I like to rail on dating apps and sites. I also like to use them. When I’m at the beginning of a reset (aka: breakup) opening the dating apps and reminding myself there are plenty of fish in the sea is a good tonic for my broken or healing heart. And then what?
I’d like to think each day is part of a measurement of YES or NO with any given partner, but it’s simply not that easy.
The Real Numbers In Online Dating
Your mileage may vary, but I’m guessing most of us are a bit disillusioned with the magic of online dating. Am I right? The problem is different depending on your sex or sexual orientation. Let’s look at how things are different for guys and girls.
A Man Looking for a Woman
Of the 1,000 women online in my collected app universe, about 15% of them are attractive to me and within my range of desire. (Range of desire: how far from PRETTY will I stray for a relationship. There are limits, though the range is wide.) Of those 150 women, I browse their profiles and swipe RIGHT if there is any chemistry or arousal. My ratio seems to be about 20:1. So, 7 women from the first group. Then I reach out to the several HOME RUNS that caught my attention. Perhaps all seven, depending on my deeper dive into their profiles. And of the 7 messages, I will usually get 1 or 2 back.
1000:2 is my average contact ratio with online dating.
So let’s do the math, from 1,000 potential women to 2 potential dates. And of these lucky winners, I will often take my time in getting to the first date. A phone call is a must. I can tell in 2 minutes on the phone if I’m going to enjoy my conversation with a woman. Is the conversation easy? Does she have interesting things to say? Does she join on the things I’m interested in? Does she ask follow-up questions? Does she have some things she’s really excited about?
A Woman Looking for a Man
I’m just spitballing here, from my conversations with women about their online experience. If they are reasonably attractive and fit they will be flooded with messages from the first five minutes of joining a site. The process here is picking through the frogs to get to the prince.
If you are a woman reading this, please know that there are some good fish mixed in with all the sharks. You will know us when you see us. There will be a lack of guns, flags, beer, and abs in our photos. You might see one of us being a dad. You might see the natural color of our hair now that covid brought us all back to what’s important. Your task will be to stick with it. Amidst all the posers and charlatans, you will find one or two good, honest, romantic men. And here’s the bigger shocker, some of us will be kind, responsible, and interested in getting to know you before we try and sleep with you.
My guess is that out of the 1000 “hey good lookin” messages you’ll find 3 or 4 that you’d like to follow up with. If you can keep from getting discouraged by the noise you might be able to find and set a date with an interesting man of interest. It’s worth the effort. And, it might not be the best way to go about finding your next relationship.
Going For a Home Run in Love
Here’s what I’ve learned in my 11-years of seeking a partner.
- Never settle for less than 100%
- Don’t go slow if you both want to go fast
- Fast will lead to success or failure quicker
- Too much focus on THE ONE or our future together will lead to anxiety and false flags
- Roll with the moment, be aware of the past but don’t dwell there
- Keep your eyes and heart on the future (does this partner meet my needs and expectations?)
- Just spend time together (that is the only test, the only proof, the only solution)
As I wade back into dating and relationship-building again I am conscious of my desire to label my current partner as “the one” or a “near miss.” This is premature and destructive thinking at this point. Sure, there are imbalances and misses, but we’ve just been… Well, it’s early in our partnership. I cannot possibly know how our future looks from here. I can’t possibly make an educated guess about our compatibility, our lifetime partnership potential. I’d like to think I can, I’d like to think each day is part of a measurement of YES or NO with any given partner, but it’s simply not that easy.
Yes, go for a home run, but also go slow with your judgment and assumptions. What you know today about your partner will be very different in several weeks. If you are not in a long-distance relationship, you should be making dates and spending time together. You should also be making “dates” outside the partnership as well. So many of us let our social networks drop completely when we get into a romantic relationship. This is a mistake. We don’t want to put all of our emotional and physical needs in one persons’ hands. Sexually, I am extremely monogamous, but socially, I think my friends, boys and girls, are part of my network of love and protection. I need a couple of folks to talk about this “partner” with, right?
Investing the Time
Time is the currency of life. It’s all we have to spend. Give your time freely to your new partner. Let go of your expectations and hyper-focused goals and give yourself time to just be with this other person. In time, many of your questions will be answered. How does she deal with disappointment? When she gets moody, can I allow her to deal with it alone, while maintaining closeness and connection? (As Brené Brown suggests in her TED talks.) Can I let her have her own path, her own higher power, her own community of friends and family without feeling threatened or jealous?
