If you’re a caveman and woke up with today’s technology, you’d be ecstatic. At first.
There are these things call smartphones, which have dating apps that allow you to look at and evaluate almost as many partners as you want. On top of that internet, social media and mass marketing that bombard you with images of unrealistically attractive pepole. And lest you get horny, you can have virtual sex with a limitless amount of porn stars, virtually for free.
Not a lot of actual work is required.
Let’s look at an adjacent example from the corporate world.
“A 2012 McKinsey study found that the average knowledge worker now spends more than 60 percent of the workweek engaged in electronic communication and Internet searching, with close to 30 percent of a worker’s time dedicated to reading and answering e-mail alone.” (Barking Up the Wrong Tree)
This has a name: pseudowork. It feels like work to you, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
In dating, there’s a lot of pseudowork. Getting Tinder match notifications on the phone. Checking the OKC messages that hit the social tab of your Gmail. Texting that girl you’ve hung out with that one time, weeks back.
Many times, this feels like progress. All the conversations, emoticons, texts, flirty banter. It all feels like it’s going somewhere, and sometimes it does. The feeling of validation doesn’t hurt either.
But those are all the wrong metrics. The only dating metric that matters is…
the number of times you meet in person, face to face
Let’s consider this for a moment.
When you’re dating, the one true thing that really matters is how often you meet in real life. The number of times two people meet already indicates sufficient attraction and connection between them.
Practically speaking, using the number of times met metric removes a huge chunk of stress from your dating life:
- Wondering about the mixed signals she’s sending? Doesn’t matter if she doesn’t meet up with you.
- That confusing/sweet text he sent you? Texts are pointless if you two don’t meet up.
- Infatuated by that girl you met at the club? It means nothing until you see each other again, outside the club.
I’ve been in that anxious state before, hingeing on to every text a girl sends. Does that mean she likes me? What does she mean? Thinking in terms of # of times met acts like a system-override, reality-check button button for me. If someone continues to see me, they care. If we don’t ever see each other, we can hardly claim that we really care about each other.
I want to get serious for a moment and underscore how important this is.
Why does it matter so much to meet in person? It’s not only because nice things like touching and sex can’t happen online.
It’s because presence is the greatest gift we can give each other.
Break out the tree bark, cause I’m about to get sappy.
- When you’re in a hospitable bed, there’s nothing more you want than to have a friend stop by.
- When someone dies, you think about the last time you spent time with them.
- When you die, you think back on times spent with loved ones.
Time is the greatest resource and the scarcest. Time is life. When you show up and meet someone, you’re literally giving away a piece of your life. And when you treat your own time and life with that much value, other people can’t help but sense it and respect you and your time.
So that’s my treatise, folks. To date more happily, just worry about the one metric that actually matters.
_ _ _
1. But what about long distance relationships?
Even long-distance relationships start with a series of intense meetups to establish a baseline of intimacy, until one partner or another has to move away.
Does this mean two World of Warcraft players can’t fall in love over the internet? Of course not, that can happen but it’s by far the exception.
The higher the amount of upfront investment, the longer that two partners can reasonably be apart. For example, many of my friends have fathers who’ve started businesses abroad, leaving wife and kids home in ‘murica save for a handful times a year. But typically, the husband and wife have spent years together building up their relationship before making a life change like this.
Here’s what relationship guru Mark Manson says about long distance relationships:
“You don’t get a sense for the actual relationship until you’re there, in person, and in each other’s faces non-stop, whether you want to be or not.”
2. Maybe you’re jaded because you’re from LA
Some friends argue that I’m jaded about dating in Los Angeles. “In places like New York, meeting up with people is so much easier.”
I retort that this doesn’t change the # of times met metric for dating – it may just be easier to increase that metric in different dating markets.
Let’s put it this way. Show me two different pairs of daters. One pair has seen each other twice over the past 5 weeks. The second pair has seen each other every week over the same time period, sometimes even catching a two-fer in week. All things being equal, who would you bet your money on to turn into a couple?
I’d bet my money on the second pair every single time.