Your Next Long-Term Relationship
If you’re looking for a life partner, online dating is a great way to do it and most of the online dating advice out there is just plain wrong or doesn’t apply.
At the age of 45, I used online dating to find a soulmate and so can you.
If you’re 40+ and you’re an Online-Dating-Refusenik or Online-Dating-Never-Again or Online-Dating-I-Have-No-Idea-What-I’m-Doing, I can help you compress years of frustrating trial-and-error into a few months of win. Say hello.
P.S. Your relationship with your intimate partner controls just about all your (lifetime!) happiness and health. The unhappiest people are those in unsatisfying, conflict-ridden relationships and marriages. They’re more unhappy than single people who would prefer not to be.
Top photo by Ian Schneider
If you think things slow down and the party’s over at around 40, listen up: Your first life belongs to nature. Your second life belongs to you.
My Online Dating Timeline Of Win
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz
After 25 years together, the mother of my children and I split.
“Gee, what now?”
Started online dating - “Gee, is this how we’re supposed to do it now?”
Date 1 (my first date in 25 years) - “Gee, this person is not the person her profile makes her out to be. Is this what it’s like? Am I doing it wrong?”
Date 2 - “Wow, I like this person a lot.” Very strong connection, very quickly. This became a 1+ year relationship.
Date 3 - “Gee, it’s probably a bad sign when she cries.”
“Gee, this is not working. I need to try something different.”
Started online dating on Dating Site 2 - “Wow, why wasn’t I told about this? Oh, I see, everyone’s doing it wrong. I wonder what happens if I do it right?”
Date 4 - “Wow, I apparently have done it right.” It was the first date for both of us from Dating Site 2, about 6 weeks since I started on it. This was soulmate-to-be.
When it gets really important, really fast, it’s always surprising because on a scale of 1 to Nature-Valley-Granola-Bar, we’re so certain in our loneliness and we were both certain we didn’t want to see anyone else.
2014, 2015, 2016
November: It’s 4.5+ years later and we’ve been planning marriage for 4+ years.
Total amount of money I spent on Dating Site 2: Zero. Nada. Zilch. 0. Full disclosure - I did spend a fortune in time, thought and care, crafting my profile.
Total number of dates from Dating Site 2: One. Uno. Singularity. 1.
Total number of soulmates: One.
Number of soulmates you need to win life: One.
Please let me help you find the one (instead of the next one). Say hello.
Most importantly, marry the one that makes passion, love, and madness combine and course through you. A love that will never dilute - even when the waters get deep and dark. Do not settle for second best. This sort of love is out there. And I hope you have the courage to start over, and try again until you have found it.
N’tima Preusser (To My Daughters, Coffee + Crumbs)
Online Dating Research You Must Know About If You Want A Life Partner
Photo by Allef Vinicius
Partners who met online got married 6 years sooner than those who met offline.
1 in 4 straight couples met online.
2 in 3 gay couples met online!
Partners who met online were not more likely to break up. Once you’re in a relationship, it doesn’t matter how you met.
You can find a perfect stranger online - someone you have lots in common with who you would otherwise never have met. 75% of the partners who met online had no prior connection, no friends in common and their families didn’t know each other.
You can be more selective online because you’re accessing more potential partners than you could meet in your daily routine.
Middle-aged people are the most likely to use online dating, because they’re in the thinnest dating market. When you’re 23, almost everyone your age who you’re interested in is available as a potential partner. At 43, almost everyone your age is not.
Online dating can go fast because courtship is about information-gathering and you can learn a lot about people from their profiles and messages before you meet them.
People looking for longer-term relationships use the dating websites where profiles are more lengthy and text-driven.
Want to be a really happy statistic? Say hello.
There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.
Online Dating Doesn’t Include Dating
Photo by Dennis Flinsenberg
The business model for online dating doesn’t include dating, let alone relationships.
The dating sites and apps don’t know if you date and they don’t get paid when you do.
They don’t know if you go on 50 dates or 2 dates or no dates.
They know only about your dating-site activity. That’s when they get paid.
What drives dating-site activity?
Small transactions of attention: profile-visits and messages and smiles and winks and kisses and matches and likes and comments.
