The Blind Spot In Rori Raye’s Circular Dating

woman trying to make peace with her man

If you saw a woman who was about to drive off a cliff, would you tell her?

You’re standing on the sidewalk. She’s plowing over orange cones and through the yellow police tape towards a towering precipice.

Yeah, you’d try to stop her.

And the faster she accelerates, the more frantic you get, watching her willingly (and confusingly) speed towards the chasm.

I’m even gonna bet that if you were witnessing something so damaging, you might even put yourself in harm’s way to protect the innocent drivers. Maybe you wouldn’t dive in front of the car, but you’d run and wave your hands and scream at the top of your lungs — anything to avert what is sure to be a serious accident.

This is what it felt like to be featured on my friend Rori Raye’s blog last week, in a post entitled “The Circular Dating Argument”.

I went there to save some lives — and took quite a beating for doing so.

First of all, I need to establish that Rori’s a good friend and I have no doubt that all the women who read her are kind people. Over the past few years, Rori’s products have taken off like a rocket, inspiring a legion of passionate followers. Any time I’d like to think that I’m making a big impact on the world over here, I remember that Rori’s mailing list dwarfs mine.

Which is why I’m always flattered when Rori reaches out to tell me she enjoyed one of my newsletters or wants to mention me in a blog post.

And after an interview I did with her last week for her audio series, we engaged in an email dialogue about one of her signature concepts: Circular Dating.

The definition on her site is benign: “Dating several men (at least 3) all at the same time. You accept the date with the man who calls first, and do not shuffle times or even think about manipulating the schedule in order to get dates with the man you like best, or dates to the most fun places. Circular dating is about Free Therapy and practicing Rori Raye Tools. It is not about finding Mr. Right.”

Nothing to argue with here. What Rori calls Circular Dating, I just call “dating”. Be proactive, date lots of people, have fun, don’t get too excited about a promising prospect — we’re all on the same page so far.

Where this concept of Circular Dating breaks down for me, however — the reason I wanted to guest blog on her website — is this idea:

The concept of circular dating (CDing) is ostensibly supposed to last all the way up until you’re married. Meaning: a woman can tell her devoted boyfriend of a year that since she doesn’t yet have a ring, she’s going to see other people.

You hear that sound? It’s a record scratching.

Yes, there’s something highly discordant about this principle, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for nearly a week.

Believe me, I understand the emotion behind Circular Dating. All you have to do is read this blog to know that I am intimately familiar with the frustrations and fears of women. And because way too many women have invested way too much time in men who decided that they didn’t want to get married, CDing is, presumably, a way of protecting oneself.

My argument against circular dating has nothing to do with a failure to understand women’s needs, a defense of selfish commitmentphobes, or a personal axe to grind against Rori or her readers. My argument against circular dating centers around only one simple premise: it doesn’t work when you have a good boyfriend.

My argument against circular dating centers around only one simple premise: it doesn’t work when you have a good boyfriend.

If you have a boyfriend who is consistent and kind and also wants to be married one day, and you tell him, in a moment of insecurity, that you can’t stand waiting any longer — “it’s been seven months and we’re not engaged, so I’m going to start seeing other men” — you’re essentially taking a dagger to the heart of your relationship. And if you have a boyfriend who isn’t consistent, isn’t kind, and never wants to be married, there’s no need to “circular date”. Just dump him and find the man who treats you well and ultimately wants a commitment. And yes, it is that simple.

The friction here comes from women who want to KNOW that their investment in a man is going to lead to marriage. The problem is that you CAN’T know. All you can know is whether he’s a man of high character, a man who has spoken of a future, a man whose heart is in the right place. Beyond that, there are no guarantees.

No one wants to feel insecure and off-balance. No one wants to waste time on a dead-end relationship. But just because a man isn’t positive he wants to marry you doesn’t mean you break the bonds of exclusivity. If I’m your boyfriend and you start seeing other men, you are essentially cheating on me, and it doesn’t make me feel better about you, our relationship, or our future together.

That’s pretty much the gist of what I said to Rori’s readers. I used metaphors, anecdotes, capital letters, and wrote the way I normally do on here — blunt, powerful, and very confident that what I wrote has a sound basis in truth.

Not my opinion. Truth. About how men think. Good men. The men you want.

If you start to “circular date” when you have a man who is on the precipice of wanting to spend the rest of his life with you, you might actually be driving him away.

And try though I might, I can’t think of too many confident men who feel that their exclusive girlfriend has a right to date other men after 6 months, 12 months or 18 months, merely because she’s insecure that he might not marry her. She can certainly dump him (which is a good strategy when you’re getting past three years of dating.) But seeing other guys while you’re boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t sit well with me. I speak for most men and remain firm in this sentiment. (By the way, if there are any guys here who are cool with your girlfriend dating other guys as a way of protecting herself and forcing you to shit or get off the pot, please speak up. I’m open to being wrong here.)

Predictably, then came the blowback.

I won’t go into details but I was told in a number of ways that I was wrong. That I was arrogant. That I don’t understand women. That I was verbally abusive. That my marriage was suspect. That my wife was a doormat. And so on and so forth.

