This is all so silly
April 25, 2012 8:43 PM   Subscribe

What's a girl to do?

Ok so since Metafilter is so awesome and I always get such amazing advice whenever I ask, I'm turning to you once again with a question on online dating.

After asking this question about a month ago, I took modernserf's advice and put up a profile on OkCupid.

It was kind of scary, because I received a ton of messages only hours after I put it up, and had to weed through them to see which ones I could respond to.

To make a long story short, after about a week of talking to one guy and really clicking (intellectually) we have been meeting up quite often and actually he's really cool and attractive and super nice and sweet.

The thing is there are a few other nice guys that have messaged me and I've chatted back with them too, it's just that the first message they sent was a few days after the first guy.

So now, little fickle indecisive me is trying to figure out what to do.
Am I allowed to meet up with other guys/girls even though I've clicked really well with that first sweet guy? Am I allowed to meet up just to be friends and have conversations with other people? Will it be rude if I continue the conversations with these guys even though I've kind of met someone special?

I still don't know what I want out of a relationship and have been traumatized with the idea of marriage from all the terribly depressing movies I've seen lately.

Also, I know I'm supposed to be all free and experimenting with sex and all, but I feel quite a sense of dread towards the whole thing---so awkward, you have to be naked, there are weird noises, and all that crap. Also I find it nearly impossible to talk about sex with potential partners---I go silent and am unable to speak, almost. So it's hard for me to express or even figure out for myself, what I want.

So should I just keep meeting up with the sweet first guy? What about that other guy who majored in philosophy and seems really interesting? What about some girls that I might like to meet?
Urggggg, decisions, decisions.
posted by costanza to Human Relations (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Am I allowed to meet up with other guys/girls even though I've clicked really well with that first sweet guy?

yes, this is called "dating."
posted by violetk at 9:00 PM on April 25, 2012 [22 favorites]

My initial response is that you can keep meeting up with/messaging other folks, but I am also wondering how many times you've met up with the Sweet First Guy? If it's been more than a handful and nobody has said anything about other people they are dating, it might be that he thinks he's got you solo. Some people who do online dating enjoy multi-dating, and some don't - you'll probably get a multitude of responses varying on whether you even should say explicitly that you are, should you look around on the webz.

For me, personally, exclusivity came about in some sort of conversation and was never assumed, but some people don't float in my boat. On the other hand, I tended to just date one guy at a time beyond initial meetings, except for one poorly thought out period where I was dating two guys at once (poorly thought out because I was really wasting my time not liking either one of them enough to make it exclusive, but enough about me).

The "problem" (if there is one) with online dating is that, like shopping, there may be too many options (or too few) and there's often the potential of a greater steal around the corner. You, at some point, have to decide to just pull the trigger or not not knowing what the future will bring. If it helps, some of those options will still be on the shelf should you decide to make a return.
posted by sm1tten at 9:00 PM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, I know I'm supposed to be all free and experimenting with sex and all

No, you're not supposed to be anything. There are no rules. You do what feels right for you, and the hell with what anyone else thinks.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:02 PM on April 25, 2012 [32 favorites]

Allowed, supposed, allowed, supposed... THERE ARE NO RULES. Who, exactly, do you think is allowing you or forcing you to do any of these things?

If it was me, I'd go on dates with those other guys and be clear about not wanting sex outside of a relationship, but otherwise have fun and explore the wondrous variety of men in the world. You could also not do that, and maybe message the neat guys later if this first guy doesn't pan out. You can literally do whatever you want!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:25 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like there is no expectation of exclusivity with sweet first guy, so feel free to meet/date whomever you want. That said, it wouldn't hurt to check in with him and make sure you're on the same page. Transparency minimizes the chance anyone will get hurt or upset.

As for experimenting with sex, MexicanYenta has it. The only person you need to answer to is yourself and, if something feels you with dread, you shouldn't do it, no matter what it is. Follow your instincts and you'll soon figure out what works for you. Best of luck, be safe, & have fun!
posted by katemcd at 9:25 PM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Until you and your guy explicitly establish an expectation of exclusivity, no, you're not doing anything wrong. But are you comfortable seeing multiple people at once? I think that's the key question here.

Having been on OKC recently -- here's how it went down for me. Once I met someone I really, really liked, I grew increasingly uneasy about arranging dates with other people. But I continued to accept invitations to drinks/dinner for the next couple of weeks or so from new guys, because I assumed that the Chemistry Guy was also dating around, and I knew that instant chemistry sometimes fades. (But it didn't in this case. YAY! Wait -- I'm getting ahead of myself!)