Attention gives hope, and we willingly pay for hope.
When hope runs out, we give up. And, sooner or later, we’ll probably restart hope on a different site or app.
This is always because we didn’t receive enough of the “right” kind of attention - we experienced either too little attention or too much attention of the “wrong” kind.
Giving up is bad for business because it means less dating-site activity.
If you don’t give up and you’re one of the “lucky” ones to turn a date into a relationship, well, that’s also not the best thing for business.
Because then, two people will stop using the dating site and it will stop getting paid twice and the pool of dating profiles on the site will shrink by two.
Photo by Alisa Anton
So, if your priority is “finding someone special” or “finding a soulmate” or “finding a life partner for a long-term relationship”, you and the dating site want completely different things!
You want to get off the site as soon as possible.
The dating site wants you there forever.
Dating sites care about, and commercially optimise for, “don’t give up”.
There’s really no focus on you pairing up. If you must go on dates, the dating site would rather you go on dates that don’t turn into a relationship.
Dating sites commercially optimise for the giving and receiving of attention. The chances of this “going anywhere” is small.
It’s nothing personal, they’re businesses to run and it costs a lot of time and money to build and operate a dating site or app.
At this stage, you may well be wondering, what chance do you have of finding a life partner online at all, let alone in any reasonable time frame?
Bad news: If you do online dating the way most people do it, I think the answer is, unfortunately, “not much”.
Good news: If you do online dating the way I recommend, I think the answer is “quite a lot”. And no matter what happens, you are likely to have a much, much more meaningful online dating experience than is typical. Say hello.
Perhaps it is true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing, we cannot properly speak until there is someone there who can understand what we are saying, in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved.
Alain de Botton (Essays in Love, On Love)
Online Dating Is Accelerated Intimacy In A Packed Stadium
Photo by Ekansh Saxena
“CAN I MEET ALL THE PEOPLE?”
No! There are too many people!
There are many, many, many thousands of people in the stadium.
You can spend a lifetime just meeting the people in the 10 rows in front of you.
For every thousand new people you meet, you’re going to be a good match with only a handful. You’ll get exhausted and disillusioned before you find one. You have to spend at least 4 hours with someone to know if it’s worth spending more.
Yes, some people want to go on hundreds of first dates.
Yes, some people are prepared to go on hundreds of first dates, if that’s “what it takes”.
Not me! I hate dating and I love relationships.
If you want a relationship, you don’t want yet another “first-and-last date”.
You want the last date.
The last “first date”.
Photo by Veronica Benavides
“CAN I REJECT ALL THE PEOPLE?”
No! There are too many people!
Even though you can hide someone forever in one click or swipe, and you can reject thousands of people a night, while you’re in your pajamas, it’s still too much work.
You can’t hide or block enough people fast enough. Their places are immediately filled with new people.
Click, swipe, click, swipe, hide, block, click, swipe, oh-alright, like, wink, click, swipe, click, swipe, smile, no, no, heck-no, heck-yes, actually-no, maybe, yes-actually-no, are-all-these-people-out-on-a-day-pass, click, swipe, click, swipe, I-should-go-to-the-dentist.
What To Do About The Paradox Of Choice And The Stadium Problem
When you get more choice, you have to be picky.
You want to find the others and the others want to find you.
The perfect profiles are still only one click away. Just like all the others. They don’t take any more clicking to find. They’re already there.
You have to get the people you’re not compatible with out of the stadium and you have to make them leave silently. You can’t afford to even be aware they’re gone.
When most of the people are out of the stadium, it becomes quiet and you can hear and be heard and you can see and be seen.
In an almost-empty stadium, the paradox of choice vanishes.
You do this by being more recognisable.
You do this by helping people recognise that they are not a match for you.
When most of the people recognise that they are not a match with you, they’ll leave silently.
This is completely not the same thing as being more desirable.
Photo by Jonathan Pendleton
There are MANY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE surrounding you.
A HANDFUL are PERFECT for you. And you for them.
Where are they?
