A Semi-Serious Guide to Efficient Modern Dating

A Semi-Serious Guide to Efficient Modern Dating

You met him on an app. Tumble or Hinder or Binge. One of them. All of them. You forget which. You swiped right based off a picture and a 25 word bio — he loves dogs and traveling.

Now you’re at a trendy coffee shop/restaurant/bar. He’s talking about his recent trip to Rome. It’s a well-rehearsed story told with the perfect mixture of humor, impressiveness, and humbleness. You act like it’s the most fascinating adventure you’ve ever heard. It’s not. Both of you pretend this awkward interaction isn’t awkward. Bonus points if one of you makes a joke about how “awkward this is.”

The date is over. Now comes the fun part.

“Hey I had a great time last night. Let’s do that again sometime,” pops up on your phone.

Oh no.

It wasn’t a “bad” time, but would you classify last night as a “great” time”? Was there stimulating conversation with sexually-charged undertones?

No.

But he was so nice. Are you really going to die alone because your first date didn’t live up to an early 2000’s rom-com?

“Me too, definitely!” you reply.

“What are you doing Friday? I know a great bar.”

You’re on date two. His Aziz Ansari impression, serviceable at best on date 1, hasn’t improved with age or repetition. But you push through it and laugh when appropriate. You’re relieved when a text doesn’t immediately appear after the date - but also a little offended.

Then Wednesday arrives and your phone buzzes.

“Saw this and thought of you” accompanied by a meme about tacos.

So now you’re texting buddies? Things have escalated.

You spend a few hours pondering how to respond and ultimately go with “Haha,” in a stunning display of wit.

“What was that Thai place you recommended?” he follows-up.

“Thai Kitchen”

“We should go there!”

You’re not interested. Well, at least you think you’re not interested? All you really know about him is that he likes traveling and does below-average comedian impressions. You’re not infatuated with him but are you really going to do much better? You say you’re super busy now but “definitely” down to grab Thai in the future.

For the next month, the two of you text back-and-forth. He offers different dates and you find different excuses for why they don’t work. The frequency and length of your exchange steadily decreases until one day it just…stops.

Welcome to the world of dating. Welcome to hell.

Welcome to the world of dating. Welcome to hell.

INEFFICIENCY AT ITS FINEST

Going off the experiences of my friends and colleagues, dating ranges from minor annoyance to sheer agony. You expend tremendous energy finding someone to go on a first date with, only to then spend additional hours decoding text messages and internally debating whether someone deserves another date.

“She’s a bad kisser and a little too obsessed with The Handmaid’s Tale but she does have an apartment near the F train.”

“He asked me to a party with his friends on Saturday. What do you think that means?”

My friends have long accepted that the process to find “the one” is tedious and painful.

But does it have to be this way?

Today we can get an Uber to our location in 5 minutes, get a 36-pack of toilet paper delivered to our door in 2 days, and find a NYC apartment within two weeks. Surely there must be a better way to find love.

The problem is we believe love is something that falls into your lap rather than a specific objective to be achieved.

So I propose a different way to date — a more efficient way to date with the goal is to get from “How Are You” to “I Do” as rapidly as possible. It won’t be romantic — romance was cute 5 years ago when you were backpacking through Europe trying to “find yourself.” And if you’re someone who believes that finding love is about the “journey,” and not the “destination,” then I suggest you close this article and go back to reading Eat, Pray, Love.

But for those of you okay with breaking some socially acceptable norms to find “the one,” then I have some ideas to help you on your dating expedition.

THE RELATIONSHIP RESUME

You’re going on too many bad dates.

The problem is you don’t know it’ll be a bad date until you go on it. You don’t know anything about the person you’re meeting until you meet them. All you have to go on is what you drunkenly chatted about at a bar when you first met him or her, secondhand information from your friends, and what they have on their dating profile. “Dog lover?” Who isn’t? “Enjoys traveling?” Join the club called Being 25.

Maybe you Facebook stalk your upcoming date. But at that point, it’s too late — you’re already committed to spending time with them.

What you need is detailed information about someone before you agree to go on a date with them. What you need is a relationship resume.

What you need is detailed information about someone before you agree to go on a date with them. What you need is a relationship resume.

If every job application needs a resume, shouldn’t it be required for the role of “your soulmate”? Imagine a single document with your potential date’s basic information: height, job, interests, relevant skills (e.g. expert pasta maker, knows how to change a flat). The relationship resume would also include the person’s relationship history with any major milestones such as sharing a Netflix account, moving in together, getting engaged, etc.

The relationship resume serves two purposes. One, it lets you immediately screen out candidates that don’t match your criteria. Under 5’8”? Atheist? Vegan? Enjoys watching The Big Bang Theory? Why wait until the third date to discover these relationship-changing details when you could have immediately filtered out someone through a quick resume scan?

