Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Dating => Topic started by: RavenousEdenFleur on January 14, 2014, 11:31:28 PM

Title: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: RavenousEdenFleur on January 14, 2014, 11:31:28 PM
My friend has been seeing someone for a couple months. They seem very happy but are taking it pretty slow. I will call him Joe. Joe has said he's not really seeing anyone else else but Sally, Sally has gone on a few casual dates but keeps going back to Joe. Joe is always inviting Sally over and being very attentive towards her. So she has been feeling like something is developing.

Sally has a good friend name Jamie who works with Joe's best friend Steve. One day Steve and Jamie were chatting about something and Steve says "Oh I need to invite Joe over for movie night, he has this girl he is dating named Amy I would like to meet her" Jamie was VERY surprised...  ??? what about Sally? Jamie tells Sally this information and then later Steve says he may have misspoke and tries to backtrack.

So now Sally is at a loss. Is there an etiquette friendly way to ask if he is getting serious with someone else and maybe she needs to back off?
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: PastryGoddess on January 14, 2014, 11:52:46 PM
This is not an etiquette question...or maybe I'm just missing something  ???
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: RavenousEdenFleur on January 15, 2014, 12:05:14 AM
I thought of it as asking an uncomfortable question, do you ever question something you hear from a third party? It seems kind of juvenile... but what do I know? That is why I was asking.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Kiwichick on January 15, 2014, 03:32:02 AM
It's entirely possible that Steve just got Sally's name wrong.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Yvaine on January 15, 2014, 06:00:23 AM
It sounds like Sally isn't all that serious about Joe either (she's gone on dates with other people during their relationship too) and it may be that Joe has realized this and is starting to move on. But it isn't really an etiquette thing. She needs to talk to him about whether they're exclusive or not and where they stand, but there isn't an etiquette script for it.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Arila on January 15, 2014, 10:39:45 AM
I think what I said to my now-hubby was:

"I am no longer inclined to see anyone romantically aside from you. Do you feel the same?"

The status of relationship talk is pretty standard, especially after several dates. It is fair to be very clear about the expectation and commitment to begin monogamy.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Teenyweeny on January 15, 2014, 10:52:00 AM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied. I think that most people (IME) would be unpleasantly surprised if they found out that anybody else was on the scene at that point, unless an open relationship had been explicitly agreed upon.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: auntmeegs on January 15, 2014, 10:52:16 AM
My friend has been seeing someone for a couple months. They seem very happy but are taking it pretty slow. I will call him Joe. Joe has said he's not really seeing anyone else else but Sally, Sally has gone on a few casual dates but keeps going back to Joe. Joe is always inviting Sally over and being very attentive towards her. So she has been feeling like something is developing.

Sally has a good friend name Jamie who works with Joe's best friend Steve. One day Steve and Jamie were chatting about something and Steve says "Oh I need to invite Joe over for movie night, he has this girl he is dating named Amy I would like to meet her" Jamie was VERY surprised...  ??? what about Sally? Jamie tells Sally this information and then later Steve says he may have misspoke and tries to backtrack. So now Sally is at a loss. Is there an etiquette friendly way to ask if he is getting serious with someone else and maybe she needs to back off?

Based on the bolded statement, I bet anything that Steve has already given Joe the head-up that he put his foot in his mouth and so I think Sally should just be open and ask Joe what's going on. 
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Oh Joy on January 15, 2014, 10:57:58 AM
...
So now Sally is at a loss. Is there an etiquette friendly way to ask if he is getting serious with someone else and maybe she needs to back off?

Not quite.  Rather than asking if he's seeing other people, it's better phrased as a check-in of whether "we" want to keep seeing other people or if we want to start talking about making it exclusive.  With the right tone and wording, it's a mature yet casual - and entirely normal - discussion.  At least in my regional and generational experience.  ;-)

Good luck to her!
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: amylouky on January 15, 2014, 02:07:45 PM
Has Sally met Steve? Could he have just messed up her name?
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Twik on January 15, 2014, 02:23:49 PM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied.
So, you have one date to make a decision, monogamy or nothing? I couldn't do that.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: PastryGoddess on January 15, 2014, 02:29:57 PM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied. I think that most people (IME) would be unpleasantly surprised if they found out that anybody else was on the scene at that point, unless an open relationship had been explicitly agreed upon.

I know plenty of people in the UK who date around until they click with the right person. I also know people here in the US who expect monogamy from the get go.  It has nothing to do with nationality and everything to do with individual preferences and wants.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 15, 2014, 02:59:57 PM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied. I think that most people (IME) would be unpleasantly surprised if they found out that anybody else was on the scene at that point, unless an open relationship had been explicitly agreed upon.

I have never heard this? Is it a new trend?
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: MrTango on January 15, 2014, 03:12:04 PM
In my experience, it has worked well to pick a place and time where you can have a conversation and to pose the question: "Where do you see our relationship going?"  Try to ask in a pleasant tone, in a situation where both of you are comfortable and relaxed.

When LadyTango and I started going out on dates, I was also going out with another woman (both of them knew about the other, and in fact there were times when all three of us would get together for an event).  Really, it was more a matter of two good friends going out for dinner.

Eventually, I had a conversation with each of them and asked the above question.  Their responses and our ensuing conversations resulted in LadyTango and I becoming more involved and eventually getting married.  As for the other woman: We're still very good friends, and she even stood in our wedding.

Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: greencat on January 15, 2014, 03:12:51 PM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied. I think that most people (IME) would be unpleasantly surprised if they found out that anybody else was on the scene at that point, unless an open relationship had been explicitly agreed upon.

I have never heard this? Is it a new trend?

