Is Dating Multiple People Cheating?

Recently someone posed the question of whether or not it was cheating if someone was dating multiple people when there has been no discussion concerning being exclusive or committed.

The simplest definition for cheating is using deception and secrecy to break the rules.

If you aren't in an "exclusive relationship" then you are free to do as you please with whomever you want. Unless there has been a discussion which expressively states that neither person will date or have sex with others there is no commitment.

Communication

However it is not uncommon for people to replace communication with (assumption).

Case in point if a couple spends a lot of time together in person and on the phone/email/twitter it's very easy for either of them to (lull) themselves into believing they are in a "monogamous relationship" simply based upon the time they spend together. Should this individual discover this person is also dating or having sex with others they're likely to react as if they were "cheated" on.

The "betrayed person" feels the other person should have (told) them they were seeing others and the so called "cheater" feels like since they (never discussed) being "exclusive" or "monogamous" they did nothing wrong. Its two sides of the (lack of communication) coin. Both people made assumptions!

Length of Time Dating

Time is the slippery slope. If you met two new people earlier in the week and set up a date with one for Friday night and a picnic/beach date set for Sunday afternoon with the other; most people would say you're not under any obligation to inform them that you’re going out with others.

If someone were to ask if you were in a relationship/seeing anyone "special" you'd most likely reply by saying; "I'm dating but there is no one (special)." Very few people would consider your activities to be "cheating" even if you're dating multiple people.

On the other hand if you continued to date these two people for (two to three months) your friends are likely to ask if the two people you're dating know that you are "seeing" others. Most likely overtime you would have had an instance where you were asked by one of the people you were dating to go out when you had plans to be with the other.

Lying by Omission

This is where it gets very dicey because most people will not admit they have a date with someone else. "I'm going to be hanging out with my (friend), co-worker, brother/sister."

This is an act of dishonesty. Whether you've had the "exclusive talk" or not people expect you to be (honest) with them. The use of the word "friend" is used to imply that there is no romance/sexual activity or interest between you and the friend. This dissuades the person you're dating from thinking you are romantically involved with others. It's lying by omission.

Word Games

In the event the person you've been dating bumps into you kissing your "friend" odds are they will feel like you cheated (broke the rules) because you (deceived/lied) to them. This leads to you saying, "We never said we were (exclusive) and I never said whether or not my friend was a woman or a man....etc" In essence you are blaming them for being misled or "making assumptions". Therefore you’re still the "good guy".

Don't Ask/Don't Tell

Very few people tell the new person they're seeing at the (outset) that they plan to date others until they find Mr./Ms. Right or until they are ready to settle down. Neither party feels obligated to reveal their social/romantic activities. We don't want to know if we are competing with others and if we're dating others we don't want to risk the possibility of losing their interest by telling them we are dating other people. Therefore it's common for both people to have a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy during early dates. If a couple met online it is safe to assume that as long as their profile is available to be viewed by the public they're still "on the market" and open to receiving inquiries.

Perception is Reality

Nevertheless everyone wants to deal with honest people.Honesty is the cornerstone for all sincere friendships whether they be platonic or romantic.No one wants a "friend" that lies to them. Is dating multiple people and hiding/lying about it cheating? Lying and cheating go hand in hand. Perception is reality.

Is dating multiple people cheating if there's been no talk of exclusivity?

  • Yes! You should only date one person at a time.
  • No! You are single & free to explore all other opportunities to find "the one".
  • No! However you (should) let everyone involved know you date others.
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Comments 41 comments

DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

It is cheating you are not being true to yourself or the other person. Dating should be between two people unless you have decided together with your partner you choose to see other people it cheating.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

DDE, I'm not sure if you're saying being single and not in a "committed relationship" is cheating if you go out with more person or if you believe (misleading) someone constitutes cheating.

For example lets say you posted an online dating profile today and two men responded to it and wanted take you out for lunch or dinner. Clearly there is no relationship established with either at this point. Would you feel obligated to tell them you will be going out on dates with others?

Thanks for your comment!


baybpnk profile image

baybpnk 2 years ago from Michigan (the Mitten), United States

I'm just going to point out the Obvious (to women because men don't know this) problem with this wording. "Dating" and "in a committed relationship" kind of mean the same thing to women. In the situation of online dating you described, that is not dating, that is more like meeting new people and hanging out. However, once you hit the second or third date, it becomes the beginning of a relationship to women. For a man, I suppose it is when he asks her to be his girlfriend, if he ever would.

