Love Letters

He wants to date one woman at a time

Q.I’m a 39-year-old man and have just come out of a 10-year relationship. I’m still friends with my ex-fiancee and really want her to go on and have a nice life. What is concerning me is the fact that I really value fidelity in a relationship and am uncomfortable with the dating scene. It seems to be the norm that you might be dating three or four people at a time — hedging your bets so to speak. Prior to now, I’ve always been a friend or a colleague of someone before dating them, which means I’m not used to first, app-based get-to-know-you dates. I’m just very emotionally uncomfortable with the idea of seeing more than one person at a time.

I’m finding it difficult to convince women that this is a core value. So many of them have dealt with cheating and are distrustful. When we get to the subject of fidelity and talk about our past relationships, women tend to think I’m just delivering lines or telling them what they want to hear. I still very much believe in the idea of falling in love with someone. I haven’t met anyone who’s quite made me feel that way yet, but I definitely have met a couple of women who I could see developing a relationship with.

Am I taking things too seriously? Should I just chill out? Any practical advice would be great, and I would kill for women’s points of view on this matter. When I explained my views on fidelity to one of my dates, she thought I was so full of it because she’s heard this all before and has been hurt in the past. I’m not perfect, and am not saying I’m an ideal partner, but on the issue of fidelity, I could never look a woman in the eye if I cheated on her. It just doesn’t sit well with me and I want someone who feels the same way.

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A.You’re conflating two things here, so let’s separate them.

The first thing you’re upset about is dating — that so many people seek out multiple dates at the same time. That can make any individual first date seem less special, for sure, but it’s not so different than how you found love 10 years ago. You say you met people at work or as friends before dating them, which means you were probably getting to know them while you were getting to know others. Dating around with an app isn’t so different. You take your time getting to know someone, and, when you’re ready, you have a conversation about exclusivity and what it would mean to be a couple.

Fidelity is another matter, and I’m here to tell you that you’re not the only person who believes in it. Cheating happens, and yes, many single people on apps have been wronged, but it’s not the thing that kills all relationships. It’s possible that these women think you’re full of it because you’re bringing up cheating and fidelity with such great passion on a first or second date. You might be protesting too much, and it seems disingenuous. The next time cheating comes up on a date, just say you don’t like it and move on.

Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

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What I’m noticing is that you want ALL women to feel the same about fidelity as you. They don’t.BIGSIGH

If a man told me on a first date that he wasn’t going to date anyone else and expect the same from me while getting to know each other, there would be no second date. It reeks of possessiveness even though that’s not your intention at all, I think. You are free to do as you please. But don’t expect the women you’re dating to do the same thing.MHOGAN08

I’ve gone on several dates recently with different women and each one had a different idea of how “fidelity” should work when getting to know someone. This is such a personal thing and I hate it when others tell you how you should feel. One woman told me, after two dates, that I made her feel like a fool after I told her that I’m going to peruse a relationship with someone else. I’m somewhere in the middle, but I find it weird that my date will be gettin’ it on with someone else tomorrow after our date tonight. I get it, we’re getting to know each other, but when physical intimacy is involved, at least for me, things get weird.

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Why don’t you take the time to find out how much you really like someone before bringing up all this stuff? None of it matters if you don’t pass the first hurdle.SEENITTOO

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Don’t bring up exclusivity until five or six dates and/or a couple weeks. And when you do bring it up, phrase it Meredith-style like, “I’m really starting to like you and haven’t been seeing other people. Should we treat this as exclusive?” ... rather than “You better not be cheating on me, lady.”NUM19

This^! I’ve had men tell me they don’t want me to be talking to others on the apps or dating others. One even told me he “couldn’t stand competition.”Yeah, no, I’m not some prize to be fought over, and I spent long enough in an abusive, controlling marriage that I’d rather be alone than put up with that again.NERVOUSNELLIE

How about you simultaneously date the number of women you feel comfortable with and let the women simultaneously date the number of men they feel comfortable with until you find someone that you want to be exclusive with and who wants to be exclusive with you?-ROADRUNNER-

Actions speak louder than words. It is easy to deliver a passionate lecture on being faithful on a first or second date, but it doesn’t prove anything to the woman who is potentially dating you. Showing your character through your actions over time is the only way to develop trust.

ONESMARTCOOKIE

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to meredith.goldstein@
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