Modern society seems like such a rush, all the time. Unless you’re retired (and who retires anymore?) you’re probably dashing around all day, every day, following a schedule or at least marking off items on a to-do list that never seems to get any shorter. Our days are hectic, our nights are precious, and our weekends fully booked far in advance. And that’s if you’re married! For singles, we have to make time for dates, too. It can feel stressful, scary and like a real time-suck. But thanks to online dating, my romantic life is as efficient as a well-oiled machine. And a lot more fun, unless that machine happens to be a Ferrari.
Frankly, I don’t know how I would date at all if it weren’t for the Web… I work 50 hours a week, play a sport every season (softball in the summer, flag football in the autumn, hoops in winter and spring) and have two beautiful children from a previous marriage. Not a lot of margin for error in my schedule… And dating, by definition, is hit or miss. It’s a numbers game where you have to take a lot of shots in the dark to get a hit.
With online dating, I maximize my time, and my odds. I have a method that quickly assesses my compatibility with other singles every step of the way. First off, my profile is specific about my favorite date activities, my relationship dealbreakers, my turn-ons and turn-offs, and my sense of humor. It’s pretty clear who I am and what I’m looking for. Most women who aren’t my type usually pass on me at the profile stage. That saves me time right there.
When I look at profiles, I use advanced search parameters to refine my search as specifically as possible. I take the time to reference at least a couple of things in a woman’s profile when I contact her—believe me, it’s worth it—but my basic email is a template. The process of searching and sending to new people is swift and systematic.
If we get to stage two and actually communicate, it’s because we like each other’s profiles. She definitely fits my requirements for age, race, geography, lifestyle choices and so on. Before we’ve had a single conversation, I know there’s more romantic potential for me here than with eight out of ten women on the planet. Think about that! And all I’ve invested is my membership fee, the time to prepare a good profile, and one lightly personalized contact template. That’s it. On a weekly basis, I spend more time managing my fantasy football team than I do getting to this point with five to 10 different women.
Personally, I don’t like to budget only 20 minutes or something to a first date, and I don’t like coffee dates (too much like a job interview). When I date, I give it at least an hour, to be gentlemanly and give our chemistry experiment a fair shot, and I try to arrange something somewhat active, like wandering a museum, a picnic in the park or a walk along the waterfront. So when we get to that point, it’s somewhat of a time commitment. I don’t make the decision lightly. So before we go there, there are things to find out.
Let’s backtrack a little bit. Say I’ve run a search, checked out her profile, sent an email, and she’s responded. We’re only about five minutes into this, for me. I take another 10 minutes or so to write back, giving her profile and her message more thought before I do. I usually ask a couple more questions here. I don’t want to barrage her, but there are always things to find out more about. Maybe I probe a little deeper into her knowledge of a shared interest or lob out a joke and/or some flirtatious banter to better gauge our compatibility in sense of humor and flirtation. Maybe I seek clarification on something unclear (so she travels for work, but where and how often?) or expand on some point of commonality (same hometown, alma mater, etc.). You get the idea.
If and when she gets back to me, I usually learn quite a bit more in the 30 seconds to five minutes I spend in consideration of her response. Maybe we’ve initiated some playful repartee at this point, or some back and forth about one or more topics. Sometimes this is the end of it and I write off the 15 to 20 minutes I’ve spent. How many of you guys have spent more than 15 minutes chatting up a woman in a bar? That’s what I thought! But the difference is, that usually goes nowhere. Here, by this point we already know we have so much in common that most of the time, we move forward.
What’s next? An extended IM exchange, a phone call or a bunch of emails. Still, it rarely takes more than half an hour all told. Here’s where we decide—sometimes right away, sometimes after a little more conversation—that a date is in order.
By the time we get to that tour of the Esplanade for Date No. 1, we’ve got a proven chemistry and if everyone’s been honest, there aren’t any major roadblocks to us getting together.
Now, I’m kind of a look-before-you-leap type guy (if you hadn’t noticed), but was all this dating that didn’t end up at the altar a waste of time? Not at all. Nine times out of 10 if I’m on a date with a woman, I don’t regret the use of my time. Why would I regret the laughs, deep conversations, good kisses and memorable experiences? I’ve had several really wonderful relationships, and even if they didn’t “go the distance” I’m glad these women shared small portions of their lives with me.
No, I only consider a date a waste of time if it’s awkward, dishonest, or unpleasant. I had a LOT more of those before I started online dating and could be more discriminating about who I went out with. Thanks to my little system, I spend between three and five hours a week on my dating life and not a minute feels wasted.
If only I could say the same thing about my fantasy football team…