You have the opportunity to meet new people with every swipe on dating apps. And with a seemingly endless supply of potential partners, more people are dating multiple people at once. But is this the dating strategy that you should take? When it comes to dating, it's important to understand whether seeing multiple people is right for you or not. Whatever method you choose, remaining optimistic and open-minded to all possibilities throughout your dating journey can make the experience fun and productive. Whatever your dating choice, be sure to choose the right path for yourself.
Dating multiple people certainly has its appeal, as there are many benefits to taking this kind of approach. According to behavioral health specialist Cessel Boyd, "The ability to explore your options is one of the largest benefits associated with dating multiple people. The dynamic of each relationship will be inherently different; in many cases, this allows for people to have fun, learn more about themselves, and discover what they do and don't want in relationships."
Read on to discover the various advantages and disadvantages of keeping your options open.
Pros of Dating Multiple People
Expanding Your Dating Network
One of the benefits of dating multiple people is opening yourself up to meeting more potential romantic partners. This approach enables you to make the best use of your time by meeting various people in a shorter period of time. Since dating is a numbers game, going out with multiple people in a given timeframe can help you find someone of interest sooner since you're not limiting yourself. Internationally-recognized relationship expert and bestselling author Susan Winter says, "Each time you go out with someone new, you’re automatically racking up information on your preferences. And dating by the numbers makes you more comfortable with the 'meet and greet' process."
Keeping Dating Light and Fun
If you're someone who isn't looking for a serious relationship, then dating multiple people at once can help prevent things from getting too serious. A just-released report based on a national, random sampling of nearly 5,000 adults in the U.S. from the Pew Research Center showed that 50 percent of single people are not interested in a committed romantic relationship. Further, if you're someone who tends to fall hard and fast for someone, then dating multiple people at once can help prevent you from falling into this dating trap and prematurely devoting yourself to someone before you have talked about being exclusive.
Dating at Your Own Pace
Dating multiple people enables you to date on your terms. For instance, you get to decide how many people you want to see in a given week and how active you are on a dating app. If you're recently single and looking to date again, then dating multiple people at once can help you see who's out there while remaining comfortable at your own pace. Frederic Neuman, M.D., says, "In order for dating to be successful, it has to proceed through stages. No one has given a label to these different stages. We think of the whole business as more or less continuous. Still, certain things have to happen at different times. There is a natural pace to a dating relationship. That pace is determined by cultural factors. What happens when is determined by what is expected from couples at the particular time and place in which they live."
Cons of Dating Multiple People
Preventing Yourself From Connecting With Someone on a Deeper Level
If you're wondering if you should date multiple people at once, it's important to understand that this dating method may end up preventing you from finding the relationship you're seeking. If you're dating various people, this may keep you from opening up and really getting to know someone on a deeper level because you're not fully giving your all to this person. Specifically, if you're unable to give your time to a potential partner and don't put much energy into cultivating a relationship with them, then you may end up sabotaging any future relationship because you're not establishing the necessary foundation on which your connection can develop.
Loren Soeiro PH.D. ABPP says, "The apps connect their users to an apparently bottomless list of dating possibilities, making it seem as though there is always someone better for you than the person you’re dating, or even just meeting, right now." Thus, you are less likely to want to truly connect with the person in front of you because you feel like the next best thing is always around the corner. Accordingly, Soerio adds that "With such a preponderance of options, maybe it doesn’t seem worth it to treat any one person as a real priority. A scientist at the Kinsey Institute once even described internet dating as the second most significant event in the evolution of human reproduction in human history."
Turning off Potential Partners
Importantly, if you're dating more than one person at a time, you may end up causing a budding relationship to end because the person you're with may want exclusivity. For instance, if you're dating multiple people, a person you may really like may choose to cut your relationship short because they want your undivided attention and don't like that you're playing the field while the two of you are trying to build a connection. Scott M. Stanley PH.D. explains, "In some couples, one partner is substantially more committed than the other. We call these Asymmetrically Committed Relationships (ACRs). No one who is looking for lasting love wants to find themselves in an ACR, but we suspect it has become increasingly easy to land in one."
Experiencing Dating Burnout
Rather than being a fun way to meet new people, dating more than one person at a time can start to feel like a chore or even a second job. If you're trying to meet as many people as you can, this kind of dating overload can actually cause you to want to give up on dating altogether, especially if the people you're dating don't turn out to be of interest to you. Dating a large number of people at one time can cause you to believe that dating leads to disappointment because you're putting a lot of time and effort into meeting someone special and getting nothing in return.
Caitlin Cantor LCSW, CST, CGT says, "If you’re using dating apps in hopes of finding a lasting relationship, the never-ending flow of new matches and the speed at which you can connect with them can be overwhelming. If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing dating burnout. When you have dating burnout, you become less emotionally available. You go on countless dates, but you don’t feel much for any of them. You wonder if it’s the people you’re meeting, or if you’re no longer capable of having feelings at all. Your self-worth is shaky, and you feel hopeless, sad, and helpless. Dating feels more like a chore than an exciting opportunity." Practice being patient to achieve your goal.
The Dating Takeaway
After weighing the different pros and cons of dating multiple people at once, it's up to you to decide how you'd like to approach dating altogether. When it comes to putting yourself out there and finding that special someone, you should always listen to your gut—and your heart.
Pew Research Center. "Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Say Dating Has Gotten Harder for Most People in the Last 10 Years." August 20, 2020