I’m dating a good guy, but I keep looking online to see if I can do better. Do I have a problem? Is this a bad sign? Do I need to grow up?
Kathy K, Ventura, CA
What it depends on is your own set of best practices for the dating process. Some people only “date” one person at a time—however, I’d like to point out that seeing one person at a time is not actually dating. That’s, as they say in Grease, going steady.
Dating is meant to be a process of meeting a bunch of different people, hanging out, having outings to Karaoke night, or whale watching or I don’t know, getting your Tarot cards read. All while getting to know enough about them to see if you’d like to do it again next Friday. Dating is to help you learn the answer to “But do I like like them?” You investigate your compatibility and hope you share enough commonalities to make things sizzle. You look at how they treat you, and you (hopefully) pick up on any red flags. You pay attention to that potentially problematic stuff you might need to stick pink post-it notes to so you can check back on it later. Dating is a process that takes time—and yes, many, many, many dates—as you move from being random strangers to being a part of each other’s inner circle.
In my opinion, exclusivity should not be granted to someone you don’t yet know well.
When you feel like you do know them well enough to know what you can count on them for (and what you can’t count on them for), then look to commit to a relationship. This takes not only one conversation but many. Because the set of rules to “be my girlfriend” isn’t as simple as wearing his pin or cruising the strip in his ’56 Chevy anymore.
What does being his girlfriend look like?
Does that mean no more swiping right on Tinder?
Do you maybe need to disable your account entirely?
What’s “cheating” now?
What are you committing to?
What are you specifically not committing to?
If he’s someone you’re casually dating, technically you don’t owe him your full attention. If you’ve had the exclusivity conversation and decided that you’re up for the girlfriend experience, then that’s another matter.
You asked, “Is this a bad sign?” But of what?
Is it a bad sign for you, or for him?
I don’t know, do you need to grow up? You know yourself, your behavior, and your desires a lot more intimately than I do—So ask yourself what’s behind your itch to swipe right.
Instead of wondering if you have a problem, ask yourself what you’re not getting from him that you think another guy could do a better job at giving.
Do you want to merge your life with this guy, or do you prefer being single and on the prowl?
If I said to you, “Okay girl, it’s either this guy or being alone. What’s it going to be?” What would you choose?
These are all normal questions we all ask ourselves during the dating process, whether we’re continuing to look online or not.
Sometimes we get into things with someone because we’re sick of being single. Assembling Ikea furniture alone sounds like a better Friday night than going on another online date. I get it.
If you’re not sure, though, keep dating. But if you’ve already locked down this guy in a relationship, you’re going to need to loosen up that arrangement in order to do so. Be honest. Try starting the conversation with, “I think we committed a bit too early. Can we keep dating each other while we get to know each other better and see other people as well?” See where the conversation goes from there.