In the Blog
Love and Relationships Series: Multiple Dating and Me
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Hi. my name is deb and I can be attracted to more than one person at the same time.
Can anyone reading relate to this feeling/idea? I bet many-a reader can!
When it comes to the types of relationships that are out there, it’s pretty clear that while we live in a culture of monogamy*, we can still be attracted to more than one person at the same time.
Six years ago, I met someone while I was in love with someone else. I decided to tell both people about the other. One relationship was changing from lover to friend, and the other was changing from friend to potential lover. I cared for the one I was in love with, even though we both knew our relationship couldn’t work in the long run. And I was elated, delighted and excited that this friend was turning into something romantic, sexual and perhaps beyond.
Both people had to be okay with knowing I was dating the other, or I wouldn’t have continued to do so. I guess if one had wanted me to be monogamous with them, I would have had to make that choice at that time, but both were okay with knowing I was spending time with the other. And so I began dating one person while still dating the other.
As a queer (who formally used the word bisexual to describe my sexual identity), readers might have some judgments about my choice to date two people I seriously cared about at the same time. Judgments I have received in the past about multiple dating are:
* I’m being greedy * I just can’t commit * I can’t pick between the genders because I date cisgender men and women and trans people. So I can’t really be gay and I’m greedy for all * I’m a cheater * I am lonely and am filling the void with sex/love
These are just a few of the judgments I have experienced in the past.
At the same time, in my queer community, multiple dating is more talked about and becoming more accepted. People use words like polyamory** and primary or secondary partners*** to describe the model of relationship they engage in romantically and to describe who the person they are dating is to them: a main partner,, or someone they see less often or have a less intense relationship with, for example.
Now, some of this might seem a bit technical and um, unromantic. All these terms and ideas seem new, but people being attracted to more than one person at the same time is certainly not a new concept.
Look at Betty and Veronica. Historically, they have been all about sharing Archie and not tying themselves down to one boy to get serious with. And check out all the people getting divorced for the reason of one partner cheating! It’s obvious in these scenarios that people clearly have attractions and needs for different personalities and kinds of relationships in their lives.
So for me, it was important to own and honestly name that I want different things from different people in my life, and that I could do this with everyone knowing, and not counting solely on monogamy to show how much I cared about any one person (i.e. people knowing I only have eyes for them as proof of how much I may like them).
But let’s be real. Dating multiple people is like a delicate and precious juggling act and we know it’s never as easy as it looks. I didn’t just date people and hope they managed all their feelings on their own. In choosing to care about more than one person at a time, I had to be responsible for how my actions impacted them, how they felt and what I could do to support them. Dating multiple people always brings up jealousy. Veronica and Betty get jealous of each other on a regular basis! But the keys to doing multiple dating well are caring for the person, hearing them out and being very honest with yourself about what you can really manage.
One of the biggest keys for me was being aware that I wasn’t dating one person or a few because I was lonely or couldn’t be alone. I had to be very comfortable being alone and having only myself to love me before I could get into complicated relationships where I had to juggle many dynamics. I also had to be aware, in queer communities, that I wasn’t doing polyamory because it was the “in” or “cool” thing to do (the idea that if you aren’t cool with polyamory, then you aren’t “with it”). I had to be clear about where I was at and not date people or be okay with someone I was dating dating others just because I didn’t want to look like some old-fashioned gay.
Finally, even though being responsible for what I put out in my relationships sounds like some serious business, it’s also about having fun, taking care of my needs and being myself! I don’t have to commit to one person just because society says so. We aren’t asked to commit to one friend and one alone, right? It’s okay to have many different kinds of friends and friendships, so trying to manage that in terms of romantic and sexual relationships - if others are okay with it - seems like it could yield a world of connections, experiences and love. Doesn’t it?
*Culture of monogamy - where all other types of relationship models like multiple dating, polyamory, polygamy and others are looked down on and everyone, straight people and LGBTQ people alike, is encouraged to be with one person at a time in a romantic relationship.
**Polyamory - where one person can have more than one relationship at the same time and/or love more than one person at the same time with all parties knowing about each other and the status of each person.
***Primary or secondary partners - where a person is dating one person more seriously than another person they are dating. Or a person is dating multiple people with no hierarchy of relationship but there are first, second and third partners, etc.
Final Note: Multiple dating is not for everyone. Some people are monogamous and some aren’t. This blog is about thinking about what you might be instead of being stuck with society’s ideas of how relationships are supposed to be (heterosexual, monogamous, long term, etc). Have fun discovering your relationship style!