Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Best Approach to Internet Dating I Ever Saw

When it comes to romance, I paradoxically advocate both trusting in the Lord to show you the way AND thinking strategically about how you present yourself in public.

I have been thinking a lot about how Calvinist Cath made such a great impression on her future fiancé without doing anything except being herself. Since a tenet of respectable Scottish Presbyterianism is not drawing attention to oneself, a value my ex-Protestant Scottish-Canadian mother tried to bang into my own head, I conclude that the secret was to be herself in public, in a social life that attracted the sort of men looking for women who wear their attractions quietly. Scottish Catholics, I think, are more likely to go for noise, dash and flirtation, Scottish Catholics being mostly of Irish or Polish descent.

My views on Scotland, incidentally, are so controversial Britain's most amusing conservative weekly refused to publish them, thus delaying my career by umpteen years. Woe.

But to get down to the subject of the day, a reader I'll call N sent me a link to the following, and I loved it so much I watched the whole 20 minutes, simply rapt. Thank you very much to N.

Now first of all I admit that I have an almost obsequious respect for women who are good at math and number-crunching because I seem to have a sort of numerical dyslexia. However, through a great deal of suffering and spiritual effort, I have managed to grasp the discipline of rooting myself in reality. This woman can both number-crunch and stare reality coolly in the face.

Second, this hard-working woman used internet dating not as a fun distraction and easy substitute for talking to men face-to-face, but as a sharp-edged tool to meet only those men most likely to approximate the Perfect Man for Her. Note that her number one criterion was that he be Jewish or, as she put it, Jew...ish. She has an advantage in that, almost alone of secular people, secular Jews still put a very high premium on marriage, especially marriage within their own community.

Third, she limited her search to her OWN CITY. This meant that instead of having drug-like semi-imaginary online relationships, she met potential suitors face-to-face ASAP. It also meant, incidentally, that she was unwilling to cash in everything she had--her family, local friends, her work, her career prospects--for a relationship that may or may not have turned into marriage.

(In case you are are thinking, "But what about you?", I did not come to Scotland to see if B.A. would make a good potential husband but to meet British online friends in person and to write the last part of my "Aelianus" trilogy, The Historical House of Scotland. Falling in love with B.A. was a surprise, and I had to cancel a date with a local man when I got back to Toronto.)

Fourth, she sucked up her pride and adjusted her profile to make it more man-friendly. For some reason, men seem to think "fun" is much more important and attractive than "fluent in Japanese". Ours not to reason why.

I particularly enjoyed her how-many-Jews-in-Philadelphia number-crunching. For the sake of local Catholic readers, I would do some how-many-church-attending-Roman-Catholics-in-Edinburgh number-crunching, were I not almost GUARANTEED to get it wrong. And, to be absolutely frank, were I Single I would not use a Catholic website but a Ginger website because although she is a delight your poor Auntie is a niche interest, appealing mostly to men who have a red-head fixation. Basically I would be looking for all the church-attending Roman Catholic in Edinburgh with a weakness for red-heads. I wonder if there are any besides B.A.? I am pretty sure the Bangladeshi chef who hit on me on the bus that Sunday (did I mention...?) was not a church-attending Roman Catholic. (That said, there were over 211,000 Catholics in Bangladesh in 2005, and these days it would probably be a lot nicer for them to be in Edinburgh.)


Still Waters... said...

I saw this video just last week, and was pretty fascinated. It's made me really think about how I come across to people who don't know me, especially men.

I am an introvert, shy and reserved with people I don't know well, and while I laugh easily at others, I'm not really an instigator of humor or "fun". I have never known how to flirt, and feel really uncomfortable "putting myself out there" like that. Those who know me consider me a gem, but I'm afraid my charms tend to be overlooked by those (men) who are looking cursorily.

I would love to know how any of the other introverts out there present themselves publicly so that they catch the eye of an NCB.

MCN Hobbs said...

I've never been into online dating half on principal, and half because of the kind of dates she went on in the beginning! bad dates are easy to get, so why pay for the possibility of more bad dates?

Woodbine said...

That was such a great video! There were so many times during her story when, in the same circumstances, I would have crumbled into a hopeless, emotional mess or abandoned the numbers thinking "ok, I can take it from here" (likely to disastrous consequences). But she persevered with the nerves of a fighter pilot! And she made a system that worked perfectly for her, using her own brainy talents, instead of subjecting herself to the bar scene or whatever. There is just so much to like about this lady! Her story makes me feel like I can conjure a relationship using flow charts. At least it inspires me to try.

