Every woman needs a 'gaggle' of men
June 14th, 2012
08:46 AM ET

Every woman needs a 'gaggle' of men

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

If you’re a single woman and you’re looking for love, forget about “The Rules” and stop worrying that “He’s just not that into you.”

That was then, this is now - it’s a post-dating world you’re living in, and that means you have to shed your one-to-one mind-set and start thinking in terms of one to many.

In other words? Stop searching for Mr. Right and look around at all the Mr Right(s).

That’s the premise of "The Gaggle," a new book from Jessica Massa, who, along with Rebecca Wiegand, runs the website “WTF Is Up With My Love Life?!

According to Massa and Wiegand, every woman - single or not - should have her own gaggle, a group of guys that occupy different roles in her life.

“You probably have a gaggle of friends, who all play different roles and fulfill different needs for you,” explains Massa. “You might call one friend to go shopping versus another friend when you’re upset versus another friend when you need a serious professional opinion. Your romantic gaggle is just another piece of the much larger, long-term puzzle of how you structure the relationships in your life to feel full, happy and loved.”

The men in this gaggle can include anyone from the barista you flirt with, to the ex-boyfriend you Skype, to the work buddy you commiserate with over lunch. Whether you end up dating one or more of them is just an added bonus.

“As a woman, having a gaggle provides you with a love life full of possibility: you have many men in your life, in many ambiguous but enriching ways, who are all teaching you about yourself and your needs and desires and leading you closer to the guy and relationship you want,” say Massa and Wiegand.

Terri Trespicio, a New York-based dating and relationship coach who is single herself, exuberantly extols the “uncoupled state” and takes things a step further: If you’re happily single but enjoy dating, she recommends seeing three different men regularly.

“When you date just one guy, you might feel pressured to commit, even if you’re not ready,” she says. “If you see two men, there’s often this unspoken need to choose between them. But three guys tend to balance each other out, like a tripod.”

Like the “Gaggle," these three men can fulfill different needs - maybe you like to see movies with one, travel with another and cuddle with a third - which removes the burden of one man to fill all those slots.

“This can also help you worry less about whether or not someone is your ‘match’,” says Trespicio, “and shifts your focus to the sheer joy of connecting with other people.”

Nor does being single have to equal celibate. Your gaggle may well include ex-boyfriends, hot sex prospects, and perhaps even a cuddle-guy. It’s your love-life, so do it your way. As long as you’re open and honest with your dates - and practice safe sex - there’s no reason why you can’t be intimate with more than one person.

Just as different people can serve different roles outside of bed, so too, can they satisfy different needs between the sheets. In their groundbreaking book, "The Ethical Slut," Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy describe the ways in which single women (and men) can juggle multiple sexual partners and enjoy intimacy safely and “ethically."

Marriage is wonderful for many, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. Whether you’re sexually intimate with more than one person or simply enjoying a variety of friendships and dates, one doesn’t have to be the loneliest number.

Say Massa and Wiegand: “We are living in a post-dating world because traditional dating is no longer the most common path that people are following to romantically connect and fall in love. And the more that women judge themselves and their relationships by traditional dating standards that no longer exist, the more they are going to feel an unnecessary despair and confusion and hold themselves back from finding love in this new romantic landscape.”

So go forth and gaggle!

soundoff (1,429 Responses)
  1. davedave2

    Monogamy is not natural – that is why people cheat

    Keeping your hands off other people's stuff is not natural – that is why people steal

    sometimes we have to go against our natures to be good people - animals act on instict alone, people are supposed to be better

    June 14, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex

      yes, but there are consequences to our actions. if we acted on every thought then the human race wouldn't last very long. we all rely on each other because no one is capable of producing everything. gotta work together, even though it sucks sometimes. as for the monogamy thing...i think it depends on the person. some may want that, others may not. if you don't want just one partner, don't get married unless your spouse doesn't care if you cheat...simple as that.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      You started out alright: It is normal to get strange stuff upon occasion; some societies deal with it better than others.

