How do I Date Multiple Prospects?

look em over pretty well

Q Dear Miss Abigail:

I’m a male recently out of a long term relationship, and have aggressively reentered the dating scene. I am not ready to start a new committed relationship with just anyone ~ I want to find Ms. Right. How do I go about dating multiple prospects without being sleazy or dishonest or hurting anyone’s feelings? Do I let them know that I’m dating others or do I keep it to myself?

Drowning in the dating pool

A Dear Drowning:

Sleaze or no sleaze, courtship is tricky business. Here are some words of wisdom for you about the purpose of courtship, and the “question of exclusiveness.”

1938: Courtship

In our society where it is the custom for young people to choose their mates, a period of courtship is necessary. The purposes of courtship may be summarized as follows:

1. To discover the hidden characteristics that are not revealed through casual acquaintanceship.

2. To determine whether the personality will wear well under widely varying situations.

3. To discover whether the personalities mutually enrich and supplement each other.

4. To discover whether the two young people are so fond of one another that they are unhappy when separated.

During courtship it is essential for the two young people to meet frequently and under widely varying circumstances. The young man should observe how the young girl conducts herself under moments of stress, when she is tired, receives a slight injury, or when little difficulties arise. He should note how she controls her emotions in face of danger, when disappointed in plans, or when she is irritated. He might note also the attitude she assumes toward other people. The young woman should not how the young man faces difficulties and emotional situations. They should see one another sometimes at breakfast, go on hikes together, and attend a variety of social functions together. Both should become well acquainted with the home life and families of the other. They should watch the tone of voice and the language used by the prospective partner when caught off guard, rather than just observe the behavior when all is going well. The desirable traits can not be determined unless it is possible for the two young people to be together rather frequently. It was said of a young man that he went to see his girl eight nights out of every week. Surely there is a proper balance between his practice and that of young people who, living some distance apart, or disregardful of the value of close acquaintanceship, rarely see one another. . . .

The question of exclusiveness in dating. Should unengaged couples date exclusively with one another? Many a young man has become angry because his girl friend dated with another boy. Young girls at times become peeved if their boy friends date with other girls. The answer would seem to be that neither should expect the other to date with him or her exclusively when they are not engaged. It is usually preferable for young people to have more than one friendship with the opposite sex. It gives them a wider basis for comparison and keeps them from tying themselves down prematurely. In the words of Dr. Garry C. Myers,

‘All else being equal, the most desirable courtship grows out of varied contacts with those of the opposite sex, when before the love interest has dawned, there have been numerous boy friends and girl friends, when wide opportunities have prevailed for each other to ‘look ’em over’ pretty well before centering on a choice. It is in the looking-’em-over stage that youth should most profit from having had in mind a few standards and objectives, a few ideals to stimulate or discourage focusing the love interest.’Though there seem to be a number of happy marriages of youth who never had another boy friend or girl friend, for most youths it is a hazardous procedure to have to restrict the possible choices so narrowly. One finds such cases frequently in rural areas. In some of these communities, it is the expectation that a young man or woman seen together on several successive occasions will marry. Such a courtship practice encourages very early marriages or unduly long engagements. It may also encourage strong efforts on the past of both to live together to the very end. I don’t know.’

. . . Whether there is exclusive dating or not, every friendship should be kept on a purely friendly basis until the engagement and no friendship should be taken too seriously.

Source: Bowman, Warren D. Home Builders of Tomorrow. Elgin, Ill.: The Elgin Press, 1938.
~pp. 57-57, 66-67 ~