Science says: Dating is hard!!! (Surprising no one at all)
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You go out with someone, and you have a lovely time; there's a connection, and you want to see where this rabbit hole leads. Some amount of time goes by, and you send a text message Hey, I enjoyed our date, and I'd love to take you out again. Let me know what your dance card looks like (actual text I sent someone). The minutes go by; the anticipation builds, and then? Nothing. A whole lot of nothing. No reply. You let it go for a bit, maybe a day or a few hours, before sending another text (just in case they don't know what a new SMS notification is) and, still, no reply. You skulk a bit, heave a heavy sigh, and mutter an epithet under your breath (or out loud because you know you don't give a shit how crazy your neighbors think you are). Yes, you got rejected.
This is the new normal.
Dating in today's world is challenging even, and especially with, all the new dating apps that are out there; they've changed the way we communicate and how we find love. This isn't “new;” we've been trying to find better ways to find dates and quicker ways to make the “magic” happen.
What I have found is that, in addition to being tricky, the world of online dating is intolerant to much of my buffoonery. I like to joke around. A lot. But when you're just getting to meet someone, you have to tame the urge to be inappropriate or “off color.” For me, it's not important to have to say something cross or off-putting. I've been told that I'm irreverent, random, and “generally kind of funny” (thanks, mom!) but it's important to feel things out before putting yourself out there completely. To me, this is counter-intuitive. If a woman I'm dating is an asshole, I'd like to know that up front. There are levels of assholery I can tolerate, just as there are levels of douchebaggery a woman can tolerate from me before hailing an Uber.
We are who we are. If you're the kind of person, who walks around town wearing shirts with testicles printed on it and an arrow thingy sticking through your head then be that person. You're not going to be happy being someone you're not.
The right swipe of passage
Everyone knows this shit isn't easy; Manny knows it, too! When using apps like Grindr, Tinder, or Bumble, it's easy to build enthusiasm as finding matches can at first, be intense! For me, and some other guys I know, matching up on these apps is a lot more challenging than it is for women. Women face a different problem, though, which I'll get to in a bit.
The thing that irks me is matching up with women only to have them unmatch me later. I must give “good face.” While frustrating, I've still managed to meet a lot of interesting women—who usually want nothing to do with me or vice verse. That part is also frustrating. I went out with a smart and accomplished woman, she seemed super nice, and she was great at keeping the conversation going; but guys, I wasn't into her. I don't know what it is; you like who you like. Is it chemistry? Is it weird science? What governs who we like? I'm a big, big fan of smart, funny, and talented women who are also assholes. Maybe that was is? My date wasn't all that much of an asshole. What a lame thing to be turned off by, right? But I'm not alone here. A buddy of mine was excited about this woman he wanted to meet, but this one pic he saw of her showed a tattoo on her wrist. A music note. All of a sudden he was like “Oh, no, man I can't. I don't like tatts!” Whaaat? Again, what a lame reason to not want to date someone. But that's my opinion. However, it's little things like these that turn people off. And why not? We can just pick up our phone to swipe another day, find a date, and repeat.
Dating today, in our right-swipe age, is much different than when my mom was doing it. She met a guy, who lived a few streets away. Most of the people I grew up with on my street, who were married, met someone who lived close by, knew some of the same people, etc. Aziz Ansari goes a bang-up job of compiling statistics in his best-selling book: Modern Romance. It's worth picking up; while parts of it are disheartening it is a fascinating, scientific, look into modern love.
I'll take a mulligan, please
Back to that thing where we match and unmatch. It's easy, and it's transactional. When we finally get to that date, it seems common that little things will turn people off. And that's sad. There are so many worthwhile people out there that get passed up, and maybe you're one of them; I think I'm one of them, too. But it's sad because, in my opinion, it seems to me there are a few key points a person should have: is this person able to function as an adult and do the stuff they need to do to survive? Aka do they have a job? Are they kind? Aka not a murderer.