      Stealing is is counterproductive and can lead to death because it is wrong. People who are hard-wired to steal can just die in prison!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
    • Parkerman

      I totally agree, we were put on this earth to rise above nature otherwise we are nothing but animals.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      So natural that nearly every society in the world after hundreds of millions of years has come to the point where they all thrive around monogamous relationships? Maybe you're just trying to justify your desire to date many people at once. But for the rest of the world this "natural" habit you speak of thrives in countries centered on monogamy.

      I'm not some uber-religious person. But it's fairly clear which side nature has chosen for more advanced species. The problem with a gaggle is that it promotes dishonesty, which is a bain to the existence of civilized culture as it promotes law breaking blah blah blah. Lying cheating stealing all go hand in hand. So when you promote a society that breaks laws, lies, cheats....you have a society which starts to crumble and war.

      But of course you could tell us more about how it's only natural to date 10 people at once and list all of the major societies which currently practice this method.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
    • mmr

      YES! If we are slaves to our animal instincts, we will be no better than animals!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
    • Engineer

      Thank you for your comments as it sums it all up. No one could have said it better.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      @Jack...to the author's credit, she says that you should still be honest about your relationships. she's not saying to cheat. she's just saying to experiment satisfy your needs. that said, i still think it's a lot of work to have mulitiple partners...probably not even worth the time and energy. i think it's better to give a person a try and if it doesn't work, move on to the next one instead of dabbling in 10 different partners at once...too much work.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      @ Alex
      It seems as though the author then doesn't live in reality. I don't know a group of guys that would hang around a girl too much if she was telling them about how she hangs out with all these guys and skypes with her ex-boyfriend. Or even if she told them what was discussed between any of the others. And if they did, would the girl be too happy when the guy turned around and told her he has a gaggle of girls on the side? I don't see this happening in an "honest" setting. Most people would call that "leading someone on" and just leave and not put up with it.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • ensense

      So dave who will take care of the kids. of is it all fun and no responsibility you are promoting.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      This article is nothing more than psychobabble left over from the "free love" of the 60's. It encourages people NOT to build lasting relationships. True lasting relationship takes committment and effort by both parties. You must learn the needs and wants of you partner; you need to adjust your desires to the others. This article says, in effect, just find someone else to fill that area, you don't need to change (grow). When your done with that phase, just throw them away.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:28 | Report abuse |
  2. Sure

    And this is why sooooo many relationships fail and there is so many cheaters out there. How do you expect to get to really know someone and give them your heart when you are getting to know 5 other people at the same time? Way to pretty much promote cheating dr. hoe

    June 14, 2012 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jack

      I like that the "sexpert" is someone who thinks the best solution is to hang on to your ex-bf and chat with 5 guys at once. Excellent advice on how to land someone in therapy for another 10 years after they try to sort out why their life is so complicated.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
    • Christine

      But why would you want to tie yourself to ONE individual and only have that option in life? Get to know people and if you find something with one of them, chase that one individual. You can have friends of the opposite s.e.x. without ruining your chances of marriage.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
  3. Brent

    That sounds like alot of work.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex

      i was thinking the exact same thing. why not just focus on one relationship and if it doesn't work, then move on. spreading your attention over all these areas is easier said than done and probably not very beneficial. it's basically half-a$$ing it.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
  4. MTB

    Let the STD's thrive....

    June 14, 2012 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Survivor

    We had a name for women with several boyfrinds and if we did not want a bad reputation we stayed away from them. ...Not to mention STDs....

