Sami Lukis.
Sami Lukis.

Sami Lukis: ‘I was the other woman’

I'D been innocently dating a new guy for about three months when the message appeared on my phone, from a woman I didn't know.

It wasn't a "back off, you slut" warning. I saw it as more of a, "just trying to help a sister out and let you know that the guy you're dating is a massive douchebag" alert.

She politely explained that she'd been seeing our mutual-man-friend for about nine months. While they'd never quite reached full blown relationship status, she'd been hanging in there, optimistic that one day they would become Facebook-official.

Things had been going swimmingly, until he started acting flaky a few months back. And then he suddenly dumped her and told her he'd been seeing someone else and wanted to pursue a relationship with her (ie. me) instead.

Back in the good old days of dating (so, pre-2016?) we might have described that naughty three month overlap as cheating. But in a dating scene that now consists of ghosting and catfishing and orbiting and haunting, this was a textbook case of 21st century 'Cookie Jarring'. In all its' fully baked glory.

'Cookie Jarring' is the latest addition to the glossary of wacky new terms being used to describe undesirable behaviours in the modern dating game. In this case, it's the not so sweet act of keeping someone as a backup while you actively pursue other options. The idea is that if things don't work out elsewhere, you can always dip your hand into the cookie jar when you're feeling a little peckish. Or, horny.

Oh, and quick recap, just in case you're not following. The stranger who DM'd me was the 'cookie'. I, as it turns out, was the 'other option'.

If you've ever been on the receiving end of this type of correspondence, you'll know the feeling. My stomach dropped. First, with the realisation that the guy I'd hoped was possibly a half decent human, was actually just a greedy Cookie Monster ("Me want cookie. Me eat cookie!"). Also, I had feelings of guilt. Had I unknowingly broken the girl code and been in some way responsible for another woman's heartbreak?

I never signed up to be the other woman. And I'm guessing the woman who messaged me never consented to being the 'cookie'.

In what was an incredibly selfish act of deception, we'd been having two very different experiences with the same man. In the few months we'd been dating, I never questioned his intent for a second. He was always available, calling, texting and making plans to see me. I had no doubt that he was interested in pursuing something more serious.

The other woman, meanwhile, had been feeling nothing but doubt. After investing her time, energy and emotions in the relationship, she still couldn't work out where things were headed. It's classic cookie behaviour.

The reality is, most of us have been cookie jarred at some point in our dating lives.

I've been that confused woman, more than once. Holding out for the guy who won't quite commit. Frustrated by his hot and cold behaviour. Stupidly forgiving him for cancelling our plans (again!). Always questioning the relationship status. Being a cookie is emotionally exhausting.

So, how did we get here?

I'm convinced that cookie-jarring is really just multi-dating gone rogue.

In case you haven't heard, multi-dating is so hot right now. I realise it's still difficult for anyone older than a millennial to wrap their head around the concept of dating multiple people at the same time, but this has somehow become the norm.

Until very recently, I too was a dating traditionalist. I'd meet a fella. Date him until deciding we weren't going to make it down the aisle. Break up. And resume the search for someone new. I was strictly a one-guy gal.

I've since discovered that multi-dating can be a fun and effective way to look for love, IF it's handled with maturity, integrity and respect. Responsible multi-dating is only really feasible in those very early getting-to-know-you stages. You'd only ever see two or three people at once. And as soon as you develop feelings for one suitor, you would respectfully stop seeing the others.

The problem is, the rules of multi-dating are still pretty ambiguous. Non-existent, even? In the wrong hands, it can be hurtful, selfish and disrespectful. It's also a convenient option for emotionally unavailable singles who aren't really looking for commitment. A friend went on a first date with a guy who casually told her he was dating 12 other women. Yep. TWELVE. He's even developed a spreadsheet to keep track of them all. I mean, WHO HAS THE TIME!?

Responsible multi-dating does not include stringing people along, wasting their time or playing games with their emotions in order to feed your own selfishness, loneliness or insecurity. That's when it turns into 'cookie jarring'.

So here's a thought. Why don't we all agree to eliminate cookie jarring from the dating scene completely and commit to dating with honesty and decency instead? That'd be lovely. Thanks.

Oh, and in case you're wondering how my recent cookie-jarring situation turned out. I found out she was telling the truth so I dumped the cookie monster immediately. I'm looking for a real man. Not just another greedy Muppet with blue balls.

Sami Lukis is a TV and radio presenter. Her podcast, "Romantically Challenged: The Podcast" is available via podcastone.com.au or the app store. Her book, "Romantically Challenged" is available at all good bookstores. Continue the conversation @samilukis

This story originally appeared on whimn.com.au and is reproduced with permission


15 of Roma’s parents behaving badly

premium_icon 15 of Roma’s parents behaving badly

From Mums dealing meth, grandmothers caught with large amount of marijuana and a...

WATCH: As brave shop-keeper fights off a terrifying robber

premium_icon WATCH: As brave shop-keeper fights off a terrifying robber

Video shows the moment an armed robber tried to rob store

'Brutal and cowardly’ thug punches woman unconscious

premium_icon 'Brutal and cowardly’ thug punches woman unconscious

Domestic violence brute knocked his partner out in cowardly attack.