Dating multiple people, or having an alternative relationship, sounds like a great option if you have feelings for more than one person. But there are important things to consider, like brushing up on what’s important in a relationship and how to deal with the green-eyed monster, jealousy. The most important thing is to be open and honest with the people involved.
This can help if:
- you have feelings for more than one person
- you’re thinking about an open relationship
- you want to know more about open relationships.
Do you have feelings for more than one person?
It’s not uncommon to be attracted to more than one person at the same time. But whether or not you act on those feelings won’t only affect you. If you want to date more than one person, make sure that everyone involved understands this and is okay with it. Also, be sure beforehand that you can handle it. Think about whether you’re ready for the difficult emotions and situations that come with dating multiple people.
Is it cool to date more than one person at a time?
If you’re dating someone, and you haven’t talked about the rules of engagement (including how exclusive you will be), don’t assume that they’ll be okay with you dating someone else at the same time. Many people won’t like it. Not knowing whether it’s okay with your partner, or hiding what you’re up to, is a recipe for emotional disaster for everyone involved.
Here are some ideas for when you first start dating someone, but you’re not sure you’re ready for an exclusive relationship:
- Talk with the person about what your expectations are, and what is or isn’t okay for both of you.
- Agree on what you want your relationship to involve.
- Check in with each other if your feelings change, or if something new comes up, so that you can know for sure you’re both still cool with what you’re doing.
Even if your partner is okay with you dating other people, really think about whether you are cool with it. You shouldn’t date more than one person at a time if you’re:
- likely to feel jealous
- insecure about how your partner feels about you
- unable to deal with difficult emotions
- unable to cope with stress and unhappiness.
Things to consider if you have an open relationship
Our actions affect others
Think about how your actions or choices – particularly your sexual choices – will affect your partner and the other person involved. Will they hurt or embarrass them, or create any sort of emotional conflict? It’s important to protect your partner’s and your own emotional health and wellbeing before anything else.
Always be respectful of others’ feelings and choices
If you’re not sure of how someone feels about you, ask them. Never make assumptions. If someone loves you, then they will want for you to be happy. But you can’t force someone to accept, and be happy about, something they really don’t like.
Don’t do anything you aren’t sure that both of you are okay with. If you or your partner don’t feel safe or happy, be open and honest about it, and work with them to resolve the problem.
Learn to recognise and deal with jealousy
The word ‘jealousy’ describes a mixed bag of horrible feelings, including:
- feeling insecure, or fearful that you’ll be abandoned
- feeling left out, or that you’re not good enough
- worrying that someone doesn’t love you or isn’t attracted to you.
Usually this feels so bad, we’ll do anything we can to avoid it. One way we do this is by blaming others and their actions for how we are feeling.
However, rather than blaming your partner or letting them blame you, recognise that jealousy is a sign that you need to talk with them about what’s happening. It might feel dumb to talk about your emotions, but you’ll both feel happier after you’ve done so, and you’ll have a better idea of what your real feelings are. Most importantly, jealousy is never an excuse for anyone to be mean, hurtful or abusive.
If your partner’s actions are causing you to be unhappy, and you’ve exhausted all other options (talking openly and honestly with them, and seeking help), then you should end the relationship. Dating is supposed to be enjoyable.
What can I do now?
- Be up-front and honest.
- Don’t assume you know how people feel.
- Find out more about consent.