So last time we talked about the importance of writing and the dilemma of remaining pen pals for too long. Remember, writing is not dating. Last time I checked, you can’t hug a computer. So let’s assume you are successful at getting past the pen pal stage, now you have the dilemma: how many men can/ should I talk to at one time? I don’t really have an answer for this because it’s different for every person, but here’s what I know: online dating is a feast or famine situation. I have never been able to talk to one person at a time. I am usually messaging more than one man and I find myself going out on casual dates with more than one person hoping that someone special breaks free from the pack.

All of this is supposed to happen naturally and it’s supposed to be fun, but somewhere along the way it feels a lot like juggling fireballs. I took juggling once for a theatre class and it wasn’t fun then, so why would I want to make it a central part of my life? I wouldn’t, but then I never anticipated that I would be partaking in the world of online dating.

Some people really do try to only talk to one person at a time, but I don’t know how they manage this, so here is what works in my world. Remember though that I have a pretty liberal moral compass. I will text and talk to several men at one time. I will go on first dates with several men without being exclusive, and I might even kiss more than one man (we’ll get into that next week when we talk about first dates), but if I decide to get physical (hey, we all have needs), I try to limit this to one person; however, sometimes even that is tricky. Hey, things happen. But this is where it gets tricky for me. I will not have a parade of men in my home, that is a personal choice because I have young children. I am fine with them knowing that I date, but I’m not okay with them knowing all that dating might entail until I actually have a boyfriend that will stick around for a while.

So that brings me back to the dilemma: How many is too many? At the moment I’m talking to seven men. I’ve met four of them, been physical with one and I’m not really sure that any of them will turn into a relationship, so I’m still on the prowl. My ultimate rule is that if I start to feel like it’s a circus then I need to slow down. I should mention that my kids are with their dad at the moment. The other thing that really works for me is I try to be honest. I don’t pretend that I’m a girlfriend if I’m not. I won’t dodge a direct question, and I function under the assumption that any man I’m seeing is also seeing other people until we have the talk. Young people seem to understand the rules of dating a little more instinctively, but for me there was a huge learning curve.

Dating in your 40’s and beyond requires all of us to make certain assumptions:

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