Still Waters, maybe the approach is to make a list of those traits that others like the most about you. It could be a fun exercise and a solid starting point for learning which aspects of yourself to highlight around strangers - or what kind of guys to look for.

Urszula said...

It's interesting how she used her personal talents to tackle the subject of her singleness. Isn't this exactly what you were mentioning, Seraphic, by saying we should be the best and happiest singles that we can be? And this makes us attractive. Basically, she used her talents and what she was naturally good at/interested in.

In the same vein, Still Waters, I would recommend discovering/exploring the strengths of being an introvert. I know I've touted this before on this blog, but the book "Quiet - the power of introverts" is a great resource. It shows you how to play to your strengths in social situations (and they exist! Introverts are better at drawing out others, focusing on substantive conversations, etc).

Also, just getting out there and getting used to being in different social situations should help. I know I was reserved and shy as a homeschooled child but going to high school in a foreign country forced me to get out of my comfort zone, and that got easier and easier with time.

Julia said...

Are there seriously dating websites for people seeking redheads in particular? I don't do online dating, so I have no idea what's out there. I've never heard of sites that are for people wanting to find dates who have certain physical characteristics (brown eyes, blonde hair, height etc.)

Seraphic said...

Yes there are certainly Ginger websites in the UK. One reason is that, believe it or not, red-headed people get picked on a lot. This is not so bad in Scotland, which has the highest number of redheads ("gingerS") per capita (so to speak), but it is apparently pretty bad in England. Meanwhile "redhead" is definitely a male niche interest. Not sure there is a male niche interest in the "brown-eyed", especially as something like 90% of the world has brown or hazel eyes.

Anonymous said...

What if Mr. Right is not on any dating sites 'cause he thinks they're lame?

Jo said...

Her story about the very bad expensive restaurant date was horrifying. What kind of awful slime-ball abandons his date with a $1300 tab?! If that every happens to me, that man will be hunted and brought to his just deserts.

I kind of recoil at the thought of orchestrating a calculus for my dating life, but she was tremendously clever about it. I have no interest in trying out online dating, but I've had a lot of friends find success with sites that focus more on 'values' type questions and require you to rank and prioritize them, approximating something like her point system. But there still remains the problem of there being considerably more women than men on dating sites, and the ratio only seems to get worse as you move up age-groups.

Julia said...

Yeah, I suppose redheads do get picked on a bit! I can sympathise because I'm blonde, and we all know about 'dumb blonde' jokes. Australians have a slightly offensive but affectionate term for redheads, but I could never work out why redheads are made fun of. I mean, look at how many women dye their hair red. Why would they do that if it's such an awful thing to be redheaded?

Lindsay said...

I stumbled across that video about a month ago, and I was intrigued, too! Stories like hers are always just a bit unsettling, though. I'm always torn between waiting to see what God has in store and wondering if I will do something huge to set my story in motion, too. How am I supposed to know if my love story starts with a whisper or an explosion?

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I was bemused that her timeline included co-habitation as an taken-for-granted step up the ladder to marriage.


Seraphic said...

Ah yes! Reader N who sent it to me thought it would not be appropriate for Catholic readers, perhaps for that very reason.

I suppose that timeline makes sense on the secular Jewish community and perhaps even in most non-Catholic communities in the USA, particularly in the cities.

My thought is to take whatever from this video may be useful to you and to reject all that goes against virtue. Prudence is definitely a virtue.

Pearlmusic said...

I'm chiming in as a former "fake readhead" and natural ash blonde. Gingers do attract men certainly much more than ash blondies(my ex dumped me for a natural readhead, ouch!) and probably this was a part of my decision to dye my hair dark copper last winter :D
However it was fun and it allowed me to put on a stronger make-up. Now I'm my subtle blonde self again, with only sightly brighter hair colour than my natural and that's fine, too.
By the way, I'm not sure if there is one universal strategy of attracting the right person for everyone (we're all so different and you can never tell which man will find which feature more attractive, after all), but being the best possible version of who we really are.

Pearlmusic said...

*redhead, my gosh!

Julia said...

Haha! Pearlmusic, if I'm honest, I used to be a fake redhead too! I liked it a lot, but I couldn't be bothered maintaining it, so I'm back to my natural blonde now. I didn't notice getting any more or less attention from men either as a 'redhead' or a blonde though.