I saw (regrettably) the movie That Awkward Moment, and in the beginning some girl "breaks up" with Zac Efrons character. He voices over saying "I didn't even know we were dating. I mean, we hook up a lot, but that's about it." Many differences between men and women, and communication and being clear with one another is the best way to go about any "dating" situation to make sure you are both (or all) are on the same page. =)


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

baybpnk, Thanks so much for your comment.

I agree that the most important thing is for two people to communicate what they want or how they'd like to see things develop between themselves. Very often on one wants to be the first to bring up the topic and this is especially true of women. They're afraid of coming off as being pushy or desperate. However just as you pointed out there are many men who would simply just go with the flow and never "ask" a woman to be their "girlfriend". This creates the potential for some serious misunderstanding down the road when one or both make "assumptions". I'm not if there's a magic number of dates or if one's feelings dictate when it's time to have "the talk".

Nevertheless must disagree with you regarding online dating. If a (grown) man asks a woman out to dinner, a concert, a play, or attend some other event he sees it as going out on a "date" and not just "hanging around". Most people in their 30s, 40s, and beyond would never look at a (one on one) evening out with a person as "hanging around." Maybe that is a generational thing.

Every dating situation begins with meeting new people whether it be online or offline. You generally get to know each other a little bit in person, over the phone, via email, and eventually someone invites the other to go out indicating they're attracted or romantically interested.

Women like men have been known not to view "dating" as being in an "exclusive relationship". I've heard of women saying, "I don't see any rings on my finger." In other words they feel free to do whatever they want. LOL


baybpnk profile image

baybpnk 2 years ago from Michigan (the Mitten), United States

I could not think of another way to put it other than "hanging around." Dating would be the right term if it was clear that it didn't mean anything other than seeing what is out there (to everyone). Once again, it's just all about communication.

"I'm not looking to be with any one person."

"I don't want to be IN a relationship, but I want to see you. And other people."

Or, how about this:

"I want to be with one person, but I'm not sure if it's you."

"I want to be with you and no one else."

Communication.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

baybpnk , You're right it's a challenge to come up with the (right) words without potentially offending the other person.

Essentially it is as if you were a company looking to fill a position and "dating" is equivalent to your "screening process". You're having phone interviews and face to face interviews....until you offer the position of your mate to someone.

The only difference is when we're seeking employment we are keenly aware that the company is continuing to receive (other) resumes and they are conducting interviews with others. We never (assume) we got the position until there is a "formal offer". We don't accuse the company of cheating.

As you stated "communication" is the key. However there are some who do not want to be the "first" person to bring up the (lets be exclusive) conversation. In fact I can recall years ago a woman asked me, "What are we?" instead of telling me; "I want an exclusive relationship with you."

I imagine there are a lot of people (waiting) for the other person to "define" the relationship or (ask them) to be exclusive rather that communicating what is (they) want. As they silently watch the days, weeks, and months roll by it's only natural for one of them to "assume" they're in a "exclusive relationship" eve if there has been no discussion.


baybpnk profile image

baybpnk 2 years ago from Michigan (the Mitten), United States

I have been in situations like these, it's not difficult to ask or say what you want if you REALLY want the other person to know. If it scares them away, then good riddance. If they stick around and are willing to have the discussion like a grown up, then good. This is me personally, though. Not everyone has the nerve to feel this way or JUST SAY IT as I always say.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

As my mother use to say: "If it ain't worth asking for then it ain't worth having." There are lots of women in long-term relationships of 3-5 years who want to get married but silently are awaiting for their man to propose to them. None of these women are willing to propose to the man or ask for what they want!

Fear keeps a lot of people from asking for what they want in life.

To them I say if there's been no "exclusivity discussion" don't assume you're in an (exclusive) relationship. Thanks for your comments!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

I cannot handle multiple dating, but it has to do with my orientation.

In the culture I grew up in, the only way you could enjoy the company of more than one member of the opposite sex is if you hung out in groups. For me, multiple dating is suspect. You make a very important point about not assuming.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

MsDora, Thanks for your comment. Dating today has become very much like job hunting for a lot of people. They conduct multiple interviews prior to making a final selection. I believe online dating and social media has changed the nature of courtship forever. Even Christians, seniors, and various other niche groups have their own dating sites.

People would rather (assume) they're in an "exclusive relationship" than to risk appearing too "clingy" by stating they want to be exclusive early on. Making assumptions is probably the number one cause for heartache when people meet online.


