Dating: Stay Exclusive or Spread It Around?

Do you date more than one person at a time? When do you decide to make it exclusive?


Some of my blog stories are about my online dating experiences and this one poses a question that perplexes me.  When is it appropriate to date somebody exclusively?  I mean, I have my own take on the situation but I was a teenager when I married and in my forties when we divorced, so I’m the first to admit that figuring out the subtle nuances of dating is my work in progress.

First, how to meet somebody?  My teenagers suggested online dating, which seemed better than sitting around some public place and waiting for somebody to happen along.  I’ve met loads of lovely people through online dating and have made some great friends but have not yet found that special man.

Once I begin texting and talking to someone I try to meet by the next weekend. In my experience, anyone who delays meeting has something to hide and it’s never something nice.  Also, meeting quickly is important because it’s impossible to get to know a person through phone conversations and text messages – nothing beats real life for reading a person’s habits, mannerisms, attitude, shift in mood and respect for others.

After our first meeting I ask myself whether I’m comfortable in his company, do we ‘click’, did the conversation flow, were the silent moments okay and do I look forward to seeing him again?   I’ve met many people once and was glad to never see them again. I’ve had many second and third dates only to find we didn’t click as well as we had over the phone and stopped seeing one another. This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him (or me) but dating needs a certain comfort and chemistry to continue.

My current dilemma is exclusivity. There’s a moral stance on seeing somebody exclusively, there’s a social stigma about it, there are many reasons people aren’t exclusive and many reasons they are.

The dating website urges members to see lots of people and not to limit yourself.  I agree with this… until I find somebody I connect with on a physical, cognitive, social and emotional level.  When I’m keen on one particular man I stop contacting more and I let anyone I’m talking to know I’m going on hold to investigate a relationship with one particular person I’ve met. If and when I go back to the website those men may not be around, but that’s how life goes. There really are plenty more fish in the sea.

I’m happy to meet many men, one after another if that’s how they flow, but once I find someone I really like I stop the flow. My dating profile might be deactivated for just a few days, a week, a month or permanently.  It costs nothing to reactivate.

When I’ve met somebody I really like (and they say the feeling is mutual) surely I don’t need to continue meeting even more men?  I mean, who do I want to meet when the man that I’ve been waiting for (and his chemistry) have come along and we’ve decided to see each other again and again. Not that exclusivity is a sign of life-long commitment but I think it’s what dating is all about. Finding what we are looking for in one person is a thrill and, over time, the relationship will either fizzle out to nothing and we start again…  or the relationship grows and blossoms into something amazing.

Not everyone I’ve dated necessarily agrees with my one-at-a-time method. Some become terrified of what it means to be seeing a woman exclusively, as if being exclusive means being permanent or worse… trapped!  These men remain active on the dating website, which only makes me feel protective of my heart and cautious about their intentions. Knowing that they are still looking means I don’t invest my whole self into dating these men because I don’t want to be hurt. The secretive “multiple daters” often say they are looking for a relationship but then say they’re only out for fun… it’s as if they can’t decide what they want – but it’s more like they can’t decide on how to express what they want.

The “multiple daters” tend to approach online dating as a series of simultaneous relationships from which they eventually pick the one they like best. Naturally, they want to avoid the mistake of being with the wrong woman. They don’t want to trip clumsily into another bad marriage and they are aware of their own mysterious internal forces that convince them they’ve found “the one”.  But surely life isn’t about taking everything and discarding the left-overs? That approach makes dating into something dirty, greedy and it lacks integrity. It’s like having the cake and eating it too, but spitting out the left overs.

My “one at a time” approach is also about seeing multiple men however, I stop when I find one I’d like to see again. Then I start up again if and when I end that relationship. Easy.

I’m curious to know how other people handle online dating.

  1. Once you find someone you feel comfortable with and want to see again and again, do you stop looking?  I mean, is it logical to continue your search when it seems like you’ve found what you’re looking for?
  2. Do you keep your extra dating activities a secret from the woman/women you are seeing?
  3. Once you decide on “the one” how do you get rid of all the excess people you’ve been seeing without being nasty?
  4. Is there something wrong with seeing many people until you find one you like – and then only seeing the one you like (even though it’s too soon to have feelings of love)?
  5. Is the “date many all at once” rule only an online thing or do people who meet opportunistically also go on looking for more people to date?

I look forward to and welcome your comments.