Here’s what I know about this moment: I have a partner. We are working on ourselves. We are working on our time together, getting better at communicating needs, passions, and frustrations. We have no way of knowing if our partnership will last, we’ve only spent a limited amount of time together. And, we’re committed to spending more time together. And we’re making plans for the holidays ahead, and the next steps in our relationships. And IT’S STILL DAMN EARLY to begin shutting down all of our other activities and explorations to focus so intensely on this one partnership.
I want it to work out. I want her to read this and rest assured that I am doing my part to remain open, available, and to make time to spend together, with her. That’s all I can do. I can’t predict the future. I can’t write out the perfect way forward for us. I can’t even really journal about what’s happening in real-time, I’m living it, not writing it.
Kisses, Sex, and Going Slow or Fast
I seem to always talk about “going slow” when I start up a new partnership. Why? Are we all so programmed that everyone is out for hooking up that we have to remind ourselves how patient and non-obsessed we are? Why do we have to go slow? We definitely have to reach an alignment on the timing with regards to kissing, sex, and further explorations of partnership. But we don’t have to go artificially slow to show our cool-headed persona. Nope. If you’re ready to kiss me, kiss me. If you’re down to start stripping off our clothes together, let’s get naked. Certainly, let’s have some serious discussions about these things ahead of time, but trying to guestimate the number of dates before you have sex, is total bullshit. It’s different for every partnership. You will know, both of you, when the time is right to move along into the bedroom. Me, saying, “I really want to take it slow” each time we see each other isn’t building confidence or clarity if my real desire is to move forward, directly, and quickly with you.
I once dated a woman who was almost shocked when I moved in for a goodnight peck at the end of an astonishing 2.5-hour date. We’d been so close, holding hands, talking excitedly, singing our favorite songs together, that I didn’t think I was assuming too much when I moved in for a hug and peck. There was no sexual intention and no pressure towards the bedroom, but there was something alarming about how this woman froze up. She almost shuddered as I pulled back. Again, it was a peck, on the lips, sure, but we’d known each other for months and been talking for weeks. And the date, in my opinion, had opened the floodgates for more. That, of course, was my experience. She must’ve been in some reality of her own.
Later, I would understand that this intimacy freeze was something that was going to require a bit more “work” to get through. And it wasn’t going to be with me. She would say, “I’m not really looking for a relationship.” I should’ve listened. I should’ve taken her initial reaction to a hug as a clear sign that she was not ready. Not ready for me, or anyone. But I moved along a week later only to find myself in the same uncertain position, are we snuggling on the couch or are we going back to her bedroom to get naked?
Our Ultimate Goal as Lovers
Clarity is what we want. Even at this moment, I want some clarity about that wounded woman who was so afraid of intimacy and yet so invested in making it happen. I would like some clarity about my current partnership, my current girlfriend, and where we are headed. And yet, clarity only comes with time. Time spent together doing fun things but also doing mundane things, and things that sort of suck, like chores or doctor’s appointments.
Time is the only solution for clarity. And if we rush the timing of our partnership we may force our way INTO or OUT OF a partnership. Again, the timing is up to you, and slow is not always the best answer, but… Get your goals and intentions straight before you head out on a date. Certainly, before you head out on a second or third date. Know what you want. And if you want to kiss me, kiss me. I’ll let you know when I’d like to kiss you as well. Let’s be clear about this: we are BOTH leading this relationship. We are partners in creating the relationship we want and need. And it takes two willing and alert people to begin crafting a life together.
I am ready to start.
- The Quest for Big Love: How To Set Sail for the Next Relationship
- The Four Laws of Love: Finding & Building Lasting Relationships
- Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way: Optimism and Hope Carry Us
- Commitment and Fear: Closing the Available Exits to Find Your Edge
- Stoking Your Soul Fire: Finding Peace at the Edge of the Unknown
- Mind the Gap: Listening for the Signals from Your Lover
Brené Brown’s Ground-breaking TED Talks
- Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love – Gottman
- The Man’s Guide to Women: Scientifically Proven Secrets from the “Love Lab” About What Women Really Want – Gottman
- The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman
- Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone – Brené Brown
Here are a few of my books on Amazon:
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Sex Index: Getting Our Love Languages Right in the Bedroom
- Here Comes the Darkness: Surviving and Thriving After a Mental Illness Diagnosis
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue
- The Storm Before the Divorce: When One Parent Wants Out, That’s the End
- Dating 2.0: Aiming for the Love of Your Life