The Numbers Game

In theory, dating is a game centred around two simple numbers.  One, and Two.  You find the ‘One’, you make a pair.  Simples!

But that particular equation was created in a very different era!  (No … this post isn’t about threesomes!)

As The Enigmatic Flaneur explained in his post TinderTown, whilst the eventual end game of making a pair is still the same for most people, dating in 2014 is likely to involve far more than one person.  Because never have we ever been so aware of just how many options there are out there.

This is down to two elements – geography and communication.

If you look at our parents generation, most people married very locally.  Childhood sweethearts, neighbours, university loves.  Yes, there were exceptions to the rule (my backpacking father and Romanian mother included), however for the most part, people’s options were limited by geography.  Or at least governed by them.  The world we’ve grown up into in is infinitely more globalised.  Before we even consider the changes made to our lives by the internet, major companies now span several continents, and working abroad, or regularly travelling to far flung places in pursuit of business or pleasure are an accepted and regular part of life.

The world is our oyster, full of a whole range of potential pearls.

The internet has removed the logistical weight that location once carried in the dating game.  I can switch on my computer, or open an app on my phone, and see thousands more single men than I ever would simply walking down the high street of my village.

We literally flick through options on apps and dating websites, without so much as a second thought.  Yes, No.  Hot, Not.  (Or more realistically … No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No …. Hmmm??!’

And so the dating net is cast far wider than ever before.  We literally have access to more options than singletons have ever had before.

Which should make finding ‘The One’ easy, right?

Wrong!  Because how do you know someone is ‘The One’.  And is there really just one anyway?  If anything, being able to engage with so many people should highlight just how many potential ‘Ones’ there are out there.  How perfect a match does someone need to be?  Should you hold out for someone better?  When exactly, do you decide to stop the dating merry-go-round and claim your prize?

Modern dating sites do not believe in The One.

If they did, they would only let us talk to one person at a time.  There you go dater, you’ve made a match …. go off, try him out for size, and then only come back if it doesn’t work out!

Dating websites and apps allow us to talk to endless amounts of people at the same time.  In fact, the advancements in technology and communication are all geared up for serial dating.  Ten years ago, if someone was on the phone to you, it was unlikely he was chatting to anyone else at the same time, let alone sourcing out alternative options.  Nowadays, it’s unlikely you’ll have an actual conversation with a match prior to meeting up in person, and all methods of communication allow you to chat and search for other dates, all at the same time. Even if someone does pick up the phone and call you, there’s nothing to say he’s not texting someone else at the same time, or playing on Tinder, or Facebook stalking at the same time as chatting on the phone!

I realise that probably sounds cynical.  And I promise this isn’t a jaded rant.  What I’m trying to explain, is yes, we all recognise that we’re not living a version of Pride of Prejudice.  But actually, nowadays, we don’t even live in the same world as Bridget Jones, with her confusion simply deciding between two men!

In 2014, you could easily be deciding between up to 20!  No wonder most matches on Tinder don’t even bother saying Hi!

The reality of proactive dating in 2014, is that we all have options.  And I firmly believe in taking those options.  Because actually, the only way you’re going to meet ‘The One’, or someone at least with the potential to become that significant number, is by testing the water.

Online dating is an act of self-marketting.  And some people are really rather awful at it!  Mr SC is the perfect example.  I didn’t particularly fancy him in his photos, and only swiped right because he was doing adventurous activities in some of his pics.  I had my ’30 Dates’ head on when I agreed to go on a date with him.  If I’d been acting more like the real me, I’d have never considered going on a date with an Army boy, or someone with a child – things which were clearly displayed on his online dating profile.  And yet, of all the hundreds of men I’ve met as part of this challenge, he’s been the one to have the most profound effect.

What I’m trying to say, is no matter how traditional you feel about finding ‘The One’, if you’re searching online for a partner, then the best method is to put your ’30 Dates head’ on too.

Chat to someone you might normally discount.  Don’t overly analyse the photos, because they could be really misleading.  Give someone a chance, and see how it goes.  You don’t have to fall in love at first glance of their dating profile.  If you find someone intriguing or interesting, give them a chance and meet up in person.  It’s just a date.

And the more you go on, the more you’ll begin to understand yourself, and your needs and requirements.  Which things are deal breakers.  Which things aren’t so important.

If you keep your options open, and chat to a range of people, then you are less likely to fixate on someone.  You’re less likely to build up the situation, and expect too much.  One of the worst things about dating can be your own expectations, because it can be crushing when that virtual stranger turns out not to live up to them.  So go in with an open mind, don’t expect too much, don’t over-think it, and just be yourself.

One of the main reasons I rate my date with Mr SC as my best first date so far, is because I was completely myself.  I didn’t expect to fancy him.  I was getting bored of dating, and almost cancelled the date.  I turned up completely relaxed, and just acting like myself, and so when we clicked almost immediately, I knew it was me that he fancied, and not just me on my best behaviour.

Finally, one of my problems with dating is that I always talk so much.

It’s something I do in everyday life (if you haven’t already noticed from the blog!)  I love to communicate.  I text and email all day long.  I love to get letters and emails, and I’ll chat until the cows come home.  But when you’re dating, being chatty can get you in trouble … because guys can interpret it as being too keen.

Now, I hate playing games.  One of these days I’ll get around to reviewing The Rules – a frankly appalling book of dating rules for women.  There are, however, a couple of important valid points, and most of them revolve around not communicating too much in the early stages of a relationship.  However, rather than playing an actual game, and over-thinking how and when I text a guy I’ve been in contact with, I find a far better way to control my over-chatty nature, is to communicate with more than one guy at a time.

Even if you have a clear favourite in your Tinder inbox, keep chatting to a range of options.  Early on in the original 30 Dates Challenge an old friend actually drew my attention to Cindy Lu’s ‘Four Man Plan’.

The idea sets out your love life like a 21st century dance cards, with sixteen squares upon which you ‘collect’ men.  The level of involvement with a man dictates how many of the 16 squares he fills at any one time.

It’s a slightly complicated system, where different levels of relationship equate to different proportions of the grid, however it is a clever way of ensuring you stay busy, and chatting to a range of different men, but also that if you commit in some way to one of the men – for example with emotional intimacy, or by having sex, then this limits the amount of other men you can engage with.

I’d definitely recommend googling the idea, but essentially what it boils down to, is keeping your options open, and spreading yourself more thinly across a couple of options, so that you don’t rush things with a guy you’re interested in.

Personally I don’t think it’s a bad idea.  The age old mantra of playing hard to get is popular for a reason – we all want what we think we can’t have.  And so if playing the field enables you to be a bit more detached during the early stages of a relationship, then I think it’s certainly something worth trying.

So my advice?  Play the numbers game.  We ALL live in 2014, and we no longer live in an age where having multiple options is something exclusive to men.  Make the most of your time being single, because you won’t be forever, and rather than begrudge modern communication and sites for the endless possibilities, embrace them, and be glad that we don’t live in an age where we literally only ever had one option, and he was chosen for us by our parents!

Miss Twenty-Nine xxx

2 Comments on The Numbers Game

  1. Awesome post! When I was using online dating, I was failing a lot. Instead of giving up, I changed my approach. Instead of only reaching out to the women I saw as “perfect”, I went out with anyone that had common interests in. None of those dates ended up turning into long term relationships, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to affirm what I was looking for in someone. I learned a lot from doing this. Eventually, I started to narrow my focus down again and ended up finding my wife a few months later.

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