how to let other guys know of each other's existence when you are going out with more than one guy at a time?
June 6, 2010 7:24 PM   Subscribe

How would you handle going out with multiple guys at the same time?

Dear Mefi community:
I'm the 29 year old girl without dating experience who received some very good advice from the mefi community before when I posted about a jerk from my grad school that I went out with. I really appreciated the help that the mefites have give me. Now I've moved on and are dating other guys, but I'm currently facing a new dilemma and I would appreciate the mefi community's help again.

So I've met two guys online who are both great and I like them both. Guy #1 I've gone out on 3 dates with before he had to move to a different city that's 6 hours away due to his job. Technically he's only going to be working there for the summer and he said he doesn't like that city and would like to move back. But his company is headquartered in the other city and there's no 100% guarantees in life. Since he moved there, he has come back to visit me once. We only talked once on the phone after he has moved. So far we've been texting each other everyday for the past week.

I met guy #2 and went on only one date with him so far. The date went really well. I'm pretty sure he'll ask me out again.

I've only done some heavy kissing with guy #1, and the first date with guy #2 ended with a hug. Neither guys has asked me whether I'm currently dating other guys and neither has raised the question of exclusivity. Since I've went on more dates with Guy #1, I know him better than #2 at this point, but since I can't see him during the summer (he has asked me to visit him, but I don't want to make that commitment yet and he hasn't mentioned whether or when he'll come visit me again) and guy #2 lives really close to me, I can see that things can potentially build up rather quickly with #2 during the summer while guy #1 is away. Here're my questions:

1. my friend has said that I should let both guys know of each other's existence. I do think that's fair. But I don't know what to say or how to approach this? Should I do that now or wait until beginning or end of date #2 with Guy 2 to mention that to either or both of them? How should I raise this up? I have no idea what to say or how much detail I should give to either or both of them.

2. For guy #1, I felt like this is better suited to an actual phone call rather than texting. But since we've only talked once on the phone and he hasn't called me since, only texting. Would it be okay to tell him this via texting? (obviously it'll be less nerve wrecking through texting as I've never done this before, but I would call him up if this is more appropriate)

3. How physical can I get with guy #2 without being easy/slutty? I don't want to sleep with either guy until the relationship is exclusive. But I've read on several internet forums that guys expect at least kiss or making out by date #2 or #3, otherwise they'll think the girl is not into them and drop out. I would feel weird to kiss guy #2 while still going out with #1 (unless guy #1 know about guy #2 and it's common expectation that girls dating "casually" can and will kiss and making out with other guys). But then I don't want to scare #2 away with him thinking I'm not interested when I am. Is the physical aspect something I need to discuss with Guy #1 when I tell him about my seeing other guys?

Thanks very much in advance for any help and advice!

posted by wcmf to Human Relations (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Proactive disclosure is better for everyone involved. Make sure to mention at an appropriate time that you're dating (but not sleeping with) other people and looking to get to know people better before getting serious.

Also, with 3: Don't go by what other people expect, go by what you're mutually interested in. If you don't want to do something, don't, and be clear about that. The one caveat in that situation is that if you are going to be sexually active with someone you need to establish up front one anothers' expectations about exclusivity - and inform third parties accordingly.

For example, since you're saying that you don't want to sleep with someone minus exclusivity, the thing to do if you're interested in sleeping with someone is first make sure that you're on the same page about that and politely let other potential dates/partners that you enjoy their company but aren't looking for anything beyond friendship.

This is way less awkward in person than it is to type and read, but basically the way to be ethical about it (and minimize surprises and hurt feelings) is to talk about things in advance.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:31 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

be honest with both, let each relationship develop organically.... the multiple partner part of this is going to be determined by your own values..... determine where you're at with that and be honest with both of them...

relax, go slow....
posted by HuronBob at 7:41 PM on June 6, 2010

Considering that guy #1 is going to be away for a few months, if I were you, I would just pursue things normally with guy #2 as if guy #1 weren't in the picture. If things quickly fizzle out with guy #2, there's no issue, and you have the option of picking up where you left off with guy #1 once (if) he comes back. If things get serious with guy #2, you might end up focusing on him exclusively, in which case you'd just need to straightforwardly let guy #1 know. (All of this is with the qualification that if either of them asks you, you should, of course, be honest about the whole situation.)

Quick responses to a couple of your other questions:

"For guy #1, I felt like this is better suited to an actual phone call rather than texting."

Yes, if you do feel the need to discuss these issues with guy #1, texting is not appropriate.

"How physical can I get with guy #2 without being easy/slutty?"

Do what you want; don't shape your behavior based on what adjective you're afraid someone might put on you.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:42 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Honesty is paramount. At no point you should lie or mislead these guys into thinking that you're dating them exclusively. Really though, they would be unreasonable to expect exclusivity from you at this point due to A) Guy #1 living so far away and B) Things with guy #2 having just begun.