    June 14, 2012 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Emily

      I hope you also had a name for guys like that

      June 14, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • samtamlin

      @Emily Yup ... we're called "bad boys" and women are drawn to us like dark chocolate. See ya after dinner for drinks. 😉

      June 15, 2012 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
  6. Socal Reggae


    June 14, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Socal Reggae


    June 14, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jikfive

    Moral of the story guys. When she gets knocked up, get a paternity test.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • x277

      Or better yet get a vasectomy, and the "gaggler" would never be able to pin the baby on you

      June 14, 2012 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
  9. Ryan

    HA!...they use the word gaggle.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wes

      I think they meant GARGLE.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
  10. Susan

    I don't know where this author is at (as in, what part of the country she lives in), but things around here are pretty much the same as always. We pair up, our marriages tend to last – or if they don't, we re-marry and those tend to last. Most homes around me are occupied by couples and families, or empty nesters. I really don't see a a "post modern" dating climate, etc. And I'm not out in the sticks, I promise you. Wherever you live, I think it's a pocket of weirdness, but you're convinced it's the only reality.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wes

      If I weren't married, I'd ask you out. You have uncommon sense!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
  11. Adam

    “And the more that women judge themselves and their relationships by traditional dating standards that no longer exist, the more they are going to feel an unnecessary despair and confusion and hold themselves back from finding love in this new romantic landscape.”

    The author tries so hard to convince his audience that traditional dating standards no longer exist. Apparently he thinks all women fit into a box.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. jem4016

    The reason women need a gaggle of men is because society has failed them. We have taught them through ads, movies, tv shows... that to be beautiful they have to be a certain shape, skin color, ... when in fact they are beautiful simply for who they are. We all crave approval and one way women get approval is by having men show them attention, if they were truly comfortable with who they are they wouldn't need a gaggle of men.

    Studies have shown that sexually promiscuous women are about 3 times more likely to be depressed and attempt suicide. (Heritage foundation)

    Society, fathers in particular need to instill in our daughters how special they are and that they deserve men who treat them with respect and not like a piece of meat.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      The Heritage Foundation publishes conservative propoganda:

      June 14, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      Right On! There are a whole lot of more sensible comments following this nonsensical thesis than I've seen in a long time. It is nice these replies come from both genders. You people are making my day.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
    • deep

      What you said is eternal virtue. That is the way our human civilization has to be if there can be some meaning in it.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • Jem4016

      to John: Does it matter whether it comes from a conservative group or a liberal group? The plain simple truth of the matter is that most of society ills come about because we don't love ourselves. Drug abuse, sleeping around, excessive consumerism....all come about because we are seeking to escape our lives but when we love ourselves we can find contentment. When we love ourselves it is easier to empathize with others because we drop the poor me syndrome and can reach out to others.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • MarkofWisdom

      Something to note is today's society does teach most girls they are "special"(the princess mentality). What they should be taught is to be responsible and respectable, and to respect others. They don't need men who view them as "slabs of meat", but they need to treat men like the human being they are too. Far too many women nowadays view men as "walking wallets" instead of actual people.

      June 15, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
  13. Paul

    This article is nothing but bad advice meant to deceive women into squandering their fertile years on what they think will make them happy.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jack

      It's fake, plastic almost. It's the same idea that buying stuff will make you reallllly reallllly happy. Of course having 5 boyfriends will make you happy for the first 10 days. Then when those guys turn around and tell this girl they also have a gaggle of girls they go to, guess what? Pure tears. The author clearly doesn't live in the real world. Even in NYC where I've lived, people still date monogamously. Of course there are some that don't and others that stress. But the cure to that stress isn't to make yourself temporarily happy while you delay an inevitable crash.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
  14. Triple A

    Well as far as I'm concerned when she is done with her "gaggles" and ready to settle down. I sure don't want what's left.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • samtamlin

      * * * * * (five stars)

      June 15, 2012 at 11:42 | Report abuse |
  15. Yea Right

    Sure "cheating involves dihonesty when someone is honest with people about it it is not cheating people like you want to live in a fantasy world that you are the only one, statistics prove more people "cheat" then don;t. I respect the people who are open about it and despise those who do so under the cover of so called commitment but step out in secret.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. MysteriaKiito

