[quote="flyingfish, post:19, topic:178828"]
I think the key in these situations is not to lead people on, and let them know that you're dating several people and don't know which, if any, will be chosen for an exclusive relationship.
To be honest, I can't even accept the "exclusive/non-exclusive" division. Basically, it either is a romantic relationship or not. If it is one, it needs to be exclusive. When there are conflicting feelings, the proper course of action is to stay within the confines of friendship while dealing with the conflict. Spending a lot of time and asking deep questions or even admitting the conflict and asking for input is okay. Checking out who's the best kisser is not.
If people unreasonably assume that because you're going to a dinner and a movie that you intend to be exclusive with them, it's not your fault.
I agree. However, "dinner and movie" may or may not include sitting-in-the-tree-kissing. Sitting-in-the-tree-kissing is the determining factor here.
In fact, people's reactions in these relationships will show you which ones are needy and dependent.
Not necessarily. Assuming that there is no sitting-in-the-tree-kissing, but just watching, eating and talking, people are entitled to interpret body language, verbal and vocal content, some of which may be misleading (think mixed signals). There may also be some cultural factors involved, such as what certain gestures or words mean in certain cultures (e.g. some people hold hands with everybody, others only with lovers or closest family). Or you have people like yours truly who consider full-blow snuggling and kissing non-exclusive dating to be immoral - and my rejection of it wouldn't show me as needy or dependent, although you're free to consider me possessive.
Most of us aren't lucky enough to meet the right person on the first try, we need to date multiple people to find out the kind of person we are compatible with.
Something being expedient from our point of view is not enough of a justification of how we treat others. There must be a morality check on that end. For example, you will almost certainly agree with me that having several boyfriends or girlfriends at the same time without telling everybody involved would be profitable in terms of getting perspective and having more to choose from (without wasting time) without taking risks - but doing it would be wrong. So we agree that there is a limit somewhere. I believe the limit is always crossed when one person has two lovers or more (I don't necessarily mean lovers in the sexual sense, romantic is enough). I believe this follows from the natural law prohibition against polygamy. The absence of the pure act of intercoruse or other sexual stimulation or release does not make polygamy acceptable.
What is more, entering into n relationships at a time is entering into n-1 relationships which are doomed from start (we just don't know which one will remain if any), e.g.
John has 3 girlfriends (denominator doesn't matter). Given that girlfriends are not for sitting-in-the-tree-kissing but for marriage discernment (and with a concrete person at that, not just in general!), he shouldn't be dating someone he can't marry. He can marry only 1 girl (leaving the incidental chance of her dying and him remarrying). That means n-1, which is 3-1, which is 2 relationships that are known not to lead to marriage but to a break-up after a limited if not precisely determined period of time. Something's wrong here.
As long as he keeps the dates on a friendly level (no sitting-in-the-tree-kissing, no declarations of love (attraction is fine) etc.), I don't give a dime. In fact, that's how I would prefer to handle things. However, as I said, romantic actions are a no-no at that stage. I would say walking the part in the evening and/or buying flowers would be okay. Holding hands or kissing or reciting explicitly romantic poetry would not. Some other people could place the divide at some other point - they could be right as well.
If we are to continue this, we'll need a separate thread. Shall I?