Imagine there’s a dating profile out there for someone who’s perfect for you and who you’re perfect for. And even though that profile is as close as ONE CLICK AWAY, the same distance as all the others, you may NEVER see that profile and its owner may NEVER see yours.
And that’s how most people do online dating.
So how do you do it?
Dating is just dating. The amount of “choice” is driven by circumstance.
In the recent past, online dating was writing physical letters to post-office boxes and waiting weeks for a written reply.
A few hundred years ago, if you grew up in a village, you saw the same 50 people every day and online dating was whoever you met at the Maypole Dance.
You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we know what we were taught.
Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago)
New Dating At The Old Masquerade
Photo by Azrul Aziz
Online dating is just another masquerade you go to.
Everyone’s pretending, because that’s what we do at a masquerade.
We go to various masquerades in various public and private spaces all the time and we dress and behave differently at each one:
Halloween, Mardi Gras, The Carnival of Venice.
The nightclub compared to the supermarket.
Public transport compared to a hike.
Meeting strangers at the office compared to visiting the home of close friends.
Online dating is just a new masked ball in a special stadium.
When we can mask our identity and wear any costume we want, we behave very differently. It’s not that we’re being dishonest, it’s just that we’re being someone else for a while.
Yes, to get what you want, you have to take the mask off eventually. Before you do that, it helps to understand what game you’re playing.
Someone has to come out of hiding in order to signal the others. And it might as well be you.
Photo by Luis Alfonso Orellana
The few people who matter, the special others, are there, hiding out of sight.
They might have blank, sparse or hidden profiles or complete, recognisable profiles that you don’t know about.
Finding them starts with you taking the risk of being very vulnerable in your profile text. You can still keep your privacy and anonymity!
Your dating profile is your costume and IT MATTERS and it’s not made of cloth or jewels or feathers or made objects.
It’s made of stories that make you instantly recognisable to VERY FEW people at the masquerade. A few people you are VERY compatible with. A few people who would be VERY interested in getting to know you. A few people who you would be VERY interested in getting to know.
Your costume matters.
The people who matter will recognise you underneath the costume, and they will experience a push-pull and be compelled to take risks of their own and it will make it safer for them to come out of hiding and communicate with you (“I HAD to message you!”). This takes a load off you!
This is how you find the people who matter.
Photo by Adriana Velásquez
This is how you get everyone out of the stadium except for the few that matter.
And be recognised in turn.
Good news: You have complete control over your costume.
Bad news: Most people are “very unskilled” at costume design, especially when the costume is made of words and pictures that tell your story.
Good news: I’m very skilled at it and I want to help you. Human stories are the only thing I deal with, day in and day out, because I’m a counsellor. I can talk to you and I will know what makes you the same as everyone else and what makes you different - what makes you recognisable. Say hello.
Someone you haven’t even met yet is wondering what it’d be like to know someone like you.
Watching And Waiting, Daring And Dating
Photo by María Victoria Heredia Reyes
“I Don’t Need A Man But Where Is He? Also, Does He Have Chocolate?”
Happiness might be waiting for you on the other side of the tracks.
Or the other side of the country.
Or the other side of the world.
Photo by Ishan Gupta
“Are There Any Good Women Left? Or A Bad Woman With Chocolate? Or Just A Bad Woman And I’ll Get The Chocolate Later?”
These days, many people travel for work, recreation, education and adventure.
At this stage of your life, you might be perfectly willing and able to travel but you haven’t found anyone worth making the trip for.
If you can’t travel, the person waiting to meet you can, and would, if only s/he knew you existed.
S/he could be anywhere, how wonderful!
Want to come out of hiding and peek over the horizon? Say hello.
It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does.
Find Someone To Love You For All The Others
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo
Bad news: Life unhappiness peaks around age 50.
Good news: I’m 49 and I got 99 problems but a fabulous, unexpected, changes-the-future, glorious, intimate relationship ain’t one!
Yes, you may live well.
Yes, having a partner is just one of the ways to love.
Yes, it may have been years since you last loved.
Yes, everyone our age has history.
Yes, and history is filled with burning and learning.
And trusting again.
Have you been waiting long enough? Say hello.
There are lovers content with longing. I’m not one of them.
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi