'Date stacking is the extremely controversial dating hack I've had the most success with.'

Confession: I used to be a serial dater. Yes, I said used to be so please stop looking at me like that 👀. 

My early 20s was when I was at peak dating capacity. I loved meeting new people, I loved flirting and developing crushes and I loved getting butterflies just before leaving for a date. 

The one thing I didn't love? The mental load involved to do this over and over (and over) again. 

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The overthinking about what I was going to wear, the constant voice in my head saying, "What if they don't like me?" and the luring possibility of rejection or ghosting would combat my love of casual dating. 

When I was 23, I went on a first date that I still think about now, four years later. 

Let's call him Lachlan*.

Lachlan and I met on a dating app, and there was immediate chemistry in our messages. Like every 23-year-old who's just gotten into the wide world of dating, I caught feelings straight away.

We talked on the app before agreeing to meet at a bar after work. 


Now... I don't believe in love at first sight. I do, however, believe in infatuation at first sight and infatuated I was. We got on so well the spark was immediate and we talked for so long that we completely lost track of time.

At around 2am, the bar staff kindly informed us that they would be closing. 

Just before I was about to jump into my Uber home, he asked if he could see me again next Friday. I was ecstatic. 

But leading up to our second date, I noticed his responses weren't as "sparkly" as before we'd met in person, making my anxiety go haywire. I would subtly try to include reminders in my texts to make sure we were still definitely going on a second date. 

"We should go to [insert restaurant name] on Friday."

"Is it okay if we meet up at 7? I have a crazy work day this Friday." 

"It's hard to explain, I'll tell you in person on Friday." 

Friday came along and my anxiety was still through the roof. In the morning, I decided to stop beating around the bush so I sent a "just checking we're still hanging out tonight?" text. 

He replied three hours later with, "I just remembered I have drinks with a friend, I should be able to hang out after though, I'll let you know." 

My 23-year-old heart sank. 

I didn't reply until he messaged me at 6pm saying, "hey my drinks have been cancelled, are you still free tonight?" 


I was already in my pyjamas with a facemask on watching Love Actually, so no, I was not free. I messaged him that I was out with some friends. 

The anxiety I had over this second date was now replaced with pure rage. 

I texted him and told him I was disappointed with his lack of interest and that it was a turn-off to go on a date with someone who did not acknowledge or value my time. 

He replied saying, "I don't like to have set plans because it throws off my vibe." 

And that was it, until a few months after that when I was having drinks with a friend who told me she'd been having the best time "date stacking."

Date stacking is where instead of dating one person at a time, you go on multiple dates in a short time frame so you're not wasting your time and energy. 

The idea is to continue date stacking until you become exclusive with someone.

As exhausting as it sounds on paper, it's actually a very stress-free way of dating. 

When I started date stacking, I noticed I was much less anxious going on a first date (because I was now doing it regularly), I didn't feel heartbroken when a date didn't message me back (because I wasn't invested in just one person) and I felt even more invigorated with dating than I ever had before. 

Then... Lachlan messaged me out of the blue. 

"Hey I know it's been a while, but I just wanted to apologise for my actions after our date. I get really anxious and to be honest I was dating multiple people," he said. "It's no excuse, but I wanted to say sorry for being so spacey, I really enjoyed our date and hope we can catch up again if you're not seeing anyone." 


I thanked him for the message and said I wasn't interested. 

Yes, yes, it might sound hypocritical but Lachlan's message brought back distinctive memories about how I felt when we didn't go on a second date. It was so hurtful knowing that someone who you made a priority to hang out with, just saw you as a number. 

It also made me sick to think that when I was date-stacking, I might've made other people feel the same way. 

Since then, I've been more wary about date stacking. 

Yes, it has helped enormously with my anxiety and has led to fewer micro-heartbreaks. 

I'm a big believer in "it's not exclusive until it's exclusive" and date stacking is a great way to meet new people and not waste time.

But it can also come across as rude and hurtful towards the people you're dating. 

And it's important to remember that you're dating a person with feelings, not a number. 

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

If you want more lifestyle and culture opinions from Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem. 

Feature image: Supplied. 

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