I tried, in vain, to reiterate my point of view — which is that I’m offering a constructive, not destructive, criticism of circular dating. I don’t stand to gain anything from “being right” in this situation. But if you start to “circular date” when you have a man who is on the precipice of wanting to spend the rest of his life with you, you might actually be driving him away. And that’s dangerous if you believe that this is solid advice that considers how men think. It is not. It doesn’t consider how men think. It’s advice that may make women feel better, but doesn’t do what it’s designed to do. Which is why I felt like the guy standing on the side of the road, waving his arms, determined not to let any women go over the cliff with this well-intentioned, but ultimately misguided, take on how to get a man to commit.

Naturally, I got run over in the process. C’est la vie. At least I tried. But since I still believe my take on the male mindset is equally valuable as any woman’s take on it, I wanted to respond to the main areas in which Rori’s readers falsely dissected and misinterpreted my argument:

He should know if he wants to marry me. No, actually, he should not. That’s why men date. To figure out, over the course of time, if he wants to spend the next 35 years with you. And that’s exactly what you should be doing with him, as well. Nobody told you to invest three years of your life in a man who has stated that he never wants to get married. Definitely not me. But if you have a boyfriend who wants to get married one day, but he’s not sure if it’s to you, your best bet is to give him lots of time to figure it out before proposing. If you’re under 40, we’re talking at least two years. Over 40, at least a year. But trying to make him figure out the answer to something that he couldn’t possibly know is a recipe for a breakup. Men don’t respond well to being told what to do. As Dr. Pat Allen said: “If you tell a man what to do and he listens, he isn’t a man.” I’m not stating whether this is fair or not; I’m merely stating that it’s true.

Some men just know after 3 months, therefore all men should know that fast. Actually, anyone who claims to “just know” that it’s “right” after one week, one month, or three months has a very selective memory. I “just knew” that my girlfriend in 2003 was right for me. She dumped me after 6 months. Same with the one in 2004, who dumped me after 3 months. So much for “just knowing”. Look back at your history. You have a similar story.

The right man knows right away. You might have a strong chemistry and a great feeling about a guy, but lifetime relationships take years to forge, not months. Lots of marriages began with the man knowing right away. And a majority of those marriages ended in divorce. Be careful about rushing into things: you very well could marry the wrong man – where if you dated him for two years, you would have learned more about him and potentially averted a mistake.

A man who is right for you would not risk losing you to another man while he makes up his mind. Au contraire: the right man is a responsible decision-maker. And a responsible decision-maker doesn’t make the decision to marry a woman until he knows her for a really long time and can see how she handles life situations. He may rightfully determine that if his exclusive girlfriend handles her insecurity by insisting that she “circular date”, he could find a healthier relationship without all the drama, fear, and insecurity.

Playing it cool is denying my true feelings. We don’t have to live our lives as mere victims of our feelings. After all, just because you feel something doesn’t necessarily make it true. I had one girlfriend who nearly had a heart attack every time I picked up a Maxim magazine. She may have been entitled to her feelings, but her insecurity that I couldn’t be attracted to her if I was also attracted to a model ended up destroying our relationship. Even her own therapist told her that I was a normal guy and that she should temper her jealous overreactions. So while I’ll never tell you that you’re not entitled to feel what you feel, if what you feel (anxiety, fear, insecurity) becomes your boyfriend’s problem — when he hasn’t done anything wrong — it’s really on you to deal in a healthier fashion.

I don’t want to be the girlfriend, I want to be the wife! You don’t become the wife unless you’re the amazing girlfriend first. If you think that he should marry you because you’ve been together for three months and you love him, then he should have also proposed to about a dozen women he dated for three months before you. Right?

I should be allowed to CD ‘til my wedding day because I don’t want just “a boyfriend”. No one is asserting that you should be content to be merely a girlfriend forever. All I’m saying is that if you’re with a man who believes in marriage, you have to allow him to come to his own conclusions over time. And if you think you’re restricting your options by being faithful, then, by all means, circular date. You’ll just end up losing your boyfriend when you do.

A man who doesn’t marry you is selfish. A man who knowingly strings you along for three years when he has no intention of ever marrying you IS selfish. I’m not talking about that guy. I’m talking about men who do want to get married, but aren’t positive if they want to marry YOU. If I didn’t marry my wife after 16 months of dating, it wouldn’t mean that I knowingly used her for that time. It simply meant that I was trying on the relationship for size to see if it fit for the rest of my life and decided it wasn’t a good fit. MOST relationships break up because either the man or the woman comes to this conclusion. Yet MOST people end up getting married one day. This seems to conclude that most men are marriage minded; they might not necessarily want to marry you, though.

Your way gives men all the power, Evan. By letting men take their time to decide if they want to get married, women are relegated to become the selectee and not the selector. Not remotely true. Who said he has the power? Aren’t you 50% of the relationship? Aren’t you thinking clearly about his flaws and whether you can live with them for the rest of your life? Don’t you have the right to break up with him at any point if you conclude that he’s a good guy, but not your soulmate? Why, yes you can! Which means that BOTH parties are taking an equal risk when committing to each other without a ring — not just you.

