February 3, 2020

Wanted: Relationship-Ready Man, Willing & Able to take the Process Seriously.

Sometimes there appears to be a paradox of online dating, where the side effects of the proverbial medicine seems to be worse than the benefits of the cure.

On Tinder, I got to “meet” people I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered, and got to do it in three-minute intervals while in line at the post office, or at odd hours of the day from my couch.

But I also wondered if the price to pay was too high. To meet these people who I would not have otherwise encountered in real life, I endured the chances of being ghosted, benched, zombied, and every other cutesie dating term that’s slang for someone got hurt.

I eventually found my own way to navigate the paradox of online dating:

1. I was 100 percent abundantly clear in my profile what I was looking for.

I was not rigid, but I mentioned that I was looking for someone “relationship ready.” If a would-be candidate wrote me and asked if I would “consider _____?,” the answer was no. I did not hide what I was looking for, I did not make exceptions, I did not let men guess or hope that silence would speak volumes.

I said what I wanted, and I said it quite directly. If a man wasn’t comfortable saying he wanted a relationship (notably different from, “Let’s see how it goes,” or “Looking for a partner in crime”), I cut them from my list.

Sure, my list dwindled quickly, but that’s because I knew what I was looking for and was unafraid to wait for it—someone who was ready, willing, and able to take the process seriously.

2. I followed through with what I said.

I asked men to call me before I would meet them. This was controversial, even within “Your Last First Date,” the dating and relationship group I co-moderate.

There were times I was deeply frustrated at how few men would actually call despite how I phrased it, how directly or euphemistically I coated it. No more than 10 to 20 percent ever did. I eventually realized that the remaining 80 to 90 percent out there were weeding themselves out of the numbers game and that was to my benefit.

Sure, if a man didn’t call, my choices again dwindled. But that’s because I was looking for a relationship-ready man; someone who was ready, willing, and able to take the process seriously.

3. I paid attention to who called when it was a hoop to jump through, and who called even after that hoop had been jumped.

I was looking for a strong, intellectual, and emotional connection, and I required conversation beyond texts. If a man didn’t call again after the first date, my choices dwindled.

But that’s because I was looking for a relationship-ready man; someone who was ready, willing, and able to take the process seriously.

4. I used the word “date.” Not “meet.”

I didn’t allocate my time to go on “meet-ups,” I allocated my time to go on on “first dates,” or “blind dates,” or “Tinder dates.”

If a man was uncomfortable with the idea of a “date,” my choices dwindled. But that’s because I was looking for a relationship-ready man; someone who was ready, willing, and able to take the process seriously.

5. I didn’t do coffee dates.

This was another matter of controversy within the dating group. But I am a solo parent and a business owner, and I assessed that my time away from either my office or my family had value beyond coffee.

I’m a good conversationalist and can enjoy everyone I meet, so I was never concerned about quality dates. I was concerned about returning to my office having given up an hour of time and still needing to eat. So I decided that, for me, dates must include food.

If a man wasn’t comfortable with investing time to share food, my choices dwindled. But that’s because I was looking for a relationship-ready man; someone who was ready, willing, and able to take the process seriously.

6. I always asked men how long it took them to decide if they were a match with someone.

I’d done research on human connection, and when I learned that it takes humans 40 hours to consider someone a friend, I realized that I was looking for someone who was open to an investment process, not instant gratification.

Only the slightest bit of me is about my personal appearance, so I had no real interest in showing up to have my appearance checked like a cow at a 4-H competition.

I wanted substance and depth. So if the answer was anything less than 15 minutes, my choices dwindled. But that’s because I was looking for a relationship-ready man; someone who was ready, willing, and able to take the process seriously.

7. I let a man know, directly, that after two dates I wasn’t seeing others.

I have been on many dates in my life and I don’t lack for options. I don’t need distractions or men who are in the phase of “seeing what’s out there.” I know what’s out there. That didn’t mean they were my insta-boyfriend, but it did mean that I was not waiting for the “exclusive” talk to focus on them and stop swiping.

I didn’t date men who were continuing to browse, I continued only with men who could make the same “I’m a get-to-know-one-person-at-a-time guy” statements. With each man who who couldn’t match that, my choices dwindled. But that’s because I was looking for a relationship-ready man; someone who was ready, willing, and able to take the process seriously.

8. I watched how often the “how’s your day?” or “how’s your week?” or “any big plans for the weekend?” arose as conversation starters.

I have strong intellectual conversations all day long at work and I need them at home as well.

There’s nothing wrong with these questions once in a while, but if every thread opened with one of them,  my choices dwindled. But that’s because I was looking for a relationship-ready man; someone who was ready, willing, and able to take the process seriously.

~

None of the above were taken lightly, and none of the above were random, arbitrary, punitive, or done out of anger or frustration. They were simply my process to protect my time and honor my desires and the things I know about myself.

This list is my list and it may not be yours. It also doesn’t mean that someone who doesn’t use the phone isn’t looking for a relationship or that someone who asks “how’s your day?” is dumb. It just means I ruled them out because I know myself.

Every reader is going to have different permutations and combinations of that list. Online dating requires a painful amount of internal work. It requires that we get clear, know who we are, know what triggers us, and know what makes us purr. We can all learn from and benefit from the skills that this style of high-speed, high-option dating begets.

This is the state of dating now, and even if you personally opt out of online, it’s the process everyone else is using. The price of a world with endless choices is not free, but it’s reality, whether you directly participate or not.

I personally urge you to get in there, get really clear, set some boundaries, and figure out your nonnegotiables—how to make it work for you. Find your own remedy. I did.

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