Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Secretly juggling three lovers is a glaring lie of omission
Anonymous: I am having sex with three people right now. (Not literally, but you get the idea.) Two of them have no idea there is anyone else and the third one might. My friends say I'm being deceptive, but I say it's fair game as long as I don't pretend I'm being exclusive and we always use protection. Who's right?
Carolyn: My evil twin hopes you fall hard for someone who treats you the same way you're treating these people.
The answer to your specific question is that you're telling a lie of omission. If you fear the truth would upset them, then you're being deliberately deceptive.
Certainly if your sex partners are telling themselves they're in an exclusive relationship, then they need to take better care of themselves. However, I equate their mistake to letting an insurance policy lapse. That makes you the natural disaster for which they failed to prepare.
So, repeating my answer, because it's my party and I can harp if I want to: No, it's not okay to go out of your way to treat other people like crap — especially not with something so trust-dependent as sex, but not even with something petty, like zooming up the breakdown lane to get ahead in a traffic jam. Stop seeing your needs as special and others' needs as mere obstacles to getting what you want. It doesn't get you ahead, it makes you a jerk.
Not the Vatican: Re: Anonymous: Seriously? Every sperm is sacred? Sure s/he should say they're not exclusive, though it doesn't sound like that is assumed anyway; besides assumptions are for (fools). Why all the hate? Carolyn, I'm disappointed in you.
Carolyn: I can live with that.
It's not about the tomcatting/catting. It's about Anonymous' callous attitude. If it were just about taking a prudish attitude toward sex, you might have a point, but I said it wasn't just about that.
Oh, and it's not "hate," it's disgust.
Also Anonymous: Re: Anonymous: How is exclusive different from being engaged, married or living together? I'm serious. If you can't see other people but aren't serious enough to get engaged/live together, why limit yourself when someone better could be out there? It's as dopey as being pre-engaged.
Carolyn: It's all a matter of degree. When people get together, they try on increasing levels of commitment. You date around when you barely know someone or haven't made up your mind (nothing wrong with that as long as nobody's being misled); you spend more time with one person as your feelings grow stronger — not because you have to, because you want to; you become exclusive when you start to look out for the other person's feelings as you would your own, and it's mutual, which is hard to do when you're also giving of yourself to someone(s) else.
If the rewards of that arrangement grow with time instead of fade, then you start to think in terms of making the arrangement permanent.
None of these stages is about limiting yourself. In fact, if that's the way a person sees it, that person isn't ready to commit. It's about finding someone who expands your emotional life, gradually, beyond what was possible with anyone(s) else.