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  • I first tried online dating my freshman year of college, which was in 2001, in case you can't see my wrinkle.

  • Now, as you may have noticed, I'm six-feet tall, and when I arrived at my chosen university and realized our men's Division III basketball team averaged five-foot-eight, I abandoned the on-campus scene and went online.

  • Now, back then, online dating was pretty close to the plot of "You've Got Mail."

  • You'd write long emails back and forth for weeks before you finally met up in real life.

  • Except, in my case, you'd realize you have no chemistry, and so now you're back to square one.

  • So, while online dating has changed a lot in the last 17 years, many of the frustrations remain the same.

  • Because here's what it does well.

  • It broadens your pool of potential dates beyond your existing social and professional circles.

  • And here's what it doesn't do well.

  • Literally everything else.

  • A few things you should know about me: I'm an action-oriented overachieving math and theater nerd who ended up with an MBA.

  • So, when things aren't working out, I tend to take a step back, apply my business tool kit to figure out why, and to fix it.

  • My love life was no exception.

  • The summer before I turned 30, I took myself on a relationship off-site.

  • Which means I went camping solo in Maine for a week, to do a retro on my track record of mediocre relationships.

  • Because the thing was, I knew what I wanted in a partner.

  • Kindness, curiosity, empathy, a sense of purpose.

  • And yet, here's what I chose for online: Ivy League degree, six feet or taller, lives within 12 subway stops of me.

  • It's not that I intentionally prioritized those things, it's just the easiest to vet for online.

  • It kind of is like a résumé review, which is why these guys looked great on paper and never quite fit me.

  • So, when I went back online in the spring of 2016, I decided to reengineer the process through some classic business tools.

  • First, I went to OkCupid, because I wanted to avoid the gamification of swipe-based apps.

  • And also, because I wanted a writing sample.

  • Next, I set up a sales funnel, throwing out any sense of my type, and instead defining the criteria that would qualify a lead.

  • An inbound message had to do three things: had to be written in complete sentences and with good grammar; it had to reference something in my profile, so I know it's not a copy-and-paste situation; and it had to avoid all sexual content.

  • I figured this was a pretty low bar, but it turns out, of my 210 inbound messages, only 14 percent cleared that hurdle.

  • Next, I wanted to meet in real life as quickly as possible, because the things I cared about, I couldn't see online.

  • But the research, and my experience, shows you only need about 30 seconds with someone to tell if you click.

  • So I invented the zero date.

  • The zero date is one drink, one hour, with the goal of answering one question:

  • Would I like to have dinner with this person?

  • Not "are they the one?"

  • Literally, "Would I like to spend three hours across the table from this person?"

  • You tell them you have a hard stop -- drinks with girlfriends, a conference call with China -- it doesn't matter, they don't know you.

  • The point is one hour.

  • If it's awesome, you schedule a first date.

  • And if it's not awesome, you downshift into entertainer mode and you workshop a few new stories for your next networking event.

  • Plus, because it's just an hour, you can squeeze up to three in one evening and then you only have to do your hair and pick out one great outfit a week.

  • The zero date also gave me a chance to see how they responded to me asking them out.

  • I figured not everyone would dig my moxie, and I was right.

  • Of my 29 qualified leads, only 15 replied to my message, and of those, six scheduled a zero date.

  • My first zero date was with a set designer.

  • And we were both into yoga and preferred our bagels with peanut butter, so it looked pretty promising.

  • But two minutes in, I could tell it wasn't going to be a thing, and I was relieved not to be spending dinner with him.

  • After that, I was a little nervous about going to my next zero date.

  • But we had agreed to meet on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with a flask of whiskey to watch the sunset, and honestly, it was two blocks from my apartment.

  • Plus, this guy had a podcast, I have a podcast, worst case scenario, we can talk about our podcasts.

  • Then, Chas set down next to me.

  • And this kind and empathetic man told great jokes and asked even better questions.

  • He was a lawyer and a writer, and his eyes twinkled when he laughed and they squeezed tight when I kissed him, and at some point in the evening, our zero date became a first date.

  • And two years later, we have a washer, dryer, and two house plants together.

  • Now, I can't promise you're going to end up with house plants.

  • But the point of this story is that online dating doesn't have to suck.

  • Don't treat it like a game, and don't treat it like a resume review.

  • Instead, use it to source and qualify leads and then get offline as quickly as possible with the zero date.

  • Because the point of this isn't swiping.

  • It's finding your person.

  • Good luck.

I first tried online dating my freshman year of college, which was in 2001, in case you can't see my wrinkle.

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How to stop swiping and find your person on dating apps | Christina Wallace

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/08/21
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