Maybe I'm a bit more cavalier about this kind of thing, but I feel you'd be perfectly within your rights to do whatever you feel like with guy #2 without feeling easy or slutty. A few kisses (heavy though they may be) does not an exclusive relationship make.

As for the phone/text dilemma, I honestly think that if guy #1 has moved far away and only communicates with you via texting, he's pretty much already taken himself out of the race. You'd be thoroughly within your rights (I think) to just go ahead and date the other guy guilt free. Obviously though, if you want to keep your options open with guy #1, you'll have to be a bit more tactful. Telling him via text might come off as a bit callous, so I'd go with the phone.

What it really comes down to is this: You're allowed to do whatever you want and what you think will make you happy. Worrying about other peoples feelings and opinions about you is very noble, of course, but it needs to take backseat to your own feelings. You aren't doing anything that warrants feelings of guilt, so don't worry! Go on all the dates you want and enjoy yourself.
posted by sarastro at 7:42 PM on June 6, 2010

Honesty is paramount. At no point you should lie or mislead these guys into thinking that you're dating them exclusively. Really though, they would be unreasonable to expect exclusivity from you at this point due to A) Guy #1 living so far away and B) Things with guy #2 having just begun.

And C) They met via online dating.

Nobody (nobody sane, anyway) expects exclusivity from online dating until it's explicitly made clear.
posted by ripley_ at 7:46 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

Here's the thing: Someone who is seeing multiple people is only misleading the multiple people if they're "acting monogamous", and that's like, sharing so much time/energy/passion on one relationship that the person might reasonably think "I really don't see how she'd have any time/energy/passion to devote to someone else. I bet we're monogamous." If you've gone on one date with Guy 2, and Guy 1 lives 6 hours away, you're not to the "acting monogamous" stage with either one of them yet. Like ripley_ said, they shouldn't be assuming that you're not seeing anyone else at this stage in the game.

If you start going on lots of dates with #2, maybe at that point it would be cool to say "blabhlabhlahblah, I'm seeing two guys, just wanted you to know".
posted by 23skidoo at 7:58 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nobody (nobody sane, anyway) expects exclusivity from online dating until it's explicitly made clear.

posted by Linnee at 8:10 PM on June 6, 2010

1. At this point I don't think there's any need to tell them anything. If they ask then don't lie, but unless it comes up, both situations sound pretty casual and certainly not exclusive. If you and guy #2 really hit it off and start seeing each other regularly then it would probably be time to let guy #1 know.

2. Yeah, phone.

3. That's sort of a personal line, and is really up to what you're comfortable with. If you aren't comfortable with kissing and/or making out with both of them in the picture, just tell guy #2 you want to take things slow but that you're definitely interested in him. (you might want to get in at least one kiss just to make sure he's good though!)
posted by grapesaresour at 8:41 PM on June 6, 2010

1. " you want to be exclusive?" Much better than a weird quasi-confession.

2. Call, but this isn't bad. You're not breaking up with him. So don't worry so much about your performance. Be as lighthearted as possible. If you sound like you're telling him you gave him an STD, you're doin' it wrong.

3. My personal opinion about sluttiness/easiness is that you could have wild sex with both of them, and as long as they were both okay with non-exclusivity, I would not think any less of you.

Physical interaction is fun. Enjoy it. Enjoy learning your body's responses. When it starts to feel weird, stop. It's not a tool to get guys to stay with you--although I see why you might think of it that way. But it's much more than that. You can want kisses and sexual touching, too. Getting physical with people is awesome and fun and it's a renewable resource. You're not running out of hugs or kisses or makeouts any time soon.

Then again, if you don't feel like kissing, don't. Nothing takes the fun out of sexy times like forcing yourself to do it when you don't want to. Ick.

In summary, it's your body, do what makes you (and your body) feel good; don't do what makes you feel bad. Be honest. Don't use sex to manipulate.

Good luck, have fun!

posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:42 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. is supposed to be

" you want to be exclusive? I'm not sure that I'm ready for that yet."
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:43 PM on June 6, 2010

I date multiple guys. When I meet someone new, this is generally how they find out I am dating people other than them.

When we've started flirting but aren't into hella makeoutzz stage yet, I throw away a comment about how I'm not "not looking for anything serious right now" or how I enjoy "casual dating."

When we're getting closer to the point where something physical is going to happen, I have a short prepared speech about my nonmonogamous status. I've given it a few times and I generally have a few drinks in me when I deliver it, partially because it makes it me a lot ballsier and breezier and not like I'm confessing some sweaty scary shameful secret but mostly because I'm a lush.

