Thursday, December 26, 2002
Dear Mr Postmanners,
After the recent ending of my longterm relationship, I've recently started dating again. Prior to the beginning of that relationship, I was never what you'd call a big dater, or even terribly popular. I determined that now that I was out of my relationship, I would leave myself open to new experiences. And now somehow -- and I'm not quite sure how this happened -- I seem to be dating five men at once. I've been up-front with all of them that I have been seeing others, and nobody seems to mind, but now it's becoming quite confusing.
I've been on dates with all of them. Some of the dates have lasted until the next day, if you take my meaning. Of the five, one is an old friend, whom I think I would like to return to that category. Is there any way other than the tired, "I think we should just be friends" speech to manage that? After all, that speech usually means "Go away, I never want to see you again," and I really don't mean that.
As for the others ... well, I'm just not sure. I could give the "Let's be friends and go away forever" speech to one of them, and not be terribly upset if he actually went away forever. The others all have wonderful qualities, and I could happily start a relationship with any of them ... but not with all of them! I don't have the time! I don't have the endurance! How do I choose any one of them (or possibly two if I'm feeling ambitious), and how do I tell them of my decision?
Overextended in Overton Park
One should confess immediately that the Postmanners staff is severely divided on this issue. One's social secretary is convinced that it's all merely a matter of scheduling. (Well, that would be his outlook, wouldn't it?) One's dear friend and periodic advisor Gabriel is convinced that you merely underestimate your endurance, and that it's all a matter of training, as well as scheduling. Them, you understand, not necessarily yourself. Although he does recommend increasing your aerobic exercises to be on the safe side. (Gabriel married an entire militia. One is not sure that he would be reliable, or even vaguely typical, in matters such as these.)
As for Oneself ... One thinks that you should just decide which man (or men) you want, and go for it. Talk to the one you would like to keep as a friend, and determine his feeling on this relationship. You may discover that he feels the same -- these things are often mutual -- or that with a great deal of talking, you can discover the things between you that would let you remain friends after you kiss him off ... er, that is, after you tell him regretfully that you no longer desire his intimate affections. That said, you should also allow him some time without contact, if he so desires, to get over his disappointment at the way the relationship turned out. After all, the "lets be friends" speech, no matter how sincerely meant, is not easy to hear when unprepared for it.
As for the ones you with whom you wish to maintain a more intimate relationship, be certain that they know about your ground rules for nonexclusive relationships, if that's the way it falls out. After all, it would be awful to be in an intimate situation with one man and have the other unexpectedly appear, should you have given him the keys to your apartment, and the yelling and tumult could be just horrendous.
Not that One would have any experience of such things, of course. One always conducts One's relationships with the utmost probity and candor. (One's social secretary also has a very big and somewhat painful paddle. Leather covered wood. With metal studs. Not that One would need this motivation to keep one's affairs orderly. One is just saying.)
Yours in friendship,
(although One cannot imagine why you would want to obtain advice elsewhere.)Emily Post Institute