Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.
As a professional gay matchmaker, I loved listening to how invested Amy Webb was in finding a life partner. But I squirmed in my seat hearing how much time she spent developing her intricate points system and compiling data for her charts, and then how she rated the men she met online.
Admittedly, my jerk reaction was "Who has the time to do this?" Analyzing 72 data points after each date seems a bit outrageous to me. Relationships are about compromise, not ticking boxes. If a client of ours handed me a list like Ms. Webb's, I would respectfully slip it aside and discuss their true top five or ten "must haves" and "deal breakers" in a relationship and future partner. I likely would not permit "child must play piano at age three" as one of their deal breakers. Sorry Ms. Webb!
I'm a huge advocate of dating online as an effective way to meet lots of different types of people - especially when you're new to dating or freshly out of a relationship. Online dating is easily accessible, cheap or sometimes free, and there are millions of people dating online at any time. I love to ask my clients about their experience dating online because it's important to reflect and learn from these experiences. I think Ms. Webb may have missed an opportunity here - she seemed to have analyzed the data, but overlooked the possibility to look at herself after all these dates and continue to analyze what she has to offer a potential mate, and not just vice versa.
I often hear there is a lack of "quality" and relationship minded people online, and that many people aren't actually who they say they are in their profile. But what I admire about many of my clients who have dated online is that they continue to look inside themselves after each date and continuously reflect on what they have to offer.
Like Ms. Webb, our clients hire us because they're very selective. When dating as a mature adult, you absolutely should have a concrete idea of what you want for your future relationship as well as what you have to offer your mate. That said, we also believe certain things are important to be flexible on when it comes to setting your parameters. For example, being less restrictive on age bracket and geographic location will open up the pool of people to potentially date. Having children, your core values and financial maturity are a few things you should waiver on less, as these are important to have in common with a future partner.
I recently wrote an article about my thoughts on being single as a professional matchmaker. Soon after, I decided to give online dating a try because I wasn't interested in meeting people at bars and I had exhausted dating through my social circle. My new online profile embraced something that my business partner suggested I do that I had never considered before - dating someone older than me. I left my geographic range open as well.
To my surprise, I was "successful" almost immediately. I maintained my values, goals, and preferred hobbies, but because of this encouragement from someone I trust (another matchmaker), I found someone I was interested in dating. Had I not been more open minded than I was dating previously, I would have never entered the relationship I'm in that currently makes me happy. I didn't need 72 data points, graphs, and charts to get me here.
I work in the dating industry partially because I believe everyone deserves to find love. Between smart phone dating apps, online dating sites, personal matchmakers, Facebook and Meet Up groups, there so many options to meet new people. My honest suggestion is to explore as many avenues as you can.
Remember that being selective, like Ms. Webb, is important. Making sure that your potential dates hit 750 points before you will even consider them is a bit extreme, in my opinion. I respect and admire that this system worked for Mrs. Webb, but this is definitely not the norm. Keep your options open and you may find true love sooner than you think.
We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.