If you’ve read anything about dating, you may have heard the term “duty dating.” This phrase was coined by Dr. Pat Allen, and the idea is that you go on dates with several men - even if you’re not necessarily interested in them.

Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger has a similar approach: a pair and a spare. Two guys you really like, and one that you think is nice, but may not really be Mr. Right.

The reason to duty date is that it keeps you “out there,” not getting hung up on one guy. It allows you to “practice” dating and to keep meeting men because you never know when you’ll meet The One.

Many times, women take themselves off the market when they meet someone they like, but then when it doesn’t work out, they have wasted time and energy and feel more hurt because he was the focus of their attention.

I used to duty date, and I do see the value in it. It’s a good way to practice dating in the same way mock interviews are good practice for real job interviews.

The downside of duty dating is that a man might really like you, unaware that you are basically using him as a distraction or “practice.”

Some dating coaches say you should start going on dates immediately after a breakup so that you can move on, distract yourself, and possibly meet Mr. Right.

I’ve done that, and I do see how it can help, but when you’re hurt and vulnerable, you can also put yourself in a position to be even more hurt.

Once, after a particularly painful breakup, a man I was really excited asked me out. Then he stood me up. I felt devastated and rejected because I was already hurting and vulnerable. Had I been stronger, I would have seen his behavior as unacceptable and would have written him off immediately. Instead, I was way too emotionally invested way too early because I was nursing a fresh wound.

Personally, I don’t duty date anymore. If I know I’m not interested in a man, I don’t go out with him for 2 reasons.

First, it’s not fair to him because he might really like me and I’m leading him on.

Second, it’s excruciating to spend time with someone you don’t like “like that.”

I would truthfully rather sit home alone than sit at dinner with a man I’m not attracted to or interested in.

Some women develop chemistry and attraction over time. I’m not one of them. I know pretty quickly if I’m attracted to someone. True, sometimes on a first date it can be difficult to gauge your own attraction. If you’re nervous or distracted, you may need a second date to get clarity.

But I know on a second date if he’s someone I want to spend time with. If he’s not, I’ve learned to stop there and not lead him on with an expectation that things are going somewhere.

If you’ve ever been used by a man, you know it feels awful - don’t do that to someone else.

Only you know how much time you need to determine if you’re attracted.

Maybe duty dating is for you, maybe it’s not. Only you can decide if it helps you feel more One-Derful. For me, it’s no longer part of my One-Derful Life.