Once upon a time, “back in the day” it didn't matter as much. My mom and dad didn't have too much in common when they wed. Two years later they divorced, and my mom was a single parent. She never remarried, although, she did fall in love other times with other men.
Maybe we're supposed to date and discard often. Maybe we should be tossing back that “bad hand” and drawing a new set of cards and suitors.
You're not collecting awards here…
I'm not trying to make new friends here; I want to find someone special. I assume that's your aim, too. If not, Bumble has your back with the boff thing. But for the rest of you, hear me out.
If you match with someone and they don't reply to your message or don't message you within a day, let's say, then unmatch them.
If you match with someone, message them! Don't wait! Message them, have a brief chat, and ask if they want to meet up for a date. Don't dive twenty messages into a back and forth exchange that is doomed to fizzle out. Make the magic happen. Again, if they don't message, or won't ask you out, or won't say if they'll go out with you after you invite them, unmatch and move on.
Get to the fucking point, express your interest, and go out on a date. Don't let matches collect like a lame trophy room of shattered dreams. It's false hope and a lie.
Making courtship suck less
One thing that hasn't changed with time is the effort. You still have to bring your A-game to the table. Not because you're trying to deceive someone but because you want to show that you're serious about meeting someone and you want to meet someone who's worth your time.
Quantity != Quality
That is, having more dates isn't the goal. Having more quality dates is, however. So how do we do that? I can only share my experiences here, so take them with a grain of salt.
Be respectful – I find that it's crazy to have to say this but be respectful people. Time is our single most precious resource. We never get back what we give, so what we offer needs to count or it's a waste. Being a freelancer has made me more aware of the precious resource of time.
Try to be on time, if you're not going to then give your date an update asap.
If it's important, then call them! Texting, while the default mode of communication, lends itself to flakiness. If you have something important to say, like being late, call your date. Don't forget to apologize.
If you're not into your date and you've only been out once, it's held that you don't need to tell your date you're not interested. But, I would offer that it's a top move, it's harder, but shows character when you can tell your date, “I had a nice time, but I don't think the chemistry is there. Take care and good luck!” You probably have a better way to let a date down; you do you!
If you're interested, let the other person know. Now! – That thing I said about time? You never get it back. If you meet someone you're into, take a chance and let them know and if they aren't then you can move on. If they are, then you have more time to make that magic-y thing happen.
Dating rules regarding time are bullshit. I know, I know; you don't want to seem desperate or too eager. Here's the thing, it's okay to want to be with someone. There's nothing wrong with it and being vulnerable by putting yourself out there is fine , nd it's a sign of strength. If that other person, who made you swoon, isn't having it then they can instantly fuck off. Move on, try again.
Effort matters – Put some thought into your damn dates people. Look, I know what it's like. You don't want to go out with a stranger only to find there's no chemistry and six other courses left in your dinner together. That's a legitimate concern.
I don't like coffee dates or movie dates, those are non-starters for me. Of course, it depends on my date. Maybe my date doesn't like to drink booze, then a coffee date is fine. Does that mean we're going to Starbucks? Fuck. no! I will do research and find an interesting, ma and pa owned, coffee shop; I'll do the research to find something interesting. Where you choose to take your dates says a lot about you, in my opinion. I love quirky and eclectic places (After I write this article I'm going to go find such a place to do some work, in fact).
Avoid inviting your date to hang with you and your friends. No, just no. It's a fucking date, people. Your friends are NOT invited, it's NOT okay! Oh that's the other thing. Yes, it's a fucking date. Ask that special someone
It's a date!
Oh that's the other thing. Yes, it's a fucking date. Ask that special someone out on a date, you're not “hanging” together. It's a date, treat it like it is.
Yes, modern courtship kinda sucks, it has it's downsides, but I think with some effort, we can make it suck a lot less.
What do you think about romance in today's digital age?
Photo Cred: Ben White