    I married one man and he fullfills ALL of my needs. You don't just marry anyone for the sake of getting married, you marry someone who can make you happy in every way. If you need a gaggle and you are with someone then you're not with the right person. That and they're not with the right person if you're going to emotionally cheat on them.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. lola

    Hmmm, this is unrealistic. I don't think you can find a gaggle of men in different settings that aren't already in relationships and able to fulfill your different needs. Lucky sometimes if you find only one male friend.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. ricardo1968

    This might work in some circles, but for most people I would say that male jealousy would make this approach a nightmare and possibly dangerous.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Peoples Champ

    CNN should pull this terrible article before the next generation of niave women read this and think this is how they are supposed to to live there lives...

    June 14, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Horsesheet

      I agree with pretty much everyone here, but this sums it up

      June 14, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
  20. Bryan

    ha....this is also the surest way to lose a guy....if I was into a girl but she insisted on dating ma ny guys at once I would be like....OK that's cool, just count me out.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Phil

    Somehow, "lots of guys filling lots of slots" doesn't sound appealing.

    Ya know?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. deep

    Ok, so what makes us different from animal if we follow our animal instincts. We are higher than our senses and the mind and we are supposed to follow the truth. Certainly there will be social instability if animal instincts is let loose.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Geoz

    weak advice designed to sell. Most women can't get ONE of the functions met with any ONE guy. A gaggle? Not impossible, but unlikely for the average single gal.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. MIKE


    June 14, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Justin

    And we wonder why the divorce rate is at 50%..Books like this lol. Well done doctor

    June 14, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. billmosby

    You mean "safer" sex. Condoms don't protect against everything.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Pete Williams

    Hmmm. So at what age do you stop needing a gaggle and just need someone to help wipe yer butt. When your back, butt, and legs all become one, how many guys are gonna be looking to be a member of your "support group." Then, you find yourself alone. Wouldn't it be better to follow your light and just have men and woman friends, then a lifelong partner?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Dr. D

    Seems like CHE is one of those people that just can't allow others to have their own opinion if it descents with their own. Always one at least.

    This reminds me of the Feminist movement that said "Women, why commit, burn the bra". Fast forward several years and the complaint from women was "Men will not commit!". Men realized "Why buy the cow when you can get milk for free". Ultimately this was rejected... smart. Having been married 25 years, the end of us boomers seem to be crashing after the 20-25 year mark. Sociologists are studying the phenomenon. I am interested, and most recently we just fell out of love so I made it to 25 years and 3 days. So new to the dating game, I see there are tons of women out there, but I don't want a "gaggle", nor would I be caught dead "gaggling" over you. Multiple "Mr. Right's?"?? How many women have found the ONE Mr Right never the less a "gaggle" of them?? This is poor advice. If I saw it,, indeed I would pity the low self esteem of the gagglers. You will attract a "gaggle" of men that all want the same thing, and none of them are "Mr Right"!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. DBSaint

    Stupid article and terrible advice. I won't even go into how disrespectful this is and all the bad situations that could result.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Jared_79

    Let's be honest here, isn't this just some well-articulated way to justify attention-seeking, selfish, and risky behaviors? I think women with relationship issues must love reading this crap...

    June 14, 2012 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. bob

    my god I was part of a gaggle the whole time!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LT

    The only people who can handle this type of relationship are called s w ingers… Most people do not like to share someone they are interested in with others. Most women can’t even handle birth control (too many single mothers) let alone proper safe s e x methods with multiple people, this is how std’s spread. Yeah great advice there…. Not! Guy’s should ALWAYS get a paternity test… ALWAYS! Don’t just accept the kid is yours without evidence.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. NJR

    and when the woman finally decides to settle down and have kids at age 40 she finds (to her shock) that her body no longer wants to have kids. and she dies alone.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Z

      Not True NJR!!! She does NOT die alone! She dies with dozens of cats

      June 14, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  34. Robert A. Boohigh

    Why do women have to make things so complictated? Generally speaking, my impression of women is that they're a an uptight lot. No disrespect intended just a general observation.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ES

