I voted that Ralph was not in the wrong at all since four dates in a month is very early in the dating
process to me.
I think the cultural background makes a big difference here. In the UK, exclusive dating is the "cultural default" if you like, so I personally would be horrified if Ralph turned around and told me he was dating other girls like it wasn't an issue. But judging from these comments, in the US it would be the opposite way round - So I guess the requirement to state things upfront lies with the person whose expectation is outside the norm for where they are. If I met Ralph and he told me he wanted to date non-exclusively then I wouldn't have a problem.
What I think would only make a difference is the nature of the date. There are casual, fun, non-intimate dates that are more appropriate for non-exclusive dating, but if Ralph has been treating Jenna to romantic dinners and the like, then I think Jenna would be justified to feel a bit strung along.
This is interesting to me because with most of the guys I've dated here in my part of the US, dinner is usually a standard part of most first and subsequent dates. It's often at a place that might seem romantic, if you're in that mood (quiet, dimly lit). However, it has never seemed romantic to me during a first to fourth date because I'm still in the "just getting to know the guy" stage at that point.
For me, it is sometimes the more casual dates that strike me as more romantic, either appropriately with a boyfriend, or inappropriately suggested by a new guy.
I remember two guys who each asked me out on first dates that would take place during the afternoon. That was unusual in itself, but they also struck me as too intimate of a plan. I am a very cautious person, so their reaction to my gently "objecting" to their plans made the difference in whether I went out with them.
One guy wanted to go to a rather secluded outdoor ice cream stand. This stand has no seats at all, so if people stay there to eat, they either lean up against their cars or sit inside them in the parking lot, which is not very close to the stand. Neither of those options seemed comfortable or safe when just getting to know a guy. There was a good chance there might be no other customers hanging out there. So, I told him that while I like that place, we might be able to talk better at another ice cream place nearby that had seats inside and was a family-friendly 50's style soda shop. He agreed and we had a good time.
The other guy wanted to go on a picnic, which I'd never done before but had always imagined being something I'd like to do with a guy I was in love with. Sitting together on a blanket in a park, which can sometimes be empty, was not a first-date thing to me. But when I told him that was too cozy of an idea for me, the next activity he suggested was worse! I got a bad vibe at that point, so no date with him.
As for where I meet guys, I have never tried online dating
or gone to bars or nightclubs. So, I tend to meet them in what I've come to think of as "the usual way," like attending some business or cultural event, or being at the grocery store or post office and another customer chatting me up and asking for my number.
I'm not big on dating
as a "hobby" though, so of the guys who've asked, I've only given my number to a small percentage. Then when they call, I only go out with a few of those. (It's amazing the unappealing things some guys will say during that first call!)
Usually, by the middle of the first date, I know that I don't want to go on a second. It occurs to me that there's only been one guy I've gone on four dates with that didn't end up turning into a long-term relationship
. I knew when he leaned in to try to kiss me for the first time at the end of that last date that it wasn't going to work out. I'd been trying to do something different by "giving him a chance" and seeing if I could learn to like him, and that was a mistake.
Since I've never dated a lot just for the heck of it, it just so happens that I've never gone out with more than one guy at a time during the early stages. I'm not officially against it, but I don't think I'd like it for myself.