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 2 years ago from Lagos

I love the way you explained things here. However, I still don't understand how someone could date without spelling out the terms. What is the essence of dating then? People date for a reason - to start a meaningful relationship. I doubt how one could date multiple persons unless it is not actual dating cos dating involves emotions. Unless for the sake of folly then could a person change different guys/girls in a marathon game of emotions just for dating sake. It's only people with low mentality that engages in such. So the answer is a loud YES!

If a person is dating another and still engages others (men/women) in a dating spree, it is pure folly! I never heard of that before though. But I will call it cheating.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

ubanichijioke, Thanks for posting your comment.

In the U.S.A. dating can mean two different things. A person might be asked if they're in a relationship and they might reply; "I'm dating but I'm not seeing anyone special." This means they aren't in an "exclusive" relationship with anyone and therefore would be open to going out with other people.

The other definition for the word dating is when someone says they are dating a "specific individual". It's the equivalent of what teenagers call "going steady". Clearly it is implied that they are in an "exclusive relationship". However as I stated if you called a girl you last week took her out to dinner on Friday and then on Saturday you went out with another girl that would not be considered cheating but rather going out on "two first dates".

Likewise neither woman would have to reveal to you what their plans are for the rest of their weekend. :-)

Consistently dating one person it what can cause "assumptions" that one is in an (exclusive) relationship even if they've never discussed it.


Relationshipc profile image

Relationshipc 2 years ago from Alberta, Canada

For me, as soon as I became interested in someone, other guys were off the table. I suppose it was the way I perceived dating, but the guys I were getting to know always seemed to do the same (that I know if anywase!) Basically, if a guy was getting to me and going out on dates with someone else, I would move on, even though he had no loyalty to me.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

Relationshipc, I believe most people feel the way you do. Maybe it's human nature to mentally commit to someone based on our interest in them before there has been time to determine if the feelings are mutual.

Communication is the GPS for dating and relationships!

I simply wanted to remind people that if there has been no talk about being "exclusive" don't assume that your are and if you learn that you're not don't mislabel him/her as being a cheater. After all they made no commitment. Thanks for you comment!


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

I would think that you have the right to pursue other options, though you should be as honest with each other.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

midget38, Thanks for posting your comment.

I tend to agree with you however I suspect what gets people upset is when they (assume) they are in an exclusive relationship and learn the other person is dating others. Without a commitment it's technically not cheating.

It's understandable for someone to not want to reveal all of their weekend plans or dating activity to someone early on. After all they just met one another. It's the consistent dating/time together that throws people off. If someone wants an exclusive relationship they have to speak up.


GlendaGoodWitch profile image

GlendaGoodWitch 2 years ago from California

A very interesting topic. Most of the women I come in contact with believe its cheating to date two people at the same time. I find myself constantly reminding them that if nothing is said than more than likely the guy is dating other people.

I don't really think it is a smart thing to sleep with more than one person at a time because diseases are likely to be quickly spread.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

GlendaGoodWitch, Thanks for stopping by and posting your comment. I agree with you that women in particular see dating multiple people as "cheating" even if there has been NO talk of being exclusive or committed! Without communication both people are likely to (assume) the other person is on the "same page" that they are.

Unless there is a commitment or agreement to be exclusive both people are in a position to (keep their options open). This frustrates a lot of new online daters. Oftentimes it causes them to rush/demand an exclusive relationship without having spent the time to know if this is the person they want settle down with! Whenever a company looks to fill a position they interview multiple clients. Finding one's ideal mate may require evaluating more than one person at a time before making a final selection.

Having sex with multiple partners is risky behavior but I suppose (if) one diligently practices "safe sex" they're likely to avoid getting STDs.


hunter sakura profile image

hunter sakura 2 years ago from Philippines

Well I guess fair's fair.You just have to be upfront with the people you are dating because they might get the wrong signals.Some people may find it a major turn off to know that you are dating too many men/women aside from him or her.People will think you're just playing around and you're not in for any exclusive dating .


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

hunter sakura,

The point I want to make is people should not assume they're in an "exclusive relationship" without having discussed and both people agreed to be in one!

People generally aren't going to be rude and throw it in your face that they have another date planned for tomorrow night.

Lastly no one should be entering into an "exclusive relationship" until they have invested time in getting to know the person!

A lot of folks do the opposite. They want to "tie down" someone before they know them! Making hasty commitments positions you to appear like a liar or player once you realize you made a mistake in choosing them as your mate.

Unless there has been a discussion about being exclusive assume they are continuing to "interview" other potential candidates for the role of their mate. There is a difference between "dating" and being in a "relationship".

Thanks for stopping by and posting your comment!