      Women are uptight because they got kids to raise and if they don't behave the kids won't either.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
  35. domeunit

    Why not give the same advice to a man? Ah yes, because apparently if you do he's a cheater/pig.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Jeff

    Hey author, i got your tri-pod right here! Horrible article!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Aha Right

    She would have to color-code all the toothbrushes in her medicine cabinet.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. T G

    I think this advice would work well...as a pick-up line.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. JJ

    Wow, what self-centered nonsense this is. I'm sure your "cuddle guy" is thrilled with being just a "cuddle guy". The only reason women need a "gaggle" is because the vast majority of them never get over the immature high school attraction to the "bad boy". So the gaggle allows them to sleep with jerks and have emotional (but not physical) relationships with nice guys. That's fine and dandy for the woman, but the nice guys are led on, thinking they will eventually have a real romantic one-on-one relationship with the women, only to be thrown aside eventually, either when the woman finds someone more interesting to talk to, or the right romantic partner (jerk) comes along and tells her not to hang with the nice guy.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. TJG

    I agree with a lot of the opinions above – this is just dumb advice for women. And no one has even gotten into the fact that, ladies, the decent guys you really want to date and marry, will not put up with this crap. You will be surrounded with player/dirtbags who just want sex and don't care if their one of 2,3,or ten. Or, spineless wusses – work buddy you commiserate with? Who the hell wants to be that guy. That's the guy who is in love with you (and you know it) but you don't feel the same for him. But since he doesn't have the spine to walk away from you and find someone who returns his feelings you play with him and string him along. All you ladies know that you're not finding the man you really want in your life among either of these crowds. The guy who has a spine, would commit to you and respect you expects the same in return. And if you follow this advice, that guy will be gone, baby gone.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Annie

      I think they have to clarify in this article that a woman should find her man, and a bunch of gay guys as friends! Nothing wrong with this, I tried it and it works great!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
  41. md

    These authors are Legend - wait for it - dary!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Annie

    Hmm.. sounds interesting but it requires lots of work to keep their schedule. I.e. Saturday:
    noon – lunch with Steve,
    3pm: bike ride with Mike,
    dinner with Bob,
    late night move and cuddle time 😀 with John.
    What about if Mike cancels, should I move Bob to 3pm and ask Jack if he can come on Saturday instead of Sunday?
    Seems like work to me! I better stay with only one 🙂

    June 14, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Kathy

    Am I the only one who had flashbacks to episodes of The Bachelorette show? We see how well those relationships work out in the long run.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Joe Peterson

    Basically no ugly chicks need apply and forget the men respecting you if you fool around.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. kyle

    so many women (and men) convinced themselves that the sexy career takes priority. "getting married too soon sucks!". Well, they got the nice car but missed the banquet; and all that's left are the crumbs.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobob

      Tastier, younger crumbs!

      June 14, 2012 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
  46. Esteb

    Why do I have the feeling that if a single GUY had a gaggle of women he was dating that he'd get his nuts cut off by one of them at some point after she found out about the "tripod."

    June 14, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Al

    By the time she gets around to finding the "right" guy, he won't be wanting something that's been tapped by every guy in a 'gaggle.' Not sure how he'd feel about skyping with the Xs, the STDs, and the inability to bond, let alone all of her stories will involve other guys. Yeah, that's one to stay away from.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Parkerman

    What a ridiculous piece of nonsense. If anything our animal nature requires that men need a "gaggle" of women, not the other way around. No man would be willing to only play a single role in a support team. We all want s e x so who wants to be around a women who only wants to shop with you. So idiotic.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. queenbee

    Instead of using the term "gaggle" to describe a group of men, I think using the term "brute" is a better term for describing a group of men. I think "brute" is a better fit than "gaggle".

    June 14, 2012 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. is this real

    so this only applies to women? it's called having friends, not a "gaggle" of men to "occupy different roles in your life". stupid.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
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