CDing gives me my power back over a hot-and-cold man. Maybe it does. But I have a slightly different take on this. A) Don’t date other men. Dump him. Walk away with your head held high and say, “I really care about you, but I’m not getting my needs met here. This is too inconsistent for me and I need to feel safe. Good luck.” And don’t look back. THAT’s how you handle the hot and cold guy. If he comes running back, you may have a boyfriend. If he lets you go, he’s not the guy for you. B) Do you really WANT a guy who is so hot and cold, who leaves you walking on eggshells? Do you really want to be in that relationship for 35 years, where he’s so selfish or such a poor communicator that you never know where you stand? If so, then do everything in your power to get him back — including CDing. But the smart money – given that people rarely change – is on dumping him.

Why should one man monopolize my time? I want to explore all my options. I’m still having trouble fathoming this: the woman ostensibly wants a husband but doesn’t want a boyfriend because she should be out playing the field. Um, I hate to tell you, but the only guy who’s ever going to propose to you is the guy who has been your exclusive boyfriend for a year-plus. And if you refuse to stop exploring your options, no guy worth his salt is gonna stick around. This is the epitome of false female empowerment. You’re not keeping your options open if you’re dating other guys outside of your boyfriend: you’re cheating.

Why should I spend 5-10 years with a man without a ring? Beats the hell out of me. Everything I’ve ever written tells you to leave a guy who a) never wants to get married or b) doesn’t propose to you in a reasonable amount of time.

Which is a great opportunity for me to distinguish between a man’s reasonable amount of time and a woman’s reasonable amount of time…

It terrifies me to potentially spend 2 years with a man without a ring. How am I supposed to know which is which? I can completely empathize with your fear. Millions of relationships have endured for far too long, even though they were dead ends. Especially when they’re dead ends. Once you’ve sunk enough time into anything, it’s hard to walk away, even if the relationship isn’t right. So my contention isn’t that it’s easy to be in a relationship when there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. It’s difficult and scary and insecure and all those other feelings you associate with being in limbo. My contention is simply that waiting, investing, and being vulnerable is the BEST way to find love. At the very least, it’s far superior to being fearful and insecure, to the point that you break up with a marriage-oriented man after four months because he can’t guarantee you a ring.

Once again, I’m not basing this on my personal feelings about this. I’m basing this on common principles of human behavior: the way things ARE instead of how we WANT them to be.

My contention is simply that waiting, investing, and being vulnerable is the BEST way to find love.

Sure, it’s scary to be with a guy for 24 months and not have a ring. But the only way you GET the ring is by investing 24 months and being the kind of woman that he can’t imagine living without. If you start to make waves about how nervous you are after three months, six months, one year, etc… you’re putting a lot of pressure on the man before HE’S ready to make his decision.

And that’s the one thing that the Rori followers almost universally did NOT seem to get — that 50% of the relationship is about what HE wants. I know Rori’s message is about female empowerment, having confidence, etc. But if you’re tone deaf to your partner’s needs, you’re going to find yourself without a partner.

Same as the guy who tries too hard to get laid on the first date.

Same as the guy who thinks it’s fair that you pick up the check because you wrote to him online and make more money.

Same as the guy who never wants to hear about your day and only wants to talk about his…

This may or may not be a bad guy — but his refusal to understand your needs means that he will probably alienate you and lose the prospect of dating you.

And just because YOU want him to know that he wants to marry you within eight months doesn’t mean that HE’s going to know.

Case in point: I have five close friends who have gotten married in the past three years.

We are all college educated, literate, six-figure earners. We are readers, we are sports fans, and we dream of having families. We’re very comfortable around women, yet none of us would be termed an “alpha male”. We’re nice Jewish boys.

Every single one of these men — all GREAT catches — waited 3 years before proposing. Three of them even have older wives — 40, 41 years old — just like I do.

Why did it take so long?

Because they take marriage very seriously.

Because they didn’t want to make a huge mistake.

Because they really wanted to be POSITIVE before buying a diamond ring.

And if dating for two years, moving in together, and proposing when they felt it was right meant that the men felt confident going into their marriage, it seems to me that all five women who did it “my way” by playing it cool ended up WINNING.

They got married. They got the guys they wanted.

By playing it cool, not getting consumed by insecurity, and trusting that the man that you love does NOT want to hurt you, you allow him to choose you on his timetable, instead of putting pressure on him to choose before he’s ready.

However, the ONLY way that all of us got married was because our girlfriends DIDN’T start dating other men when we were together.

If they DID start dating other men when we were together, the relationships would have been undermined — and, likely, destroyed. CDing wouldn’t make me feel closer to my wife. It wouldn’t make me feel like like I was losing my soulmate. It would make me feel like I’m losing someone who has no respect for my timetable, and is making a threat that is completely tone-deaf to my needs.

By playing it cool, not getting consumed by insecurity, and trusting that the man that you love does NOT want to hurt you, you allow him to choose you on his timetable, instead of putting pressure on him to choose before he’s ready.

So even though the idea behind Rori’s Circular Dating is to establish self-love and healthy boundaries, dating other men when you have a good, marriage-oriented boyfriend is simply NOT EFFECTIVE. And if you don’t have a good, marriage-oriented boyfriend, I submit that you should break up with him. Who knows? Maybe that’s the only difference between Rori and me.

Taken to its extreme — which is what I’m talking about here – Circular Dating is a fear-based mechanism to protect women from commitmentphobes — yet it will alienate any man who is rightfully wants to take his time to figure out if he wants to spend the rest of his life with you.

