Have you heard the story of a guy who went into the forest to chop down trees. As he was chopping tree after tree his axe became increasingly blunt. He needed more and more strikes to chop down each tree, even while chopping faster and faster. Although he was putting in more effort he became less effective and more frustrated. What he should have done was stop and take a few minutes to sharpen his axe, but he didn’t.
Online dating lures us into behaving in a similar way, drifting from one profile to the next, and the next. It becomes an exercise in handling volume as opposed to a deliberate search. One can put in a lot of time and effort, getting only mediocre results, but there are best practices that you can follow to not fall into this trap. The book “Ten Commandments of Online Dating” describes such best practices. Let’s look at two of these.
Thou shalt have a clear goal
If you can’t write it down you don’t know what you want.
The surest way to not get what you want in life is to not know exactly what it is you want. Imagine this; you go fishing but don’t know exactly which type of fish you wish to catch. You would throw out a net and catch all sorts of sea creatures, such as sharks, octopuses, and crabs. Sifting through them will keep you so busy that you may even overlook the one type of fish that might actually be worth catching. You would have put in so much time and effort only to throw it all back into the water.
But let’s imagine that instead, you go fishing knowing precisely what kind of fish you’re after. Knowing that, you can easily determine which location you are most likely to find it in, the best time of day, and the best bait with which to catch it. With less investment of time and effort, you will still be more likely to succeed.
The same principle applies when looking for a partner. You need to be very clear about the kind of relationship and person you wish to find. Such clarity only results from a deliberate process.
Start with the type of relationship you’re after. There are many types, ranging from a one-night stand to a partnership for life and everything in between. That is a huge spectrum of possible relationships. You must specify precisely which type you are looking for. Should it involve commitment and, if so, what should it entail? Do you want a full-time relationship or a weekend affair? Do you wish to share a home or live separately? What qualities must your partner have? Which other aspects are important to you? Be as precise as possible and write the details down. This is vitally important. Write it down!
Now comes the fun part. Create your perfect catch! Write down precisely what you are looking for in your ideal partner. Think about the age group, the appearance, the qualities and interests they need to have. What values would your partner need to have to make you compatible? What kind of hobbies should the person ideally enjoy? How sociable should he or she be? Are there any specifics concerning sexuality that are important to you?
Once again it is vitally important to write these details down. You might be asking yourself why this is so important. Conscious thinking represents only a small part of our intelligent behavior. In his excellent book, Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman attributes 98% of our actions to the subconscious mind. You do not need to think about your heartbeat for your heart to beat, about the digestion for your stomach to digest food, or about the blinking of your eyes in order to keep them clean and lubricated. All of these activities are done with amazing precision without your conscious input. In fact, trying to do many of these things consciously might very well be impossible or counter-productive, as their execution is imprinted into our subconscious mind.
Your subconscious mind will work non-stop on achieving your goal, but you have to activate it by defining clearly what you want. Writing down what you want heightens the effectiveness of imprinting a goal into the subconscious mind. This sets a powerful force in motion that finds ways to reach your goal. If you want a rewarding relationship and a great partner – turn this desire into a goal by writing it down in very specific terms. Look at your written goal every day and ask yourself if it is still correct and complete. If need be, update it.
Thou shalt be patient
“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”Arnold H. Glasgow
Impatience is an attractiveness killer! Why is it so easy to be impatient and so difficult to wait for something? The root cause lies in the simple fact that we desire things that we deem to be special. The very definition of special implies that it’s not something you find around every corner and certainly not always right away. This is where internal conflict originates. We want that someone or something to be special but are not willing to wait for it. Impatience thus is the struggle that originates from the fundamental dichotomy of wanting someone special, right away.
The inevitable outcome is frustration. Nobody wants to be frustrated. So, what’s a possible solution? The first option is to go for someone you consider less special, as they will be more likely to respond positively to your advances right away. The second option is to pursue the special person and accept that the process will require you to be patient.
It should be clear now why impatience is an attractiveness killer. Put yourself in the shoes of Nean who wants to impress Neandy. The moment Neandy sees that Nean is impatient to get closer to her, she will know that she could have him right away. That, by definition, diminishes his specialness in her eyes. We all know that we cherish things more if they cost a lot, and it’s the same with people. The more time or effort we need to put into winning affection, the more we will value the relationship.
The reward for patience can be great, but so is the challenge of putting it into practice. Why? Because it is not possible to practice patience without the perception of risk. The reason for being impatient in the first place is that one fears that the person might get away. That means that implicit in patience is having to deal with the perceived risk of the potential partner getting away, because of one’s temporary inaction. And with that, we are back to one of the fundamental laws of life, which is that risk and reward always go hand in hand. If you want a great reward you will have to pay a price. That price is patience and learning to deal with the fear that the person might get away because of it. Aristotle said, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
Patience is something we can learn and get better at, which is great, because it happens to be an attractiveness booster. Keep the following simple formula in mind: less patience leads to less success, more patience leads to more success at online dating.