Remember that everyone is a person

By | August 14, 2017

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.

Found in Guatemala

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.

Found in D.C.

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.

I want to say…Copenhagen

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.

25 thoughts on “Remember that everyone is a person

  1. Daniel Clough

    Where do you get the Aziz Ansari readings from? I’d love to read more from him.

    For what it’s worth, the whole goal of ‘Operation Don’t Die Alone’ might be causing you to approach dating too goal orientated.

    Try not to rush and go 100 miles an hour. Don’t spread yourself so thin. Relax, be present and just enjoy getting to know people. 😉

  2. Dennis Cahillane

    I must be sounding like a broken record in your comments, but I went through a similar thought process when I was a nomad. What is your vision for dating right now? Another FIRE nomad who you travel around with? Maybe you should go to a coworking space in SE Asia where lots of such people hang out.

  3. veronica

    I’ve become frustrated with the dating advice to join clubs, meetups, volunteer organizations etc to meet someone organically. My experience has been that these events are weighted heavily towards women. The few men that do come out are there accompanying their significant other. It has not been a successful way to meet single men. >sigh<

    I think your best chance will be to connect with someone who has achieved FIRE or is on that path. But where to find them? Millennial Revolution joked about a dating website for FIRE people but given the reaction to that post, it would be well received. If you've had any desire to start your own internet based company…..just saying….

    1. Lynne

      Yeah, I agree with Veronica – maybe FIRE meetups would offer more fertile ground for finding someone in a similar wavelength. *I* think having one suitcase of stuff and living a nomadic lifestyle sounds lovely, and I totally plan to do that myself for a while when I hit FIRE, but…none of my friends really get the appeal of a minimalist / rootless lifestyle. I’m the weird one, in many ways. 😛 At some point in his blog, JL Collins writes that there are roots people and wings people. In my experience, most people are very much on the roots end of the spectrum, even if they enjoy a certain amount of travel. But other people are out there!

      1. Thriftygal Post author

        I totally kind of remember that post! I should go find it. I agree – most people are roots people.

    2. Thriftygal Post author

      I remember talking to someone about doing that a year ago and then nothing ever came of it. I’m not exactly tech savvy. Love the idea still though!

  4. Lance

    40 dates! Wow, I’m at maybe 20 and am already exhausted. Every time I tell a girl I’m FIRE and want to eventually travel the world with them they look at me like I have snakes coming out of my eyes. I agree with giving it at least two dates, as long as there is some chemistry there. I totally agree that someone should build a FIRE dating site/app – I’d happily pay what Match charges or more! I think I’m going to give it a year here in Denver then try the coworking space thing in Chaing Mai – although I hear it’s mostly a sausage fest 🙂

  5. steve poling

    given my dating experience is 30+ years out of date, i found it most helpful to regard a date as a way to get to know another better. this may be helpful.

    i really like Bollywood romantic comedies and wonder whether one’s extended community/family is an under appreciated resource. people are naturally adaptable and a match need not be “perfect” but merely good-enough. adaptations are always necessary. this is obvious and explicit in arranged marriages between strangers so common in Hindi cinema. it is less obvious, but no less necessary in American-style romance.

    I recently saw this depicted in The Matchbreaker (on Netflix), wherein the male lead is infatuated with the female lead (Miss Perfect) from puberty, but years later when he actually dates her he discovers all manner of potential-deal-breaker annoying traits.

    My winning strategy has been to continually work to be better for Mrs. Poling. This may sound like an oppressively traditional advice to a contemporary independent woman.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I’ve asked my mom about an arranged marriage. My aunt too. They’ve both expressed that I’m not a good candidate due to my age. :-/

  6. Fred

    Searching for a soulmate is like trying to remember something that’s just out of reach. Once you stop pursuing it it will come to you. Been there, found it to be true.

    1. veronica

      I tried that as well. And absolutely nothing happened. I’m afraid I may have ‘wasted’ a lot of time by taking this laissez faire approach. I now believe that one needs to be proactive at creating opportunities in order to meet someone.

      The whole thing feels like a game of musical chairs. The music stopped, I didn’t get a chair so I was booted out of the game. Trying to get back in to it now is…….a frustrating challenge.

      1. Thriftygal Post author

        I don’t think the time is wasted if you’re enjoying it. I have a list of things I like about being single that I look at when I’m feeling down.

  7. Allison

    Can I admit I was glad to read that someone else had gone on 40 dates and not found someone you wanted to continue things with? I’ve been lucky/unlucky enough to have loved two people deeply, neither of whom I got to marry. I remember it was so easy when we met – the sense of friendship was immediate. Alas, now when I try to meet someone, I end up feeling like such an odd duck most of the time. I’m kinda amazed at how hard it is to meet someone I want to get to know more. I’m so envious sometimes of my friends who got to marry their college boyfriend…dating in ones mid-30’s is a whole different experience. I really appreciate your posting about it.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I’m so envious of people who married their college sweetheart and made it work. Those seem like the most fulfilling relationships. Someone you grew up with! Dating in your 30s is really not fun. I can relate to feeling like an odd duck. Is there something seriously wrong with me and everyone is too nice to tell me?

  8. Taylor

    When you go on early dates, I think sometimes it’s nice to imagine what your life would be like with the person. Nothing too intense – you’re not creating a binding “this will be my life” plan – just enough to make yourself see and appreciate both the lifestyle things that you have in common, and the things that would maybe change. It’s an easy way to focus on how interesting another person’s life can be, gives you a springboard to ask question about them, and if nothing else, it’s fun to step in someone else’s shoes for a bit and try to understand a person completely different from you.

    Of course, I think all of the advice above is great – kudos to creating a community full of people who support you with wonderful (and well-articulated) advice!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I love this advice! What alternate paths and different worlds could we be happy with?

      I feel so very lucky to have some very amazing readers. 🙂

  9. Marla Martenson

    I feel your pain. I’m a matchmaker and witness the merry-go-round of dating every day. It can be exhausting for sure. Attracting your soul mate is an inside job, clearing your energy and raising your vibration. My latest book, “Worthy of Love; Empowering Yourself To Attract Your Soul Mate” is designed to assist you in dissolving any blockages you might have. 🙂

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Thanks! I put it on the list to read, but I’m taking a hiatus from deliberate reading about relationships for a while.

  10. Melissa Yuan-Innes

    One of my friends told me it really bites to date in your thirties. “The guys who wanted to get married early are all gone, and the rest want to date women in their twenties. You have to date forty and up.” However, she ended up with a guy she really loves, who was also in his thirties, and they have two babies now.

    She estimated that she had to date over 100 guys, and he had to date over 30 girls, to find each other through one of the online sites.

    I think you’ll find the right guy, but it’s definitely a struggle along the way. If it’s any consolation, I believe we all feel lonely in our struggles. Mine is to ‘make it’ as a writer. Before that, I despaired of having healthy children, and before that, it was all about school and becoming a doctor. I met my guy in high school, though, so that was my ace. I didn’t talk so much about the tough parts, but we all have them.

    Best of luck, and big hugs across the Internet.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Thanks for the wise comment and I agree with your assessment that we all feel lonely in our struggles. I often wonder what “making it” as a writer would mean. I keep telling myself that writers write. That’s all I can do. Write every day. I’m pretty sure that’s making it, but I do doubt quite often, so I hear ya.


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