To sum up, you should date around all you want until you have a boyfriend.
But once you have a boyfriend, the ONLY way to make it a healthy relationship is to TRUST. Your fears about wasting time only indicate that you believe that he is not a good enough man to want what is best for both of you.

You know the only guy among my friends who got engaged before 3 years? Me.

Of course, that’s because I’m a sensitive guy who spends every waking second listening to women’s needs and the last thing I wanted to do was waste my wife’s biological clock on my inner turmoil. After proposing to her in 16 months (half the time of my friends’ courtships, twice as long as most Rori fans seem to think it should take), I still wasn’t “positive”. But since I’d dated hundreds of women, and coached thousands more, I figured I was making a highly informed decision about my future. It turned out to be the right one and we’re the happiest couple we know.

Yet if a man had a marriage go bust, has been burned by relationships before, or has very little experience with women, so that he doesn’t really know WHAT he’s looking for, it will take him a LONG TIME to figure out if he wants to marry you.

I implore you, from the bottom of my heart, to allot him that time.

He’s a good man. He doesn’t want to hurt you. He just wants to be sure.

Playing it cool certainly doesn’t guarantee marriage, but it DOES maximize your chance of marriage.

And, as a dating coach for women, that’s really what I’m here for — to help you make good, informed decisions that will be effective in landing the man of your dreams.

Whether you’ve been reading me for a long time, or if you’re a Rori fan who just came over here for the first time today, I hope that my intentions are clear:

I’m YOUR advocate. I speak on YOUR behalf, not on behalf of men.

But just like a man can’t have a successful relationship if he’s ignoring your needs, you can’t have a successful relationship and ignore what your man is thinking.

I hope you’ll highly consider this respectful rebuttal from an informed male perspective and we can all go back to finding love once again.

Warmest wishes,


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  1. 41

    Honestly, I don’t care how people in other countries approach their relationships. If people in Sweden and Australia want to cohabitate, have children and never have a marriage certificate, that’s perfectly fine with me.
    That doesn’t make my desire for marriage invalid or wrong. Just as it would be wrong for an American to criticize Swedes and Australians for not caring as much about marriage, I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to question why someone wants to be married.
    The fact that many Americans value state and/or religious-sanctioned marriage does not make us “obsessed” with anything. Marriage is an institution that many Americans value and there isn’t a darn thing wrong with that.

  2. 42
    Karl R

    Aanmtmay said: (#26)
    ” I couldn’t handle a man who’d give up on me in a ‘moment of insecurity’.. no matter what I did or said (within reason here, no abuse!)”

    We may have a difference of opinion about what qualifies as being “within reason.”

    I’m certain that you would find a few  other  actions besides abuse to be unacceptable during a “moment of insecurity,” such as infidelity. For most of us, those actions would include someone who continues to date others after we agree to date exclusively.

    If you want a simple guideline, I expect my fiancée to act with integrity, even when she’s feeling insecure.

    In general, I suspect that you want a partner who makes you feel more secure in a relationship, not less secure. Would you feel more secure if your boyfriend started dating two additional women? Would you feel less secure?  Why would a man feel any differently.

    Aanmtmay asked: (#26)
    “Would you have let your now wife go if she had had a ‘moment of insecurity’?”

    If a girlfriend’s insecurity had led her to start dating other men (after we agreed to be exclusive), I would have stopped emotionally investing myself in the relationship, distanced myself to whatever degree I felt necessary, and started dating other women.

    When my (then girlfriend, currently fiancée)  had a moment of insecurity, she started asking some questions so she could get some clarity. At that point in time I believed that would would eventually end up married, but I thought it was too soon to propose.

    That’s how you handle a moment of insecurity with integrity. If you handle it in a way that lacks integrity, you will compromise your boyfriend’s trust in you.

    Jane said: (#24)
    “I will cautiously attempt an opinion here… Circular dating doesn’t mean dating a man per se.”

    It’s rather clear from Rori’s post (linked to above) that  circular dating  includes activities that could be considered dates.

    And the way you externally describe an action affects the way you internally perceive it.

    If my fiancée wants to dance with another man, that’s fine. If she wants to have coffee with a coworker, that’s fine. If she wants to have dinner with an ex, that’s fine. But if she refers to any of those activities as being a date, then I have a huge problem with it.

    And if the guy she’s with believes that it’s a date, I expect her to correct his misperception.

  3. 43

    I’m not a reader of Rori’s blog so I missed this big dust-up, but when i first heard of the circular dating concept  i was appalled much like everyone else here, but once  I read her explanation of what circular dating while in a relationship  actually is (basically, ‘dating’ is a total misnomer) it is in line with what Jane (post #24) described. Which is much more reasonable.
    The problem of course is calling it ‘dating’. But hey, titilation and crazy-sounding ideas are attention grabbers.

  4. 44

    To clarify #43, I’d heard of Rori and circular dating and investigated more to get my understanding of it  before this blog entry.

  5. 45
    The Other SS

    I’m enjoying this conversation but the labeling and judgments feel terrible. If circular dating doesn’t feel right for you, then don’t do it. It’s that simple.
    CDing personally works for me. It’s a choice I’m making for my life right now. And it’s changed my entire view about dating and about myself!
    If exclusive dating is working for you and getting you the relationship you want, then brava!! But the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. If exclusive dating isn’t working, maybe it’s time to try something else. Or at the very least be open to it. Who knows…
    Regardless, I highly recommend CDing!

