Well, I had a date last night. I have been on two dates since the divorce. Neither of them has yielded up anything close to romance. To the contrary, I would say that both experiences have left me generally glad that I’m single.
I told you all that I would do my own anthropological experiment in dating, and I have kept my promise, at least partly. I am not on Bumble or Tinder because I deactivated my Facebook account for the duration of the election, and I’m actually thinking about keeping it inactive a bit longer. I do, however, have an OKCupid account. To say the least, it has been interesting.
I have never gotten a dick pic, but I have gotten some random stuff in my inbox. Guys asking to be kicked in the balls. Dudes who will blatantly tell you to sit on their face. Men who think they’re saving time by typing “u” instead of “you.” I have had a few genuinely nice messages, but so far only one of them as progressed beyond the messaging point.
I got a message from a guy we’re going to call Java. He was from St. Louis, a programmer (because I’m the geek whisperer), married and divorced once, no kids, intensely intelligent, and seemingly sweet. The whole thing took off very easily. We had a lot in common – general opinions, likes and dislikes, mentally screwed up former exes, etc. We agreed after about half a second that we needed to meet each other, so we made plans for the following Friday (last night), and kept talking.
Frankly, I was pretty convinced that I was finally going to break the dry spell. In point of fact, I was counting on a torrential downpour. Well, much like when the weather forecast is calling for massive amounts of rain and a tornado that doesn’t end up panning out, the forecast was incorrect, and we’re still enduring the drought.
We met for Mexican in south city, and it was okay. No great shakes. The conversation was pleasant – interesting, related to a variety of subjects, etc. We had already decided that, because we’re both cheap and because we were expecting it to go off, we would just go back to his place and watch a movie. That would have been great…
Except his place.
Now, let it be said that I am no neat freak. I sweep the new laminate once or twice a week and then do a full Swiffering. I try to do the dishes every night, but sometimes they age for a day or two. I do laundry every day. I change the kids’ sheets once a week or more, depending on variables. I scrub the toilets and sinks on Saturday. I wipe down the barrel of the washing machine. My room is a disaster. Clothes on the floor. Nightstand needs a dusting. But my house smells like apple cinnamon Scentsy wax, and the overall environment is clean, if not moderately disorganized at times.
This apartment was awful. Awful. Awful. First of all, he had dogs. Now, we all know I don’t have much love lost for dogs or really indoor pets, generally. They’re messy and smelly, and when you’d have to be crazy or love cleaning to want to add that on top of kids. Anyway, his dogs were gross, and the house smelled like dog. He’s in the process of moving, and there was stuff everywhere. Clothes. Books in boxes. … But no furniture. The only thing out was his giant computer desk in his office, his bed in his room, and an old futon mattress on the floor. Not even joking.
I always thought that my executive function skills were poor, but this was next level. This was him offering to get me something to drink and me refusing because I didn’t want to touch the glasses. And I’m not a neat freak – not even a little bit. I can deal with some mess. Next. Level.
And it’s really too bad because I honestly think that I would have been 50% more likely to have had good vibes about the whole thing, if it hadn’t been for that. He was a genuinely sweet guy, and we were both geeky and nerdy. We liked a lot of the same stuff. And while he wasn’t really my physical ideal, I also realize that the odds of a 6’2″ stud who does gymnastic strength training religiously wanting to go out with me are almost nil, and I don’t hold being average against people. I mean, I’m average. We’re statistically in the majority.
But the fact of the mess… And it wasn’t clean mess, where the person dusts and vacuums but just has some clutter around. This was gross. And it made me think less of him. It made me think the things that came off slightly quirky on paper were legitimate issues in real life. I am, in fact, almost certain of it.
For anyone out there who is doing the online dating thing – and I know most people are these days, if they’re trying to date – please bear this one thing in mind: don’t make your date your therapist. You’re there to get to know each other and have fun. You are not there to dump your problems on a total stranger. Because no matter how well you get along on paper, you are strangers. Don’t force someone who doesn’t know you to listen to every problem you’ve had since childhood. No. Not kosher.
Was it a night wasted? No. I learned some important lessons about online dating. The first is that you cannot get emotionally invested in someone you haven’t met. Let me repeat that because it’s really important: You cannot get emotionally invested in someone you haven’t met. No matter how much you technically have in common, no matter what kind of “chemistry” you seem to have, there is no accounting for taste, and we never ultimately know who it’s going to be that lights our fire. Sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason to it.
So in the interest of making online meeting – because it’s not dating until you’re face-to-face – a more objective practice for myself, I’m setting out to do with dating what I do with trading Forex: set up a “trading” system with the expectation that, applied correctly, it’s going to yield a given amount of positive results. Take the guesswork out of dating. Select down to people who are objectively a good match, get as many of them out on dates as possible, and go from there.
And that’s what dating sites are trying to do, right? Well, I’m attempting to refine it. There are a million questions that you can answer about yourself on OKC, and it does try to weight them, but ultimately some things are going to be more important to one person than another. We all want someone we find attractive, but looks are more important for some than others. Same with money, brains, kids, pets, etc. We all have our deal breakers.
I know what my deal breakers are. I know what I like in men, physically and mentally. I know how to weight my preferences. I am also learning what items are most likely to cause an otherwise good match to turn into a headache in fairly short order. It doesn’t take long to figure this stuff out.
I am currently working on a mind map (thank you, Mind Maple) that outlines a points-based “trading strategy” that allows me to treat potential pairings like a Forex trade. I know my trading strategy fairly well, at this point. It’s simple, and it works. More to the point trading, to the greatest extent that it can be, should be devoid of emotion. You look at the chart, you do your analysis, and you decide whether or not a trade is likely to yield good results. There ultimately no predicting the market, but you can surmise based on prior experience and movements how likely it may be. That’s all you’re doing with online dating – or dating of any kind, actually.
The job of the trader is a simple one: choose a trade that has a higher probability of winning, and then determine the entry and exit points. Where is your take profit going to be? Where is your stop loss? At what point are you willing to cut your losses and call the trade a bad one? Are you rational enough to stick to your stop loss? Because brother, let me tell you, you do not move your stop loss further out once it’s set. You can tighten it up, for sure, but don’t you ever move it further out. You will blow up your account and/or face ruin, if you do.
What are some of my deal breakers? Distance. Drugs. Kids from multiple partners in a fairly short period of time. No job. Obvious lack of direction/goals, most especially when coupled with a general sense of unhappiness that is coming through even on the modest amount of profile info. Mental problems. Extreme sloppiness.
That probably sounds like a long list, but let’s be honest here. Who wants to date a bipolar slob with no job, no goals, and who smokes weed all day? Nobody in his/her right mind, that’s who. Set your stop loss, folks. I know I’m going to.
I hope it doesn’t come across like I’m bitter from a couple of bombed dates because I’m not. Actually, even when it’s bad, at least it’s entertaining. I mean, sure, it disappointing because we’re all hoping to find someone to connect to on a deeper level, but honestly, some of the shit that you have to dig through to get to that is just comical.
I genuinely hope the guy I went out with last night can find the right person. Because he is a good guy with some very particular positive characteristics. I hope equally fervently that the things that he’s deficient in he can be self-aware enough to correct.
When I am done with the dating “trade system,” I will write a post about it and put the file up here for all to see. I am genuinely interested to see if I can come up with a system that will statistically yield better dating success. I don’t hold out much hope because people have been trying to do this forever, but hey. My trading strategy has thus far been a good one. I have a 71.4% success rate on my Forex trades, as of today. If I can figure out currency trading, how hard can dating possibly be? … Please don’t answer that.