True story: I once dated a guy who told me he heard somewhere that a person should date and fall in love with at least three people before truly finding the “one."
I was totally taken back, because at that point, I had only dated and fell in love with one person: him. He went on with his theory, and told me that I was only the second person on his love list, so it wasn't going to work in the long-run, which was an annoying way of telling me that our relationship had an expiration date.
He's not the only one who has given me a number of people a person should date before smooching "hello" the person they say “I do” to for the rest of their lives. I had a matchmaker tell me the magic number was seven. A homeless guy, who struck up conversation with me in New York City one night when I was in line to get pizza, told me the magic number was five.
Neither could explain why that number was the right number for me to find my Mr. Right, but both of them gave me a kick in the gut to up my dating quota for the year.
Perhaps that is what drove me to go on 14 first dates this February.
Perhaps that's also what drove me to seek advice from a professional, or five of them.
Should I keep on going on as many dates as possible? Should I try to fall in love with three people before crowning the third as my forever soul mate? Should I just chill and twiddle my thumbs until the man of my dreams knocks on my door?
Here's what five relationship experts told me when I asked them what the magic number was when it came to dating before settling down:
1. It's not the number. It's the person.
It's about the individual. Some people are ready to meet 'the one' right away; others need more relationships under their belt to learn what works and what doesn't. The real danger comes from settling down before you are feeling ready. The decision needs to come from inside, not from external pressure. Otherwise, when push comes to shove in a relationship, it's going to be hard to stick it out.
— Charlee Brotherton, relationship expert and founder of Executive Matchmakers
2. Date as many people as you can.
When you first start dating it can be tempting to focus on one person, sometimes to the exclusion of others. Sometimes a person will even take down an online dating profile after a good first date. But, that can be a mistake. The neurotransmitter dopamine (the hormone of reward and passion) is necessary to fall in love. It increases with uncertainty. Therefore, when a person limits themselves, they can be inadvertently harming the budding relationship. Keep dating as many people as possible, and only limit to one when you both agree to become mutually exclusive.
— Dawn Maslar, Adjunct Biology Professor and Researcher in the Science of Love.
3. Have your own dating plan and date accordingly.
I think you should date as many people as you possibly can before settling down. Everyone goes too much for serial monogamy and goes from one relationship to the next, never getting their needs met. Have a dating action plan and date accordingly. See if they match the things you have outlined in your plan as they start to reveal themselves to you as a person. You can't even begin to see the true person 'til three months in, so keep dating. Keep them on their toes until they show you they are the person you are looking for and are worthy of your time, attention and love! If you have this mindset to start, you won't have placed all your hopes and dreams on the wrong person, only to become too emotionally invested to see they aren't right for you.
— Sarah Patt, Matchmaker and Dating Expert of It's Just Lunch Houston
4. There's no magic number.
Dating multiple people is one of the most integral parts of dating today, because it allows you the chance to truly choose who gets your heart. But there is no specific number that is the right amount of people to see before you settle down -- it's different for everyone. Dating six people before meeting the right person is still brief though. It's more common that people date dozens before they meet someone they click with for the long term. So if you've been dating for a while and are feeling frustrated, know that you're not alone. Your "one" could be the very next guy you meet.
— Laurie Davis Edwards, founder of eFlirt, and author of "Love @ First Click"
5. Keep dating until you find alignment.
The short answer is, 'Keep dating until you find alignment in your current values.' I've had friends who were high school sweethearts, probably each other's first everything, and are married. I have clients who thought they found their "one," and are now divorced. I have other clients who never found their "one," until we started working with them, and now, they are in relationships or even married! At the end of the day, if you feel you haven't found that person yet, chances are you should keep dating, as long as you're being realistic and reasonable with what it is you're looking for, which is another topic altogether.
— Thomas Edwards, Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman