An unreasonable time to date

I’ve been on many of first dates here in San Francisco that happened because of software and I always ask the person if they want to go on a second date. If we had a reasonable first date where tons of mutual smiles and laughs were exchanged and they say no, I always ask for honest direct feedback why (via text so they will be more honest). I hear this so often…

I didn’t feel a connection.

Don’t get me wrong, attractiveness, saying offensive things, a very stalled conversation… those are all pretty reasonable reasons to not want to go on a second date. But, those aren’t the dates I am talking about.

I think this sentence is more of a thing than it otherwise would be because online dating provides people with {U-N-L-I-M-I-T-E-D } { O-P-T-I-O-N-S }.

Can you image trying to find the perfect cupcake?
YOU’D DIE before you found it.

Online dating is like trying to find the SINGLE BEST TASTING CUPCAKE…

These options lead people to think that a first date with the man/woman of my dreams will look like this…

Expectations for a first date (right?!)

But first dates suck, objectively, they suck way less than 2nd or 3rd dates.
Most of them end up looking like this…

Most first dates look like this crappy pony

I mean, it’s still a pony, but it’s just the last pony you’d pick from a lineup.

But you know what, I’m sure this pony will carry your purse for you on a long walk, it will take care of you when you are sick, it will make you pancakes in bed.

Great relationships are work. They are imperfect. They grow on you, they take time, they require trust. They aren’t even great first dates. They are a spotted mangey pony and they are holding your hair while you puke.

I think the online world can take cues from the offline world to help properly set people up for an incredible mangey pony relationship. Because at the end of the day your life WITH a pony is much better than without a pony and this pony will stick with you through thick and thin. Plus, it won’t ever be posing for pictures in the sunset with some new cameraman named Jake with a fancy moustache and a fixie bicycle.

Technology can’t help

I was chatting with a woman at a party who used to work for OK Cupid (my most favorite dating app). She was obviously not speaking for them when she said, “technology can’t help you find connection.” I so fundamentally disagreed with her (and I bet OK Cupid would too). I think it can, and it should. It just isn’t, at all.

I think it’s because the approach of engagement (i.e. time in the app) does not correlate with successful relationship outcomes. I think it’s because the focus is about trying to filter people out online and matching you with your perfect mate before you meet. That’s so backwards I think, because that’s not how it works in real life.

A better recipe

1. Mystery
When you meet someone in person you know literally nothing about them. That’s the fun in it, learning more about them. With the exception of core values, you can compromise on many things. Mystery is exciting.

CGI Robert Downey Jr. is SO MYSTERIOUS!

2. Conversation with faces
I’m not talking about texting or messaging. I think conversation has to happen, it has to be undistracted, 1–1, and personal. Otherwise you’re just half-ass juggling between multiple people in some weird semi-human format. It leads to mass disconnection. It turns dating into a chore. Real connection must be built with uninterrupted 1–1 conversation.

Jane didn’t text.. and those monkeys loved her!

3. No expectations
It would be much easier to date if people didn’t expect it to be something in particular... A… DATE! I mean, you hear stories of married couples who just knew on the first date they would be married. But, for the most part I believe that great relationships are unexpected, they happen because two people form a bond that was unplanned, that came in and of itself. If you like the human, go on a second outing. If you don’t like the human, don’t.

A date doesn’t need to be any more grand than just an encounter with another person (ideally that you find not unattractive).

If there aren’t four naked green people at a Cirque Du Soleil show you’ll demand a refund! The bar for a date should be lower.

4. Safe word
To be fair, efficient, and honest I think there should be a dating safe word. That if either party says the word, it’s over. Now this advice seems to contradict my previous points, but there are some circumstances where I feel it’s ok to eject from a date and having an eject word is something scary enough that people would only use it when they felt strongly.

So, if either party says the word nachos during a date, it’s over. You politely say your goodbyes and no one has to feel hurt… because everyone loves NACHOS!

My suggested safe word for ending a bad bad bad date… nachos

One cupcake at a time

I guess in the end I just wish people would see one cupcake at a time and I wish technology would help them to do so. To try and find the joy in this one cupcake and maybe only if it’s lemon meringue or involves bullshit coconut sprinkles to move on to a totally different cupcake right away.

I don’t think this will necessarily lead to more relationships or better relationships, but I do think that focusing your energy on one cupcake in the moment might just lead to a better second date. And that’s all I ask.

Date one flawed slanty cupcake at a time and in doing so you may just find it delicious enough to order the same slanted cupcake twice.
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