At the beginning of a new year, your happily coupled friends may, in a moment of amnesia where they simply can’t remember what it was like before they had boyfriends and therefore can’t imagine people can function in society without them, ask you what your plan is for the upcoming year. Meaning: You’re still single; what exactly are you planning on doing about this? I know you’re on a few free dating sites, but come on—you’re not getting any younger.
Depending on how many times you’ve heard a variation of this friendly inquiry lately, your first instinct may be to respond with a question, such as: “Wait, aren’t you the one who was planning on getting her eggs frozen a week before she met the guy she’s been with for two years? And you’re asking me about a plan as if it really means something?” Okay, two questions.
But you know that most likely, your well-meaning friends are just concerned about you. Isn’t it sweet how they think your anecdote about talking to the cow magnet on your fridge is a cry for help? The probing questions are just their way of showing they care.
So, in order to quell their fears that your only serious relationship of the decade will be with Netflix, you should put a good dating plan in place. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll be sure to erase your friends’ doubts that you’ll ever find someone worthy of talking to instead of the cow magnet.
1. Do not close your Plenty of Fish account.
At first glance, this step seems counterintuitive. Isn’t Plenty of Fish the site where the headlines on half of the guys’ profiles say, “This site is horrible,” or, “I’m deleting my account”? In other words, no one takes it seriously so you’re never going to find someone serious on it? Yes. Yes, it is. It’s the same site where you will almost exclusively receive messages from people in different states from you. But it’s also the site you can visit when you’re fed up with dating and need a laugh. Scroll through the photos of Meathead1000 for a minute and you are guaranteed to feel slightly better about yourself and your own dating situation.
2. Try speed-dating.
You are not going to meet your next significant other through speed-dating. (If you do, you probably also have a pet unicorn, so your life is just more magical in general.) But the cool thing speed-dating does is expose you to a variety of people in a short amount of time. It’s much more efficient than going on ten dates over the course of a few weeks. This way, you can spend one hour rejecting people based on their one-minute life story and then go console yourself at the bar without wasting ten different first-date outfits. Think of the money you’ll save on laundry.
3. Be open.
This step is an extremely vague way of satisfying those who would try to accuse you of being any number of things: too picky, too busy, too unforgiving, too uninterested in the vegan lifestyle. Being open just means not dismissing options and ideas before you’ve given them the appropriate amount of time for consideration. Of course, the right amount varies depending on the issue. If it’s something like you always saw yourself dating a man with a full head of hair and your date is balding, you should give it a couple of dates to determine if you can see past a superficial detail that often comes with men over the age of 25. If it’s something like the man is severely allergic to nuts and will therefore force you to give up Reese’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups for the rest of your life, well, you can give that one about five minutes before bailing. The point here is not to close off your options before you even know what they are. (Maybe in doing research you’ll find there’s a perfectly delicious candy you can become addicted to instead of Reese’s.)
4. Pay for a dating site.
Sure, you’re not “desperate” enough to actually pay for a site. You know this, and your friends probably even know this, deep down. But until you break down and break out the cash for the traditional paid sites, they’ll never believe you when you say you’re putting in serious effort to find a relationship. Once you finally pay for a site, you can say, “I guess the problem isn’t the dating sites; it must be me.”
If you’re at all familiar with 18th century Scottish poetry, you may have a certain line in your head right now: The best laid schemes of mice and men/Often go awry. And you may be wondering whether it’s even useful to follow a plan when it comes to things that don’t happen to care about your plans, like dating and falling in love. (In a recent poll, when asked how much your plans matter to them on a scale of 1-10, Dating said, “1,” and Falling in Love said, “-5003.”) That’s understandable. In fact, if you don’t choose to follow the above dating plan, you will not be any less likely to find someone suitable to date.
But what will you tell your friends? At least if you have a concrete plan, they might leave you alone for a bit, and you can continue your conversations with your cow refrigerator magnet in peace.