If you’re not a total player douche like Lance, then the purpose of dating for you (as it was for me), is finding the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with. In order to be successful at this, you have to accept a few truths:
- This is not an overnight process. You will have to go on a lot of dates in order to find someone who’s right for you.
- You will also have to take an active role in the process. You can’t wait for dates to come to you.
- In fact, this active role needs to begin before you go on any dates at all. You will never find what you are looking for if you don’t know what that is.
Call me a Virgo, but making lists was the most effective means for me to decide what I was looking for. So as a first step, list everything that you’d ideally want in a permanent romantic partner.
This first list is a rough draft, so be as picky as you possibly can. Age, body type, education level, activity/fitness level, food preferences, sexual preferences (I’m not just talking gay or straight, here. I mean do you need it twice a day, or twice a month? Do you like it rough with biting and scratching, or are you a tender lover? Do you like bondage? Water sports? The Poly lifestyle?), pet preferences, alcohol/smoking/drug use, religious preferences, how many kids you want (if any), the activities you like to participate in your free time, your stance on firearms, reproductive rights, politics, etc. The point here is don’t skimp–list every single thing you can think of. As you create this list, you’ll probably find yourself adding to it over a week or two. Give yourself that time to let it simmer so you know you’ve listed everything. You absolutely cannot rely on chance, the numbers game, other people’s perceptions of you, or any other crazy random system to find “the one.”
Now comes the fun (and most difficult) part. You need to divide your list into categories:
- Must-haves: things that are absolutely non-negotiable in order for you to be happy.
- Strong preferences: things that would probably bother you if you weren’t on the same page, but that you’re willing to consider compromising on.
- Weak preferences: things that would be nice, but that you don’t necessarily need to have in common with a significant other.
Once your list is categorized, you’re ready to start looking. I highly recommend putting yourself on at least one of the relationship sites–and do some preliminary searches before you join, because many people are on more than one site and there’s no sense paying for more than one if you’re going to uncover the same people at both. There are lots of sites that cater to particular interests, so you might join one of the more common sites to cast as wide a net as possible and then try to find one that caters to one of your must-haves or your strong preferences. And many of the locations that Lance mentions for meeting people outside of clubs and bars would also work for this purpose. To give you an idea of how your list might break down, take me as an example. I’m a vegetarian, I enjoy yoga, I have a high sex drive, I have two cats, and I love to read science fiction and fantasy. Obviously that’s not my whole list, but here’s how I’d break these things down:
- Must-haves: Someone who loves having lots of sex and who also loves cats (and isn’t prohibitively allergic to them).
- Strong preferences: Someone who’s also veggie. I don’t mind if the person eats meat at restaurants, but if things got serious, they’d have to know that I am absolutely not okay with meat in the house.
- Weak preferences: Enjoys yoga and reading. It’d be nice to be able to talk about those things, but obviously I can do them on my own.
You’d be surprised how many people you might have instant physical chemistry with are your polar opposite on some issue that’s really important to you. And it’s better to find this out in the first few dates so that you can bail before you start thinking that maybe you can compromise on issues that you really can’t. That’s what leads to LTRs where you’re never really happy–and, in many cases, quick marriage and eventual divorce. What’s non-negotiable for you?