I know people who expect this in the US - I am definitely not one of them, but I've run into situations where men I had agreed to a second date with acted a little crazy when they realized that a second date with them did not mean we were in an exclusive relationship.  That usually resulted in the second date getting canceled!
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: DavidH on January 15, 2014, 03:25:43 PM
I think the answer is make it a non-confrontational conversation, since it sounds like this will be the first time this conversation happens.  A question along the lines of "Where do you see our relationship going?" is as good an opener as any.  It sounds like there really is an open question of whether Steve got the name right or not and that should resolve it.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Teenyweeny on January 15, 2014, 04:10:30 PM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied. I think that most people (IME) would be unpleasantly surprised if they found out that anybody else was on the scene at that point, unless an open relationship had been explicitly agreed upon.

I know plenty of people in the UK who date around until they click with the right person. I also know people here in the US who expect monogamy from the get go.  It has nothing to do with nationality and everything to do with individual preferences and wants.

Interesting, I've never heard of anybody doing that, although perhaps with the advent of online dating people are shopping around more? To be fair, most of my friends didn't really date as such (they just met, hung out, and then sort of became an item). Everybody I know (late 20s-early 30s crowd) would think exclusivity was implied after a second date.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Arila on January 15, 2014, 04:52:03 PM
For me, there is a difference between something which clearly states a person's desire to become exclusive, and the wording suggested by several other posters ("Where do you see this relationship going?") which requires THEM to first declare their stance. Maybe it's implied by just bringing up the topic period, but I am in favor of laying out my cards before requiring someone else to lay out theirs.

The "where's this going" question also could be misinterpreted to mean something beyond simply exclusive dating.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: MariaE on January 16, 2014, 01:23:07 AM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied.
So, you have one date to make a decision, monogamy or nothing? I couldn't do that.

It's pretty much the same in Denmark, and it's not so much "one date to decide monogamy or nothing", but rather that you only go on dates with one person at a time. So you may go on 3-4 dates and realize "Nope, not for me" and then move on to going on a date with another person without it being a big deal. But going on date #2 with person A on Friday, going on date #3 with person B mid-week and going on date #3 with person A again the following Friday would be seen as very bad form.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: perpetua on January 16, 2014, 03:42:53 AM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied.
So, you have one date to make a decision, monogamy or nothing? I couldn't do that.

It's pretty much the same in Denmark, and it's not so much "one date to decide monogamy or nothing", but rather that you only go on dates with one person at a time. So you may go on 3-4 dates and realize "Nope, not for me" and then move on to going on a date with another person without it being a big deal. But going on date #2 with person A on Friday, going on date #3 with person B mid-week and going on date #3 with person A again the following Friday would be seen as very bad form.

This is my experience in the UK too. This used to be called 'two timing'. I don't know if it still is or if times have moved on (been a long time since I dated anyone), but like Maria says, bad form.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Teenyweeny on January 16, 2014, 04:15:53 AM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied.
So, you have one date to make a decision, monogamy or nothing? I couldn't do that.

It's pretty much the same in Denmark, and it's not so much "one date to decide monogamy or nothing", but rather that you only go on dates with one person at a time. So you may go on 3-4 dates and realize "Nope, not for me" and then move on to going on a date with another person without it being a big deal. But going on date #2 with person A on Friday, going on date #3 with person B mid-week and going on date #3 with person A again the following Friday would be seen as very bad form.

This is my experience in the UK too. This used to be called 'two timing'. I don't know if it still is or if times have moved on (been a long time since I dated anyone), but like Maria says, bad form.

This is exactly what I meant. I'd call that "two-timing" as well.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 16, 2014, 04:22:56 AM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied. I think that most people (IME) would be unpleasantly surprised if they found out that anybody else was on the scene at that point, unless an open relationship had been explicitly agreed upon.

I know plenty of people in the UK who date around until they click with the right person. I also know people here in the US who expect monogamy from the get go.  It has nothing to do with nationality and everything to do with individual preferences and wants.

Interesting, I've never heard of anybody doing that, although perhaps with the advent of online dating people are shopping around more? To be fair, most of my friends didn't really date as such (they just met, hung out, and then sort of became an item). Everybody I know (late 20s-early 30s crowd) would think exclusivity was implied after a second date.

Australia is like this too. We don't date casually. It's either "hanging out" (in a platonic way only), or being in an exclusive relationship.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: jedikaiti on January 16, 2014, 04:40:23 PM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied.
So, you have one date to make a decision, monogamy or nothing? I couldn't do that.

It's pretty much the same in Denmark, and it's not so much "one date to decide monogamy or nothing", but rather that you only go on dates with one person at a time. So you may go on 3-4 dates and realize "Nope, not for me" and then move on to going on a date with another person without it being a big deal. But going on date #2 with person A on Friday, going on date #3 with person B mid-week and going on date #3 with person A again the following Friday would be seen as very bad form.

This is my experience in the UK too. This used to be called 'two timing'. I don't know if it still is or if times have moved on (been a long time since I dated anyone), but like Maria says, bad form.

I've always heard of two-timing being cheating on someone you're in a mutually exclusive relationship with, not casually seeing multiple people at the same time while determining if any relationship potential actually exists. Heck, DH & I were 2 or 3 dates in before he hit me with the metaphorical clue-by-four that they were really dates (and he was really interested) and not just hanging out. :-)
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: mbbored on January 16, 2014, 04:49:53 PM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied.
So, you have one date to make a decision, monogamy or nothing? I couldn't do that.

