You have a checklist — now create your soul mate!

Thanks for all the great feedback!  It’s fun and helpful to hear what many of you have to say, and to know that I’m not talking just to myself.

If you remember, back on my second post, I mentioned that almost all online dating sites require that you self-identify physical traits.  Most also require that you list your interests and activities in order to set up a basic profile, and that you do the same for your ideal match.
I have serious reservations about this approach.  It ignores the fact that as human beings, we cannot disaggregate undesirable traits from desirable ones at will.  We come as complete packages stuffed with our DNA, past experiences, present conditions, biases and defects, all overlapping and wrapped up tightly.  It is possible for one to change certain aspects of oneself with consistent effort and reinforcement over time.  However, it’s a no-win game to start with the assumption that an electronic checklist will yield a ready-made soul mate, ready to spark instant chemistry with you and integrate into your life.Without 20-20 hindsight, I know I would not have identified most of my ideal mate’s external traits.  Without having met him, I would have gotten the following outright wrong if I had to list what I thought I desired:

  • His height
  • His hair or eye color
  • His race and background
  • His profession or income level
  • His specific interests and activities
The only traits and qualities I would have gotten correctly would have been:
  • His gender
  • His highest education level
  • His intelligence and internal drive to continue learning
  • His open-mindedness to different people and ways of thinking
Conversely, if he had listed traits he was attracted to prior to me, they would also have been vastly different from mine physically and personality-wise.  It is not a stretch for me to conclude that most (if not all) online dating sites would have failed us, or made it very difficult for us to be matched up:  we would have been railroaded to focus on external characteristics that have nothing to do with our long-term compatibility.My husband and I first met and became closer friends over the course of a year, in fits and starts through many fun, meaningful, and silly conversations and experiences, sometimes with mutual friends and sometimes without, before we realized that we had something deeper than a friendship.  If we had put ourselves under the pressure of having to decide during our first meetings whether we could be “right” for each other, our time together would have been fraught with unnecessary tension and decisions.  We might have come out of them agreeing that we enjoyed talking to each other, but there was no assurance that we would have detected the elusive “chemistry” since we didn’t fit into each others’ idea of what was attractive or “hot.”

What a shame to pass on each other because we couldn’t yet imagine spending the next 10 to 50 years together after having coffee, a dinner, and drinks together.

Luckily, we approached each other with no long-term motive other than wanting to get to know each other better, and possibly becoming good friends.  And over a year later, when one of us made the first move and the other accepted, we did not limit ourselves to any fixed idea of what should happen in which order, or how we should each behave in customary roles.  That said, I know many happy couples who moved much more quickly than we did, or where one caught the other’s eye as a potential mate before they even met.  Even so, they have something in common with our scenario besides being in love with each other:  they now describe each other as their best friend above all others, not as the fulfillment of their preconceived ideal in looks, height, earnings, or interests and activities.

So my questions to you are:

  1. Did your narrow your field of vision for a mate for arbitrary reasons?
  2. Do you make snap judgments about profiles and dates based on insignificant reasons?
  3. How would you change your own profile and your view of others’ profiles to seek a new best friend?

As always, tell your single friends/colleagues/family if you enjoy this blog.  Post your comment below so others can see what you have to say, or if you’re too shy to broadcast your thoughts, please send me a message.

 / 2 Comments  / in Dating

2 Comments

  1. Bunni May 22, 2011 12:58 am - Reply

    How to narrow down the list of possibilities without a specific set of pre-determined criteria, then? Getting to know the deeper qualities of a stranger takes time, and it's hard to get that type of feel for a person in just one or two dates. It's even worse when trying to screen people in 2-D mode on a dating website – we resort to basic attraction – to someone's physical appearance (as presented by a small 1"x1" photo) or other superficial stuff.

    If only there were Yelp reviews for individual profiles and past date experiences…one could get independent information about someone that isn't self-serving. There may always be the off review, but you can usually tell who the ranters are.

  2. Oluvme May 30, 2011 9:35 pm - Reply

    Dear Bunni,

    In future posts, I will present some ideas on handling some of the issues you bring up, including:
    -Figuring out what what your specific needs are in a mate
    -Getting beyond the superficial stuff
    -How one gets to know a stranger

    Thanks for posting your comment!

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