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Side note:  Below are links to some of my stories about dating.

How to handle first dates;

My First Date;

Dating Success and Humour;

Ten Months Into Dating.

My Final Letter to My Grandma

My final goodbye to my Grandma.

My Grandma lived through some very tough times.  She was raised during the Great Depression by parents who owned nothing and lived a transient life, travelling from farm to farm as her father was employed to plant crops and then return to harvest them later in the year. She came from an era of no electricity, toilets were a can in a little, wooden building out in the back yard, the laundry was done in a large, copper pot full of boiling water with a wood fire underneath, water came from a well in the front yard and cooking was done on a wood stove in the kitchen (the heart of the home). She married a man from similar means and they struggled raising their family through WWII.  When you come from times like these you have nothing but religion and each other. Grandpa drove my Gran to church every week and sat in the car waiting for her to come out again.

Describing my Grandma’s personality is difficult because any description would have her sound like a harsh, relentless woman who saw life through eyes that were too honest and spoke with an equally honest tongue. If my quietly-spoken grandfather ever did anything silly she wouldn’t hold back on telling everyone what a brainless fool he was and I felt sorry for him at those times. But, by the same token, God help anyone else who said anyting against her husband.  At heart, my Grandma was a good, caring, loving, kind person who only really let these attributes show when she became a grandparent. My father said she softened with age.

I was in my twenties when my Grandpa passed away and in my thirties when my Grandma joined him. When I was a child her home was bustling with friends and family – there was never a day when someone wasn’t dropping by – but in her old age she rarely saw many people. Family was everything to her. I lived a very long way from Grandma’s house and so I wrote her a letter every week and she replied. As writing was such fun, it never felt like a chore and when she passed away it took a long time for me to stop looking out for a letter from Grandma.  The following is my final letter to Grandma, which I read at her funeral.


Dear Grandma,

I’ve written this letter as a completion to our weekly letter-writing habit, otherwise I’d feel like I owed you a letter, or maybe keep a lookout for one from you.

Writing has given us a special way of communicating and I’ve felt lucky to read your thoughts every week in exchange for my mindless babble.  Maybe we’ve each felt it was easier to write about our thoughts and feelings than to speak them out loud.  I hope you don’t mind me sharing a little bit from our letters with the people at your farewell today.

I’ve enjoyed all your bragging. You were so proud when Steven got his service medal, proud of Gavin’s fighting spirit as he battled cancer, the birth of Leonie’s beautiful baby, Rodger’s lucky trip to Hayman Island and my mum’s talent for painting: which you said she inherited from one of your brothers.  You told me that your kids were a feather in your cap, saying, “I never really told my kids they were the best in the world, I know it – so why tell them? I thought they might get swelled heads.”  Then you said:  “If you’re like I am you’ll still be proud of your kids when you’re old and dotty like me.”

I remember hearing about the dreams you had after grandpa died, like the night you dreamt you and Grandpa were walking around town arm in arm like you used to when you were going together in 1941.

Gran, I was looking back at a letter from the first winter after Grandpa died.  You said, “Susan, I’m a real sook when it comes to thunder and lightning.  I closed all the blinds and even put the TV off.  There I was, sitting in the dark, waiting for the next thunderclap and as scared as hell.  What a sook!  I’ve always had grandpa to look after me, but now no-one.”

You really have missed Grandpa, but you didn’t dwell too long on it because you suddenly changed the subject – you really were a tough sook.  Once I wrote to you complaining about the ins and outs of my life you tried to toughen me up.  You said: “My girl, you’ve got too many years ahead of you and lots of bad things are yet to happen. If you don’t toughen up you’ll go under.”  It was good advice, but I’m still not tough.

When Mum rang on Wednesday to tell me you were in hospital I really wanted to be with you.  I know how you felt about hospitals, being alone, and being afraid of dying alone.  This time you weren’t tough enough to swim for yourself and it was a privilege for me and Michelle to be with you through your final night.  We didn’t want to be anywhere else.  I could see for myself that you were comfortable and unafraid.  It comforted us to comfort you.

I’ve never looked into your eyes and seen so many thoughts beaming out at me like on that night.   I could read you like a book. Your eyes were a dictionary of every gentle thought and emotion.  To imagine, with all the words we’ve exchanged over these years, none were needed for this. You spoke with your eyes, asking for water, to be rolled over, you were hot, you were cold, you loved us and we had a full, unspoken goodbye. Being with you felt like one of the most important nights of my life.