So, the decision to stop dating other people came pretty naturally when I realized, while I was out on dates with other people, that I was wishing I were with the other guy instead. So, for my own comfort, I canceled a third date with someone and removed my profile. Note: I hadn't had any exclusivity talk with The Guy yet. I just made this decision for my own comfort.

Of course, he then noticed I'd removed my profile. Another week passed before we discussed this, and the matter of exclusivity came up. He removed his profile then.

In short, you stop dating other people when you don't want to date other people any more. The "exclusivity talk" shouldn't really factor into this decision, in my view, unless you feel like you want to keep dating other people until it does. Also - from other friends who've used OKC - I understand that it's pretty common for someone to hide their profile for a few weeks, then make it visible again -- and reestablishing contact/replying to old, unanswered messages can turn out pretty well in such cases, as many guys are on the site longer than ladies are.

On preview: As MexicanYenta recommends, I don't have sex outside of a monogamous, committed relationship. So that wasn't a concern for me. However, if you're sleeping with multiple people, I would think it becomes imperative for you to divulge and discuss this with all the people you're sleeping with. Transparency is key to good health, in these cases.
posted by artemisia at 9:34 PM on April 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

Don't worry about marriage AT ALL (like, bat away even those stray thoughts about it) right now. And maybe stop watching terribly depressing movies for a while.

When I was in similar shoes, I felt like First Real Guy Who Clicked was enough to think about for a while, so I gently begged off on correspondence with others until I could sort out what First Guy and I were like together. There were plenty more new people after that, and plenty who had messaged me once but were just as happy to hear back after plenty of time had passed.

Meanwhile, if being naked etc. with First Guy fills you with dread, DON'T DO IT. Really, don't. You don't have to talk about it. Just prepare yourself with a line like "Let's stop here for now" as soon as you feel anything like dread coming on. You should touch his body, and let him touch yours, clothed or naked, when it is what you really really want -- awkwardness and weird noises and be damned -- and you are not supposed/obligated to do it at any point before that. As others have said, this is the only "supposed" that matters. You need to be your own guardian angel on your shoulder when you're dating, and you need to trust what that voice tells you.
posted by argonauta at 10:04 PM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

You know what I found helpful the last time I was on the market? I tried to think of dating as a job search, and each date was an interview. If you were serious about finding a new job, you would hardly stop interviewing just because one potential employer showed a little interest, would you?

As far as sex goes, my opinion is that you're within your rights to hold out until you receive a firm offer, as it were.
posted by La Cieca at 10:21 PM on April 25, 2012 [8 favorites]

Great advice from other people so far. To which I'll just add this:
If you don't want to have sex, don't. But if there's a fear there which you'd like to overcome (for your own sake, not for anyone else), then you could do worse than downloading a bunch of Savage Love podcasts or reading his column (HERE).
And remember, whoever you're dating doesn't have a rulebook either. So just go with the flow, communicate, and have fun! :)
posted by pablocake at 10:25 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Same thing happened to me, but I'm a guy who got messages and replies from several girls. I decided not to pursue anything with anyone else after I met that sweet first girl. That was over a year ago, and I'm still in that relationship. I'm happy with my choice, and I would be even if the relationship hadn't worked out, because that's the kind of person I am, but that's me. You get to make these choices for yourself. You have AskMe's permission to do whatever you want, including from dating other guys to asking sweet first guy if he wouldn't mind seeing only you--not that you needed permission for either in the first place!
posted by smorange at 10:41 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


There indeed are rules, well, one rule is: karma is a kind friend and a harsh master

If you date multiple people at the same time, do not be surprised if someone you really like is also dating multiple people.

You get what you give, after all, in dating as in the rest of life. If you string people along, or play with people after they have revealed their needs/intentions to you, expect to be strung along, or played with after you have revealed your needs/intentions.

These are not things to fear, rather things to be aware of. There's a parable about an old man sitting outside a town.

A traveler walks by and says, "hey old man, what kind of people are in this town?" The old man looks up and squints. "What kind of people have you met already on your journey?" The traveler shakes his head and says, "Terrible people. People that have hurt me, taken advantage of me. People that were mean to me." The old man looks down at the ground and back up to the traveler. "Well, those people are here too." The traveler says, "Thanks old man. I think I'll take the long road around and look for somewhere better."

Some time later, another traveler arrives. "Hey old man, what kind of people are in this town?" the old man looks up and squints. "What kind of people have you met already on your journey?" The traveler smiles and says, "Wonderful people, amazing people. People that have taken me in, given me food and shelter. People that have invited me to their celebrations, and people that cared for me greatly." The old man replies, "Well, those people are here too." The traveler says, "Thanks old man!" and proceeds into the town.

