In general, I only used to go on a date with a woman if I could picture it turning into something long-term. The downside to this is obvious: it’s very difficult to accurately tell if someone is a great match right away, especially with apps like Bumble that barely tell you anything about a person. So on the advice of friends who told me I was being too picky, I began dating almost any woman who seemed interesting or attractive enough to at least merit a drink, if not a long commitment. A few enjoyable flings came out of this, but the vast majority of these dates were mediocre and I found myself getting bored midway through many of them.
Now I’m feeling burnt-out even after taking several dating breaks, so I’m thinking of revising my approach again. I’m not going to filter for (what I perceive to be) long-term compatibility necessarily, but I’m going to upgrade from “is it worth giving her a chance?” to “am I actually *excited* to be going on a date with this woman, at least to some degree?” What do you think? I guess this is basically a quality vs. quantity of dates question, since I’d be turning my back on the “numbers game” somewhat. But man, going on boring date after boring date can sour you on the whole process just as quickly as rarely going on a date at all does.
(Also please realize I’m just saying the dates were mediocre to me, I’m not judging the women themselves, who were all perfectly lovely people).
To be brutally honest I’m also a bit worried that I might miss the ego-stroke of constantly having dates lined up, since I’m assuming that under my new criteria, I will probably go through dry spells. But I’ve got enough going on in other areas of my life that it hopefully won’t be too bad.
Thanks for the question! Believe it or not, I’ve been in your shoes quite a few times, and I’ve often struggled with choosing quality over quantity, and vice-versa.
I think it is a good idea to filter for long-term compatibility if that’s what you’re looking for. You’re also right when you say that it’s hard to tell on dating apps whether or not someone will be a good match right away. I also think you’re right when you say that you’ll probably miss the ego-stroke of constantly having dates lined up. So what should you do?
You have to find a balance between being overly selective and going on dates with anybody. Both approaches will burn you out or leave you dissatisfied with dating. The key to avoiding that is to find a balance. It’s easier said than done because finding a balance is going to be specific to you.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve taken both approaches in the past, so when I say you’ll get burned out or generally dissatisfied, know that I speak from personal experience. I always ended up trying one approach in reaction to the other approach failing or wearing me down. It seems like you’re at that point too, so hopefully hearing how I try to find balance helps you.
Starting is simple: ask yourself what is it that makes you picture someone as a viable long-term partner. You don’t have to tell me or anyone else what your criteria are, it’s more about putting into words what it is that makes you think “yeah, I could see myself with this person in the long-term”. Is it attractiveness, intelligence, wit, a combination of those things, or something else entirely? Is it how she makes you feel, or how you feel around her? Is it something about her personality, her social skills, or even her social standing? Really give it some thought and don’t just settle on “I can’t describe it”. Trust me, you can describe it if you give it some thought. If you struggle at it, think back on the people who you thought would make for good long-term partners and think about their commonalities. I used to think I couldn’t put into words what enamored, and then I realized that it can be put into words although it is complex. It’s okay if it’s complex.
Basically, you’re filtering down to “can I see myself going on three dates with her?” instead of “can I see a long-term thing with her?”. If what makes you envision a long-term future with someone is a list that’s about 10-20 traits long, narrow down your bare minimum list to about 5 things. Choose 5 things you can figure out on dating apps if that’s the primary way you meet people. For me, it would be attractiveness, intelligence, ease of communication, wit, and being generally down to Earth. If someone meets whatever 5 things you choose as a bare minimum for envisioning something long-term, go on a date with them. If they don’t meet those 5 things, don’t go on a date with them.
I know it sounds like you’ll still be going on a lot of dates, but you’d be surprised how much filtering you’ll be doing by sticking to a 5 requirement checklist. You already know how difficult it is to match, message, and arrange a first date. Add 5 prerequisite criteria in the mix and you’re bound to cut your dating pool down know how hard it is to find someone who meets all 5 criteria, to then to match with, message me, and go on a date? 5 criteria alone are enough of a filter where you can still go on dates and not feel too picky, but you’re also not going on dates with every woman who bats an eyelash at you.
If you feel like 5 criteria aren’t enough to effectively filter, up the prerequisites up to 7 or even 10 criteria. If you feel like 5 criteria is making it near impossible to date, filter a little less. Find a balance that works for you.
One more thing, don’t be afraid to take a chance on someone who you might not envision a future with who still seems promising. People can surprise you, and sometimes we don’t even know what we want yet. Maybe the person who would make a perfect long-term partner for you has characteristics you don’t even know you want in a partner.
Good Luck Out There.
Also published on Medium.