It's pretty much the same in Denmark, and it's not so much "one date to decide monogamy or nothing", but rather that you only go on dates with one person at a time. So you may go on 3-4 dates and realize "Nope, not for me" and then move on to going on a date with another person without it being a big deal. But going on date #2 with person A on Friday, going on date #3 with person B mid-week and going on date #3 with person A again the following Friday would be seen as very bad form.

This is my experience in the UK too. This used to be called 'two timing'. I don't know if it still is or if times have moved on (been a long time since I dated anyone), but like Maria says, bad form.

I've always heard of two-timing being cheating on someone you're in a mutually exclusive relationship with, not casually seeing multiple people at the same time while determining if any relationship potential actually exists. Heck, DH & I were 2 or 3 dates in before he hit me with the metaphorical clue-by-four that they were really dates (and he was really interested) and not just hanging out. :-)

I agree with jedikaiti. With online dating, I've sometimes lined up 3 first dates in a week and I certainly wouldn't assume that a 2nd date meant we were exclusive. With somebody I just met I need more time to decide if I want to be in an exclusive relationship with them. I no longer have multiple first dates in a week because it was too tiring, not because I'm "two-timing" anybody.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: MariaE on January 17, 2014, 12:01:19 AM
mbbored and jedikati, according to your profiles you both live in the US, so obviously Danish/UK/NZ/AU dating standarts wouldn't apply to you. We're just letting you know how it works here :)
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Raintree on January 17, 2014, 02:01:12 AM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied.
So, you have one date to make a decision, monogamy or nothing? I couldn't do that.

It's pretty much the same in Denmark, and it's not so much "one date to decide monogamy or nothing", but rather that you only go on dates with one person at a time. So you may go on 3-4 dates and realize "Nope, not for me" and then move on to going on a date with another person without it being a big deal. But going on date #2 with person A on Friday, going on date #3 with person B mid-week and going on date #3 with person A again the following Friday would be seen as very bad form.

I'm in Canada and that's how I see it too. I have no idea what other people think is acceptable, but I would be dating one guy at a time. You go on some dates, and it either works and you continue, or it doesn't and you try dating someone else (or staying single, whatever the case may be). I think a "where do we stand?" conversation after two dates would send most guys screaming for the nearest train out of town. If a guy showed interest in me, and we went out again the next two Fridays, I would be hurt if I found out he'd also been showing the same interest in another girl the past few Wednesdays. Especially if there was any kissing or other more intimate physical contact going on.

Sounds like many people find this kind of dating acceptable, and it makes sense to me only if it's out in the open from the get-go: "I'm still seeing other people and I expect you to do the same while we get to know each other." Then the other person is free to accept or reject this arrangment.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: lady_disdain on January 17, 2014, 07:38:30 AM
And this is why I'm glad that we don't date like this in the UK. If you agree to a second date, exclusivity is implied. I think that most people (IME) would be unpleasantly surprised if they found out that anybody else was on the scene at that point, unless an open relationship had been explicitly agreed upon.

I know plenty of people in the UK who date around until they click with the right person. I also know people here in the US who expect monogamy from the get go.  It has nothing to do with nationality and everything to do with individual preferences and wants.

Interesting, I've never heard of anybody doing that, although perhaps with the advent of online dating people are shopping around more? To be fair, most of my friends didn't really date as such (they just met, hung out, and then sort of became an item). Everybody I know (late 20s-early 30s crowd) would think exclusivity was implied after a second date.

Australia is like this too. We don't date casually. It's either "hanging out" (in a platonic way only), or being in an exclusive relationship.

Here, people usually "hang around" casually, with other people, before moving on to dating. However, once you are seeing someone one to one, it is pretty bad form to see other people one to one as well.

I imagine this is one of the reasons why online dating hasn't really taken off. Going straight to meeting tete-a-tete seems awkward.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Danika on January 17, 2014, 08:29:01 AM
My friend has been seeing someone for a couple months. They seem very happy but are taking it pretty slow. I will call him Joe. Joe has said he's not really seeing anyone else else but Sally, Sally has gone on a few casual dates but keeps going back to Joe. Joe is always inviting Sally over and being very attentive towards her. So she has been feeling like something is developing.

Sally has a good friend name Jamie who works with Joe's best friend Steve. One day Steve and Jamie were chatting about something and Steve says "Oh I need to invite Joe over for movie night, he has this girl he is dating named Amy I would like to meet her" Jamie was VERY surprised...  what about Sally? Jamie tells Sally this information and then later Steve says he may have misspoke and tries to backtrack.

So now Sally is at a loss. Is there an etiquette friendly way to ask if he is getting serious with someone else and maybe she needs to back off?

The bolding is mine. According to Sally, is this how he said it? Maybe not "really" seeing anyone else meant to him, at the time that he said it, that he wasn't having multiple dates with any other women. So maybe he'd go on one date with one and another date with another, but never saw anyone a second time. And then after he made that comment to Sally, he then did find someone he wanted to go on two or three dates with.

And you said that Sally has gone on a few other casual dates. So does Sally have a double standard? Or is she fair and ok with Joe seeing other people casually, but put off by the fact that he seems to have lied to her?

If I were in her shoes, and my main issue were with the fact that Joe could possibly be a liar, I would say to him "You told me you weren't seeing anyone else. Then, I heard through the grapevine that you are seeing someone else. I'm ok with you seeing other people at this early point in our dating relationship,, but I wondered why you specifically told me you weren't seeing anyone else. Was the grapevine incorrect, or what's the deal?"

Or, I just wouldn't say anything at all. I'd keep casually dating him and in time I would find out if he lies about other things or not.