My speech is something like this, "I really like you, but before I lead you on or this goes any further, I want to let you know that I'm in an open relationship. I live with my boyfriend and I'm really happy with him, but I do date other people casually on the side. I'd like to keep seeing you, but I want to let you know that (sexual boundary about what sex acts are off the table). Is that OK?"

Obviously, you're not quite the sexy sex person who likes sex with multiple partners as if it was her profession that I am, so your speech might be a little different. But this is a totally normal situation, people do this all the time, and hell, if the guys I date can handle me telling them I have a committed boyfriend at home and still want to date me anyway, I am pretty sure no one is going to run screaming from you if you say "I've been online dating a bit and exploring my options, I don't really like mixing intercourse and casual dating but I'd love to see how things goes and if we really hit it off maybe we can discuss seeing each other exclusively."
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:47 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

1. Guy #1 isn't in a position to be dating you right now because he's six hours away and you made no commitment. You are not dating. You may be dating again in the future if a) he moves back, and b) neither of you is seeing anyone else, but currently, you are not dating.

2. Guy #2 is a go. If you're still seeing each other when Guy #1 gets back, then you have an issue. At the moment, though, you do not have a problem. You do, however, have a date!
posted by DarlingBri at 5:48 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

"How physical can I get with guy #2 without being easy/slutty?"

Look, being "slutty" or "easy" is a matter of reputation, not acts. It doesn't matter HOW fast you move with guy #2 as long as guy #2 isn't telling all his friends, "Dude, this chick is so easy!" and they want in on the action as well. I assume you're not dating guys who are spreading it around their social groups that you are "easy," and since you met online and don't SHARE social groups (at least not yet), it's not like it's likely to circulate among people YOU know. (And their friends aren't likely to be all that interested in gossiping about you since they don't know you.)

Do what feels comfortable and right and that you WANT to do, and don't worry about being seen as easy or slutty. As long as everyone involved is discrete about sharing personal details, those labels are irrelevant.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:46 AM on June 7, 2010

I would never 'date' a girl/woman who was dating anyone else. Am I the only one left who thinks like this? And as to the matter of distance - it extinguishes the small...enkindles the great.
posted by Deor at 9:53 AM on June 7, 2010

If you haven't had the, "we are exclusive" or "we are BF/GF" conversation, if I were a dude I would be assuming that you're open to seeing other guys, and probably are doing so. That's what dating as an adult is like. If dude #1 is sitting there assuming that you aren't going on other dates from time to time then he's really naive. Also, if you are in a place where you'd honestly feel weird kissing someone else, then maybe you need to have that conversation, "you're moving away...what are we, really?"

Regarding how far you go, that's really your prerogative, just be safe about it. You're 29 years old and an adult. Sleeping with someone doesn't make you a slut. If you want to hold out until you're exclusive, just be clear about that fact proactively so the dude isn't sitting there wondering; the guy(s) will appreciate it. That said, if I took a girl out twice and she wouldn't kiss me goodnight, I wouldn't call her back for a third date. You need some physical chemistry or it just isn't working.
posted by kryptonik at 12:10 PM on June 7, 2010

Thanks for all the great advice. I actually told Guy #1 about Guy #2 and that I wouldn't be intimate until in an exclusive relationship. Last night Guy #1 called me and said that he's ready to be in an exclusive relationship with me. He also said that he thinks we can make it work. I told him that I'm not ready to make that commitment, he said he'll make the effort to win me over, but he can't wait forever.

I never expect Guy #1 to be ready for exclusive relationship this quickly. I've had another date with Guy #2 since my post and I think it's likely that we'll have date #3. But Guy #1's announcement really threw me into a loop, do I need to tell Guy #2 about Guy #1 at this point, when we go to Date #3?
posted by wcmf at 11:14 AM on June 9, 2010

Last night Guy #1 called me and said that he's ready to be in an exclusive relationship with me. He also said that he thinks we can make it work. ... I never expect Guy #1 to be ready for exclusive relationship this quickly.

Wow, that's rather touching of him, and somewhat surprising. But wait, why are you just telling us about what he wants (or says he wants)? What do you want?

If you agree with Guy #1 and want to either wait for months or try to make something work out long distance at such an early stage, then you could do that. But that doesn't sound very appealing, and you didn't add anything about whether you actually want to do this, which suggests to me that you don't. If that's true, then I would simply reiterate the advice that I and other people have given: Guy #1 is at least temporarily out of picture, and you can focus on Guy #2 for now, letting whatever happens, happen, without guilt. (Frankly, I can't say I'm completely surprised that Guy #1 would prefer that you not go down this course...)

It seems like you're maybe a bit too concerned with trying to fit everything into a neat framework where you're following all the rules and doing everything right. I say: you're in a pretty nice situation right now, so make the most of it. First decide what you want to do, and then pursue that. It's fine if you're not totally sure what you want and don't have a definite plan yet.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:13 PM on June 9, 2010

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