I consider myself a seasoned veteran in the realm of online dating. I have tried all of the major sites, written and re-written my “self-summary,” and waded through years of doubt and guilt, constantly questioning my own standards and the motives of others. It’s a complicated task, dating — and like most people, I’ve tried to streamline the process as much as possible, weeding out those who I will not be compatible with before I invest much time into them. Some people make calm, well-considered additions to their profiles, such as, “I DONT DO DRAMA SO IF UR A HO WHO DO DRAMA DONT GET NEAR ME.” Others might add preferences to the multiple choice questions asked, such as only marking “Athletic,” “Hot,” and “Slim” as their preferred body types for a partner. But I, never one to follow the general traffic pattern, have taken a separate approach. It is inflammatory and offensive to some — but it is precisely those people whom I wish to avoid. In practice, it has worked flawlessly for my purposes. If I find someone on the Internet that I think I would like to have a date with, my method comes in two parts:
1) I must speak with the person on the phone before meeting.
2) They must take my 3-question quiz.
The Phone Conversation
Why do many people choose online dating? Because they’re not stellar with social interaction or live conversation. The kicker is that (in theory) you’ll eventually have to participate. These are skills that are difficult, yes, but unavoidable if you’re looking for someone to spend time with. It is frequent that someone is quite eloquent while typing or texting, but have absolutely nothing to say when speech is required. You can try and make your case for “people who are just shy” and “well what’s wrong with that,” and my answer to all of your arguments will be that that’s not what I want. That’s not what most people want. If I’m going to spend a significant amount of time with someone, I need them to be on a similar level of communication skill. You can be shy and a little reserved at first — but you’re not allowed to be silent and continue to hide behind the Internet’s skirt. The phone conversation ensures that they are capable of relaying thoughts and opinions via vibration of the vocal chords, which, in my book, is required.
In addition, people these days don’t seem to understand that dating is not really about common interests. I don’t care if you love football, or build and paint miniatures. What I care about are the facts and potential implications behind those interests. I need information about you as an individual, and what you need from me, as an individual. Since the idea of dating (for most) is to find someone with whom you would like to spend the rest of your life with, living in the same general space, and talking to each other every single day, I need deeper, more concrete information.
If you really like football, it might mean that you used to play and really enjoy a physical challenge, and respect the athletes who play professionally. Or, it could mean that you’re extremely competitive, and you get a buzz from Your Team winning over Their Team 4,006 points to 12. Or, it could mean that you’re really concerned with maintaining an image or a status in a group of people, and you participate in watching and talking about sports with them because you’re nervous that they won’t like you if you don’t. All of these, and combinations thereof, are options.
If you really like to build and paint miniatures, it could mean that you might be a person who needs a lot of alone time to feel balanced. It could also mean that you’re really artistic, and need someone who can really appreciate the creations you put time into. It could also mean that you’re rather antisocial, and prefer the company of yourself to others, and only want a woman around when you’re bored. All of these, and combinations thereof, are options.
As an adult, you need to be able to recognize these things in your own personality and then articulate them to people you want to date. If you cannot do that, it will show in grand and terrifying ways during our phone call when I ask you, “so, what do you enjoy so much about Korean horror movies?”
Is quizzing people unconventional? Yes. Is it potentially scary or frustrating for the quizzee? Sure. Does it give me a wealth of information about that person’s personality, attitude, and abilities? Absolutely. I am not going to divulge the three questions that I ask here. But I will tell you that they are general intelligence questions, set to a fair benchmark of life experience and knowledge. They are not obscure questions about 1940’s noir films, nor are they calculus equations. Also, potential suitors are told well in advance of even speaking to me for the first time that there are questions involved before the first date, so there is no surprise. If you agree to the phone call, you have also already agreed to the quiz, which serves two different purposes.
-It weeds out the insecure ones. This is by far the most helpful benefit of the quiz. The quiz, in the grand scheme of things, is nearly meaningless. It’s a silly little thing, and one of the questions doesn’t even have a right/wrong answer. Really, none of them do if you’re creative enough. But the pressure to perform and impress can be overwhelming for some guys, and the risk of failure too great. One gentleman who took the quiz became angry after I asked the second question (he had answered the first with no problem), and began berating me for being a man-hating bitch, and accused me of solely wanting to make him look foolish. Another gentleman answered the first two questions and told me that the quiz was pretty fun. I then asked him the third, and after over-thinking it for a few minutes, he became highly emotional, and explained to me for 10 minutes about how he had been bullied in 4th grade by a kid named Lance.
Only one gentleman has ever said, “you know what, that’s a little too peculiar for me. No thanks.” I greatly respected him for making his choice based on his own comfort level, and I wished him luck in his future dating endeavors. Less than ten minutes later, he wrote me online again and said, “due to the fact we’ve written this off, I’m curious what the questions are anyway?” I explained to him that unfortunately, the questions were for potential dates only. He then proceeded to condescend me, saying, “Just as a heads up, for us level headed and confident people, it comes off as a red flag. … You may be doing it to avoid bad dates, but may lose out on other great dates because of it.” Among a few other things he said, the oh-so-subtle implication of “what you’re doing is stupid, all the smart people think so,” was enough for me to bid him a permanent adieu. Although I was tempted to ask, “if you’re so level-headed and confident, why dodge the quiz?”
Insecurities are a part of life; everyone has them. But I believe adults should be able to prioritize which threats are real, and which are constructed in our own minds. Answering three normal questions from some girl you’ve never met, and who you have no obligation to meet anyway, should not be a threat large enough to induce a temper tantrum, tears, or passive-aggression.
-It weeds out the less intelligent ones. “How dare you assume some people are less intelligent than others! For shame! I’m never reading your blog again!” Ok. Now that that’s addressed, let’s move on.
If you’ve ever worked with the general public, you know that some people either don’t pay as much attention as others, or seem to exist in a constant haze of ignorance. If you haven’t worked with the general public, just go peruse any hashtag on Twitter. Some of these people are good at concealing their true mentality online. There are plenty of services that will write your online dating profile for you, so that you make a better impression. If someone chooses to use one of those services, that’s no problem — but this is why I have a quiz. I have wasted too much time explaining ridiculous things on first dates to people who just don’t bother to look around, or who are incapable of absorbing outside information. I have explained that coffee comes from a plant. I have explained what the little tab is for on your rear-view mirror. I have explained that a different city hosts the Olympics every round. I have explained that you have to hold a compass parallel to the ground in order for it to function.
I fully understand and appreciate that these are not qualities that everyone looks for in a partner — but they are important to me, and I find it highly unlikely that I’m the only one. My methods may be overly formulaic and rigid, and many consider my standards to be “too high.” But after a hundred dates with the wrong guys, what do I really have to lose now by using an out-of-the-box method? A date with the guy who promises me that I’ll regret not dating him? Thanks, I’ll make a note of that.