I don't think she should ask if he is getting serious with someone else, because if he were, she'd know it because he'd have less time for her.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: whiterose on January 17, 2014, 02:49:14 PM
I wonder how long Sally and Joe had been dating, time-wise and number of dates wise. I wonder if both length of calendar time and number of dates play a role.

Imagine something like this:

Jenna and Ralph meet at an alumni event for the very large university they both attended. A couple months later, they run into each other at another alumni event and get to know each other better. They talk on the phone and go on 3 successful dates. They have kissed- but that's it physically.

They go on their 4th date. By now, over a month has passed since their first date (and even more since their first meeting). Jenna is hoping to define the relationship on that date. Ralph receives a call during the date while waiting to be seated at the restaurant. It is a very short and perfunctory call- so he takes it in front of Jenna (he had never taken a call in front of her before). She asks if everything is fine- Ralph says it was just Deborah (whom he had not mentioned before). Jenna asks casually if Deborah is his friend- Ralph says it was a woman he met. Jenna asks if he was interested in her- he said no, that they went out just once (one night he was not seeing Jenna) and he could tell she was not a good match for him, and that she now was more of a business contact since they work in the same broad industry. Jenna does not bring it up on the rest of their dinner and movie date...

Until they are in the car on the way back to drop Jenna off at her place. Ralph asks Jenna if she has a problem with his dating other women. Jenna said yes. Ralph replied "I never said we were dating exclusively".  Jenna replied "true"...but she said that she was the kind of person who by 4 dates needed exclusivity and was hoping to discuss it. Ralph and Jenna part ways cordially that evening, but Jenna is still hurt because she really liked Ralph and she thought he liked her back and all.

Was it just a misunderstanding? Did Jenna do wrong in assuming exclusivity? Assume this happened in the United States of America- would it be different in another country, given what has been said here? Is there a communication breakdown, regardless of what country this is happening in? Which one should be assumed- exclusivity, or casual dating- until it is explicitly discussed.

OP- was the situation similar to the one I just described, or is there another variable?
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: wolfie on January 17, 2014, 02:55:44 PM
I wonder how long Sally and Joe had been dating, time-wise and number of dates wise. I wonder if both length of calendar time and number of dates play a role.

Imagine something like this:

Jenna and Ralph meet at an alumni event for the very large university they both attended. A couple months later, they run into each other at another alumni event and get to know each other better. They talk on the phone and go on 3 successful dates. They have kissed- but that's it physically.

They go on their 4th date. By now, over a month has passed since their first date (and even more since their first meeting). Jenna is hoping to define the relationship on that date. Ralph receives a call during the date while waiting to be seated at the restaurant. It is a very short and perfunctory call- so he takes it in front of Jenna (he had never taken a call in front of her before). She asks if everything is fine- Ralph says it was just Deborah (whom he had not mentioned before). Jenna asks casually if Deborah is his friend- Ralph says it was a woman he met. Jenna asks if he was interested in her- he said no, that they went out just once (one night he was not seeing Jenna) and he could tell she was not a good match for him, and that she now was more of a business contact since they work in the same broad industry. Jenna does not bring it up on the rest of their dinner and movie date...

Until they are in the car on the way back to drop Jenna off at her place. Ralph asks Jenna if she has a problem with his dating other women. Jenna said yes. Ralph replied "I never said we were dating exclusively".  Jenna replied "true"...but she said that she was the kind of person who by 4 dates needed exclusivity and was hoping to discuss it. Ralph and Jenna part ways cordially that evening, but Jenna is still hurt because she really liked Ralph and she thought he liked her back and all.

Was it just a misunderstanding? Did Jenna do wrong in assuming exclusivity? Assume this happened in the United States of America- would it be different in another country, given what has been said here? Is there a communication breakdown, regardless of what country this is happening in? Which one should be assumed- exclusivity, or casual dating- until it is explicitly discussed.

OP- was the situation similar to the one I just described, or is there another variable?

I think you should expect casual dating unless it is explicitly discussed that you are exclusive.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: TurtleDove on January 17, 2014, 03:04:24 PM

I think you should expect casual dating unless it is explicitly discussed that you are exclusive.

This.  I think you can discuss whether you wish to be exclusive at any point, but unless and until you do, assume you are both free to see other people.  Personally, I have the discussion early on if I like someone, and definitely before anything beyond kissing happens.  There is nothing wrong with playing the field so long as everyone is on the same page. 
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Allyson on January 17, 2014, 06:48:09 PM

I think you should expect casual dating unless it is explicitly discussed that you are exclusive.

This.  I think you can discuss whether you wish to be exclusive at any point, but unless and until you do, assume you are both free to see other people.  Personally, I have the discussion early on if I like someone, and definitely before anything beyond kissing happens.  There is nothing wrong with playing the field so long as everyone is on the same page.

Agree. I have either dated friends, where I sort of already knew their social schedule and who they were/weren't seeing, or else gave it a few dates before having the 'sooo...are you seeing anyone else?' speech?

I was casually seeing a friend of mine, Adam, when I met my current guy, Drew. Adam and I were never going to be serious and knew it, and Drew and I had a *really* strong connection, and I knew right away that I was interested. I think I saw Adam once after the first date with Drew, then pulled back a bit because my interest took a sharp dive.

I also think what's defined as a 'date' matters, as I hang out as friends with people regardless of gender, so I'd need a specific declaration of intent (verbal or by a kiss works) before I would assume anything was going on.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Raintree on January 17, 2014, 08:01:16 PM

Jenna and Ralph meet at an alumni event for the very large university they both attended. A couple months later, they run into each other at another alumni event and get to know each other better. They talk on the phone and go on 3 successful dates. They have kissed- but that's it physically.

