Your Weeding-Out System

Posted on July 21, 2011

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Now that you’ve gotten your online profile up, you’re going to be eager to use the online dating sites you’ve chosen (and remember, you should have a profile up on at least two different dating websites). People are going to be contacting you and/or you are going to want to start contacting others but before you’re tempted to begin, you need to get some things in place first. 

As I’ve stated before, online dating is an art. There are a lot of great people who use online dating to meet people. There are also strange people, dishonest people and people who are really not your type who will inevitably try to get you to go out with them.

This way of meeting people can be a complete waste of your time, money and energy if you don’t approach it intelligently. If you have a plan in place before you begin, you’ll be much better prepared to navigate the world of online dating effectively. Your online dating plan will need several parts (and I’ll be explaining all of these parts in detail over the next week) but you absolutely must have an effective weeding-out system from the get-go.

Now I’m not going to tell you what exactly your weeding-out system should be because well, it’s going to have to be your system, tailored to your own unique needs and preferences in relationships. I can however, give you some guidelines on how to begin. 

To start, take out a sheet of notebook paper and divide it into three columns. Label the first column No Way, the second column Would be nice and the third column Absolutely.

Step 1: Figure out your non-negotiables. These are the things that you will not, under any circumstances, tolerate in a relationship. Don’t want to date someone who has children? Deathly allergic to dogs? Hate cigarette smoke? You’ll probably want to steer very clear of single moms and dads, dog-lovers and smokers.  Make a list of things you absolutely will not tolerate in a relationship and put this list in your column labeled “No Way.”

Step 2:  Now make a list of criteria you’d really prefer your romantic partners to have. Looking for someone who also loves the outdoors? Want a partner who will understand your crazy work hours? These are the things you’d prefer a potential partner to have. Put this list in your column labeled, “Would be nice.” 

Step 3: Get as picky and as detailed as you like and make a list of things your ideal partner would have. Put this list in column three, “Absolutely.” 

Now, as you begin to contact people, your job is to stay very far away from people who have the things you listed in your “No Way” column, to contact/respond to people who have the things you listed in your “Would be nice” column and to give first priority to those who possess the criteria you have listed in your “Absolutely” column.

Of course, many of these criteria may not be apparent from someone’s profile. Pictures and words will only tell one part of the story. Your job is to have several email exchanges back and forth before you agree to meet someone in person to weed-out those who fall into your No Way column.

This does not mean that you send someone a questionnaire to fill out before they meet you for coffee or have a Spanish inquisition kind of conversation over the phone before you agree to have a beer. This is art, remember? And it requires you to be subtle. 

So do your research first. Look at the person’s pictures and read their entire profile. A dog lover may have a picture of himself with his dog and a smoker may have a picture of her smoking. Try to find out as much as you can about this person before you even exchange an email. 

Then, when you do write an email ask about your non-negotiable topics. For example (for the man who does not want to date a woman who has children) I see that you’re divorced-so am I! Do you have children? sounds more like a small-talk email conversation than I hope you don’t have any children because I don’t want to date someone with kids which sounds judgmental and harsh.

By asking open-ended questions and not stating what you hope the answer will be when you communicate with others, you allow people room to be honest with you. 

The weeding-out system is a highly effective way to begin the online dating process. However, it is not always going to be 100% accurate. People may outright lie to you. People may not answer some of your questions. Sometimes, the information you need isn’t information that’s appropriate to ask until you know someone a little bit.

It is not some miracle tool that will magically prevent you from all online dating jerks. It will, however, help you start to make more conscious decisions about who you interact with. It will help you streamline and strategize who to contact and who to respond to. It will probably save you a lot of headaches and time. 

So don’t respond to that wink or that message just yet. Get your weeding-out system in order. Then we’ll talk about the next part of your plan. 

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