This is one of those articles that I was rather hesitant to publish. Who the heck am I to give you advice on relationships? The idea is certifiably laughable. But I’m actively working on bucket list item #44 (fall responsibly in love) and I’m a writer and I write about my experience of the world.
I’ve been doing a wee bit of dating recently for something I call Operation Don’t Die Alone, Please. And by a wee bit, I mean a ridiculous amount. When I arrived in Denver, I implemented all the relationship advice I’d been reading. I joined a bunch of dating websites and asked everyone I met to set me up with their single guy friends. I went to a bar by myself with a book and smiled at guys I thought were cute. Okay, I haven’t done that last suggestion yet because I’m chicken, but it’s on my Denver Bucket List, so perhaps I will at some point.
My plan of attack was to read a bunch and research and plot and strategize first. I did that for probably way too long. Now I’m staying in one place for a bit and actually, um, dating.
According to Patti Stanger, author of Millionaire Matchmaker, 1/3 of your time should be spent on internet dating. It’s like smiling at a guy in a bar you think is cute, but safer-ish. I tried a few sites and wrote down what I thought.
Tinder and Bumble
I know the swiping apps are all the rage these days, but these were by far the worst of the worst for me. A couple of sentences and a couple of pictures? That’s it? I’m staying in one place looking for depth and these apps felt so shallow. Plus, it’s only available on your phone and I really hate being on my phone. It is shockingly easy to get dates on these apps, but I hated every part of the process leading up to the date.
Not available for Android.
Easily my favorite of the ones that I tried. A little bit of substance in the bio to gauge my top five must-haves. I tried the “premium” service for a while and that was great. You see who liked you and can target your messages from there. You can also see if someone read your email.
Advice to suitors
- In a first message, don’t address me as beautiful, gorgeous, sweetie, cutie, princess or any other pet name. It feels gross and condescending from a stranger.
- I promise you that you will never get a reply from me with only “hi.” Even though “hey” is a whole letter longer, that still won’t do. My absolute least favorite greeting? “hru?”
- I can tell when the message is a copy+paste. Even if you think you’re being clever, I promise you I can tell. And so can everyone else you’ve sent that message to.
- As unfair as this is to say, people stop being individuals after a while. It’s just a never-ending stream of likes and messages. Find a way to stand out. Be funny. Show that you’ve read my profile and you think we would actually be a good match. You get out of what you put into it. Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort to write a thoughtful, personalized message, but it’s the price you pay for a thoughtful, personalized relationship, no?
- If the object of your affection replies, offer to meet within the next couple of messages. Nobody wants another penpal.
Out in the real world
Online dating can be exhausting, so I’m glad that Patti had other suggestions. She recommended a third of your dates come from real world interactions – hence the smiling at the bar suggestion.
Let me say now that I know my experience of the world perhaps isn’t normal. I’m a woman. I’m told regularly that I’m easy on the eyes. At under five feet tall, I’m not intimidating. I’m frequently by myself and, perhaps most importantly, I’m a generally happy person and find myself smiling a lot.
All of which is to say that I’m approached and asked out by strangers more than you would think. I counted and in the span of two months (April-May 2017), I was outright asked out — “can I have your number? want to get a drink with me? what are you doing tonight? here’s my card, text me” — seven times in this manner. Walking the dogs. Waiting for the bus. Uber and Lyft drivers. At bars waiting for my buddy.
I feel weird telling you this as I’m not trying to brag — I’m more than acutely aware that my looks are only on loan to me for a brief period. I’m telling you this to set the scene. Frankly, more often than not, I find these interactions incredibly uncomfortable. Occasionally, I find it downright scary. Sometimes I find it flattering. Rarely do I accept.
So I wasn’t fond of this route either.
Friends of friends
Spend the final third of your energy harassing your friends to set you up. These were always the dates I was most excited about. Guys that were already vetted by people that I’ve vetted.
A while back I tried to persuade you that finding a mate was a logical game that you could play with intention and strategy. To recap, you assign every potential mate you meet a number from 1 – 100. The higher the number you assign, the better the match you think they are. The goal is to end up with the highest number possible. You play the mate logic game by raising your own number and going out and meeting a bunch of people to maximize the numbers you see. You win the mating logic game by settling.
I no longer think it’s about meeting as many people as possible. I think it’s more about meeting people who you would rate highly and who would rate you highly. This is why I liked the more substantive dating sites and friends of friends better.
I also no longer think it’s about settling. It’s about knowing what’s important, what’s really important to you and if you find someone who has that in spades, well, that’s kind of nice to not have to think about the rest.
The problem with this idea is that we’re really bad at knowing what’s important to us and our happiness. I think it has to do with evolution or chemistry or biology or some other branch of science. Probably not geology.
Here, according to a Catholic priest in his 80s, are some questions you should ask yourself about your future spouse.
- Does he have friends?
- What are his friends like?
- What do your friends and family think of him?
- Does he use money responsibly?
- Is he stingy?
- Can you run his life?
- Does he make demands counter to yours?
- Does he have a sense of humor?
- Is there a history of divorce in his family?
- Did he grow up in an atmosphere of racism or sexism?
- Are his goals and deepest beliefs worthy of yours?
- Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being — the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous?
I love this list.
Finally, a parting thought because this post is getting long and rambly. Learn how to take rejection. I’ve sent emails on Okcupid (following all my advice on initial messages) and never heard back from the guy. I’ve swiped right and not gotten the corresponding swipe. Guys have stopped responding to me for no discernible reason. I’ve expressed interest in guys and they’ve told me they weren’t interested. That’s okay. That’s part of it. Expect it. This is a good time to assess your character. Be gracious. Let it go. Realize that you and you alone are responsible for your own feelings. Nobody owes you anything. Try again with someone else. Feel excited that you’re capable of being excited about someone and know it will happen again.