They go on their 4th date. By now, over a month has passed since their first date (and even more since their first meeting). Jenna is hoping to define the relationship on that date. Ralph receives a call during the date while waiting to be seated at the restaurant. It is a very short and perfunctory call- so he takes it in front of Jenna (he had never taken a call in front of her before). She asks if everything is fine- Ralph says it was just Deborah (whom he had not mentioned before). Jenna asks casually if Deborah is his friend- Ralph says it was a woman he met. Jenna asks if he was interested in her- he said no, that they went out just once (one night he was not seeing Jenna) and he could tell she was not a good match for him, and that she now was more of a business contact since they work in the same broad industry. Jenna does not bring it up on the rest of their dinner and movie date...

Until they are in the car on the way back to drop Jenna off at her place. Ralph asks Jenna if she has a problem with his dating other women. Jenna said yes. Ralph replied "I never said we were dating exclusively".  Jenna replied "true"...but she said that she was the kind of person who by 4 dates needed exclusivity and was hoping to discuss it. Ralph and Jenna part ways cordially that evening, but Jenna is still hurt because she really liked Ralph and she thought he liked her back and all.

Was it just a misunderstanding? Did Jenna do wrong in assuming exclusivity? Assume this happened in the United States of America- would it be different in another country, given what has been said here? Is there a communication breakdown, regardless of what country this is happening in? Which one should be assumed- exclusivity, or casual dating- until it is explicitly discussed.

Perhaps this is for a separate thread, but you're right, it is similar to the OP's friend's situation. My opinions:

1) It was rude of him to take that call during his date with Jenna. It's almost like he wanted Jenna to know there were other women, without having to say so.
2) After 3 successful dates, some kissing, and now a 4th date, I'd expect Ralph to have mentioned he was still dabbling around and casting the net for something better, so that Jenna would know where she stood. If a guy shows me that much interest, I assume it's me he's interested in and I'm not just one of several. Unless he states otherwise. In my entire dating life, I've never had the "so, are we an item now?" conversation. It's implied. Guys who want to keep dating other women have said to me some version of, "Please don't get too attached to me. I want you to continue to date other people." (Translation: "I want to keep seeing other women.")
3) I think Jenna's best course of action now is to state that because she wants exclusivity, and Ralph does not, she thinks it best they part ways until such a time comes that they both want the same thing. If he really likes her, he will take steps to be with her. If he doesn't, he won't.

As for Sally in the OP, probably best to ask about this Amy person. "I heard you had a girlfriend named Amy. Is this true? I would just like to clarify, as I thought we had something developing and I just want to know where this is going so I can decide on my own course of action."
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: greencat on January 17, 2014, 09:23:46 PM
I've frequently been mistakenly thought by acquaintances to be the girlfriend of many of my male friends - it is also possible that "Amy" is just a platonic female friend who he is often seen at events with. 
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 19, 2014, 08:33:24 PM
I wonder how long Sally and Joe had been dating, time-wise and number of dates wise. I wonder if both length of calendar time and number of dates play a role.

Imagine something like this:

Jenna and Ralph meet at an alumni event for the very large university they both attended. A couple months later, they run into each other at another alumni event and get to know each other better. They talk on the phone and go on 3 successful dates. They have kissed- but that's it physically.

They go on their 4th date. By now, over a month has passed since their first date (and even more since their first meeting). Jenna is hoping to define the relationship on that date. Ralph receives a call during the date while waiting to be seated at the restaurant. It is a very short and perfunctory call- so he takes it in front of Jenna (he had never taken a call in front of her before). She asks if everything is fine- Ralph says it was just Deborah (whom he had not mentioned before). Jenna asks casually if Deborah is his friend- Ralph says it was a woman he met. Jenna asks if he was interested in her- he said no, that they went out just once (one night he was not seeing Jenna) and he could tell she was not a good match for him, and that she now was more of a business contact since they work in the same broad industry. Jenna does not bring it up on the rest of their dinner and movie date...

Until they are in the car on the way back to drop Jenna off at her place. Ralph asks Jenna if she has a problem with his dating other women. Jenna said yes. Ralph replied "I never said we were dating exclusively".  Jenna replied "true"...but she said that she was the kind of person who by 4 dates needed exclusivity and was hoping to discuss it. Ralph and Jenna part ways cordially that evening, but Jenna is still hurt because she really liked Ralph and she thought he liked her back and all.

Was it just a misunderstanding? Did Jenna do wrong in assuming exclusivity? Assume this happened in the United States of America- would it be different in another country, given what has been said here? Is there a communication breakdown, regardless of what country this is happening in? Which one should be assumed- exclusivity, or casual dating- until it is explicitly discussed.

OP- was the situation similar to the one I just described, or is there another variable?

I can't speak for the USA, but in Australia, Ralph's behaviour would be considered dodgy and two-timing. By Date No.4, exclusiveness would (or should) be implied. So in Australia, Jenna would not be wrong in assuming that she and Ralph were an exclusive couple.

I also think that this sort of revelation from Ralph would be a deal breaker for most Aussie women.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Jones on January 19, 2014, 11:12:26 PM
Granted, I haven't dated in a few years (married young and desperately) but from what I've observed, in my area of the US, exclusivity is implied after the 3rd date or 1st kiss. For some reason those two things go hand in hand...I tended to wait a little extra time for that first kiss. My first boyfriend was entirely too patient, waiting to the 11th date for a kiss. He already knew we were exclusive, though.