Second, with someone’s details ahead of time, you can skip the small talk when you’re actually on a date and spend more time engaged in meaningful conversation. Stop wasting the first 30 minutes of your dinner listening to your date talk about geocaching and use more time discussing shared passions or aspects about the other person you actually find interesting. Before the date, just take a brief look at their resume and pick out a few conversation topics you actually want to discuss on the date.

Speaking of which…

THE DATING INTERVIEW

Most dates are like dancing. Through a give and take of questions and stories, both parties try to establish a rapport with each other so the conversation naturally flows. The problem is that dancing is a painfully slow way to get to know someone. The first few dates are dedicated to superficial topics such as “What do you do?”, “What brings you to this city?,” “What do you do for fun?”. Let’s be honest, we don’t really care about our date’s life-changing vacation to Barcelona or that they simply love the new season of Veep.

We care about the meaty topics. Where does our date stand on kids, marriage, finances, and hot-button political issues (abortion, gay rights, climate change)?

Let’s stop pretending the first few dates are a chance for people to vibe with one another and instead recognize them for what they really are — a chance for two people to evaluate each other.

Treat the first few dates like an interview. Before the date, make a list of values and attributes important to you in a partner. Then on the date, ask your date where they stand on those issues. If your date doesn’t believe in marriage and never wants kids, wouldn’t you rather find this out now rather than in 6 months?

Worry less about the conversation “flowing” and whether you two have “chemistry.” Instead, reframe the conversation as a fact-finding mission.

Dig into your date’s relationship resume. Why were they in a 5-year relationship that didn’t end with a ring? Why are their last three relationships each shorter than 3 months?

And if your date gives unsatisfactory answers that removes them from further consideration, don’t leave your date hanging. Send them a polite yet firm note that they will not be continuing in the relationship selection process. Something like the below.

“Dear XXXX,

Thank you for your interest in applying for the role of “my boyfriend.” I regret to inform you that at this point you will no longer be moving further in the relationship process. Obviously if my situation changes I will reach back out but thank you for your time and energy.

Sincerely,

XXXX

If you feel inclined, you can even offer feedback about how they can improve for future dates.

If you feel inclined, you can even offer feedback about how they can improve for future dates.

THE MOVE-IN TRIAL PERIOD

You’ve been on a few dates. You’ve held hands, made out, maybe even gone further. It’s time to move in together.

“Isn’t that way too early?” you may be thinking. “Most people move in together after knowing their partner for several months, if not years.” You’re right. And that’s the problem.

Under the normal dating process, if two people hit it off, they keep going on dates until one day they suddenly are “dating.” And then they start sleeping over at each other’s place until they decide to move in together. “Moving in together” is typically the final test before marriage.

It’s at this point couples either make it or break it. Sometimes you love living with your significant other. Other times you realize how different your feelings can change once you’re with someone All. The. Time.

So if moving-in is the ultimate relationship test, why not take a practice version earlier? After you’ve dated someone for a few weeks, have a trial move-in period. Set a start and end date for one person to move-in with the other. Don’t pack any furniture or hire a moving company, simply bring a suitcase full of clothes and try living together for a few weeks.

So if moving-in is the ultimate relationship test, why not take a practice version earlier?

Nothing gets you to know someone faster than to see which side of the bed they sleep on, how often they do the dishes, and whether they leave the toilet seat up or down.

Things won’t be perfect but at least you can see where there is a baseline compatibility. And if living together is a complete disaster, wouldn’t you rather find out now rather than waste any more time?

Moving in with someone throws your relationship in the metaphorical deep end. You’ll know very quickly whether your relationship is strong enough to learn how to swim, or there are fundamental differences that will make your relationship drown.

IN CONCLUSION

Are these steps simple? Yes.

Are these steps easy? Absolutely not.

But I didn’t say finding the love of your life will be easy — just that you’ll find your soulmate faster and with less wasted effort.

There will be people who think you’re crazy or that you’re too aggressive for breaking accepted dating practices. Let them think whatever they want. Once you find your happily ever after, will it even matter?

THE REAL CONCLUSION

How serious am I about these recommendations? A solid 50%. I don’t really expect anyone to start exchanging relationship resumes over Bumble or actually move in with someone after knowing them for a few weeks (though if you do, let me know how it goes). However, I do believe we can be more strategic in our love lives.

Yes, love is not the be-all end-all of life. And yes, finding love is as much about finding ourselves as it is about finding the right person. But that doesn’t mean we should aimlessly accept whatever comes our way when it comes to dating.

A relationship resume isn’t necessary, but we should be upfront and clear about who we are and what we are looking for.

Grilling someone on the first date may be too much, but we should spend less time on small talk and more time asking questions that really get to know someone, even if it is a little uncomfortable at first.

Moving in with someone after a few dates is aggressive, but we can all stand to push ourselves and our relationship to make sure we’re actually happy, and not just settling for something we’re comfortable with.

Life’s just too short for bad dates, shallow conversations, and unfulfilling relationships.

In Defense of “Touristy”

In Defense of “Touristy”