• The idea is that circular dating could relieve the pressure of finding ‘the one’, and help turn dating into a more fun (and less desperate) life experience. (Corbis News/Getty)Source: Corbis News/Getty
Could 'circular dating', dating at least three people at the same time, really help you find true love with one person?
Carolyn Tate

19 Dec 2016 - 12:43 PM  UPDATED 12 Jan 2017 - 1:26 PM

If there was a way you could feel more in control of your dating situation would you try it? And what if this dating technique involved dating many at once to relieve the stress of the hunt while you wait to meet 'the one'.

Well, 'circular dating' could be for you. The term, coined by US relationship coach Rori Raye, basically entails dating at least three people at a time.

Tough gig, right?

The idea is that it takes the pressure off each individual to be ‘the one’, while turning dating into a more fun experience, and making you feel less desperate.

But with the rising popularity of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, you could be circular dating without even realising it. In fact, eHarmony found singles are now dating an average of over six people at a time.

Circular dating is no longer a strategy, but a way of life.

Singles are less likely to leave meeting someone to chance encounters these days, and more likely to intentionally seek people out to date.

Circular dating is no longer a strategy, but a way of life.

Some brave souls appear on dating shows such as SBS’s Undressed in their bid for true love. Others are happy to settle for dating apps or websites.

My friend Jodie was in her late 30s when she decided to try circular dating with the specific purpose of finding herself a husband.

"I was attracting the wrong guys," she says. "Plus, I wanted a family, and I could see the big 40 approaching."

Jodie liked the thought of not placing all her eggs in one basket (excuse the pun).

"Plus," she says, "I found dating a very vulnerable space. Dating multiple guys made me feel like I’m the one choosing and I would no longer be passive – I felt more empowered."

Jodie says intense situations became easier, and her expectations that each man could be ‘the one’ vanished. Dating became fun again.

That was until Jodie began dating the guy who would become her husband. After a few dates, she knew it was time to put an end to circular dating for good.

Another friend, Salma, agrees that circular dating can be fun but unlike Jodie she was never looking to settle down. From a traditional Egyptian family, she resisted the pressure from her parents to marry young.

"I was a constant disappointment to my mum for showing no interest whatsoever in any potential suitors," she laughs.

"I learned so much about so many different types of men. I guess I also learned a lot about me. I certainly figured out what I wanted."

Salma enjoyed several years of circular dating, with no real intention of finding ‘the one’.

The benefits, she says, were, "there were so many free drinks! But more so, there was a wide gamut of people I met. I learned so much about so many different types of men. I guess I also learned a lot about me. I certainly figured out what I wanted."

Salma’s circular dating years ended when she met a man who changed her mind about settling down. He is now her husband.

"There was something about him that made me lose interest in all other men completely," she says.

Relationship therapist Isiah McKimmie says the practice of circular dating can definitely be beneficial.

"There is value in dating different people to make sure you’re making the right choice and not jumping into something just because it’s there."

But McKimmie warns it’s crucial to be upfront and open about what you’re doing. "There are possible drawbacks in developing a lack of trust in the relationship, being seen as manipulative, hurting someone you care about, or missing out on something amazing because you wouldn't commit."

If you’d like to try circular dating for yourself, McKimmie says it’s important to be sensitive to others’ feelings, and remember that not everyone experiences things in the same way.

"If you meet the right person, give that relationship everything you’ve got. It still might not work, but maybe it also wouldn’t have if you’d kept them in circulation too."

SBS explores diversity in a bold and original way with a new commissioned weekly series, Undressed.

Undressed debuts Monday 16 January at 9:30pm on SBS. The first four episodes are available to watch now on SBS On Demand. Join the conversation: #Undressed  


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