You need to be your own guardian angel on your shoulder when you're dating, and you need to trust what that voice tells you.

Definitely and moreso.
posted by nickrussell at 12:18 AM on April 26, 2012 [9 favorites]

It's fairly normal for women doing online dating to be dating multiple people at once, and then either choose one to take further (and let the others know that she's no-longer single), or let circumstance choose for her (ie the first relationship to get serious wins the race), where serious might mean long make-out sessions, or sex, or whatever is serious to her.
I think its best to be open that you are dating online (ie not exclusive), but I also assume this is the case until I find out otherwise.

But when it comes to sex, the bar is higher. While it sounds like it's not an issue you'll face for a while, you should never have multiple sexual relationships going on without ensuring the other person knows that the two of you are not sexually exclusive, otherwise any consent is not informed, and that leads to the kind of mess that you will (rightly) dread more than you dread communication.

Communication is your friend. No good deed goes unpunished, and some people will punish you for honesty and communication, but you will prosper more greatly though it, filter out the nasties and find the gems.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:27 AM on April 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Everyone I know who uses online dating will initially go out / meet / date a whole bunch of people simultaneously in the first few weeks before settling down into something agreed as exclusive with one person. I think that is standard operating procedure for Online Dating.

Until you explicitly discuss exclusivity I think that its best to assume there is none.
posted by mary8nne at 12:50 AM on April 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Until you know what you want, or even what gender you prefer, do not commit to anyone. Please be open about your indecisiveness early on. Do not let the other person fall in love with you or believe it could last forever. And then do whatever you want. So long as you are open and honest with everyone, you are doing nothing wrong by dating everyone you come into contact with.

You do not have to sleep with and/or marry everyone you go on a date with. Dating can be fun. Just keep it honest and you will be fine.
posted by myselfasme at 6:13 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not wrong to date other people as long as you're being honest and not misleading anyone. It's also not wrong not to do that -- if you like this boy you're dating and aren't interested in dating other people, that's fine, too. The only thing you're supposed to do is treat others with respect and only do what you're comfortable with and want to do.

Like sm1tten, one thing I think makes online dating tough is that there are so many options that it can lead to a paralysis of choice situation. Sometimes you just have to decide you want to give it a go with someone, or that you don't because you want to sleep around, or something else.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:42 AM on April 26, 2012

I think that in online dating both parties should (and generally do) assume that the other is dating other people until they have a conversation about it. This is the same conversation you have to have in a normal dating situation, but it's actually slightly less awkward because you can make it about the status of your okcupid profiles.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2012

been traumatized with the idea of marriage from all the terribly depressing movies I've seen lately

Oh, and I know this is kind of peripheral to your question, but here's something to keep in mind: nobody writes a movie about an awesome marriage where the couple just quietly lives their lives with no major problems. Not because those marriages don't exist, but because that would be a terrible movie.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:09 AM on April 26, 2012 [11 favorites]

Expectations: in my experience most people on OKC will expect to have sex sometime during dating, and many-or-most will date multiple people at once before making up their minds about anything more permanent.

Those are "most people" expectation-statements though, not statements of "ought". There's not much "ought" in dating aside from basic moral rules of honesty and integrity. You're in this to satisfy your own needs, which means listening to your own heart. Don't be surprised if people do those things, but equally don't let their behavior dictate yours.

Concerning mass media, film: in my experience any time I assume reality will imitate a particular media depiction, it takes that assumption as a challenge.
posted by ead at 9:10 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

go ahead and meet up with the other people. if you and the first sweet guy develop real feelings for one another, then you stick with him and stop seeing the others. if you don't, stop seeing the first guy and continue seeing the other guy(s) or girl(s) and see where those go.

dating is not an automatic commitment of exclusivity. there's always a point where you have to either commit or decide you're not that interested, but where that point is is up to you and the person you're dating. in the meantime, s/he doesn't get a say in how you spend your time away from them. just be decent about it. don't talk about seeing other people, don't pretend that you guys are in a committed relationship and if you're not getting any long-term feelings for someone you're dating, don't string them along.
posted by shmegegge at 11:15 AM on April 26, 2012

Thank you for your answers, all were very very helpful.

I decided to write to first sweet guy and ask what he would think if I met up with other people. He wrote back a really sweet response saying it was ok with him. I feel like I hit the jackpot on the first try.

Thanks again, and I'm sure I'll be back on here again in no time.
posted by costanza at 8:27 PM on April 26, 2012

Don't forget to invite your "best answers" to the wedding :)
posted by softlord at 6:41 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Shorten my bike commute   |   Recommendations for a transmission shop on the far... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.