Thanks for being the kind, gentle, loving and giving grandma you’ve been to me. And thanks for writing to me. Who would have known that our letters would have made such a difference to my life?  It’s been a pleasure.

Not long ago you told me that, without grandpa, you’ve shed enough tears to water the garden a dozen times. I’ll think of you often and fondly – especially when watering my garden.  No more crying now.

Good-bye Grandma.  I love you. 

Seeking Love: Success And Humour.

Online dating… to my surprise there are many single people out there with some huge secrets that aren’t obvious right away.

Amidst some of my terrible dating stories have been occasional little gems. It’s a process of luck, really.  The learning experience for me was noticing three behaviours that were always deal breakers for me.

Telling lies is a common way for a nervous date to get through conversations. Their motivation is obvious… they aren’t confident enough to be honest. One man lied about his height – which quickly became obvious when we met! Silly and unnecessary lies are usually about having close family ties, travel to overseas countries and what they’d been doing the past weekend. Figuring out I’ve been told lies always kills my first impressions.

Date script.  A date was using date script when they said what I wanted to hear instead of saying what came naturally, using words that women normally use (e.g. look at that beautiful view), saying they are against prejudice of any kind, having unusually high indicators of emotional intelligence or even just extremely good manners.  Date script is difficult to maintain over time and their real self eventually shines through.

Being selfish.  When a date is acting entirely in his own interests and with no regard to others, it gives an impression that he leaves no room for discussion – he is the boss, the important person in the relationshp and the one in total control.  Of course I realise some women love a man who takes charge… I’m an equal opportunity-lover, myself.

Although some women may think nothing about the above behaviours, I think they demonstrate manipulative and selfish qualities.  I was fine with the guy who liked to dress in ladies clothing at home because his was a personal quality that hurt nobody.  I’ve met some men who have some huge secrets that aren’t obvious right away and I’m sure men have met many women who are the same way.

Here’s a little summary of my three favourite dates.

One summer night I went on a second date to a drive-in theatre.  My date had a built-in car fridge between his two front seats and opened the lid to reveal three different bottles of wine, two wine glasses, assorted cheeses and salty crackers. He asked me to select the wine I prefer, poured me a glass and we enjoyed a picnic while watching the movie.  It was fun, conversational and a fantastic ice breaker.  We dated for a few months.

The most memorable of all my online dates was the most beautiful man I dated (and will possibly never forget).  We clicked as soon as our eyes met.  Our greeting was mutually warm with an extended hug and we grinned into each other’s eyes as we both realized sparks were flying.  It’s very difficult to describe these feelings because I don’t know any language for them.  As we followed the waiter to our table, my date extended his hand in a gesture that asked to hold mine, and my fingers happily wove their way through his until our loose grasp connected us.  We had no sooner sat down when he reached into his pocket to pull out a little electronic candle – placing it on the table between us, explaining that he wanted our first date to have some romance.  His eyes shone with an inner happiness, his voice was as smooth as silk and his eyes were like large pools of glossy, melted chocolate. Truly – they sparkled with joy and (I realise this sounds lame, soppy and pathetic but there’s no mincing words) it was almost love at first sight.  While we ate our meal there was hardly a moment of silence as we talked and laughed – happy to be swept into a separate dimension to everyone else at the restaurant.   A group of muscians set up a band and began to play.  My date’s face beamed as he asked me to dance and this gesture was the straw that broke any remaining hesitation within me – I love to dance!  We dated for a few months.

The third beautiful man I often like to think back on was someone who didn’t speak date script, he spoke the real script.  And it sounded natural and matter-of-fact… I swam in those emotioanlly intelligent, thoughtful and conversational words as he swam in mine.  We sat talking for hours, totally captivated by one another’s stories. There was talk about the possibility of a second date but we decided to part as friends because, despite being intensely curious about one another, we were from totally different worlds.  That was our only date, but we’ve kept in touch as friends.

And, humour is important. The following are some hilarious profiles, which I copied from the dating website over twelve months ago. These guys seem to be really colourful characters – though I never really had the urge to find out.  I just liked their profiles.

  •  “I’m just looking for some company. I’ve had two broken marriages. What I’m looking for first and foremost is a good body. I’m about 6:1 tall solid build, strong. I’ve been working hard as a bricklayer my whole life. I like to eat out, I love sex and I also enjoy smoking a joint of a nighttime. Only a couple of beers. I don’t no if I’m good looking…not bad looking I suppose. I’ve only been single a short period of time. I would love to hear from you. Hopfully we can chat then maybe meet. What im looking for is a good body. Not too big. A little bit fat is ok.”


