Finding time to date can be difficult. With all of us busier than ever with work, friends, and life in general, carving out space to gamble on a stranger can feel like a big ask. But, as with most modern ailments, TikTok may have found a solution: date stacking.
This is not as sexy, or complicated as it sounds. Essentially it boils down to going on multiple dates in day. Tiring? Possibly. Efficient? Damn straight. Ruthless? You decide. TikTokker Paretay went viral after her video documenting going on three dates in one night was shared on Twitter. In the clip, Paretay explains that she’s scheduled each date for one hour, saying “I’m booking them in one-hour slots at a time. Three dates, one Friday night, let’s go.”
The night descends into chaos with date no.3 attempting to kiss her and Paretey “going limp like a zombie” before running away. “I guess I don’t regret a thing,” she says, tottering off into the night.
@paretay #pov #mentalillness #hinge #hipster ? Selfcare-demo - Bella Moulden
So, with time short and a sea full of fish, can date stacking help you land a catch? We consulted the people who’ve tried it.
“Anyone who knows me knows I'm an admin guy. I date via spreadsheet. So much so that when the most immersed in the serial-dating world I had a spreadsheet of guys and their geographical location in London so I could figure out the most time efficient way of seeing the dates I wanted to,” explains Harry Nicholas, author of A Trans Man Walks into A Gay Bar, “I also found it useful to add 'notes' to my Google diary listing the key information about the dates - anything they mentioned worth noting, what we did, notes for future dates, what was going on in their life) so I could remember and look at it again before date number two!”
But date stacking doesn’t require a type-A personality or excel proficiency, you could stick to a simple ‘one in the morning, one in the evening’ schedule. Or what seems to be more common (and exciting) one the night before and one the next morning...
Mackensie, a 24-year-old who works in entertainment PR “had dinner with a guy and he spent the night.” The next morning, she says, “we both walked out together, and he left to go somewhere else and I went to go on another date for brunch.” It was her second time try back-to-back dating, as she didn’t end up dating any of the men she'd met. “I went on another date the next weekend with the guy I had brunch with, but I ended things as I didn’t feel romantically attracted to him.”
For several of the people who have tried date stacking, finding a partner seems more like a byproduct than the main aim. Fee, a mental health practitioner, mentioned that she has sometimes used date stacking as a way of avoiding other things that were going on in her life at the time. “It distracted me from the dumpster fire that was my life, but it kept me so busy I couldn't really do anything else.” She says, “It was my full-time hobby when I wasn't working.” Even Paretay makes a tongue-in-cheek hint that her triple date may not have been the best intentioned.
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So, are some people using date stacking as a way to insulate themselves from boredom and loneliness rather than as a way to genuinely connect with potential partners? “I'm guilty of using dating as a coping mechanism,” Harry admits, “I live in London and I was recently single, meaning that I was spending a lot of time alone that I wasn't used to. In order to fill this void, I'd endlessly scroll Grindr, Tinder, Twitter (surprisingly good for dating!) and find dates. I could suggest things to do and places to go which I was too scared of doing on my own. I don't think this was particularly healthy, but it helped the loneliness I felt at the time.”
Understandably, some people might feel a little used or shortchanged if they find out they’re date number three of the day or if you have to cut your hang-out short to head to another. “It is important to remember if you are the latter of multiple dates in a day, you might consider your partner's intentions. Are you just one of many? Are they really interested in getting to know you and what is their end goal?” suggests Emma Hathorn, dating expert at Seeking.
“Never compromise your feelings, energy or time just to please someone else by going on a date with them,” she cautions, “at the same time try not to pack in lots of dates in a hurry to meet the one, unfortunately these things can take time and are best left to unfold organically.”
While none of the people Cosmopolitan UK spoke to said they told their date stacked dates that they were one of two or more for that day, all of them tried to be upfront about their intentions – agreeing that honestly would be the best policy had their suitor asked.
“I didn't tend to tell people I had dates on the same day, I didn't think people would appreciate it especially as I was in the normie scene rather than a specifically kink audience,” says Fee, who felt that people who were open to kink and non-monogamy would probably be more open to being date stacked.
She wasn’t the only one to suggest this. For Leanne Yau, a polyamory educator and founder of the blog Poly Philia, seeing multiple partners in a day has become a standard part of her life. “Because of the way my life is set up, there’ll be situations where I’ll have been hanging out with one partner and then I’ll come home to another and spend more time with them, or I’ll hang out with someone in the daytime and then I’ll hang out with someone else in the evening and sometimes there’s an overlap. I guess that’s just more socially acceptable in the polyamorous community,” she explains.
Also read: Sex Talk: What It's Like To Be Polyamorous
But for many of us, the possibility of opening ourselves up to multiple would-be boos in a short period sounds as exhausting as it does exciting - “It can get overwhelming,” agrees Fee. So, if you want to maximise your romantic efficiency without sacrificing your mental health, what can you do?
“Date freely, but always date safely. Carrying out regular checks on yourself to assess how you’re feeling is so important, suggests Hathorne, “Your time is precious and it’s worth considering if this dating style aligns with your own values and boundaries.”
Figuring out what you want to get out of the dates is an important part of the process. If you’re looking to meet the one, then an hour coffee probably isn’t going to cut it. But if you’re looking to fill some time, meet some new people, and explore new places? Go ahead and get the google calendar out.
“I don't think dates need to lead to a partner in order to be successful. Nearly all (bar the one where my date turned up still drunk from the night before at brunch) were successful in so much as I had a good time and I met new people - some even went on to be friends,” Harry explains.
For these kinds of quick-fire encounters, Leanne suggests thinking of them more as a ‘date zero’ vibe check rather than a first date, saying; “you can quickly fall into the trap of being quite formulaic or retelling your best stories, as meeting new people can be very emotionally taxing.” But she cautions that multiple short dates of an hour or an hour and a half might not “necessarily be enough time to get to know someone or for them to impress you enough to then go on date one.”
To avoid these dates feeling too much like job interviews – not fun for you or your prospective boo – Leanne suggests arranging them to be in different locations, to help switch up the vibe between each. “If it’s all in the same location and bunched up in a very intense period of time, I feel personally that it would start to feel like a job interview – where you’re interviewing successful candidates rather than [creating] an opportunity for connection and intimacy which I think is the goal of dating for most people.” she says.
“I want there to be time for organic connection and spontaneity.”
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.