The Nondating Life

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Part Thirteen: Double Dipping

(Previous post)

One thing I've always found amazing is the guy or the gal who can successfully and without guilt pull off dating two, three, even more people at the same time. Apparently, this is perfectly acceptable behavior. The word "dating" in and of itself implies an open-ended relationship of sorts, a test-drive, if you will. I've known people who have major hang-ups about cheating who see nothing wrong going out with Ted on Thursday night, Fred on Friday night and experimenting with Sally on Saturday night--as long as it's only DATING.

And, typically, as long as these people live in different zip codes and/or area codes. I'm sure you've all heard a variation of that rule. If you are in the midst of test-driving more than one person, it's best for reasons of sanity and simplicity, that those people live in a different "code." Not so oddly, the fact that people do this seems to suggest that even the folks who are okay with dating around realize there's something not quite kosher about dating around.

Me? I can't do it. Try as I might, I can't do it. Don't get me wrong. If I'm catting about, if I'm in one of my "running-ass" cycles, I've got no problem with SLEEPING around with different people. But as with the Friend Zone and Friends with Benefits, sleeping around and dating around are two entirely different things.

And dating around is really difficult for me. There are two reasons distinct reasons for this.

The first is that typically, I'm a romantic sort of fool who puts all of his little dating eggs in one little dating basket. When I crush, I crush hard and I've got little interest in some other girl. By the end of the first date, I'm planning both the wedding and the divorce, but until then, I've got very little interest in other chikadees.

The second is, simply, the fear of getting "busted." Sure, maybe you have an "understanding" with the other person, maybe you've sat there and both said "We're free to date other people." But let's be real, you've probably both avoided any such conversation and one party assumes he or she still has a grace period, that since it's "dating" it's not an exclusive relationship. (And the other party is drawing up the list of wedding invites.) Even if you say you're open to an open relationship, you think it's all fine and dandy if you're allowed to cat around, but the thought of the other person possibly finding pleasure in someone else's company--while a completely rational thought--bugs the shit out of you. And, because THAT bugs the shit out of you, you assume it would bug the shit out of the other person, so when out a date with Girl or Guy No. 2, you secretly pray NOT to run into Girl or Guy No. 1. Because you're a decent person and don't want anyone to get hurt. Or, probably, you just don't want to get "caught" and fear looking like a jerk.

I don't know if I've ever had to deal with this in my life. I typically keep myself out of these situations. Guilt, fear of getting caught ... as someone born and raised Catholic, those things can't be underestimated (Can I get a shout out from the Jews, too, my brothers and sisters in Guilt as a Fundamental Building Block of your upbringing? HOLLA!)

Case in point (imagine wavy, Wayne and Garth flash-back lines here). A few years back, a new coworker came into the office (and I can't begin to tell you how depressing it is to say "a few years back" in relation to a job), a sassy young tart, who liked to flirt with yours truly. Okay. She was an intern at the time. Half of you assume I cruise the local high schools for jailbait anyway, so fine, she was the intern.

At any rate, after a couple months or so of flirting and whatnot, a Friday night finds us at a bar in Park Slope around the corner from her house. And, after a few drinks, we went back to her place where some relatively PG-13 action went down. I slept over, went home and we went back to our typical office behavior.

Nothing much was said about the night except that it was fun and there seemed to be an understanding that that's all it was. Of course, "seemed to be an understanding" left plenty of room in my mind for the old ego to start working a little. Just a little. Just a "yeah, she digs you" and "just be careful, you don't need a coworker falling in love with you" sort of thing.

So, the next Friday finds me at another bar in Park Slope, this time with my friend Jason. Jason is married and the sole purpose for this night of drinking was to sit there, get drunk and rant and rave about politics and the idiots we work with who yammer on about "root causes" after watching a special on MTV News or something. But at some point in the evening, I make eye contact with a girl. Then conversation with the girl. Then Jason decides to leave. And, eventually, the girl and I decide to leave, go back to her place.

There we are, walking up the street, chatting away about her adoptive parents, and then we make one turn. And then another. And a little voice in my mind starts to get a little louder as coincidence and building numbers meet perfectly to find us standing in front of the building immediately next door to, you guessed it, the coworker. I didn't just violate the zip code and area code rules. I'm at risk of getting fined for violating same-side-of-the-street parking rules.

At this point in the evening, the alcohol was enough to drown out the guilt. After all, coworker and I decidedly weren't dating. Still, I didn't want to get caught ... see the alcohol only inflamed the ego and part of my mind was saying "We must get inside, because coworker would be crushed. CRUSHED." (Never mind the fact that coworker was probably, at that minute, drunkenly making out with someone else.) So into the house we go and neither the guilt or the ego had an impact on that night's doings ... which were decidedly NOT PG-13.

But the next afternoon. There was the perfect storm of hangover and guilt and ego and that unique stupidity that men get after they've had a fair amount of the old in and out (as if we've spent actual brain cells). The young lady is walking me out and I just know what will happen is that she, coworker and I are going to have a meeting out on the stoop and there will be a scene of sorts and fur will fly and...

of course absolutely nothing of the sort happened. I escaped with my life and without hurting anyone in the process. And, as it turned out, as it became clear that coworker was sort of a mirror image of me, that she had NO emotional designs on me and sort of climbed this particular mountain because it was there, I told her about the neighbor and my sort of freak out. And she thought it was the funniest thing in the world.