  • “Looking for a lady who wants to stimulate the senses and receive the same in return without hurting anyone. A lady who enjoys wearing nice lingerie to seduce her man and feel good.  A lady who is attached in the same situation as me, and bored. I need a best friend and lover who appreciates the conversation, perfume, femininity, sensuality and sexual desires of a woman who is not afraid to explore and find her desired pleasure and eroticism.  A lady who is not afraid to show” [Yes, it ended there.]


  • “Tall guy (5′ 11″) looking for a woman who is loving, loyal, and fun to be with and is large busted.   I’m sorry but if you are size 22+ I am not the one for you.”


  • Online dating virgin looking for a babin’ cherry popper for mutual admiration, humorous and flirty banter, ultimately leading to real life anxious date. Qualities of my ideal partner.. warm, hot, compassionate, witty, funny and dangerous, exciting, creative, artistic, musical, sexy, sultry, inquisitive, relaxed, honest, self aware, confident.   My reading interests: .the Age, Guardian, biogs, shantaram, dr suess, burroughs, hungry caterpillar, repair manuals, washing instructions, crosswords. My sport: cheese rolling, wife throwing, caber tossing. scrabble. Soccer, tennis, gym. Other Interests: Eating, watching, listening, art, photography, old machinery, fixing stuff, breaking stuff, old motorcycles, old cars, … seasons in the sun, sex, trying not to grow old, and a bit of self exploration.

Shy, down to earth, bit cheeky at times. Like spending time in Library … look threw the graphic novels that r on shelf,,. I’m willin’ to give a relationship a good try , . Maybe best to get to know each other , befor its gets serious . I’m never in a rush , I can be stubbin’ at times. Really need to stop myself hunting the wrong beautiful chickens online haha. Never been on a hunni moon , but my intentions is NOT to get married , marriage is a different cup of complications if u get my drift. Oh forgot to mention I do have a licence to drive , but do not own a vehicle. Cars cost to much to run, unless I have a better wage [earn around $23,000 a year with-out tax] . Keep cool & wink wink 😉.  This is what I’m lookin for: U must have a sense ov humar, be down to earth , u can be dominant, christian , have a + positive outlook on life , have a good police record! . be trust-worthy.

~ Keep smiling ~



Seeking Love: Ten months into dating.

Ten months after my first date I decided to try a different approach – I’d look for a man who was ugly on the outside because often these are the most beautiful people on the inside.

At 49 years old and almost twelve months after my first date I was beginning to feel a little disheartened.  I’d met men who looked plain, average and even handsome on the outside – but most were quite ugly on the inside. There was no way to tell the men who really had the qualities they boasted in their dating profile from those who just knew the script for enticing a woman onto a date.

We always met at a cafe or restaurant and talked over a cup of tea or a meal.  Some were very polite, good speakers, good listeners and wonderful company. The rest were an unusual bunch who lacked self awareness or manners or they were just dating for intimacy. That last reason annoyed me most because I wrote on my profile that I didn’t want that sort of casual relationship.

Another startling point was that the profiles of many men in their 50s stated they were seeking a slim, athletic, outgoing, intelligent female who was financially independent and aged between 25 and 50 years old.  I read these profiles wondering why a young woman of 25 years would be interested in a 50 year old, overweight, pasty-faced, homely man whose photographs often featured the gentleman wearing track pants and bare feet.  The thing that really annoyed me was that these men were looking for women half their age, but not a single year over their age. Maybe I misunderstood, but these facts left me feeling a little repulsed.

In the space of 10 months I had dated men who were tall, short, wealthy, poor, religious, bigoted, racist, heavy, thin, generous, stingy, respectful, disrespectful, gentle, rough, fit, unfit, a glutton and an alcoholic.  All of them were average to good looking and none of them were right for me.

Reflecting on these dates led me to decide it was time to meet somebody who was out of the square. Beauty comes from within and I suddenly decided that I wanted to date a man who would normally be overlooked. This thought drove me to look for a man who is not so good looking on the outside.