Anyway, I hope no one from my corner gets their heart broken by someone like Ralph in Whiterose's hypothetical situation...but I'm sure we have a few Jennas around here.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: greencat on January 19, 2014, 11:40:17 PM
Wow.  I'm kind of shocked.  Maybe it's because of my age range and the very liberal big city where I live, but exclusivity is not assumed in the social groups I've encountered until you actually discuss it, or at least until you start calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend.  Kissing and even playing scrabble together is not necessarily indicative of commitment. 

I also hope I'm not the only one that laughs when real life people talk about actually playing scrabble and I think of the ehell definition. 
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Teenyweeny on January 20, 2014, 03:22:13 AM
I wonder how long Sally and Joe had been dating, time-wise and number of dates wise. I wonder if both length of calendar time and number of dates play a role.

Imagine something like this:

Jenna and Ralph meet at an alumni event for the very large university they both attended. A couple months later, they run into each other at another alumni event and get to know each other better. They talk on the phone and go on 3 successful dates. They have kissed- but that's it physically.

They go on their 4th date. By now, over a month has passed since their first date (and even more since their first meeting). Jenna is hoping to define the relationship on that date. Ralph receives a call during the date while waiting to be seated at the restaurant. It is a very short and perfunctory call- so he takes it in front of Jenna (he had never taken a call in front of her before). She asks if everything is fine- Ralph says it was just Deborah (whom he had not mentioned before). Jenna asks casually if Deborah is his friend- Ralph says it was a woman he met. Jenna asks if he was interested in her- he said no, that they went out just once (one night he was not seeing Jenna) and he could tell she was not a good match for him, and that she now was more of a business contact since they work in the same broad industry. Jenna does not bring it up on the rest of their dinner and movie date...

Until they are in the car on the way back to drop Jenna off at her place. Ralph asks Jenna if she has a problem with his dating other women. Jenna said yes. Ralph replied "I never said we were dating exclusively".  Jenna replied "true"...but she said that she was the kind of person who by 4 dates needed exclusivity and was hoping to discuss it. Ralph and Jenna part ways cordially that evening, but Jenna is still hurt because she really liked Ralph and she thought he liked her back and all.

Was it just a misunderstanding? Did Jenna do wrong in assuming exclusivity? Assume this happened in the United States of America- would it be different in another country, given what has been said here? Is there a communication breakdown, regardless of what country this is happening in? Which one should be assumed- exclusivity, or casual dating- until it is explicitly discussed.

OP- was the situation similar to the one I just described, or is there another variable?

I can't speak for the USA, but in Australia, Ralph's behaviour would be considered dodgy and two-timing. By Date No.4, exclusiveness would (or should) be implied. So in Australia, Jenna would not be wrong in assuming that she and Ralph were an exclusive couple.

I also think that this sort of revelation from Ralph would be a deal breaker for most Aussie women.

In the UK, most people would consider Ralph a cheat, at this point.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: MariaE on January 20, 2014, 03:36:49 AM
I wonder how long Sally and Joe had been dating, time-wise and number of dates wise. I wonder if both length of calendar time and number of dates play a role.

Imagine something like this:

Jenna and Ralph meet at an alumni event for the very large university they both attended. A couple months later, they run into each other at another alumni event and get to know each other better. They talk on the phone and go on 3 successful dates. They have kissed- but that's it physically.

They go on their 4th date. By now, over a month has passed since their first date (and even more since their first meeting). Jenna is hoping to define the relationship on that date. Ralph receives a call during the date while waiting to be seated at the restaurant. It is a very short and perfunctory call- so he takes it in front of Jenna (he had never taken a call in front of her before). She asks if everything is fine- Ralph says it was just Deborah (whom he had not mentioned before). Jenna asks casually if Deborah is his friend- Ralph says it was a woman he met. Jenna asks if he was interested in her- he said no, that they went out just once (one night he was not seeing Jenna) and he could tell she was not a good match for him, and that she now was more of a business contact since they work in the same broad industry. Jenna does not bring it up on the rest of their dinner and movie date...

Until they are in the car on the way back to drop Jenna off at her place. Ralph asks Jenna if she has a problem with his dating other women. Jenna said yes. Ralph replied "I never said we were dating exclusively".  Jenna replied "true"...but she said that she was the kind of person who by 4 dates needed exclusivity and was hoping to discuss it. Ralph and Jenna part ways cordially that evening, but Jenna is still hurt because she really liked Ralph and she thought he liked her back and all.

Was it just a misunderstanding? Did Jenna do wrong in assuming exclusivity? Assume this happened in the United States of America- would it be different in another country, given what has been said here? Is there a communication breakdown, regardless of what country this is happening in? Which one should be assumed- exclusivity, or casual dating- until it is explicitly discussed.

OP- was the situation similar to the one I just described, or is there another variable?

I can't speak for the USA, but in Australia, Ralph's behaviour would be considered dodgy and two-timing. By Date No.4, exclusiveness would (or should) be implied. So in Australia, Jenna would not be wrong in assuming that she and Ralph were an exclusive couple.

I also think that this sort of revelation from Ralph would be a deal breaker for most Aussie women.

In the UK, most people would consider Ralph a cheat, at this point.

Denmark too.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: TurtleDove on January 20, 2014, 05:50:53 AM
I would just ask - I wouldn't want a relationship with someone I couldn't talk to. I certainly would not be exclusive if the other person was seeing other people in addition to me.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: menley on January 20, 2014, 05:57:01 AM
In the US, it depends a lot on your social circle. Nearly all of my American friends and family would say that they never really "dated", but they were in relationships. Meaning, they did not ever go on dates with more than one person at a time, and that generally if the first date went well, they'd be considered to be in a relationship. However, that's not necessarily true for even people that lived in the same area as us - they would go on casual or even serious dates with multiple people, with varying levels of intimacy, and think nothing of it.