Which, you know, was a little disappointing, because while I was scared of theatrics, it's no fun for the ego when a girl DOESN'T cry and get pissed and act as if the sun set and rose above your big noggin.

And that, my friends, is just an example of me dealing with a catting about situation. You can only imagine what a basket-case I turn out to be if I've got an emotional investment going on. I've been told over and over again not to put all my eggs in one basket--that I too often lock myself into one girl, and usually the one girl who's least interested in me at the time. But really, it's the only way I can keep my sanity. And sometimes, in something as nasty and dirty and punishing as the single life is, your sanity is all you've got ... because lord knows you've already given up on your dignity.


(Next post)

13 Comments:

  • I agree but seem to have more a problem with sleeping w/ multiple problems than multi-dating because there always seems an issue with what constitutes 'dating.' I dont think I could be romantically involved with more than one person, but I dont see a problem with planning several dates a week with people one barely knows (my Jewish mother who desperately wants me married and baking challah already can further explain that philosophy)


    - Your bastard step-sister in Guilt (also known as Rina....PS, accidentally put a lock on my site and it wont undo. Am getting help in afternoon. Dont think I blocked you).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:01 PM  

  • I had nine dates last Wednesday night. It's called speed dating.

    But believe me, I wasn't romantically involved with any of them, and am unlikely to engage in action of any variety with them in the future.

    Mmm. Challah.

    By Blogger Esther Kustanowitz, at 4:02 PM  

  • I can only date multiple people when no lines have been crossed, i.e. i've not kissed them or anything beyond. I also belong to a camp that can't date other people when we're crushing on someone.

    By Blogger writersbloc gal, at 6:01 PM  

  • ah, very difficult topic, particularly in new york...this city is basically ALWAYS speed dating.

    At the moment I find myself attracted to two guys, nothing has happened with either. Am I capable of anything beyond a PG rating with more than one person at a time, no way. But one will win out over the other pretty early in the game, before anything, you know "happens"...and I'm leaning toward the one that probably isn't into me of course...

    I hate dating. I'm so sick of it. I would love to just be IN a relationship already and, you know...go to the movies, sit in the back and make out. or something just as gross.

    By Blogger citygurl, at 9:51 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Jennifer, at 5:13 PM  

  • I have possibly one of the worst "double dipping" stories out there.

    Boy #1 was the guy I was actually interested in, but had been dating off and on for about a year at this point because he was a workaholic and refused to get serious.
    Boy #2 was a guy friend of mine who I'd known for four years. Unfortunately he'd developed a crush on me halfway through that- and well, you've already written about that in the Flipside of the Friend Zone. I was quite uninterested in him physically, but finally ran out of excuses when he asked me out that didn't involve me outright saying "NO, I don't find you attractive" and metaphorically kicking him in the crotch.

    Did I mention that Boy #2 already didn't like Boy #1 that much for some reason BEFORE this? They hung around in the same crowd, but I never found out what the problem was.

    Anyway, I didn't mention #1 to #2 all that often, or that I'd dated him more than once, and never mentioned dating #2 to #1 either (he wouldn't have cared). I went on one date with #2 to force myself to find him attractive, it didn't work, I avoided him thereafter.

    A month or two later, I'm about to move out of town and Boy #1 takes me to a gathering of his friends, at which unbeknownst to us #2 had shown up. #2 comes up and is talking to me and all is fine and dandy...and then suddenly he picks me up and starts heading towards the nearest Dumpster. I start punching his head, which makes no difference to him whatsoever. Eventually #1 gets off his ass and makes him put me down.

    I don't talk to either of them now, obviously! And if there's more than one guy interested in me, I make sure at least one of them lives in another town.

    By Anonymous Jennifer, at 5:14 PM  

  • *kicks Blogger for claiming it deleted the post, when it apparently didn't. Stupid Blogger.*

    By Anonymous Jennifer, at 5:15 PM  

  • jennifer, don't worry. i'll clean up the double posts. blogger's been miserable

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 11:54 AM  

  • Oh, and Jennifer, that guy friend in the Friend Zone? He ALWAYS knows when you're interested in someone else... even before you do sometimes. And he ALWAYS hates that guy. Hates that guy a lot. But I have to say that is one seriously whacky story.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 11:59 AM  

  • i once had a pretty good set of rules that worked for this.

    1) do not give out too much info. then a date 'expects' to know what you're doing at all times.

    2) be really careful about precedents. while all relationships over time get more serious, it's nearly impossible to go backwards.

    3) no standing dates. make sure you are very deliberate about setting up dates.

    4) try not to see one particular person more than once a week or so. a busy schedule on both your parts helps for this.


    i forget the rest. the most important one was:

    5) above all be honest. do not intentionally mislead someone. your date may have misconceptions about your relationship, but don't lead her/him to them.


    oh, one more - never, NEVER, date your next door neighbor

    By Anonymous haz2001@columbia.edu, at 6:44 PM  

  • This is a excellent blog. Keep it going.

    This may be of interest to you I have a free online dating service. It pretty much covers dating stuff.

    I'll be sure to come back.

    By Blogger jiri, at 4:16 PM  

  • you should try multiple dating under strict supervision of a serial multiple dater. you'll see it works if you understand and respect the rules.

    By Blogger silvia, at 3:10 PM  

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