Should I date multiple people at once or one person at a time?

Illustration: Nadia Snopek

@AskPeaches: I’m 26, female and live in LA. I just moved here a year ago, so I’m kind of newish. I’ve been on various social distanced dates but have not had very good luck. As you might know, LA can be a bit superficial. Is it better to date one person at a time or see multiple people all at once? What’s the best way to be successful at dating?

@Carla: Dating several people at once, although exciting, may become a time suck. It may also make it challenging to grow with one person without being disingenuous to someone else. Take it from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. If they have taught us anything, it’s that dating multiple people at the same time, leads to frustration, confusion, and a waste of good mascara.

There’s a prevailing thought that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. This feels especially true if you live in a big city like LA or date online, where it can seem like people have a lot of options or a short attention span. But if you follow this idea, you are only contributing to and compounding the problem. Years ago, I dated one person at a time until he ended the relationship. I suddenly found myself alone, an emotional wreck, unfortunately for my friends, and without a plan B. I thought then and there that I should start dating multiple people as well, because the hurt was only more outsized by the time I invested. But dating someone isn’t like choosing which college you want to go to. Would you want to be someone’s backup, because their first choice didn’t work out?

I think it’s in your better interest to understand what you are looking for in a partner and focus your efforts in finding someone who fits those general qualities. You need to have flexibility in your overall consideration but be fixed in your approach. You would have better luck dating someone who shares similar interests as you, or have similar values, or is in the same social circle than it would be to date a mix of people, hoping to strike a match. What is key is connection, and you can’t manufacture that simply hoping that by increasing your number of dates you conversely increase your odds. It’s not enough to see more people. It’s more effective to use more quality time dedicated to a person with whom you have more chemistry and things in common. After all, if you’re not polyamorous, all it takes is just one connection.

And context matters just as much as connection. Someone I spoke to once said she had always wanted to date a Harvard man, so she drove cross-state and spent her weekends at Harvard until she found her current husband. You may consider her goal too hyper specific and maybe a tad superficial, but sometimes it requires knowing what you want and putting yourself in the best place to find what you are looking for, in order to make it happen. This means not only your physical location, but your emotional, mental and spiritual headspace.

Instead of worrying about your options, embrace yourself as your best plan B. And please continue to be safe. There’s an awful pandemic going on out there!

The @AskPeacheas column is prepared by committee but written from one person’s experience. Send emails to askpeaches [at] freshfruitinc [dot] com with “@AskPeaches” in the subject line. Be sure to give enough background, so the advice can be more specific and relevant.

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