Are You Binge-Dating? The Difference Between Going After Your Goals and Losing Your Mind

binge datingAfter my book about how egg freezing affects women’s lives came out last year, readers consistently told me that one of their favorite passages was about a woman who went on so many dates she had to create a spreadsheet to keep them all straight. She’d cut and paste thumbnail photos next to their names and include key details: Did she owe anyone a phone call? What had they talked about? Names of kids and pets? Every night she’d update the document and print out a copy that she could carry in her bag, in case she received a text or call during the day.

Most readers found the anecdote inspiring in a “Way to take your love life by the horns” kind of way. Yet others thought her approach was neurotic – even exhausting – because finding love shouldn’t be a full-time job, right?

Actually, if it’s important to you, it should at least be a part-time job. Even though my book character admits to being teased for being “so extreme” in her focused quest to find a good man, she ended up going on a date nearly every night of the week and within a couple months met someone who became a serious boyfriend. At one point, she was dating three men with names that started with “S” and had to refer to her cheat sheet to keep them all straight.

One of the best advantages of online dating is the ability to control the pace of romantic prospects. Want more dates? Respond to more matches. Send out more emails. Work on your profile. Update your photos. Return texts and phone calls. Be creative in planning dates. In fact, you can get so good at managing your pipeline you can easily set up several dates a week.

My friend calls this “binge-dating.” She believes that finding love is a numbers game and the more people you get in front of and ask “So what do you do for fun?” the better chance you give yourself to find what you’re looking for.

Of course, there is a real risk of burning out before you can answer, “What do you do for fun?” And if the mere mention of that question makes you want to sigh or scream back, “I like going to brunch, the movies, the beach, like most other normal people. Why would you ask that anyway?” then it’s time to go on a dating diet. It might also be good for your liver, too.

When less is more:

1) Be more selective

Preserve your energy for the people you’re most excited about meeting. Some experts suggest you go out with a wide variety of people to learn more about who you are and what you like. This is especially true if you’re coming out of a long relationship and need to get your bearings again. Plus, all that flurry of activity in the beginning is exciting and fun. But there’s a fine line between being open-minded and going out with anyone who can string together three sentences in a decent email. Make a list of your deal breakers and stick to them. Also, while some people enjoy the spontaneity of meeting without speaking on the phone, a quick screening chat can help weed out the underwhelming match. Aim for one quality date a week.

2) Take breaks

If you’re looking to land a sweetie before the holidays or feel you’re on a certain timeline for marriage and kids, taking a break can feel counter-productive, if you’re not taking action towards your goals. Still, you won’t sabotage your entire future if you go off the grid for a week or even a month or two. You’ll hopefully return refreshed and perhaps even more curious about what your date does for fun.

Can’t seem to slow down your dating pace? You’ve heard this a million times, but you’ll enjoy it more if you ditch all expectations and focus on connecting with another person. Some people like the social aspect of dating and think of romance as a bonus. If that’s your style, a spreadsheet might come in handy.

How often do you date?

About the Author:

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate and Salon.

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