RanaKm profile image

RanaKm 2 years ago

I think it depends on the kind of date, if it seems serious and if the other person dates another person then it's cheating, I guess :) Interesting. Voted up :)


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 2 years ago Author

RanaKm, This is a tough one for a lot of folks to accept. However the reality is when is if a couple has not agreed to be "exclusive" then neither party should assume they are. People should never bypass "communication".

Secondly you don't want to commit or be exclusive with someone whom you have not gotten to know well enough to make such a decision. Just like a company looking to fill a position you're entitled to interview multiple candidates until you find one you feel is qualified for the job.

Lastly in this day of Online dating. It's not uncommon for people in search of finding "the one" to have a date on Friday with one guy/girl and another date on Saturday with a different guy/girl. As long as both profiles are active if there are any assumptions to be made it should be he or she considers them self to be still on the "open market". :)

Thanks for your comment!


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 23 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

I think it's important to establish healthy communication. Express your own expectations and desires.

If the other person chooses to continue in the relationship, however you define it, then you both need to be playing by the same set of standards.

You can't just assume that someone feels the same way you do.

Namaste.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 23 months ago Author

You're right, communication trumps assumption everyday!

It's also important not to rush into an "exclusive relationship" before spending time to determine if it's what one really wants. Overcommitting too early leads to misunderstanding and hurt feelings when one changes their mind.

A single person has the right to conduct "interviews" until they meet someone whom they feel is worthy of the position. The job is not yours until an offer has been made and you have accepted it! (vice versa) :)


Stargrrl 23 months ago

I agree with the basic message of this hub, but I date a lot of different men at the same time and I don't consider myself as cheating because I am exclusive with none of them.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 23 months ago Author

Cheating is often in the eye of the beholder. Some people do not feel obligated to tell anyone they're dating that they are also dating others.

In such a scenario if one of the men bumped into you with a date (he) might consider it cheating. However in reality there was no "exclusive relationship" and therefore it's not cheating! Making (assumptions) can lead to heartache.

Thanks for leaving your comment. Have a Happy New Year!


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

it is common for dating multiple, not consider cheating unless you are engaged


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 23 months ago Author

Actually in the U.S. most people expect to enter into an "exclusive relationship" BEFORE they become engaged.

After a period of only seeing one another they determine if they want to marry.

Very few men would propose to a woman who they thought or knew was seeing other guys. People expect exclusivity before they choose to marry.

Unless there (is) a discussion to become "exclusive" dating multiple people is (not) cheating. Thanks for your comment!


michael 21 months ago

This articale is spot on true... But if you were dating two women for a period of time. Made a decision and the one that got left was so upset she went to the other girl to tell her that he was with her too. And making up that they were in fact in a relationship even tho there was no spoken commitment by any of them. I could go on but I'm just wondering. I do think this article is spot on and your responses are very true. Thank you.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 21 months ago Author

Michael, You made an excellent point. Sometimes the rejected person wants to exact some form of revenge. In the scenario you described it would be best to let the person you've chosen know that once the two of you decided to become an exclusive couple the other person became enraged.

Having said that dating multiple people is not something recommended "long-term". It's not the same as having full on relationships. It' s (casual) dating.


FreeHelpForFelons 20 months ago

This is an interesting topic . I guess it is if a person is not straight forward from the get go. I have always found that it is important to be straight forward and let people know at least after the 3rd date or before that I am just seeking friendships and not interested in any commitment. Good article it stimulated my mind.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 20 months ago Author

FreeHelpForFelons , Thanks for stopping by to read my hub and posting a comment. I'm not sure if I would call it not being "straight forward" during such an (early stage) of becoming acquainted with a stranger.

It's not necessarily that someone is not interested in a commitment. They may very well could be "selective" about whom they commit with.

One of the mistakes a lot of folks make is rushing into an exclusive relationship without determining if the other person has the "traits" they're looking for. I think (3 dates is a little early) to make a decision.

Most companies would not make a job offer to a candidate until they find one who (meets their qualifications). In the mean time they would continue to conduct interviews with (other) prospects. Dating is performing due diligence.

Having said the I do believe if you have been dating someone beyond a month especially if you're being physically intimate you don't want to mislead them into thinking you are in an exclusive relationship.

Nevertheless it's also important that no one makes assumptions instead of expressing their desire to be in an exclusive relationship with you.