  6. 46
    Karl R

    Jennifer said: (#43)
    “I read her explanation of what circular dating while in a relationship  actually is (basically, ‘dating’ is a total misnomer)”
    Quoting Rori: (from one of her blog posts)
    “I ALWAYS advise women to give a good man a chance — even an EXCLUSIVE chance at some time in the ‘dating relationship’ — but, if you’re ready to go, and he isn’t — then CD with actual DATES is the only answer.”

    If Evan and I can read Rori’s explanation of circular dating, and we both understand it to include casual dates with other men when you have a serious boyfriend, I would consider it highly likely that a fair number of Rori’s regular readers have interpreted it the same way.

    As best as I’ve been able to determine, Rori uses “circular dating” to describe three different concepts:
    1. Leading a full and happy life outside of the relationship.
    2. Casually dating multiple men until you choose to date one exclusively (and he explicitly brings up the topic of dating exclusively)
    3. Openly dating outside the (formerly) exclusive relationship if the woman feels the man is taking too long to propose, in order to inspire the man to take some form of action.

    The only problem I have with the concept 1 is that it’s misleading to describe it as dating. Otherwise, I’d say it’s a healthy attitude for everyone.

    Evan and I would both describe concept 2 as “dating.” Though I’d say either  the man or woman  can ask for clarification as to whether there’s exclusivity.

    And concept 3, which would cause a lot of high quality men to assume the woman has lost interest (or  lacks integrity).

    So if you look at the full spectrum of what Rori advises under the blanket term of “circular dating,” it includes some good ideas, and some really bad ideas.

    And Evan has focused entirely on the aspect that’s a bad idea. That’s the part where a warning is necessary.

  7. 47
    Rori Raye

    Hi all, This is Rori Raye, and I feel so honored to be part of sparking this great conversation. I totally love Evan – both as a man and as a relationship “guru” – and I refer my clients to him often.   Every time I get one of his newsletters, I wish I’d written it – and I incorporate his ideas (and credit Evan for them) into my work all the time.
    Thank you Jane, Lucy, Dave, Jennifer and others for helping clarify what Circular Dating actually is (yes, it can include actual “dating” – but that’s not what it’s about).   And since my whole work is around authenticity, vulnerability and telling the absolute truth – I am always working against strategies, games, and hiding things from your romantic partner – or even the man you’re talking to at the moment (which is essentially what CDing is about – talking to, relating to, practicing being your authentic self with men, women and children wherever and whenever you encounter them “out in the field”). How this is done when you are deeply involved with one man is, yes, complex, and I’ve created an entire program around how Circular Dating works and how to use it – so it’s not easily or quickly explained. It is, like so much of my work, an “Inner Game” tool using outer circumstances.
    And – it doesn’t even matter.   Even if Evan and I were totally opposed, and I don’t think we are (he’s on one of programs, and I just interviewed him, and I love his guest posts on my blog and apologize to him and all of you on this wonderful blog for any negative reactions he’s experienced there) – we are all so different. We all operate differently and experience differently and learn differently – and, for me, it’s so much better to have all these different ideas to try out and choose from.
    I thank Evan for his passion, clarity and ability to help women get the love they want, and look forward to sharing more ideas.
    Sincerely, Rori

  8. 48

    I have read Rori Raye’s emails about circular dating. I’d call it a strategy to light a fire under a man who is taking too long to propose. In the examples I read, this was not suggested after a few months of dating, but after many months or years, or after a man who initially wanted commitment started dragging his feet. My take-away is that it’s a way of maintaining the relationship with conditions, rather than breaking up outright. It’s not about cheating or being unfaithful, as some have implied.  

    I’m not really seeing what the big deal is. If breaking up works for you, then do that. If circular dating sounds like a good idea, then try that. Either way, if a man wants to step up to the plate, he will.

  9. 49

       To me it seems like  cd-ing would be like getting a little  taste of everything,   like a sampler platter.       If your guy can’t further commit after numerous  years and  the  fried cheese sticks are getting cold, he should be just as responsible for dumping you if he doesn’t like the  idea that you want  to order  the  sampler platter.       Afterall, when you feel like a good catch and the fisherman is fishing for you but  doesn’t really care if he  nets you or not, can make a person  feel a little  unwanted.    While at the same time he  doesn’t want any one else to catch you either.     Thats when I think cd-ing is only fair.

  10. 50

    Ok, there seems so much fuss over this to me…
    I’m a long time Rori fan, and think Evan’s got a great point. For me, CD is revolutionary, since I’ve dated only 1 person at a time in the past. So I’d have a date with Guy 1, and go about my life, wondering about date #2, hoping he’d call, or whatever, but not dating anyone else and hanging by the phone with bated breath, no matter how hard I tried not to.

