For many people the word "dating" does not necessarily imply exclusivity. If this sounds like something spoken by a madman, you need not read any further.

If you are still reading, odds are that you are one of the many people who believes there is a period of time early in dating where you have not yet committed to exclusivity. And furthermore, since you are reading this particular blog entry, you probably are dating two or more individuals right now and realise that time frame is quickly coming to an end and you are having trouble choosing.

Before exploring your options, let's be absolutely clear about something: the following advice does not apply to people in a polyamorous relationship. Some of it may be useful advice, but it is intended specifically for individuals trying to enter a monogamous relationship.

If you are still reading, the following advice will help you when you are dating two or more individuals and can't choose which one to become exclusive with.

Don't Be a Teen Comedy

If you have ever enjoyed teen comedy movies, you have probably seen a plot where one person is juggling two dates at the same time, probably running back and forth between them pretending to only be dating one person. This routine isn't particularly funny on screen and is never funny in real life.

If you are dating more than one person, make sure everyone you are dating knows this. If you can't be honest about that then the relationship probably won't succeed no matter which one you choose. Furthermore, there is a chance that your lie will come up later, potentially damaging or ending a relationship that might have otherwise worked out.

Maybe You Simply Aren't Ready

You probably don't want to hear this, but there is a good chance that the reason you can't choose is that you simply aren't ready for an exclusive, long term relationship.

Committing to a relationship means more than simply choosing who you will wake up next to every day. It is a fundamental change in your lifestyle, requiring you to put the wants and needs of another person at least as high as your own, if not higher.

Not everybody is ready for that and that is okay. There is nothing wrong with enjoying dating for the sake of dating, without making a commitment to exclusivity. In fact, acknowledging that you aren't ready for a greater commitment is a rather mature thing to do.

However, if you have accepted that fact about yourself, you need to be honest with the people you are dating. It is possible they will all be willing to continue dating you casually. But more likely if you were trying to choose it is because at least one of them was ready for something more permanent. And if that is the case, you have to accept that the relationship is going to end.

Skip a Step

The act of choosing innately means that you are also choosing to take the next step in your relationship. In this case, that next step is exclusivity. Your difficulty in choosing likely comes from the fact that you are scared to take that next step.

Once again, acknowledging that fear is actually a rather mature thing to do. Facing that fear, much like facing any fear, is difficult, though.

Let's think about that fear like a pool of cold water. Inching your way in takes a long time and you are likely to back up multiple times. However, if you skip a few steps and simply cannonball in, after the initial shock you should be fine.

The same applies to dating. Consider skipping a step. Maybe offer your partner a key to flat, or ask to move in together, or even possibly propose, if you've been dating long enough. Obviously exclusivity is part and parcel with these options and by skipping ahead a little you face down the fear in a bold and meaningful way.

Let Your Partners Choose

For the moment, lets assume you really are stuck on the decision. You have compared everything important about your partners: personality, physical looks, emotional baggage, jobs, hobbies, even potential in-laws. And despite that careful comparison, you are still completely deadlocked, yet you honestly feel you are ready for the next step.

If this is truly the case, consider letting your partners choose for you. Will this work? Honestly, probably not, but you don't have much to lose. If you try to continue dating them both you will probably lose them both, so you might as well introduce them and let them decide who is best for you. Worst case scenario, you are single again, but there is at least a small chance that they will choose between themselves who is best for you.