Feb. 14 is right around the corner, and if you’ve got a couple of cuties you’re currently talking to but totally not exclusive with, well, let’s just say things can get complicated.
We turned to the experts for a little last-minute love advice to help you avoid a Valentine’s Day gone bad.
Take the reins
As long as everyone knows you’re a free agent and there aren’t any expectations, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to spend your Valentine’s Day with a couple of different men when you’re not in a committed relationship, assures dating and relationship expert Jason Weberman of North Star Coaching. “That being said, if you want to split your time between sweeties, then you’re going to have to take the reins in planning the day for both gentlemen. Fine with not being surprised by unfolding events? Start the day off with having brunch with fellow number one and enjoy a cocktail with guy number two later that night. Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time between dates though so you can regenerate for your second one,” he warns. Jason also recommends not squeezing in a third, as you’d be so exhausted and stressed that you wouldn’t enjoy any of them.
Don’t get them all the same thing
Seriously, just don’t! “While it may be easier to shop for one gift for all and get a mass merchandise discount (as well as remembering you bought four red cashmere sweaters for the four guys you’re currently dating),” points out relationship expert and author April Masini of AskApril.com, “the downside opportunity for them finding out and feeling like they just got a mass blast love letter is higher than if you got four special things for each one.” Um, we couldn’t agree more.
Appreciate the gifts you’re given
But don’t display the goods! “If one guy comes to your house and sees you’ve already gotten a dozen red roses and they’re on display in clear view, his are going to wilt, so to speak,” says April. “Be discreet and take off the engraved heart necklace one guy gives you before going out with another.” It’s simply disrespectful not to.
Give priority to the guy who asks you out first
If you aren’t exclusive with one person and are dating several guys, professional life coach and dating/relationship expert Amy Schoen of Motivatedtomarry.com suggests making plans with the guy who asks you out first since he’s showing some initiative. Then if the second guy asks just say you already have plans for dinner (the less said the better to keep him guessing) and would love to meet for lunch, she advises. “If there’s another guy and he waits until the last minute, well, he’s out of luck!”
Make sure everyone is on the same page
This is one of those situations where honesty really is the best policy. Although you don’t have to go into detail about your other plans or the person you’re seeing, you should make sure your date knows you’re seeing other people and that you aren’t exclusive. This is important for two reasons, says licensed marriage and family therapist Jennifer Chappell Marsh. “First of all, there will be less worry/guilt on your part about ‘being found out’ or hurting your date. Secondly, if your causal dating turns into something more serious, then you’ve started things out honestly where trust can build. Otherwise, your partner could feel betrayed down the line.”
Don’t overbook or over commit yourself
Limit stress by being realistic with your time constraints and set clear expectations from the get go, advises Jennifer. “Keep the dates limited to one location (each date, different location) and communicate clearly about what time you have available. This will prevent you from getting anxious and your dates from being disappointed,” she notes.