    With CD, I am dating a few others while Guy 1 takes his time deciding if he wants another date, spends time out of town, or whatever he’s doing that I didn’t hear from him for a while. I can meet Guy 2 and catch some live music, go for cocktails on the patio with Guy 3, along with lunches with friends, a movie and dinner on a me time outing, or whatever else I enjoy. (All CD  examples per  Rori, so CD can also mean time with platonic friends, quality self care time, etc.)
    None of the guys  has any  exclusive commitment with me, so they may (or not) choose to date other ladies, not my business. So maybe for me, CD keeps things less focused on any one guy until we are ready to be exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend. I have chosen to explain CD and utilize it in this way until I feel a man I’m seeing in a more casual way proposes more. And I communicate this to them honestly, wanting to take my time to choose only the man I want to marry before I get exclusively involved. Now I realize we may then date exclusively for a couple years before marriage is a likelihood- I feel comfortable with that time frame.

    I just don’t want to close my options to others and focus on only one man if I’m not feeling that he is a good fit- funny, perhaps I agree with Evan more than I realized?

    So Evan, I’d like your opinion: what is a reasonable time frame to date someone before getting exclusive? How long is too long to wait for exclusivity and give up hope that (s)he  will ever agree  marry you? How long is too long to see if someone’s a good fit? What do you think?

    1. 50.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thanks, TXBirdy. To reiterate, what you’re calling Circular Dating is simply known as “dating” to men. We date lots of women, until one really seems to set herself apart, and then we start investing more time in her and push for exclusivity. Now, to be clear, exclusivity means that you are now boyfriend/girlfriend; it does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that you are definitely getting married. People who commit to being in an exclusive relationships are essentially leasing, with an option to buy. And that lease runs for about 2-3 years before most men are ready to make that buying decision.

      As for how long before you give an exclusive relationship a shot? Some folks dive in after one date because they “feel it”. It’s a great feeling, but it’s often misleading. More common is a decision made within the first 6 weeks or so. And if a guy hasn’t indicated he’s serious within the 3 months at the VERY LATEST, I would assume that he wants exactly what he’s got: a low-stakes, once a week, status quo, semi-booty call. That’s why he’s only calling you one a week and not escalating his efforts; he doesn’t WANT to. On the other hand, if calling you every day, making an effort to see you every weekend, taking his profile down, introducing you to friends and family, etc, you’re probably on the path to be a girlfriend. Just don’t accept the once a week guy for too long – your boyfriend wants to see you more than that.

  11. 51

    I had briefly been on Rori’s e-mail list and that’s where I first heard about circular dating.   As far as keeping a full life that does not revolve around your significant other, yeah that’s a good idea.   But continuing to date multiple people until you get a ring on your finger?   Like most of the folks here, that doesn’t work for me.   Nor does it sound as though it works for the men.
    By the way, I don’t know if I missed the engagement earlier, but congratulations Karl to you and your fiancee!

  12. 52

    Evan, I totally think you have a great blog and bring up a lot of great points. I am sorry you were critcized for stating your opinion. I don’t think you deserved to be criticized. I think healthy debates and discussions among people who have different opinions, while keeping true to your own knowledge is one of your biggest strengths. You want to say what you think and hear from others as well. And you have helped so many people. On the plus side, you really opened up a dialogue with most people agreeing that too many women (from experience, as I should certainly know) put too much stake into a guy and don’t keep their life going for themselves as well as they should.  Doing exactly this whould help women:  1.  make better judgements because she is not so desperate and perceiving herself as not having choices, and 2. making herself more attrative to the guy by being more interesting and having a life. Anyway, keep up the great work you are doing.

  13. 53
    Twilight Princess

    I disagree. I think that Rori’s blog is providing a great service. Finally, a blog that provides a kind of Darwinism for dating. Those women are not being reasonable… clearly. If you can’t be reasonable you will be cut from the dating pool. SORRY! That kind of works out for the good women and men looking for a decent date. Honestly, women or men that think CDing is healthy for any relationship is wrong. They are doing exactly what they expect men NOT to do. Commit to me!, but I’m not going to do the same for you.???? Ummm… what? Isn’t there a word for that? (hypocrite?) How can you expect a man to commit to you if you are out investing your time and emotional being in ‘X’ amount of other men? This isn’t a hard concept to grasp. Honestly, how do they have the time for dating that many people?! I think everyone in my circle of friends and family, including myself, would be VERY uncomfortable with the idea of being engaged after 3 months. That’s preposterous. Knock! Knock! Is anybody home? Evan, those women are bonkers.

    26, FEMALE, in a relationship(thanks to the advice on THIS blog) and REALLY hoping I never become that cynical about dating should my current relationship come to an end.

    P.S.- You’re making way too much sense. That’s going to have to stop.

  14. 54


    I’ve been following both Rori and Evan’s work and I see this situation as a complete misunderstanding of what Rori means by circular dating.

    As she said, she has a whole program about the concept. It quite complex. EMK is focusing on one tiny detail without understanding the overall concept. No surprise that it doesn’t make sense to him.

    Rori is not an advocate of game-playing and manipulation. In fact, quite the opposite. She is all about encouraging woman to be authentic and real and take responsibility for what they are creating in the relationship.

    I feel really sad seeing her teachings being torn apart by people who haven’t taken the time to really understand what she is saying.

    I also feel disappointed by the way EMK was treated by a few of Rori’s readers, actually really only one commentor seemed out of line. The rest of it seemed to be a fair discussion.

