my current boyfriend and that’s all that really matters at this point. I went into the first date with the assumption that he was dating around, while after our first date, I knew I wasn’t going to. I wasn’t curious about what other Match I could possibly get within even just 5 minutes of Bumble swiping, because something clicked and worked and I felt no need to keep a dating account. Is it always this easy? Not at all.
Speaking again from personal experience, I think the end of “dating around” happens when A) you and your date are actually ready to be in a committed relationship, and B) you don’t feel the need to see anyone else. The curiosity stemming from “what else” or “what if” is no longer at the forefront of our thoughts (and eventually doesn’t exist at all anymore).
If you find something that works, I’m not necessarily saying that you shouldn’t still be using dating apps either. There is no rule to Bumble or Tinder that says you are committed to the first match you get. At the same time, I am questioning when curiosity for “more” actually leaves you with less in the end?
As though I didn't talk about dating enough, Julian Beckwith and I have started a Podcast together. Check it out here:
Dummies Who Date, where you'll hear more about navigating the fun, exhausting, confusing, and exciting world of dating and relationships.
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