Please note that he did put a ring on it.

“When you date just one guy, you might feel pressured to commit, even if you’re not ready,” she says. “If you see two men, there’s often this unspoken need to choose between them. But three guys tend to balance each other out, like a tripod.” – Source: CNN

I’ve noticed a pattern in relationship advice giving lately. It essentially boils down to “women should date like men.” It’s no secret that men have largely accepted and employed the theory of entertaining a number of women during their romantic pursuits since… well, since forever. In recent years, I’ve noticed more and more people of both sexes are encouraging women to entertain more than one man in their romantic pursuits as well. This isn’t to say women haven’t secretly done this the whole time. It has simply become a more vocal recommendation.

This weekend I stumbled on an interesting movie with a similar theme, Two Girls and a Guy, staring Robert Downey Jr and Heather Graham. In essence, Robert’s character, Blake, has been dating two women for the exact same period of time, approximately one year. Eventually, the two women find out about one another when they both show up at his apartment to surprise him. This, however, is only the beginning. The revelation of the hidden love-triangle inspires a series of interpersonal conversations between the three, which reveals that in actuality none of the parties have been completely honest with one another during the course of their respective relationships. To varying degrees, all have lied, cheated, mislead and told half-truths in order to accomplish their own selfish pursuits. Ironically, none of these open and honest conversations would have occurred if the infidelities of Blake were never exposed.

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There was another movie I watched recently, which was not as good as the first I’ve listed (or particularly good at all), but the concept was interesting and familiar. It was called S*xting. Similar to many relationships of the 21st century, the movie title comes from the predominant reliance on communication via text versus phone by all parties involved. In this movie, the girl is the one with a number of boyfriends – four to be exact – and they all know about each other. While each serves a specific role, they are all also sleeping with her. In fact, the one she claims to love the most is a married man.

Conversely, the main guy in the story is dating three women as well but none of them know about each other. As the two main character’s relationship begins to mature, we observe that it is far easier for the woman to leave her past behind because she was honest the whole time. The man on the other hand struggles to part from his group of women because none of them knew about each other in the first place. This then begs the question: should you be honest with all the people you’re dating (and/or sleeping with). Plus, are you being dishonest because you’re a selfish liar, you’re not sure they can handle the truth, or you just don’t want to bother with the headache?

In an article I shared last week researchers found, “More than 40% of women and almost 30% of men would ask for a divorce if they discovered their spouse was having an affair.” This is despite the fact that all of the respondents were unfaithful or looking to be unfaithful behind their spouses backs themselves. This is hypocrisy at its finest but when it comes to our own self-interest people are hypocritical.

Just as different people can serve different roles outside of bed, so too, can they satisfy different needs between the sheets. In their groundbreaking book, “The Ethical Slut,” Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy describe the ways in which single women (and men) can juggle multiple sexual partners and enjoy intimacy safely and “ethically.”

Marriage is wonderful for many, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. Whether you’re sexually intimate with more than one person or simply enjoying a variety of friendships and dates, one doesn’t have to be the loneliest number. – Source: CNN

honest man and woman

Honesty is a two-way street.

Honestly, I’ve tried a number of these approaches with mixed results over the years. I’ve outright lied and I’ve outright told the truth. The success versus failure rate of either approach was relative. Other times I was honest with everyone but selectively more honest with women I thought (or who demonstrated) could handle the truth. For example, a man might tell the “main chick” he is not ready for a serious relationship, while he tells other women he encounters he is “seeing someone.” Technically, he is not lying to anyone. This also gives everyone the opportunity to decide if they want to deal with the dating situation or not.

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If for nothing more than ease, I recommend the honest route but that isn’t to say jealousy, egos, and the possessive tendencies of human nature won’t rear their ugly heads. Dating multiple people is one of those things that sounds good in principle but is fairly difficult to implement, especially if you’re open and candid with all parties. All parties have to be very mature and emotionally sound. For instance, I might be fine with you seeing other men, but I don’t need to know how often you had relations with those other men or how good or bad it was relative to our experiences. Additionally, no matter how laid back someone might be they might feel differently knowing you had your legs wrapped around them last night but in the morning they see you walking down the street wrapped in the arms of another. Everything is all good, until it isn’t…

In theory, if we are not in a committed relationship then our time is our time and your time is your time. What you do with your time is your business. I’ve always felt I don’t own anyone – you are not my possession and there is no ring on your finger obligating you to me. While I hope for honesty and common courtesy, I understand why many people don’t have the courage, patience, or even feel they owe me an explanation if we’re not committed. Not everyone feels that way though, which brings me to today’s questions.
1) Should women date more like men, entertaining multiple suitors at a time or should men date more like women, focusing their attention on one woman at a time before moving on to the next? 2) Is there any right, wrong, or better approach for men/women? 3) Is honesty the best course of action? Should you inform your partner how many people you’re dating, when you’re dating them, and why you’ve chosen to date them or is ignorance bliss? 4) The most important question of all: Can you handle the truth?