    Of course there was some debate. I mean, what do you expect EMK? Your tone was a little pushy and over-bearing. Women do not like to be told that they are wrong and can’t make wise decisions for themselves. Nobody does.

    When you come in with an attitude like that, why be surprised if people don’t respond well it?
    My ultimate message is that as someone who has studied both Rori and EMK, they are saying basically the same thing. Just using different terms, and communication style, and somewhat of a different target audience.

    EMK, I recommend that instead of trying to tear cd-ing down, you should try to understan it better. There is a mojor point to it that you are completely missing.

    1. 54.1
      Evan Marc Katz


      I let your comment through, despite the negative comments about me.

      And while you, and Rori’s fans, can reiterate the complexities and nuances of “circular dating” that are above my head, I still haven’t quite grasped what I’m missing.

      So please, instead of telling me that I’m pushy, overbearing and have a negative attitude, I would really appreciate you reading my post and telling me what I’ve gotten wrong.

      It’s 4 pages long, so there’s lots to work with. Where did I misquote my friend, Rori? Where did I twist her philosophy or slander her readers unfairly? And which bullet point of mine is bad advice?

      Because, really, I don’t care if you don’t like my style or my attitude: all I care about is that my advice is going to help you understand and connect with men BETTER.

      And until you can illustrate to me that expecting a man to KNOW he’ll marry you within 6 months is realistic…or that dating other men when you already have a committed boyfriend actually makes your boyfriend want to marry you more, I’m going to stick by my analysis.

      Ball’s in your court.

      What did I get wrong?

  15. 55

    Also, I apologize for making negative comments about you. That was unfair. To be truthful, although I really like most of what you say, your style is a little too “in your face” for me. I’m a woman and I respond better to a certain amount of gentleness but I dont want to be negative about you or your style because of my own personal preferences.

    I’m happy that you are putting your own unique style and voice out there and I feel certain you are helping many people, myself included.

  16. 56

    “And until you can illustrate to me that expecting a man to KNOW he’ll marry you within 6 months is realistic…or that dating other men when you already have a committed boyfriend actually makes your boyfriend want to marry you more, I’m going to stick by my analysis.”

    I do respect that you asked me to illustrate these points.

    ***expecting a man to KNOW he’ll marry you within 6 months is realistic

    ***dating other men when you already have a committed boyfriend actually makes your boyfriend want to marry you more

    Neither one of these concepts are what cd-ing is about.

    My understanding of what Rori is saying is…if marriage is very important to a woman, then be true to that. She is not saying that women should expect a man to know if he is ready to marry by 6 mos. Not at all.

    She acknowledges that people have different time frames for when they know, both men and women. She advises women to stay focused on the relationship they want. If a woman wants to be married soon, then it doesn’t make sense to be exclusive with a man who needs a lot of time to decide. The woman is being true to her dreams.

    I do agree that some women get hyper-focused on being “married” and forget about the beauty of the courting stage. They get insecure and want to rush things. They even try to manipulate. And some women do use circular dating to manipulate their men. And I agree with you that that would push a smart man away.

    But that isn’t actually what Rori is recommending. Not at all.

    It’s a small scenario taken out of context of the big picture advice she is giving.

    And she’s not saying that ” dating other men when you already have a committed boyfriend actually makes your boyfriend want to marry you more”. She’s saying that if the relationship isn’t moving at the pace a woman wants, then the woman needs to be honest with herself and do the inner work to see why she’s feeling insecure and impatient. If through doing that she comes to the conclusion that the relationship isn’t working for her as it is, then she needs to be open to other options. She doesn’t dump the man. She gives him a chance to step up if he feels inspired. Her focus isn’t to make the guy want to more. It’s to be true to herself.

    1. 56.1

      I agree with everything LVD said, and I don’t feel she was being as negative/defensive as Evan.  Circular Dating works, and that is from personal experience not stuff I read online and never even tried and then judge it – what Evan is describing here is not at all what Rori advocates for. I’m not a “Rori Fan” or trying to defend her or anything – it is just personal experience that when you really get CD for what it’s meant to be it is very powerful.

