‘I’m a Dating Specialist, and Here’s Why I Recommend Talking To 3 Suitors at Once’

Photo: Getty Images/Luis Alvarez
You know how Goldilocks tried three bowls of porridge, and one was too cold, the other too hot, and one was just right? There’s a similar principle that applies to the number of matches you might have on dating apps at a given time: A person can have too few, too many, and an expert-recommended amount that they're pursuing at once. What’s the sweet spot when it comes to the number of folks someone can create a meaningful connection with? According to one dating app expert, it’s three.

“First, to clarify, this is not about being careless with multiple minds and hearts," says Laurel House, a relationship expert with dating platform eharmony. "Just because you’re dating a few different people doesn’t mean that you are superficial, flighty, or a player.” Rather, she says, it means you're determining the best path forward for you to proceed.

Experts In This Article
  • Laurel House, California-based dating and relationship coach

Furthermore, it's not cheating behavior, either. When you’re in the early stages of dating a new person, you have the right to connect with as many people as you'd like, so long as everyone involved is aware that this isn’t an exclusive dynamic. (There are also plenty of folks who are non-monogamous, and don't have the goal to end up with one person anyway.)

But why seek out connections with three people—particularly if you're ultimately only interested in a monogamous relationship? According to House, it's a common inclination to view new relationships through rose-colored glasses. It makes sense why, too: If you're putting your best foot forward with a potential mate, that entails believing they're the best option for you. However, this positive mindset can also lead to a situation of focusing on just that person—even if there aren’t strong indications that they offer long-term compatibility.

“When you date multiple people, you tend to be clearer about what you actually need in a partner, and you are less likely to make excuses for them or ignore red flags.” —Laurel House, dating specialist

“Dating only one person at once can create self-imposed pressure to make it work because all of your eggs are in one basket,” House says. “When you date multiple people, you tend to be clearer about what you actually need in a partner, and you are less likely to make excuses for them or ignore red flags.”

But, she doesn't suggest dating your entire social network at once. The reason to not try to get to know more than three matches at a time is because “communicating with too many can numb your individual feelings,” says House. Essentially, it might be hard to tell how you really feel about someone if you're unable to recall how you experienced them, which could certainly be the case if you're working to catalog your emotions about a plethora of other people.

“It is difficult to have a confident, vulnerable, connected presence with more than three people [at a time],” says House. “You must be heart-opened, present, and aware within each individual relationship. That is difficult to do with more than three people,” perhaps because your memory gets foggy or because you don't feel right sharing intimate details with that many strangers.

In order for a match or connection to be meaningful, House says all parties involved should have certain a level of honesty and vulnerability with each other. This doesn't require you to share your deepest traumas (unless you’re comfortable doing so), but you should at least be talking about what you’d like and wouldn't like from a potential long-term partner.

Ultimately, it’s completely up to you how many people you actually connect with on the dating app of your choice, provided everything is consensual and safe. But if you want to make meaningful connections, consider heeding House’s advice and picking your top three matches.

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