This is why it's very key (in the US at least - perhaps not other countries) to make it clear upfront whether you're looking for exclusivity, even in the first few dates. You simply can't just assume everyone plays by the same rules here because there are just so many differences in what people do.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: TurtleDove on January 20, 2014, 06:12:54 AM
POD to menley. I have no problem with a person is upfront about a decision to play the field. I wouldn't personally date such a person. And I would think very poorly of someone who led another t believe they were exclusive but was instead seeing others. Always have open communication and be honest about what YOU want is my advice. Want to date severally people casually? Great! Make sure they all know that. Want an exclusive relationship? Get an agreement that that is what you are doing.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: perpetua on January 20, 2014, 06:58:13 AM
Yeah, I wouldn't be touching Ralph with a ten-foot bargepole after that, neither would I be seeing someone who made it clear their intention was to 'play the field' but then I just can't get my head around the concept of casual dating.

I think it's because to me it comes across a bit like treating people like commodities or trying to pick someone out of a line-up. 'dating' to me, or 'going out with someone' as we more often call it here, tends to work a bit more like you meet someone, you click, you like them, you ask them out, and then if it goes well you stick with seeing that person because why wouldn't you if you like them that much? Casual dating more than one person at the same time implies to me 'Yeah, I like you, but I'm still going to see if I can find someone else I like better'. I just find it all a bit offensive, for some reason.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: English1 on January 20, 2014, 07:05:03 AM
I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all answer.

In the UK, generally it's assumed that you are dating only one person. Historically, anyway. However, I think that's changing with the increase in internet dating/'influence of US TV etc - and there are people who now date more casually. It's only a problem if it's not clear to everyone involved. I wouldn't think that one or two dates necessarily meant a lot and it would be wrong to see someone else as well. Much more than that though is starting to get a bit...userish ...unless you all know about it and want to date casually.

When I met my ex I was already seeing two men on a casual basis (I know, I'm such a tart!) and I told all of them about each other. Ex was a little taken aback I think but carried on. After about 2 weeks of dating ex I knew I wanted to give us a chance at a proper relationship, not casual, so dumped the other two (sounds cruel but they knew we were only a temporary thing) and told ex I was no longer seeing anyone else. Those other two men - one had been on the scene for around 2 years, one for a couple of months. I think it's very quickly apparent to you how much you like someone and what you are looking for (at the time I wasn't really wanting a serious relationship). A decent person spells it out honestly.

Current OH - we met through internet dating and I think it was on our third date it was brought up and we confirmed had no intention of meeting up with anyone else now. We both cancelled our memberships a couple of weeks later.

On dating more than one person at a time. It doesn't necessarily make you a creep!
"I think it's because to me it comes across a bit like treating people like commodities or trying to pick someone out of a line-up."
My mindset at the time was that I really did not want a serious relationship (if the right person tripped over me, fine, but I wasn't looking for them). I had other priorities. I still enjoyed going out, having fun with someone, and yes, scrabble. I'm not cut out to live like a nun  ;D. I liked both them men I was seeing,  but also both of them were not interested in a proper relationship either, for their own reasons. And while they were great in small doses, neither of them was the sort of man I'd want as a partner. I am genuinely fond of the one I saw for two years and we are still friends many years after we stopped 'seeing' each other. But we were never, and will never be, truly right for each other romantically.

You don't always have to date with marriage/commitment/long term in mind. I think that can be a big mistake, especially when you are young, as you can end up drifting into something serious with the wrong person.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: TurtleDove on January 20, 2014, 08:09:04 AM
You don't always have to date with marriage/commitment/long term in mind. I think that can be a big mistake, especially when you are young, as you can end up drifting into something serious with the wrong person.

This exactly.  There is nothing wrong with not wanting a serious relationship, and there is nothing wrong with wanting a serious relationship.  A person just needs to be honest with herself and with the people she is dating about what she wants.  Never try to "convince" someone to want a serious relationship - instead, move on if you want more than a person says they can give you.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: guihong on January 20, 2014, 08:13:31 AM
I think it's important to be upfront about serious/not serious before scrabble.  People can be very hurt if one is thinking "Scrabble=love=serious relationship" and the other is just thinking "Yay! Scrabble!". 
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: #borecore on January 20, 2014, 08:27:08 AM
I've gone all over the map for these types of things. I've gone on three dates with three different men every week for a month, none serious; and of course, I've "dated" monogamously for weeks to years, as well.

Generally, though, when I was dating, if I decided I liked someone a lot, I stopped seeing the other people I had gone out with in that period -- but that didn't mean I expected that person to be on my schedule, too. If I had any concerns, I discussed them. If I thought about doing certain activities, I definitely clarified things first.

Among my classmates these days (I'm one of only three married students; the students are mostly 21-26), they are about 10% single and not dating much if at all, 40% in relationships that seem more or less stable (including engagements), and 30% either dating exclusively to semi-exclusively but not necessarily with an eye toward marriage and 20% dating around or 'sleeping around.'

These numbers aren't exact, obviously, but I hear plenty about people's partners or engagements, or bad dates, or 'can you believe what classmate X and classmate Y did at the bar this weekend?' stuff.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on January 20, 2014, 08:51:49 AM
I can see how Jenna would no longer want to date Ralph but I don't think Ralph did anything wrong.  They hadn't yet had a conversation about exclusivity and they hadn't yet been intimate.  If either of those things had happened and Ralph was still dating other people, then yes, he's a cad.  Personally, I'd be more ticked about him taking a call while we were on a date than I would be about him still seeing other people when we hadn't discussed it yet.

