Sex by Numbers: How to Date Multiple Men

ColumnColumnist Abigail Wick delivers definitive reasons why single women not only can, but positively should, date more than one man at once.

It might seem funny to begin an article about dating multiple men by talking about my grandmother but in fact, nothing makes more sense. At a healthy 68 years old, she’s sexy and cool in her own right and, what’s more, serves as my go-to confidante. We’ve grown up together as women and friends and something about our regular chats leaves my spirit refreshed, my mind calm, and stomach muscles mega-toned from laughing so hard. She’s a wellspring of good advice and has been dispensing it to me all my life.

Despite living in a tiny town in Texas, she somehow knows exactly how to hold her granddaughter’s hand (via always lively Skype tête-à-têtes), and guide her through the giddy exhilarations and minor humiliations of dating in a major metropolis. The very notion of dating is still brand new to me, and the fact that it’s all going down in a foreign country makes it all the more culturally and psychologically dislocating. (German men, for the record, are complicated and awkward; then again, they’re also tall, strong and gorgeous.) And, despite the ridiculous number of ex-pats here in Berlin, I keep finding myself in the arms of these unbearably good looking, emotionally clumsy German guys and it leaves me confused.

I asked my Grandma to help me as I was so confused and you know what? She surprised me by suggesting that I see multiple men, all at once.

“Are you kidding me, Abigail? Don’t throw away all the good things you have going for you by jumping into bed with one man – you’ll make yourself sick with micro-mindedness. You need to play it cool, baby girl, and the only way to do that is shop around and you know how much women love to shop!”

It turns out, she’s right, and for this period of my life, it really is better this way. So, how does it all work? This week’s Sex by Numbers offers singles some sensible guidelines for dating many men: It’s all about being a sane, reasonable, and compassionate woman who also happens to have heaps of fun.

Facebook is a Foe

What one of us doesn’t have a complicated relationship with Facebook? It makes us feel good, and thus we proffer up to the Mark Zuckerberg god our life stories as told through tagged pictures and likes. But as discerning, thoughtful participants in mass culture, Facebook also makes us feel a bit icky inside. It magnifies and exacerbates our worst voyeuristic and self-aggrandizing selves. Under no uncertain terms should you connect with a love interest at the dawn of a new relationship through this venue. In a media-saturated world, mystery and privacy are endowed with even more currency than before, and becoming his “friend” totally hacks that into tiny, jagged bits. It brings more baggage than it’s worth. Stay away; it’s one unnecessary evil that you can control and keep at a healthy distance.

Follow Wisdom From the Former Eastern Bloc

This weekend, over several glasses of German Reisling and a plate of assorted French cheeses, I shared with a girlfriend (a young woman who ex-patriated here to Berlin from Kiev, Ukraine) my grandmother’s advice. “Of course your grandmother would tell you that! My mom always says something similar, except she prescribes an exact number – five men.”

To me, five men just seems like a handful, and I asked her to tell me more.

“One for his muscles and one for his brain, one for his money and one for his heart, plus…” She trailed off. “I can’t remember,” she said. And, I rather prefer it this way actually; the fifth is a choose-your-own-adventure.

Express Thanks and Foster Friendships

Whether you enjoyed a mind-blowing evening with someone or not, be a gracious, good hearted person and let him know that you appreciated the time you spent together. Text him the next day to say thank you. Sweetness and kindness always takes you a lot further than being a fumbling woman who plays games. Boys have feelings, too, and it’s your responsibility (and privilege) to honor them. Plus, it’s always better to keep the door open for friendship than to slam it shut. Be nice. Play fair.

It’s Far Better to be Roaming Than Bored

Of all the flatmates I could have found in this city of four million, I had the luck of stumbling upon a supremely sweet, sensitive Ph.D. candidate who, it turns out, knows how to be a good friend. One night, over a glass of Chianti, he said, “But, Abigail, why see all these men? Doesn’t it increase the likelihood that you’ll get hurt? More men just means more problems.” I see where he’s coming from, but I actually disagree.

A) How much can a person I’ve known for only a few weeks really hurt me? The answer is not much.

B) None of it is personal! It’s just as easy to stress about a guy as it is to forget about him – for a whole host of reasons, things work out or they don’t. Who cares? Something far greater is just beyond the bend.

C) You’re not going to be single forever, and wouldn’t you rather spend your time sniffing out the hot shit than staying at home and sulking? Because, really, nothing is more unattractive, inside and out, than fretting and being uptight.

D) You owe it to yourself to create a good life of your own choosing, and in the same way you’re methodical about building your
career, cultivating friendships, and seeking out adventure, it’s your right to seize this rare and golden chance to kick back and let come what may.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Be a Slut

These are not my words – I actually find the term ‘slut’ lame and anti-feminist. These words are my grandmother’s but, despite the generational and semantical gap, I catch her drift. At the end of the day, don’t do anything that leaves you feeling less than stellar or disempowered. The joy of being a modern sexual creature is that you get to do it (or not, whatever you dig), according to mutual terms between liberated, consenting adults. And it’s a lot of fun. Life is about creating joy within oneself and sharing it with others, non? Go for it.

Sex By Numbers is an ongoing look into the emotional and sexual lives of the modern day woman. Follow Abigail Wick weekly here for insight and inspiration as she explores the “sex” of women and the terrain they must travel.