Later that day I contacted a man who I will name Lurch, because he had all the looks and characteristics of Lurch from the Addams Family on TV.  My Lurch was tall, awkward, unappealing to look at, terrible at conversation and dressed in old baggy jeans that hung from his bony hips and a t-shirt with “Wimbledon 1984” printed on front – and was entirely paper thin and torn. These were more like gardening clothes than something you’d wear on a first date but clothes are the covering of the person – not the person.  I was struggling to find anything appealing about this man at all but that was okay.

True to his profile, Lurch was 6’4” tall, quite thin, pale skin with acne scars from ear to ear and from forehead to chest, blue eyes, clean teeth and a gentle voice.

Like all my first dates, we hugged hello but it wasn’t an ordinary hug. For our greeting he maintained the two foot gap between us, bending forward at his hips, leaning his head and shoulders against mine.  His elbows were bent, enabling his palms to grasp my shoulders and his hands quivered in the form of a little pat on the back of my shoulders – in the same way I’d pat a golden retriever. This distant, head and shoulders hug wasn’t a show of respect for my body space – he was being awkward.  Always positive, I decided this was okay because people settle in to touching as relationships blossom. This may be a sign that he likes to take things slowly, which was a welcome change from the octopus I had dated the week before. The octopus put a very firm, warm, unwelcome gift into my hand as we hugged goodbye. (I’ll always wonder how how he got it out so fast.)  In comparison, Lurch’s distance might be a good sign.

The waiter and I swiftly wove our way through the tables and chairs to our seat and I sat down, suprised that Lurch was quite a long way behind us.  I watched him move through the room and noticed immediately that he walked in a very unusual way.  He held his arms stiffly by his side.  Each step he took was extremely small, perhaps moving forward 12 inches at a time and his shoes hardly left the floor… it was more of a shuffle.  When he moved through a gap he shrugged his shoulders up and opened his hands, pressing them tightly to the front of his thighs.  I’ve never seen anybody walk in a more awkward way. Finally, he stood beside our table, nodded, smiled, tugged down on his threadbare t-shirt, tugged up on his loose denim jeans and sat down (which was more like a controlled slide down into the seat).

Interpreting his awkward movements as nerves, I took it upon myself to start the conversation off by asking him how his day has been so far?  He nodded as he gulped down a full glass of water – he didn’t elaborate on the nod.  That was his response.  After a long pause I began telling him what I’d done over the course of the morning and what I like about this particular restaurant.  He hadn’t looked me in the eye the whole time.  A few minutes had passed and he had checked his watch… twice.   This guy was difficult to get to know, but I was determined I’d break through the exterior to see who was inside there.

I asked if he had been using online dating for very long.  His reply was different to any I’d heard before.  He said, “I’ve dated a lot of women on there but I don’t like any of them enough to have a second date.  Did you know, men online are only after sex?  They take you out on a date and they want free sex.”

I asked, “Is that what you’re after?”

Lurch replied, “No, of course not!”

I don’t like generalizations so I told him about a man I dated last summer who didn’t want a sexual relationship.  He wanted friendship and companionship – but no sex.

Lurch shook his head as he laughed and boomed, “Well it shows how GAY that one was!”

I didn’t appreciate his assumption or his laughter, in fact these comments showed me just how ugly Lurch was on the inside.  We discussed his job, how frugal he is at home because he wants to retire young and that he doesn’t want to be in retirement alone so he’s now “looking for a woman”.

I looked at my watch… twice.  After finishing my cup of tea I thanked him for his company and said I had to go.  Before saying goodbye he checked that I’d be paying for my own drinks and I confirmed that, yes, I’ll be paying for my own cup of tea.  He stood up and, again, tugged his jeans up, then pulled down his t shirt and his thumb went through the very thin fabric.   Something inside me said not to feel sorry for Lurch now.  I paid for my drink on my way out and didn’t look back to see whether he was making his way out of the restaurant like the Tin Man.

Two days later my phone rang and it was Lurch, asking me if I’d like to go out for another date.  This question really surprised me because that was the most awkward date I’d ever been on – yet I was apparently the first person he ever wanted a second date with.   My response was honest – I told him we are worlds apart in our values, explaining why I was offended at his attitude towards gay people, I didn’t like the fact he tried to scare me into dating him by saying everyone else is out there for free sex and that I didn’t feel a single moment where we gelled.  Not one.

He was disappointed and I learned another lesson.  Ugly on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful on the inside.  From this point on I decided to take people as I find them because some things just can’t be planned.
The character, Lurch, from The Addams Family. (