You know it. I know it. We know it. Dating more than one person at the same time is the new norm. You could be seeing Tobias every Tuesday night, but also spending your Sundays with Festus. You may call up Bartholomew when you want to grab a drink, but invite Timothy over when you just want to “Netflix and chill”. The idea is that you are keeping your options open.
For someone like me who is certainly almost incapable of giving her attention or affection to more than one man at a time, this concept of keeping options open has been a huge challenge. I have always struggled to see the benefit to it. But, last week, I was interviewing a friend, ‘Sade’, for an article, we started on the topic of multi-dating and she said to me: “Nkem. Please. Stay open to dating multiple people until you receive the official commitment you are looking for, because in the end, not keeping your options open will be your own fault.”
For the first time, I was willing to entertain the thought without reservations.
Just like me, Sade had initially been of the school of thought that dating more than one person held the risk of dilettantish shallowness. It ensured you never do anything with any of the men wholeheartedly, and you get yourself trapped in the circle of indefinitely postponing a decision until you’re certain it’s a perfect choice – a conviction that is never achieved. Then, she met Bode.
Bode was like a breath of fresh air after a series of failed relationships. And with all the attention and affection he bestowed on Sade, she started to feel like all her relationship dreams were finally going to come true.
Out of the blues, Bode stopped calling or making plans with her as he used to. In her mind, he was already her prince in shining armour and somehow, they had already moved from courting stage to official dating. In fact, he was already her significant other.
Upon his withdrawal, the butterflies in her stomach were replaced by a gut-wrenching tension and she just couldn’t fathom where she went wrong. One of days, however, she ran into Bode at the movies with another girl. Of course, she had a mini-heart attack and called him out on it later that day, to let him know what she saw. To her utmost shock, he clearly told her that he was not aware they were dating exclusively, and she was being dramatic.
He was right too; he really had not made any commitment.
According to Sade, that moment of truth made her sit down and ask herself a question: if he’s keeping his options open, shouldn’t you do the same? She was challenged to try something new. She started going on casual dates with several different men and before long, she realized that not only did keeping her options open to make her feel and become more attractive to men, it made her journey to a committed relationship that much easier.
By not focusing all of her time and attention on just one guy, she cut out the risk of investing too much of herself in the wrong person. Also, she had a better opportunity to realistically assess the men. When she finally found the one who she felt the most compatible with and who was as serious as she was (he gave her the truest form of commitment – a ring), she cut out all the other men and gave him all her focus and devotion. By keeping her options open, she saved herself from all the heartbreaks she may have had to endure and saved herself from wasted time.
At the end of our conversation, it was hard to reject Sade’s advice, as I know she is currently in a serious relationship and genuinely content.
Sure, you are to be blamed if you get rejected for choosing to build your world around someone who has not committed themselves to you, instead of keeping your options open until they do. However, I don’t believe that you necessarily have to wait for a ring to focus on one man. While you are not keeping all your eggs in one basket, you should cut off the others the moment you agree on exclusivity with one man.
Again, you want to show every guy you decide to interact with some respect by focusing on each when you’re alone together. Put away your phone, stay off social media and spend one-on-one time with them. The idea is to get to know them, right? If you feel the need to flirt via text with other people while you are with one man, then you may want to re-evaluate why you’re keeping your option open in the first place. Perhaps you may just have a great need of constant attention – a weakness that needs to be worked on, rather than covered up by a constant stream of men.
Furthermore, keeping your options open does not in any way imply that you should “hoe” around or stick to the “player” lifestyle and try to run through as much randoms as possible.
Sex should not even be involved when keeping your options open, because sex has a way of clouding one’s judgment no matter how ‘mature’ you think you are.
If for some reason, you are already sleeping with the guy you’re seeing, and you decide – because he has not made the commitment you seek – to start sleeping with other men on the side, it’s important to let him know, so he can decide for himself whether he wants the open arrangement to persist. Put the ball in his court.
Some men like to know; others find it hurtful to hear since they have established a connection to you. It is either he refuses to “share you” or, he’ll leave you alone; and you’ll find out he wasn’t worth your time and heart anyway.
Do you agree?