  17. 57

    I’ve read all this with interest. For the record, I completely agree with Evan. Furthermore – I don’t think I would have the heart to keep dating if I really loved my boyfriend. I wouldn’t WANT to go on dates with others – unless, said boyfriend was a means to an end, i.e., I’m more excited about “being married” than spending my life with that individual. No matter which way I slice it, I can’t see it any other way than a manipulation tool. I can’t see it working on ANY man.
    My personal experience is with a man 15 yrs older and a confirmed bachelor. He will not budge on the marriage issue and he has gotten phone calls from me that go something like this, “I need to cancel our vacation this summer, I am sleeping with someone.” Ladies, this man is a longtime friend and he loves me, but he also knows we’ll NEVER see eye to eye on marriage and because of that, he runs the risk of losing me. AND HE ACCEPTS it! There is NOTHING I can do except NOT DATE HIM!
    Now, if I met a man who was present, a companion and a partner, do you think for one second I would want to have the same dynamic with him? I don’t want to spend my life watch-dogging my man – and to me this “strategy” pretty much guarantees it. You force someone’s hand and you can never stop – tiger by the tail. Sounds like an exhausting and very insecure life you’ll lead if you have to rope someone in that way.
    I have had a major perspective shift from simply wanting to get married (I still do, of course) to wanting to find someone who loves me unconditionally, whose company I enjoy and with whom I can completely be myself. I realize my push for marriage in the past has been because I didn’t feel secure in the relationship and I sought to ease that by trying to “lock-up” a commitment.
    However, I can see where this 6 month time-frame makes sense to some women. I have plenty of examples in my own life of things moving at an accelerated pace. 3 years ago, my best friend went to her family reunion. She was in a ten year relationship and her boyfriend refused to accompany her (pretty jerky, right?). While there, she met her father’s best friend’s son. Three months later the 10 yr guy was gone, new guy was moved in and making an investment in my friend and her home and her friends (he fit right into our group). Another girlfriend dumped a man 20 yrs her senior after 5 yrs of hooking up and heartbreak. She met her future husband 2 weeks later, a month after that, they were spending every night together.
    My point is that a speedy courtship CAN happen – but I think the point everyone is missing is that you can’t MAKE IT HAPPEN. In general, I expect that I’ll have a sense of peace when the right guy comes. I may not have verbal confirmation that we’ll get married – but I imagine I’ll have intuition or some kind of sixth sense that I can RELAX and TRUST.
    I think these angry comments are coming from very scared women who are on the brink due to bad experiences. I think when a simple observation creates so much anger and judgment, you can almost be certain there are a lot of underlying issues. You obviously hit a nerve, Evan.

  18. 58

    Evan, I’ve already replied once to this post, but I think the thing that is upsetting so many women on Rori’s Blog is the three year time frame you suggest waiting for the proposal. Many women don’t want to wait that long and would feel more secure with the relationship if they were to receive a proposal after 2 years max.

  19. 59
    River Girl

    Evan @ 56

    One thing you got wrong is that nowhere does Rori suggest that it is realistic to expect a man to KNOW anything!! Sorry, couldn’t resist that twist ; )

    What I love about what Rori teaches is that it is about  NOT having expectations. It is about being yourself, knowing what you want, leaning back, being open and receptive and being surprised.

  20. 60
    Karl R

    LVD said: (#55)
    “EMK is focusing on one tiny detail without understanding the overall concept.”

    The overall concept is fine. It’s that tiny detail that’s seriously flawed.

    It doesn’t matter if your car is “overall” in perfect condition. One “tiny detail” that’s flawed (no brake pads or a cut fuel line) can turn the whole thing into a wreck.

    Ruby said: (#48)
    “this was not suggested after a few months of dating, but after many months or years, or after a man who initially wanted commitment started dragging his feet. My take-away is that it’s a way of maintaining the relationship with conditions, rather than breaking up outright.”

    Your goal is to be married to a good man, correct? So you’re looking for a man who has integrity and is looking to commit.

    If you’re not happy with the status quo (after years of waiting), Evan recommends that you leave. Rori recommends that you start dating others.

    To an outside observer, which one of those actions has more integrity?

    My fiancée and I got engaged about 19-20 months after we started dating. At the 12 month mark, I was rather certain that my girlfriend was the right one for me, but I wasn’t quite ready to get engaged. If she had decided to break things off because I hadn’t gotten engaged at that point, I would have taken the risk and stepped up before I was quite ready. My doubts at that point weren’t that big.

    However, if she had decided that she was going to start dating other men, since I wasn’t ready to get engaged, I would have broken things off. I would have packed up my clothes and taken them back to my apartment. In my opinion, that would have been a clear sign that she lacked integrity, and I would have felt that I had dodged a bullet by waiting until I saw how she resolved conflicts.

    Furthermore, if you’re still seriously involved with your boyfriend (if neither of you breaks things off), you won’t be able to get a man who has integrity.

    If a woman has recently broken up with her boyfriend, I’ll assume that it’s likely that she’s not emotionally disentangled from her ex  yet, and is unlikely to be ready for a long-term relationship. If that woman is still living with and sleeping with her boyfriend, it’s absolutely certain that she’s not disentangled from him. She’s a potential sex partner, but not a potential girlfriend.

    Furthermore, as a casual date,  I’m likely to assume she’s either cheating, -or- she’s in an open relationship. I’m not interested in a long-term relationship that’s open, nor am I interested in a serious relationship with a cheater. (If I was just looking for a quick fling, I probably wouldn’t care.)

    How heavily are you willing to gamble that the next man you’re interested in will quickly grasp the nuances of Rori’s strategy?

    How is this strategy more effective than Evan’s? To me, it seems to have a higher probability of failure.

    Bridget said: (#49)
    “If your guy can’t further commit after numerous  years and  the  fried cheese sticks are getting cold, he should be just as responsible for dumping you if he doesn’t like the  idea that you want  to order  the  sampler platter.”

    Let’s say your guy has no interest in ever getting married. He’s enjoying the regular sex, and feels no need to take it further. If you start circular dating, you’re still in a relationship with him, and he’s still having sex with you on a regular basis.

    Furthermore, since you’re out dating other men, he now is at liberty to do the same thing  with other women.

    He’s still getting what he wants (with the option for some extra on the side). You still aren’t getting what you want. Why would he take the responsibility for dumping you?

    How is this an effective way to get rid of the guy?

    A-L said: (#52)
    “congratulations Karl to you and your fiancee!”


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