If you’re a single woman and you’re looking for love, forget about “The Rules” and stop worrying that “He’s just not that into you.”
That was then, this is now – it’s a post-dating world you’re living in, and that means you have to shed your one-to-one mind-set and start thinking in terms of one to many.
In other words? Stop searching for Mr. Right and look around at all the Mr Right(s).
That’s the premise of “The Gaggle,” a new book from Jessica Massa, who, along with Rebecca Wiegand, runs the website “WTF Is Up With My Love Life?!”
According to Massa and Wiegand, every woman – single or not – should have her own gaggle, a group of guys that occupy different roles in her life.
“You probably have a gaggle of friends, who all play different roles and fulfill different needs for you,” explains Massa. “You might call one friend to go shopping versus another friend when you’re upset versus another friend when you need a serious professional opinion. Your romantic gaggle is just another piece of the much larger, long-term puzzle of how you structure the relationships in your life to feel full, happy and loved.”
The men in this gaggle can include anyone from the barista you flirt with, to the ex-boyfriend you Skype, to the work buddy you commiserate with over lunch. Whether you end up dating one or more of them is just an added bonus.
“As a woman, having a gaggle provides you with a love life full of possibility: you have many men in your life, in many ambiguous but enriching ways, who are all teaching you about yourself and your needs and desires and leading you closer to the guy and relationship you want,” say Massa and Wiegand.
Terri Trespicio, a New York-based dating and relationship coach who is single herself, exuberantly extols the “uncoupled state” and takes things a step further: If you’re happily single but enjoy dating, she recommends seeing three different men regularly.
“When you date just one guy, you might feel pressured to commit, even if you’re not ready,” she says. “If you see two men, there’s often this unspoken need to choose between them. But three guys tend to balance each other out, like a tripod.”
Like the “Gaggle,” these three men can fulfill different needs – maybe you like to see movies with one, travel with another and cuddle with a third – which removes the burden of one man to fill all those slots.
“This can also help you worry less about whether or not someone is your ‘match’,” says Trespicio, “and shifts your focus to the sheer joy of connecting with other people.”
Nor does being single have to equal celibate. Your gaggle may well include ex-boyfriends, hot sex prospects, and perhaps even a cuddle-guy. It’s your love-life, so do it your way. As long as you’re open and honest with your dates – and practice safe sex – there’s no reason why you can’t be intimate with more than one person.
Just as different people can serve different roles outside of bed, so too, can they satisfy different needs between the sheets. In their groundbreaking book, “The Ethical Slut,” Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy describe the ways in which single women (and men) can juggle multiple sexual partners and enjoy intimacy safely and “ethically.”
Marriage is wonderful for many, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. Whether you’re sexually intimate with more than one person or simply enjoying a variety of friendships and dates, one doesn’t have to be the loneliest number.
Say Massa and Wiegand: “We are living in a post-dating world because traditional dating is no longer the most common path that people are following to romantically connect and fall in love. And the more that women judge themselves and their relationships by traditional dating standards that no longer exist, the more they are going to feel an unnecessary despair and confusion and hold themselves back from finding love in this new romantic landscape.”
So go forth and gaggle!
By Ian Kerner. Ian Kerner is a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author and blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.