Make us your home page

Serial dating: Helpful or harmful?

Woman can't decide if dating multiple men is healthy

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

"I Like You Too Much, So Please (Buzz) Off": So, I know that dating multiple people casually, and not sleeping with any of them, is supposed to be the healthiest, most mature way to date as an adult, but, at 28, I'm finding that I hate it. There always ends up being one guy who I like most, and the others are just kind of stand-ins for when he's busy or on a date with another woman.

I tend to fall hard, and fast. And wow, knowing that a guy I'm dating is out with some other woman stings so bad I can barely handle it.

I try the don't-ask-don't-tell policy, but this is a double-edged sword — I feel like I'm closing myself off, yet I'm so insecure that I almost don't want to talk about a guy's day/week/life. Instincts say, "Okay, well don't date anyone who makes you feel this way."

carolyn: Do you eventually lose your feelings for these preferred guys, wondering what you ever saw in them, or does the interest remain when they're gone?

I'm trying to see how well you can trust your feelings.

anonymous: I didn't write that question, but could have!

With me, most of the time I feel like, what was I thinking? But in the midst of it, I think I am in love. So I guess I don't trust my feelings.

carolyn: If you generally come around to wonder what you were thinking, then that's an argument to resist the impulse to invest in the preferred guy.

In fact, while dating around might seem to be the right antidote to rushing, you might in fact need to go further and stop dating.

Maybe not altogether forever after. But do stop seeing it as a means to find a mate. Instead, concentrate on your life, your interests, your friendships, your goals. It'll not only strengthen who you are and so, by extension, your judgment, but it will also put you in natural proximity with people who share your interests.

Dating, by contrast, creates highly unnatural proximity, which seems to be your problem.

Plus, the distance will give you time to reflect without an emotional investment to complicate things.

d.c.: So . . . your advice to a single woman about to turn 30 is stop dating because it's difficult? Sister, if you think dating in your late 20s is hard — try it again in your mid-30s! I would never advise someone to stop dating without seriously considering the realities of the situation.

carolyn: Not because it's "difficult" — because it's not working. When people have lost faith in their own judgment, what's the point of persisting to the point of desperation? It brings to mind Einstein's definition of madness: doing the same thing repeatedly, while expecting a different result.

Serial dating: Helpful or harmful? 08/31/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 2:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours