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Dating Advice # 126 - Double Dating

May 9, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Is it okay to date more than one person at a time?

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

My friend and I are having a bit of a disagreement that I’m hoping you could solve. She is going on dates with three different men this week. I question if this is practical -- for example, what if she likes all three. And I wonder if this is fair to all the parties involved.

What is the best policy regarding dating several people at once? I would like to show your answer to my friend.

I have asked you for advice in the past and have found it extremely useful. Thanks for all your help.


Dear Debbie,

When dating with the goal of marriage, we never recommend dating more than one person at a time. While juggling a few different dating partners at the same time may be common for someone who is dating purely for pleasure, we do not believe that it is an acceptable, honest or productive practice for someone who has decided that the purpose of their dating is to find their future spouse.

What are the dangers of triple dating, or even double dating? As you mentioned, she may like more than one man and have trouble deciding between them. She may compare them to one another, and that isn't fair for her or for her dates. Each of us has to be looked at on our merits. What we commonly see happen in such a situation is that the double- or triple-dater ends up with no one because she thinks, "Well, he's okay, but the next person may be even better."

Many people are under the mistaken impression that they will "know" if someone is right for them very quickly. This is a myth. Most people need at least two dates to be able to decide that a date has marriage potential and they would like to know them better. Very few people develop an "instant connection." From personal and professional experience, we can tell you that the majority of now-happily married couples gradually developed their emotional connections over the length of their courtships. When someone juggles more than one dating partner at a time, they tend to rush to judgment too quickly and give up on a promising relationship simply because it isn't moving as fast as they (mistakenly) believe it should.

Another problem with multiple dating is that multiple daters don't devote the emotional energy and time that is needed to enable a courtship to develop. We strongly believe that if a courtship seems promising, the partners should concentrate their energies into getting to know each other well and building an emotional connection. Life is distracting enough; another dating partner in the picture is too distracting and confusing.

Finally, we think that multiple dating often backfires when one or more of the people someone is dating, each of whom is probably concentrating on developing the relationship and believes you are doing the same, then discovers what is going on. This can cause great emotional anguish, as the person feels “two-timed” and that their date was being less than honest about the nature of their courtship.

We hope you can discourage your friend from multiple dating. And we hope she soon finds the person who is right for her.

Rosie & Sherry

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