In the year before I met the woman who is now my wife, I was dating with purpose. I didn't necessarily aim to find a wife, but I was pretty intentional about what I was doing. And since I ended up finding an amazing woman and marrying her, I figured I'd share what I learned from it to help men and women looking for something similar.
The biggest mistake I made by far was traveling so much. I wouldn't do it any differently, but huge gaps between the first few dates torpedoed a lot of relationships that may have otherwise worked. In fact, if it weren't for my friend Todd pushing me to fly to visit, I probably wouldn't be married. ("You never like a girl this much. You are an idiot if you don't see her before your next trip")
Despite your best efforts, a lot of it will come down to random chance. My wife told me that she only swiped right on me because I mentioned cruises in my profile and she figured we'd have something to talk about since she liked cruising too. There was another girl I was dating earlier with whom it may have worked out if her ex-boyfriend didn't show up in her life between our first few dates. You just never know.
That said, the key is just maximizing surface area. Figure out what it is you want and spend as much time as possible with potential partners. That also means spending as little time as possible with those who don't fit. One thing I think I did really well was stop seeing girls once incompatibilities surfaced, even if it was going really well.
It's important to be who you are on the first date. I see a lot of friends run into trouble when they put on a little bit of a show on the first few dates. I never do that, because I want accurate advertising. So I show up in my only outfit for every date, go drink tea, and try to tell them early about anything that might disqualify me. If you do this, you start a relationship with trust and don't run into trouble later.
Especially in large cities, I see people paralyzed by choice, always trying to find someone better. But if you keep switching checkout lanes in the grocery store, you never make it out. My strategy was always to look for people who match my criteria, and when I find one I focus on her and act as if she's going to be the one. Not in a creepy needy way, but basically not allowing myself to sabotage the relationship in search of a mythical "perfect" person.
I was really fortunate to find someone who had a very similar approach. We never talked about marriage or anything like that early on, but both had the philosophy that if we are dating we will put our best effort forward to make it a great relationship.
If I were to boil my philosophy down, I'd say it's to get out there and meet as many people as possible, but to know what you're looking for and filter hard for it. Once you find it, give it your best shot, because finding someone you're really compatible with is hard!
Photo is from a show called Fuerza Bruta that I saw in Vegas. A good portion of it takes place with the cast members on a clear plastic stage a few inches above your head. Really cool!
Tynan, I've been on literally over 100 first dates. This is so true. I'm still single btw.
Now, I think you missed SMV tho. If your criteria includes meeting a girl who is unlikely to date you (in my case a tall girl with model looks). I'm 5'3 and I've wasted a ton of time on deadend dates with tinder girls over 5'5.
I think it's important to find one's reasonable dating level and then adjust accordingly. This isn't an issue for all guys, but maybe there a few out there that can relate.
I was wondering however, what is the method that worked best for you to get high quality dates? Is it just talking to girls around your hobbies? tinder? cold approaches? malls? cafes? etc.
> One thing I think I did really well was stop seeing girls once incompatibilities surfaced
What are incompatibilities? This is what I struggle to define and often find myself not sure whether something that bothers me can be worked through or is a fundamental difference.
Personally, I think you're the only one who can define those incompatibilities for yourself. I realize that may not be helpful. I unfortunately learned my own incompatibilities through failed relationships, but I wouldn't recommend breaking the hearts of a bunch of people just to get a sense for who you are. If possible, try to learn through the safer context of friendships. One might approach any difference with the potential that one's partner may not change. If you couldn't work through your differences, would you both still be happy? Take for example, core beliefs like religion: If a religious partner is determined to convert their atheist partner, both sides may eventually feel that the other side is not listening to beliefs that are important to them. Do you both want children? How much time together do you think is ideal? Maybe they would like to spend most of their time with you, while you would prefer to balance time between your partner, friends, etc. If you don't spend the majority of your time with them, would they feel hurt? One trait I couldn't compromise on myself was how confident he is because it drains my energy if I have to provide consistent assurance and affirmation. I tried to make a list of what I couldn't compromise on, but I've also changed over time so my list has adjusted with me, which brings me to commitment as another non-negotiable quality for me. Despite the issues and changes we've been through, we keep to our commitment with tenacity and separation is just not an option to either of us.
This is part of an ongoing series. If you haven't read them already, read :
I wrote out this entire post before, and then the computer crashed and I lost it all, so I haven't felt like working on it. Finally, I'm biting the bullet and starting over :
As Leo says, it's very true that we can easily get sucked into our ideals. I think being around great people you love can help you, it certain helps me, refocus on what matters.
Being a good person.
I was reminded of this yesterday by something I wrote years ago.