Many singles do want to settle down, but right now they also want to date several people at once, at least for a time. If nothing else, they want to make the process more efficient, to find what they’re looking for faster. They believe that seeing multiple people at once helps them get to know themselves better as they explore an array of interests, characters and connections. One date might be an exceptional conversationalist, while another is more reserved but has fascinating things to say on the deep stuff. One date might be a good laugh on a night out but useless at making plans, while another is a little stiff and formal but eminently reliable.

Dating multiple people can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. So if it’s an approach you’re going to pursue, remember these 3 key bits of advice, so you can navigate the turbulent dynamics without hurting someone, or getting hurt yourself.

1. Assume that your date is seeing other people as well

You might be seeing multiple people at once—but if you fall for someone, it’s easy to forget that the same may be true of them.

Conversely, if you’re feeling lukewarm about one particular person you’ve been seeing, it doesn’t mean they’re similarly indifferent—they might be seriously into you, and assume you’re not seeing anyone else.

For many singles, dating multiple people at once is not the goal in itself, but rather a means of achieving the goal of meeting The One. Most find themselves naturally investing more and more of their time into one person. If this happens, now is the time to be open, but also to request openness in return. If you want exclusivity but they’re not yet on the same page, you need to have a think about whether this is right after all.

2. Keep the number of people you’re seeing manageable

Your life isn’t a sitcom. You have the capacity to genuinely upset the people you’re seeing by being unreliable, mixing up your plans, or tactlessly telling them they’re not the only one you’re seeing. Or you might end up confusing your dates’ details, leading to toe-curlingly awkward scenarios like asking how their brother Dave got on in his driving exam yesterday—except, they don’t have any siblings, they don’t know anyone called Dave, and in an instant they realise that to you they’re just a number in your busy calendar.

If you are going to date multiple people at once, limit your roster to a sensible number. Of course no one’s stopping you from having 10 different date nights in a fortnight, but if you’re looking for something serious you might end up overwhelmed, or even desensitised by the amount of choice, and consequently disinterested in settling down altogether.

3. Maintain transparency—and never ghost

You don’t need to announce the fact you’re seeing other people unless it either comes up in conversation, things get more serious, or the other person is clearly getting attached, at which point you need to make a decision. Whatever you do, don’t play them along.

For example, if you just got out of a long-term relationship and you’re not looking to settle down again just yet, you should be upfront about that with your date—and probably also include the fact you’re seeing other people. This shows them that you respect their feelings by giving them agency to decide how the two of you continue, if at all.

This transparency also extends to cutting ties with people you’ve been seeing, too. These relationships may feel casual to you, but that won’t always be true of the other person. Ghosting isn’t the way to go about it. Instead, let them know you had fun getting to know them, but you’ve have come to realise you’re not a good fit, and that you wish them the best.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.