This is a trap isn't it?
April 29, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Online dating etiquette. When is it ok to ask about the other people you're seeing from the site? Is it different for men and women? What's the right response?

So this guy and I met (I'm a woman) online and have been dating casually for about a month. We've slept together a few times and are generally having a good time. We text almost every day.

The other day he asks me "how many other guys are you seeing from dating site x". I answer honestly (I've met two other guys). He pressed for details: "are you having sex? do you still talk to them?". I answered honestly (no sex and yes, I still casually talk to one of them). I felt a little put off by this because I know that if I had asked the same questions as a woman it would have been construed as me trying to pin him down into marriage. In no way have we discussed being exclusive or establishing a relationship yet (it's really too soon, we don't know each other that well). I assured him that I liked him and that he was my 'front runner'. The conversation ended with that.

This whole thing is complicated by the fact that we can see each other when we're on the dating site reviewing other profiles and following up with other dates. I find myself not logging in for fear that he's examining my last logged in status as a way to interpret my other dating activity.

My questions:

1) What's the best response to the question about who I'm seeing and what my other online dating activity is in the early dating phase?

2) When is it ok to ask someone about their other dating activity?

3) What do you think my fella was trying to assess by asking such questions?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Call me old fashioned, but I think if you're having sex with someone, they have a right to know if you're also having sex with someone else. You don't need to be exclusive unless you've decided to be exclusive, but you do need to be honest.

1) Whatever is true.
2) Immediately before or any time after you have sex with them.
3) Whether you're sleeping with other guys.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:45 AM on April 29, 2011 [23 favorites]


Ditto with jacquilynne. If you're having sex with a person, that person has a right to know whether you're having sex with others.

1) the truth.
2) Personally, I think the other person has a right to ask if you're seeing other people from the start.
3) whether you're sleeping around. I don't think he's saying he wants to marry you; he's asking whether he's going to get herpes from some other guy you're sleeping with.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:50 AM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I felt a little put off by this because I know that if I had asked the same questions as a woman it would have been construed as me trying to pin him down into marriage.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Put down the assumptions gun, lady, that thing is loaded, someone could get hurt!

Pull the online dating site part out of the equation, and let go of your baggage about the unfairness of being a woman on the dating scene vs. being a man. Everybody has baggage and frustration, dating requires you to be vulnerable and it's hard and scary for everybody. This is a hard conversation for everybody.

1.) The best response to the question about whether or not you are seeing other people is, "I am seeing other people right now, yes" if you are. If you are sexually active with the person who asks, I believe it is the right thing to do to disclose if you are sexually active with others.

2.) I think that once you've hit the sheets together, questions about someone else's dating activities are warranted and reasonable. It's best to ask with a framework in mind, though, like, be brave and ask for exclusivity if you want it.

3.) Who knows what your fella was trying to assess? Probably he wants to know if you're as into him as he is to you and he is hoping you two will go the distance, and he was hedging his bets a bit in case you weren't ready to go there, to save face (and save himself some disappointment and discomfort as well). But also maybe he is seeing others and wants to be sure you're not all bonkers crazy for him and going to be hurt by his lack of desire to be exclusive with you if things continue. Also, another possibility is that he's an alien from another planet and he is doing anthropological research. Ask him, or stop wondering/caring!

Can you see yourself being exclusive with this guy? If so, I'd say, tell him that, but say you still want to go slowly and you're not yet ready. You're not promising, you're still trying it on for size. Don't see it happening? Let him go now if he wants to be exclusive with you. Please hammer, don't hurt him.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:50 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


1) What's the best response to the question about who I'm seeing and what my other online dating activity is in the early dating phase?

The truth. IT's that simple.

2) When is it ok to ask someone about their other dating activity?

Usually after a couple of dates, before sleeping with them or right after they've asked you about your other dating activity.

3) What do you think my fella was trying to assess by asking such questions?

Seriously, ask HIM.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:56 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


1) The truth, followed by "What about you?"
2) Definitely by the time you're hooking up.
3) I think he was trying to have an exclusivity conversation and did it awkwardly. ASK HIM who he's still seeing / sleeping with off the site and then the two of you should probably have a conversation about whether you want to keep seeing / sleeping with other people or declare yourself a couple.
posted by motsque at 11:21 AM on April 29, 2011


I felt a little put off by this because I know that if I had asked the same questions as a woman it would have been construed as me trying to pin him down into marriage.

