Since coining the phrase “poly-dating,” I have been asked the following question: isn’t that cheating? No. No, it is not. Until you are in a committed, monogamous relationship (whether you had ‘The Talk’ or you just know you both want to be pursue a future together), you do not need to explain yourself to anyone. You can date anyone you want. But, as soon as things start getting serious with one person, then you must break it off with the others. If you’re planning on having sex with one of your prospects then you need to break things off with the others beforehand, out of respect for all parties involved.
Once your new relationship is secure you can mention that there were others you were dating until they made you realize that no one else could measure up (may as well spread it on thick if you’re going to go there), but don’t volunteer the information if no one asks because it really doesn’t matter what you did before things got serious.
And, in general, there is no reason to continue having a friendship with any of the rejected prospects. You were dating to see if there was a future together; there wasn’t, and that relationship is now over. Your new significant other will not appreciate you having a friendship with someone you were dating at the same time.
Are you still friends with an Ex? I’m not, and I never have been. Not because it necessarily ended badly but because I just had no desire to hang out with someone I used to be romantic with. I shared things with this person, intimate things — be it emotional confessions or something more in the physical sense — and I don’t feel the need to hang out, and I don’t understand people who do. So many TV shows have exes hanging out: Friends, Seinfeld, Happy Endings, Grey’s Anatomy, even CSI and Law & Order. It’s just not realistic! A flow chart trying to keep Private Practice hook-ups straight looks more like a spider web, and these people work together too? Yeah right! It doesn’t happen, and it shouldn’t happen. Do you really want to be sitting around with a bunch of friends and be discussing your dating life with your ex? No. When you bring a new date into the fold, and you’re making introductions, how are you going to deal? You can’t lie, but the truth will make everyone uncomfortable.
Some exceptions: you went on one date and didn’t even kiss because there was absolutely no chemistry or you dated more than ten years ago but for less than a year.
It might seem weird to close the door on someone you were involved with, but what can they contribute to your future? Shut that door and leave the past in the past. The only thing you need to take with you is the lessons you learned from that relationship.