This is my last article on dating for a while because I’m getting a wee bit sick of myself with this topic. My friend Dan made an observation a while back that stuck with me. This was via Gchat, so it’s an exact quote.
“I’m so goal-oriented that when my goal was meeting someone, I basically didn’t have enough substance left in me to be interesting enough for the other person to want to date. Like, if they asked what I was thinking about at the time, the answer was dating, but I couldn’t say that and I wasn’t thinking about much else.”
Yeah. A date might ask me what I did over the weekend and I would stumble through my answer. It’s probably better to say “reading and writing” instead of — I went out on two mediocre dates and one terrible one; I read a book on relationships and wrote about the parts that stuck out to me; I’m not interesting and I have no substance.
During my first four months in the Denver area, I went out on 40+ dates. I’m exhausted. I’m tired of repeating my resume and listening to the resumes of other people. Everyone kind of blends together and most of it just isn’t that much fun.
Aziz Ansari noted that the people who seemed to enjoy dating were the ones who met their dates organically out in the real world. Patti, author of Millionaire Matchmaker, suggested 1/3 of your time searching for dates should be spent this way. I had understood that to mean that I should consider saying yes when people approach me, strangers asking me out. But I think it’s more about doing things and meeting people at those things. Join clubs. Volunteer. Play on a co-ed sports team.
Most of my hangouts for Operation Enjoy the Crap Out of Denver were one-on-one activities. That’s the ideal amount of social interaction for my level of introversion. The occasional meetup I attended had mostly female attendees. This isn’t a recipe for meeting a significant other.
Aziz also recommended properly investing in a person and giving them a fair chance before moving on to the next one. Go on four dates with one person as opposed to one date with four different people. Someone you rate a six might turn into an eight if given the chance. Dan told me the same thing except he used the numbers five and seven, with the additional nuance that someone you rate a three probably wouldn’t turn into a seven.
Nearly all of my forty dates were first dates. In the future, I’m going to say yes to more second dates. I’m going to remember that everyone is a person and not just a name on your calendar, a contact number in your phone. Aziz writes:
“We have two selves: a real-world self and a phone self, and the nonsense our phone selves do can make our real-world selves look like idiots. Our real-world selves and our phone selves go hand in hand. Act like a dummy with your phone self and send some thoughtless message full of spelling errors, and the real-world self will pay the price. The person on the other end sees no difference between your two selves. They never think, Oh, I’m sure he’s much more intelligent and thoughtful in person. This is just his ‘lazy phone persona.’”
I have, I think, fairly good phone manners, but when a name comes up on my phone screen, it usually takes me a minute to remember who it is. I’m judging too quickly and putting too much pressure on the first interaction. You don’t give people you don’t know well the benefit of the doubt. It’s just human nature. You attribute any missteps you witness as fundamental flaws in their personality while you chalk up your missteps and the missteps of those you like to circumstance.
I’m taking a tiny breather from this bucket list item because I’m starting to forget that everyone is a person with their own distinct hopes, dreams, preferences, quirks and feelings. When I take a second to look at it from the date’s perspective, my lack of success starts to make more sense. Why invest time and resources on someone who is likely leaving soon? I’m looking for something meaningful and interesting. There are definitely men that I’ve met over this time period who were also looking for something meaningful and interesting, but they’ve also picked Denver/Boulder to be their home. It’s a reasonable request to want someone who has roots, someone who has committed to a place.
This is the biggest downside to my lifestyle. I’m too transient to form a meaningful bond and the longer I’m retired, the harder I find it to relate to most people. You have two cars and you hate your job? Oh, you just bought a house? You went to Europe once? And then I consider it from their perspective. You have one suitcase of stuff? You’re in a great location now, but next week you become a GUD (geographically undesirable date). You sleep in until 11? Yeah, you’re pretty, but…
It’s a good lesson in empathy. Just because I’m living the life I want doesn’t mean that this is the life anyone else would want.
Next time I pick up Operation Don’t Die Alone, Please, I’m going to tweak my approach a bit. The prize is supposed to be worth the effort. Aziz insists:
“Finding someone today is probably more complicated and stressful than it was for previous generations — but you’re also more likely to end up with someone you are really excited about…
If you are looking for your soul mate, now is the time to do it…
A soul mate isn’t just someone we love. As for our grandparents, there are probably lots of people out there whom we could settle with and, in the fullness of time, grow to love. But we want more than love. We want a lifelong wingman/wingwoman who completes us and can handle the truth, to mix metaphors from three different Tom Cruise movies.”
I’m not giving up because it’s hard. Anything worth having takes some effort, right? I only need one to work out. I only need one.