That's insane.

In no way have we discussed being exclusive or establishing a relationship yet (it's really too soon, we don't know each other that well).

Yes, you did—you discussed it when he asked whether you were exclusive ("are you still talking to the other people you've been seeing?" is pretty clearly a face-saving way of asking "how exclusive are we?").
posted by enn at 11:36 AM on April 29, 2011


I felt a little put off by this because I know that if I had asked the same questions as a woman it would have been construed as me trying to pin him down into marriage.

I know people are already piling on about how wrong-headed your notion is, but this bears repeating: asking a new sexual partner whether they're sleeping with anyone else is a completely reasonable, adult thing to do. It doesn't matter what gender the asker is. If your past boyfriends have read such questions as attempts to get unwanted commitments from them, you've been dating really immature people.

It's possible your new partner wanted to assess whether you're engaging in behaviors that could put you at risk for contracting/transmitting STIs. It's possible that he did want to gauge your interest with a question along the lines of "Hey, what kinds of connections are you ultimately looking for with regards to the people you've been meeting from this website?". He might have also just been curious. Regardless, he had a right to ask, and the fact that he did ask seems like a good sign to me.
posted by arianell at 11:59 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I assured him that I liked him and that he was my 'front runner'.

How charming. Maybe you meant this to be reassuring, but it really just makes it sound like he ought to treat all this as a competition against others, or like some kind of casting-call you're holding.

If you want someone to be honest and open with you, then you have to create an environment in which they feel safe doing that. How vulnerable would you let yourself become with someone who described you as a "front runner"?
posted by hermitosis at 12:05 PM on April 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd find it a teensy bit offputting because it comes off as a precursor to controlling behavior. He's concerned about your sexual activity for some reason. Could be STDs, could be insecurity, could be thinking of the future and wanting to be exclusive and seeing if you were open to it. If you'd replied that you were seeing no one else, he could easily have pushed to make a mutual commitment. But you are seeing others, and now it is complicated.

I don't think it's much of a compliment to tell him that he's your 'front runner'. That's more complimentary to yourself (that you have many suitors to rank) and encourages anxiety on his part. Sure, he's the 'front runner' now, but what if he makes a faux pas? He's being judged. Besides, it's none of his business if he's the best or the worst in your mind, and it has no impact on how worthy he is of a person in general.

I think next time these questions come up, try to be more factual and less emotional - that is, tell the truth, but leave out personal details. Like you were discussing it with your doctor, perhaps.
posted by griselda at 12:05 PM on April 29, 2011


I'd find it a teensy bit offputting because it comes off as a precursor to controlling behavior.

That's one interpretation. You could also interpret it as him wanting to be able to make informed decisions about his own behavior.
posted by John Cohen at 12:09 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow! You told him he was the "frontrunner"? Mmm. kay.

I agree with previous posters that once you're having sex with the person, it's perfectly within his right to ask about other partners.

And anecdotally, whenever I've asked this question of a man I'd met online, I always got a very straightforward answer with no assumptions that I was trying to marry him.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 12:19 PM on April 29, 2011


I think the front-runner thing is playful and cute, and if you answered my questions like I was at the doctor's office, I'd feel totally weird.

I would have the opposite reaction to both of these. If I've been dating someone for a month and we're sleeping together, I'd expect to feel free to ask if she's sleeping with other guys too, and to get a blunt, straightforward answer. I would be less interested in being told I'm the current "front-runner."
posted by John Cohen at 1:34 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe you should have conversations like this in person next time? Or call & do it by phone? His tone would really determine if I found this controlling/rude or commendably straightforward or something in-between.

Enough about him: what do YOU want? It sounds like you're not comfortable being exclusive or making a commitment. Know yourself, and let him take responsibility for his own requests and needs.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:12 PM on April 29, 2011


Also, regardless of what we think, if your gut feeling is that he's controlling or pushy, listen to it. You have far more information than we do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:15 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mod note: Memail is a better place for back-and-forth conversations. Thanks!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:23 PM on April 29, 2011


I agree with the young rope-rider. Listen to your initial reaction. If, in hindsight, you feel like you made a mistake, learn from it and use the knowledge in future relationships.
posted by spec80 at 12:18 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


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