Is it OK to date more than one man at a time?

Dear Toni-

I actually have 2 questions. The first; Is it OK to date more than one man at a time? The second; Should I be honest and tell him I am dating others?

I am so conflicted over my present dating situation, and in a nutshell, this is what I am struggling with. I have one guy I can date that lives an hour away; my friends want to introduce me to a man the lives here in the same town as I do; and I have been in communication with a man about 800 miles away that I would really love to meet. The guy who lives the furthest away and I have been talking seriously for 2 1/2 months and have been trying to plan a weekend to meet. However, I have children still at home and he has had things "come up," and I got tired of waiting for him to be available/ready. I know his reluctance is not a good sign, and after having met the man who lives an hour away who makes himself available, I am torn. For some reason, I continue to really want to meet the one that is so far away, and haven't been able to let go. Can you help me? --Scarlett O'Hara I Am Not

Dear Scarlett O'Hara I am Not--

Believe it or not, this question comes up fairly often. Many people meet more than one interesting person they would like to date, and both attraction and practical realities enter into who is ultimately chosen to be the one. Time and distance are two heavily weighed variables in dating, as we all have demanding lives and schedules and if there is little time together because of the distance, it is harder to build a relationship and plan for a shared future together. This is why we hear so much about the challenges of long distance relationships. Convenience does factor in, it may not be sexy, but it does add to someone?s attraction quotient.

All that being said, I think there may be something else here that is going on. You haven't met the maximum distance guy yet. You two have been "talking seriously" but when it comes to taking action, he won't or can't. While the reasons for this can be many, the important issue here is his unavailability. He says all the right things but doesn't DO the thing he says he wants to. That can be a major red flag. When we are really into someone, we make time and overcome obstacles to be with them because they are a priority.

The other half of this situation is you. You haven't met this guy yet, but are most attracted to/interested in him. What's up with that? Is it possible that you are someone who creates an image of a perfect someone based on an online relationship? Many people have done this and are greatly disappointed and even shocked at that first meeting, if it ever comes to that. Yes, there is something about guys that are hard to get, mysterious, perfect on paper or the phone, but often they are something else all together in person. Do you have a history of wanting men you can't have? Would you describe yourself as someone who goes for "bad boys?"

I suggest you take a step back, ask yourself the questions I have asked you and be brutally honest with yourself when you answer them. If you are unable to have a real relationship with a man who is available, willing, open and (sometimes) predictable and boring as we all can be, then you will know what you need to do and make better relationship choices.

Saying one thing and doing another is what the "wrong" guys are known for. Beware.

(from August 2011)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"Interested in (possibly) someone else's FWB"
List of more
"Help With Dating"

"Cramming for that first date"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008-2015 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

Distribution Rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site.

Reprint permission will be granted, upon request, to student newspapers, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. Advance written permission must be obtained for any reprinting of this material in altered or modified form.