We’re coming up on Valentine’s Day, when the young (and old) hearts and thoughts take a romantic turn. In this spirit, my posts for this week and next will all involve love and personal finance. If any other bloggers want to join in on the fun, please send me a link to your post at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to profile what you’ve written.
As I alluded to in my economics of dating post, I have an approach to dating that I’ve used and have recommended to friends which I think would be useful to many people who are unhappily single. To be completely upfront, I’ve never been married (and have only lived with one woman for a brief period of time). However, I’ve dated a reasonably large number of woman (enough that I’m not sure the exact count at this point) and have had a few women who would have been willing to marry me, so I stand behind this.
For anyone who questions if dating advice belongs on a personal finance blog, who we marry (and whether we stay married to them or not) MASSIVELY affects our financial situation. Along with career choice and spending habits, our partner is probably one of the biggest determining factors in personal finance.
The first element of this is that the date-seeker needs to get rid of any idea of “soul mates” or “their type”. I suspect that over the course of a lifetime we all meet 100-200 people we could probably have a reasonably happy life with. It’s ok to find some characteristics attractive (personally I really like redheads – yum!), but if you become fixated on something as an absolute requirement, and there aren’t many people who fulfill your requirement, you’re setting yourself up to be alone.
As an example, many woman want a guy who is taller than them, earns more money than them and has nice hair). That’s great unless you’re a tall, successful woman and you’re competing with similar women for the same small pool of guys. If a guy’s only demand is that the women he dates be swimsuit models, he’s got some long, lonely nights ahead of him.
Some people say “be picky, you’re worth it!” If someone wants to be dating and they aren’t, then they’re being too picky. Of course, if someone would rather be alone than compromise, that’s totally cool but they need to own that decision (they’ve chosen to be alone: no complaining ).
The second element that needs to be jettisoned is the idea that singles can sit back and wait to run into Mr. or Mrs. Right. They can’t. All sorts of people never get married and they cop out later in life with the lame excuse “I just never met the right person”. Bullshit. They needed to go out and find the right person (and instead, unwisely, chose not to).
Once these two ideas have been abandoned, the date seeker just needs to find enough prospects to ask out in order to find enough people to date seriously in order to find someone to propose to who’ll say yes and get married to them (it’s as easy as that!). Think of it as a pyramid or a weeding out process where the most important part is the number of prospects (there needs to be enough of them to find that special someone).
I once read about a psychologist who got tired of his clients saying “no one will date me” and he ran an “experiment” where he would walk up to women and ask them if they’d go out on a date with him (no cheesy lines or anything, just walk up and ask). It took him 50 tries, but eventually someone said yes. I don’t know how good (or bad) looking he was, but I think this would probably be true for anyone (eventually someone will say yes).
Fortunately, technology makes things even easier. Sign up for Match.com, eHarmony, OkCupid and Plenty Of Fish and send messages to 3 people a day. That’s 21 people a week or about 90 a month. Push through the pain of rejection or fear and eventually there will be dating. Say 1 in 10 people messaged on OkCupid will respond and meet for coffee, 1 in 10 people met for coffee will go on a second date, and 1 in 5 of these people dated a second time becomes a serious relationship leading to marriage. This implies 500 people need to be messaged to find true love.
I’m somewhat (not completely) sympathetic to women who aren’t willing to ask men out or initiate contact on dating sites (so women can lead G8 countries, but can’t ask a man out on a coffee date? RIIIGGGHHHTTT). If someone decides they aren’t going to do the asking out, they have an obligation to make it very clear that they’re available, single, and likely to say yes. I’m not sure the exact mechanics of this (I’d appreciate any women who can make suggestions in the comments), but the nearest I’ve figured it out is that it involves smiling a lot and working into the conversation that she’s single (“well, as a single woman who isn’t seeing anyone right now, I have a particular interest in whether or not Greece is on the verge of bankruptcy…”).
For guys who think they’ll be destroyed (DESTROYED!) by a woman saying no to them: you won’t be. Man up!
If you’re married or in a relationship, what’s your favourite piece of dating advice? If you’re (unhappily) single what’s been preventing you from finding someone?