Ten years ago, my job didn’t exist. There weren’t ads for it. They didn’t teach it in school. And had you told me that this would be my profession after graduating college with a degree in economics, I would have laughed in your face. (And I have a loud laugh! If you read my book, you know that I was once “recognized” across the room by someone who worked at a furniture store I had just been to.)
I’m a dating coach.
As we all know, dating is a hot topic these days. Between the rise of IAC, specifically OkCupid and Tinder, and its impending IPO for its dating division, Aziz Ansuri’s book “Modern Romance,” which I’m thoroughly enjoying, and Patti Stanger as The Millionaire Matchmaker (she’s leaving Bravo… time for me to step in??), it seems like everyone and their mother is talking about—and practicing—dating.
This leads to my main topic: technology and its impact on the dating world. Now, I’m in my 30s, so when I was in college, I didn’t even have a cell phone. (Well, technically I did—this huge blue box that I lugged around—but I didn’t dare let anyone know I had it!) College kids today are meeting for study groups, hook-ups, and friendship using Tinder on their brand-spankin’ new iPhones that are nicer than the “lame” 5c I still own with its cracked screen and always-full memory.
I’m certainly not one to dispute that technology is a good thing. I love (well, mostly love) that I have my email at my fingertips at all times. I think it’s pretty amazing that I can sign up for all of my gym classes with the click of a button on an app. I’m still in awe that I once programmed my DVR from my laptop as I was sitting 35,000 feet in the air. (I know—it’s AMAZING, Louis CK.) I’m a fan.
Here’s what I’m not a fan of: People looking at their phones all day long so that they don’t even know how to carry on a conversation anymore; A world where I’m not sure if second graders are even learning their times tables since it’s so easy to check the answer with one click… or one ask of your friend and mine, Siri; A place where, in a meeting, someone checks his watch to see that his girlfriend texted him that she’s going to be late for their dinner plans tonight.
When I started my business over four years ago, I was the biggest, baddest fan of technology… specifically online dating. I thought, and still think, that it’s an incredible way to meet people. It’s a medium that gives you access to so many eligible people. Wow—sign me up.
Also when I started, there was no such thing as a dating app. Yes, perhaps the already existing sites had apps to make it easier for users to log in (and OkCupid had a fun/crazy experiment called Crazy Blind Date that got the kibosh quicker than you could schedule said crazy blind date), but there was no such thing as Tinder, Hinge, Grindr, Coffee Meets Bagel, JSwipe, Happn, The League, Bumble… Shall I go on?
It’s so easy now to get a date. Wasn’t that the hard part a mere 10 years ago? Is it too easy to get a date? For some, it is. It’s so easy that, rather than actually taking the time to get to know someone, it’s more important to have the next date lined up, like a taxi line of attractive women just waiting to be swept off their feet… or more like taken out for a drink that may or may not be paid for. Clients of mine even get anxious sometimes when they don’t have the next date lined up, even if they already have three on the calendar.
I still love online dating, of course, and I’ve had countless clients meet significant others, whether for long-term or short-term relationships, depending on their goals. But, like the paradox of choice, is too much choice necessarily a good thing? If you are looking for a man, say, who is tall, dark, and handsome (cliché, I know), if you instead find a man who is tall(ish), dark(ish), and handsome(ish) but treats you like a queen or king and makes you feel like you won the lottery every day, you’d still be looking for next cab with its light on.
Am I saying not to use technology to get dates? Of course not. But what I am saying is that everything has its merits… to a point. Chocolate is wonderful until you drink the entire bottle of Hershey’s syrup and get a sugar headache for three days. (I’m not saying I know anyone who’s ever done this…) A workout routine is so important until you strain your hamstring from overuse. And technology is great until you miss that amazing connection in pursuit of something better, better, better.
So, use technology to find a date. Go crazy! And then stop. Remind yourself that people are people, and they deserve a real chance. The next cab may stink like smoke or have a careless driver or be headed in a different direction than you want to go. You can keep taking rides for the rest of your life, or you can take each ride one at a time, one date at a time, one click at a time, and one swipe at a time.
To see a recent interview on “The New Age of Dating” on News Channel 8, click here.