The couple has to have " the talk" to define their relationship.


chuckandus6 profile image

chuckandus6 19 months ago from The Country-Side

I would say yes...it is

in my opinion.Although i always went after just one guy.i was.looking for the one,didn't find it right away


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 19 months ago Author

That's one of the reasons why it's important for two people to define their definition of "cheating". Lots of folks who are NOT in an "committed relationship" would not consider it cheating.

Until there is a discussion regarding being "exclusive" it's best not to make the assumption the other person is only going out with you. This is especially true early on.

Some people have back to back dates especially when they're searching for "the one" online. They may have a date on Friday with one person and another date on Saturday with a different person.

I would hope very few people would consider that cheating.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 17 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Dashing - Great article. I know of a sad situation of a girl who managed to date two guys for a long time without any discussion. When she got engaged to one guy, the other one was shocked and heartbroken. I think that she should have been more honest. Anyway, she did end up with an unhappy marriage and divorce. The other guy was a genuine person. It does depend on the situation, and I believe you covered all circumstances. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Audrey Sharing


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 17 months ago Author

Audrey, Thanks for stopping by and posting a comment.

I agree the young lady should have narrowed down the field to one once she became emotionally invested in one of the guys.

It's unfortunate however that the other guy was willing to continue in an "undefined relationship" for a (long time).

I wonder in her case if it was just a matter of one guy proposing while the other hadn't. Generally speaking before there is an engagement that usually means they professed mutual love between them.

If she was saying "I love you" to one or both of them while dating two guys then she was "cheating" in my opinion. Thanks again for the comment!


stricktlydating profile image

stricktlydating 13 months ago from Australia

I'm one who likes to keep my options open until in a truly committed relationship, and then give 100% to my relationship.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 13 months ago Author

I completely agree with you.

However we presently live in a society that is so obsessed with cheating and "the appearance of cheating" that people are accused of it even when there has been no discussion of being exclusive.

This is especially true of people meeting in online dating sites. Instead of assuming if a person’s profile remains “active” it means they have yet to commit to anyone people instead feel if they had a good date with him or her they’re “playing games” or “cheating” because they have another date with someone else. Never mind the fact that they aren’t in a relationship with this person!

As I often tell others: think of yourself as being “Me, Inc.” looking to fill a high level position for your company. (Partner, mate, or possibly spouse)

Every prospective employer interviews multiple candidates and narrows down the field with various milestones. When it comes to selecting a mate or possible spouse it makes sense to take your time to get it right.


Gypsy Hope profile image

Gypsy Hope 7 months ago

This is a very good article. Don't ever quit writing, you are suited for it. Although I would not date more than one person at a time, I don't believe that is the rule for everyone. I believe that there needs to be communication, if you are in a relationship you must first establish, if you will... "ground rules" find out what the other person feels is right for them, tell them what is right for you, then see if you both can live with it, move forward from there. That will avoid confusion and hurt feelings. Once you establish ground rules, if you said it was not ok to date other people, then the person is a cheater. If you established that it is ok to see other people, then you can move forward from there, you can say, ok we have been seeing other people but it is getting serious now so I would like us to see only each other. Than at that point you both decide once more if you can continue or call it quits. Communication is key. You can not have a functional relationship of any kind without communication. Trust is built and earned, you can not have a relationship without it. If the person you are in any kind of relationship with lies to you, that is not a good relationship at all.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 7 months ago Author

Gypsy, Thanks for taking the time to read my hub and post a comment.

"Once you establish ground rules, if you said it was not ok to date other people, then the person is a cheater." I completely agree with you.

Unfortunately too often the accusations of being called a "cheater" or "player" are put on individuals long before the two people are a "couple" let alone "exclusive".

If for example you had an online dating profile and agreed to go out with a guy on Saturday no one should call you a "cheater" if you also have champagne brunch with another guy on Sunday. You also shouldn't feel obligated to reveal your social calendar to a stranger.

Unless you're in a relationship you are (free) to do as you please.

I believe people often "make the leap" of monogamy long before a relationship has been established or before having a discussion about becoming exclusive. It would be scary if someone insisted upon that during the (first) date. It takes (time) to get to know someone before you feel like you're with the "right one". And then you want to know the feeling is (mutual).

Dating is really akin to an interview process where one spends time getting to know multiple candidates before choosing "the one" to fill the position of their mate. Those who (rush) through the process are likely to find themselves getting emotionally invested with the wrong people.

The dating process is all about conducting "due diligence".

Never separate your mind from your heart when making relationship decisions. The purpose of the mind is to protect the heart.

One man's opinion!:)


Gypsy Hope profile image

Gypsy Hope 7 months ago

Well said, I agree completely, I couldn't have said it better myself!

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