Two is company, three is a crowd – so goes the familiar saying. And so you may be tempted to blurt out if you have been suddenly sprung with an announcement from your partner that he/she would like to date other people. While you may have been hoping your dating relationship to move towards a more committed plane, you may be heartbroken at such a stance. However all may yet not be over and here is what you can do when your partner wants to date other people instead of being in an exclusive relationship with you.
Where are you right now?
One of the most common dating questions that have partners worried is when to make it exclusive. Or, in other words, when to stop going out with anyone else. Unfortunately there is no unspoken rule about dating for a certain length of time before calling it a ‘relationship’ – partners simply evolve into an exclusive dating relationship when they feel ‘right’ about each other. Sometimes this could take the form of discovering compatibility with each other, missing him/her even when you are out with someone else or getting all worked up when your partner’s ex is on the horizon. At such times you have a strong desire to be with this person and no one else – if lucky, your date feels the same way about you too and things naturally progress to an exclusive dating. However since every dating equation involves two variables as human hearts, having the same exact view about the progress of a relationship is unlikely. So while you may have assumed that you were in or at the very least moving towards an exclusive relationship, your partner probably feels otherwise. If he/she has expressed the desire to see other people, it indicates that he/she is feeling as though the relationship is moving too fast and wants to keep things more casual. So before you feel devastated by your partner’s stance, consider where your relationship is placed right now – has it been only a few weeks you have started going out or has it been a year almost. Look at your relationship objectively and if you see that you are still getting to know each other, it may make sense to meet other people too.
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Have you talked about it?
Assuming that you and your partner share the same life goals and feelings for each other should not be enough to decide in favor of an exclusive relationship. A clear discussion on the issue is much more preferable if you don’t want to set yourself for disappointment later. Even though it may not be as easy as asking your date, “Will you be my girl/boyfriend?” As was in high school, still some kind of verbal indication should be insisted upon. You could broach the matter with a casual question like “So who did you meet at the nightclub last Friday?” Or some light-hearted ribbing like, “what do you tell your friends about us?”. And from there go on to explore whether you both are emotionally ready to embark into exclusive dating. The whole idea of a talk is simply to ensure that you both understand each other correctly, that you are on the same page as it were. And if you feel too awkward enough to bring up the matter, it only goes to show that you are not yet ready to for an exclusive relationship anyway.
However if your partner wants to alter the status of your relationship from exclusive to casual, it may signal a significant change of heart in your partner. Perhaps he/she has met someone new or is having second thoughts about a long term relationship with you. While all this may break your heart, try and be calm as your partner proposes seeing other people too. While it is alright to let him/her know that you are disappointed that he/she feels that way, avoid throwing tantrums, dissolving into tears or begging for another chance. All this will not only rob you of your dignity and hence appear unattractive but also reveal a scary neediness on your part and your partner may even feel justified in detaching him/herself from you. So even as your partner puts forward his/her reasons why you both should continue to date other people, keep your cool and let him/her know that you will think about what he/she has said. If you ended the conversation on relatively friendly terms, refrain from making the first contact. Calling your partner or stopping by their house too soon after the conversation will make them think that you simply cannot live without them and are unable to give them space. In the days to come, avoid calling him/her as often as you used to earlier and especially be circumspect in suggesting a date.
Be prepared for changes
You may be thrilled when your partner finally calls and suggests a date but also consider whether you are willing to go along with the change in the status of your relationship. If you have been used to meeting him/her three times a week, you may not get to see him/her twice or even once a month. Then again, he/she may not always return your calls or reply to your e-mails with the same promptness as before. Before agreeing to see him/her ask yourself honestly if you can handle the terms of this new relationship so that you don’t set yourself up for further heartbreak. It may be too difficult for you to maintain a relationship with your partner when you know that he/she is dating other people or you expect much more than he/she is willing to give. If you feel unable to pursue a relationship under the changed circumstances, then it may be time to move on. On the other hand if you feel strongly that you can get past this stage and proceed to a more committed relationship, then it may be worth it to try to adapt to this new turn of events while understanding that nothing is guaranteed.
Rejoin the dating scene
In the meanwhile, get back to the social circuit. Go out with friends and co-workers. Attend parties and celebrations – either as part of a larger group or with a date. Also try to have life with varied interests. Pick up a new hobby or learn a new language. Join a course in which you were always interested but never had time for. This will serve a twin purpose – you will not only get to enjoy the pleasures of dating others as well but once you fill your life with things to do and learn, you will be too busy to obsess about your partner dating people other than you. Keep yourself open to making friends and meeting interesting people but beware of falling for a rebound relationship.
Finally you will have to take a call on your relationship with your partner, some time or the other. Whether you are no longer content to wait in the wings or tired of casual dating, sooner or later you need to ask yourself exactly what you want from life and whether such a relationship fits in with your priorities. Understand that people are different and some people are content to play the field while others are only comfortable dating one person at a time. After some time - say a couple of months - has elapsed, evaluate your relationship and if you have moved no further towards each other than before, then ask your partner where is this all heading. You need to decide what is best for you in the long run. And while removing yourself will certainly be difficult, it is far better to make a clean break now than to prolong the unhappiness as you try to hold on to a relationship that is no longer satisfying.