For me, the cut off is intimacy, which may or may not involve full on scrabble.  I would have no problem dating or having my date dating multiple people, as long as we hadn't yet had a conversation about 'going steady' or been intimate.  As soon as those things happen or are about to happen, then we both need to stop seeing other people or stop seeing each other, if we aren't both on the same page.

I don't have a problem with other people's line being further out, intimacy wise.  To each their own and if you can handle the casualness, go for it.  I just know I can't be that casual about it.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 20, 2014, 11:50:28 AM
I agree Ralph did nothing wrong. Jenna knew there was the potential that their relationship wasn't exclusive or she wouldn't have planned to discuss it during the 4th date.

I personally believe dating non-exclusively can be a good thing for everyone. I often felt people who went exclusive too early in the relationships ended up investing way to much time in a bad relationship because they'd put all their emotional eggs into that basket. I don't really agree with playing scrabble with multiple scrabble partners within the same time frame. So I did expect exclusivity at that point.

I also don't remember ever having the "are we exclusive" talk. Most of my relationship that did end up being exclusive progressed to where we were spending so much time together that it wasn't possible for either of us to have additional dates.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: Tea Drinker on January 20, 2014, 11:57:17 AM
I agree with jmarvellous that it's important to clarify things--don't assume the other person wants, or is offering, exclusivity. That's both "don't assume they are ready for it, even if you are" as a stage-of-relationship thing and that some people aren't going to want it no matter how well things are going. The other thing is that "I'm not seeing anyone else right now," "I don't want to see anyone else right now," and "I don't want you to see anyone else right now" are three different statements. In particular, the first one can be someone who isn't actively looking for people to date, and has now gone out three times with someone she met at a party; no online profiles, no speed dating, etc., but she won't necessarily turn down a classmate who asks her out.

I think an adult should be able to say that they want an exclusive relationship, if they do; not just in the abstract when talking to random friends, but to the person they are asking to be exclusive with them.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: greencat on January 20, 2014, 05:02:29 PM
No matter what your personal/regional/social circle opinion is of whether Ralph was okay to still be dating others, I think we can all agree that the one universally rude thing that Ralph did was taking another woman's call while on a date with Jenna.

It also is not a good feeling to think that you are exclusive or heading towards exclusivity with someone and then abruptly realize that they aren't on the same page, regardless if the other person is following or violating the social norms by still considering your relationship casual.

My own similar story about this:

I had been dating a guy for about 6 months.  We had started dating with the understanding that it was fairly casual - we were both going on dates with other people (and possibly engaging in casual games of scrabble with those other people.  I'm also not cut out to be a nun.)  As time went on, we were spending almost all of our spare time together, and we were getting a lot more serious.

However, I came across considerable evidence that he was still wanting to engage in those casual games of scrabble with others, and I wanted to be in a more serious relationship.  I told him that I was aware that he wasn't ready to be more serious, and I was fine with that, but I wanted to see him less often (so I had time to date other guys) until and unless he was ready to commit to more exclusivity.  That would have been fine with me, but he did not take it well.

He started trying to lie to me in the very classic pattern of a cheater who got caught and doesn't realize that the other person knows the full extent of their deception.  I don't like being lied to, especially not the kind of lying that he was doing, and I completely broke things off with him at that point.
Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: blarg314 on January 20, 2014, 06:55:32 PM

The exclusivity/dating around discussion is interesting.

My general experience is that when you're dating people in your social circle, it's generally one at a time - you can ask out a coworker, or a friend of a friend, but wouldn't do both at the same time, and if they found out about it, they'd be peeved. That's a situation where you have an idea before the first date that you're interested in someone, though.

But when it's internet dating, or meeting people at clubs, seeing multiple people simultaneously is the norm - here, you're going on that first date or two with the hopes that you're genuinely interested in them, and the chances of it actually turning into a relationship are not that high. So dating sequentially, if your goal is to find a partner, is very inefficient - you might meet up with one new person a month, compared to the half dozen or more you could manage if you were meeting up in parallel.

However, I've met people with the full range of assumptions, from assuming that more than one date = serious, exclusive relationship, to assuming that they're both dating around (and scrabbling around) until explicitly specified otherwise.  So if you go into a relationship assuming that the other person has the same views you do (no parallel dating, scrabble = exclusive + monogamous) without confirming it, and it turns out that they don't, you can't blame them for not being psychic.

As an aside, my Mom was quite surprised to find that casually dating around wasn't standard among my peers. In her dating days (late 50s,  60s) that was considered normal - you'd go on multiple dates with multiple guys until you mutually decided to be exclusive/more serious with one. One of the differences, I think, was in those days the casually dating phase was assumed to be non-scrabble in nature. Now, relationships can get physical very quickly, which changes the exclusivity/casual dating equation quite a bit.

Title: Re: A friendly way to ask?
Post by: PastryGoddess on January 20, 2014, 10:47:40 PM

I agree with both of these statements. I'm not actively looking for anything long term, but I'm also not shying away from it either.  I like dating because I get to meet new people and it takes me out of my comfort zone.





You don't always have to date with marriage/commitment/long term in mind. I think that can be a big mistake, especially when you are young, as you can end up drifting into something serious with the wrong person.

This exactly.  There is nothing wrong with not wanting a serious relationship, and there is nothing wrong with wanting a serious relationship.  A person just needs to be honest with herself and with the people she is dating about what she wants.  Never try to "convince" someone to want a serious relationship - instead, move on if you want more than a person says they can give you.


I think it's important to be upfront about serious/not serious before scrabble.  People can be very hurt if one is thinking "Scrabble=love=serious relationship" and the other is just thinking "Yay! Scrabble!".