In this world of online dating, the swiping and matching and compatibility scores make it all seem very game like, but when I entered it, I still expected it was going to be a two person game. Turns out I was wrong.

I wanted to write about this because my post earlier this week and the one coming up next week combine to very much exemplify the trials and tribulations of multi player dating, as I like to call it. I also had someone ask me “are dates with just one person not a thing anymore?” after listening to my Instagram stories over the last few weeks. And it was a fair question!

It’s true, I am knee deep in the world of multi player dating, that is to say that at any one time there may be multiple men I am chatting with on an app and/or going on dates with. It’s the done thing now, in a world where you can scroll endlessly through “options” as if shopping for clothes and you know you’re only ever a few swipes from a match at any time, it seems people no longer wish to be tied down too quickly, if at all. And I feel really really conflicted about it.

On the positive side, it does allow you to meet a lot of people, in a relatively short space of time, and give you good comparisons for what you are/aren’t looking for. At my age, I hate wasting time on anything, so at least this way it feels like efficient dating. And I’m all for efficiencies.

Plus, given the sheer level of flakiness of people – is it just Vancouver, or is it the same everywhere? – you could be chatting with ten guys online, have organised three dates and only one of those people will you actually end up meeting in person. So it’s kinda like making sure you have enough fish in the bucket to catch one, does that make sense? (Side note – is it terrible I’m comparing men to fish and dating to fishing?)

It does also help me stay a little more unattached than I might otherwise. I love to jump head first (into that fish pond) and I have definitely been guilty of getting ahead of myself when there wasn’t any foundation for it (this is a whole other blog post topic) but at least when there are multiple guys on the scene it allows me to not be motivated by a fear of scarcity and so build an entire life in my head with someone I’ve met once.

And at the end of the day, it’s how it is now. I didn’t feel that I could really not get onboard, unless I wanted to be the girl who was dating one person at a time when every guy I was dating was probably chatting to numerous other women. People who haven’t dated in years can’t get their head around it, and neither could I until I was thrust back into this dating life, and will say they couldn’t/wouldn’t do it but I’m not honestly sure there’s another way.

That doesn’t mean I love it, however. It took me a really long time to be comfortable (if I’m even comfortable with it now?) and I still have pangs of guilt at times because, you know, I have a conscience.

The whole practice feeds into the fact that people don’t give things a chance to develop – we’re so quick to move onto the next if the first date isn’t perfect, if the person doesn’t tick every single one of our prerequisite boxes, because we think the person we have a first date planned with tomorrow might! In the same way online dating apps can feel like online shopping, we also hope for the same return policies it seems.

And in having another first date set up for the next day are we setting the expectation that today’s date won’t be good? There’s a balance between not putting all our eggs in one basket and making sure there’s another egg available should the one we picked be bad. (Side note – now, men are eggs? Wow, all the comparisons are coming out today…) But there has to be something to be said for going into a date with nothing else on the horizon so you do truly give it the time and effort and mindfulness it deserves.

It also means you have to trust in the mis-trust, as I call it. You trust that the other person has the same level of mis-trust, that this isn’t going to work and so is also multi player dating. You never talk about it, you just assume that they know the rules of engagement, and so are also still swiping and matching and dating, and assume that they assume the same of you. There’s a lot of assumption, and let’s be honest, that’s never going to end well.

Where it does end normally is in an awkward conversation where one of you decides they don’t want to multi player date anymore and instead wants to get back to the traditional two player game, so has to ask “are you still dating other people?” No one wants the answer to that question to be yes. So the other tact is to go at it from the assumption route and frame it as “I’d like if we didn’t date anyone else anymore”, making it known you assume they have been and that essentially you have been also. It’s tres romantic. And let’s not even get into the health risks of sleeping with multiple people.

The whole thing just feels like being on a series of the Bachelor but you don’t get to see the other contestants, how’s that fair? You can’t beat the competition if you don’t know the competition, am I right?! Jokes, be yourself, don’t compete for anyone. But it makes my point.

And at the end of the day I like monogamy! Sorry not sorry if that’s boring but at the end of the day that’s what I’m looking for, that’s what I’m comfortable with, that’s the goal so why do I have to endure the uncertainty and ambiguity and secrecy that comes with multi player dating. And I always struggle with it because it makes me think lesser of the person (people!) I’m dating because I know they’re doing it…. but we all are!

What is it they say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Though, if we’re honest, we could all be better, more mindful players too.

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