You’re young, reasonably attractive and exclusivity is not on your agenda—or at least, it’s not for now. That’s cool. However, it’s not a license to behave like a dog. For you, the canine life is not a viable option since juggling multiple relationships is akin to juggling knives, and if you're not careful, you might end up with a dagger protruding from your toe... or someplace infinitely more painful.
So maybe you’re no Boy Scout, but if you believe in keeping your karma at least nominally clean, dating, hooking up—or whatever you want to call it—shouldn’t be about how many notches you can carve in the bedpost. It should be about not being ready to settle down. So, here’s how to sow your wild oats without being a (man) ho.
Be Honest With Yourself
Two of the seven deadly sins are lust and gluttony. “Glustony” signals an unhealthy appetite for sexual conquest. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea and no, there’s nothing wrong with being on a seafood diet, but the opposite sex is not an all-you-can-eat buffet. If your hero/role model is Californication’s Hank Moody, you may not just be playing the field, you may have deeper intimacy issues that might be worth addressing.
Be Honest With Your Dates
Don’t dance around or avoid the truth. Let potential lovers know up front that as much as you may be into them, you are not into having a one and only. Be clear. Be kind. Be firm.
Of course, this can be tricky. Just as when a girl says, “No,” when she’s not feeling in the moment and some misguided guys interpret it as a red flag to his bull, when certain women hear, “No relationship,” it triggers a, “Not now, but I can change him,” mechanism in their psyches. If you're serious about playing the field and a girl seems hell-bent on changing your mind, it’s time to look for the exit. Which leads to…
Learn to Leave
If she’s not on the same page regarding monogamy, pay for the drinks, pay for the meal and walk away from the table. No matter how hot she is. If she’s looking for a commitment and you knowingly proceed so you have something to play with for a while, you might be risking a "Bobbitt" in your future, and you kind of deserve it.
Clean Up Your Act
Literally. Don’t leave souvenirs of your sexcapades around for others to find. If you’ve brought someone home recently and have another rendezvous stacked and circling, police your quarters and 86 anything that can’t be explained away as your own. Intellectually, a girl might be fine with being one of several, but no one likes having their nose rubbed in someone else’s dirty panties. (Well, strictly speaking, that’s not true, but in this situation, it can be a mood killer for your date.)
Women dish. Men brag. It’s a “nature of the beast” thing. But this isn’t high school. If you’re into sport sex to impress your pals with your stats, again, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Loose lips, while commendable for other oral endeavors, can bite you in the ass during the post-game playback analysis.
Likewise, if you’ve got several “friends with benefits,” concentrate on the benefits and downplay the friends part. You may be buddy-buddy with chicks you’re intimate with, but oversharing can lead to dwindling returns in the sack. A girl’s going to reason that if you’re talking about someone else’s performance, you’re also talking about hers, and chances are, she’s not going to like the idea.
No Double Standards Allowed
As the old saying goes: “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” You don’t get to call “fowl” if you find out a girl you are non-exclusively dating is non-exclusively dating you. (Hint: If it bothers you to the point of madness that one of your ladies is seeing other men, you may be closer to monogamy than you think.)
Don’t Poke Where You Eat
Dating multiple partners in the microcosm of your employment biosphere or local after-work habitat can lead to an unsafe imbalance in the environment. Again, in theory, women may agree to be members of your far-flung tribe of lovers, but proximity breeds territoriality, and has the potential to put your sex life, your happiness, your safety and your sanity on the endangered species list.
Be Scrupulous About Safer Sex
Really, do we even have to remind you about this one? Protect yourself and protect others. A) It’s the right thing to do, and B) karma a way of hunting bad dogs down. While the justice she metes out may be the stuff that drives cable TV plotlines, in real life, “shameless” behavior just ain’t that funny.