Last year, in the midst of a pandemic, I appeared as a guest on a (now obsolete) dating show. While spinning the camera, I sat on the teal sofa next to the show’s host. He was preparing for an interview with a neurotic man about dating, a man who created a spreadsheet of relationships and a list of potential date features.
That man is me. That’s who I am and what I’m doing. In my host’s mind, my neurosis was terrible. It was good in my case. In fact, it was so good that I recently met someone I like and was able to see the future together.
“So Alex,” she said. “How about a romantic relationship?”
“I just started dating a boy,” I said. “That’s why it’s great.”
Her face became sour and she touched the earpiece. Obviously my answer wasn’t what she expected.
I started walking as a producer wearing a headset that says “I’m important”. She was clearly a good type of person in her job, the job I was having difficulty with.
She explained that my love life shouldn’t be good. The reason they took me to the show was because my standards were too high. I had a crazy list of dating requirements that they assumed came from my deep fear of commitment, as if they were interfering with themselves in a system that eliminates almost everyone.
I thought they were wrong.
I have a lot of fears: Insufficient, desperately encountering, bumping into a man who told me I have a “female waist” from a 5th grade bus. But what about the fear of commitment? No. Still, I didn’t intend to fight the producers and hosts I wanted to join.
But they were right about one thing. I’m certainly a great list maker. Create date checklists and processes that are measured by tools and data. A little information that encourages potential boyfriends to continue rowing the ocean while preventing them from docking in a mediocre “good enough” relationship. Like so many couples I know, they were full of quiet meals, wandering eyes, and sad regrets about what each of them could do elsewhere.
Seven years ago, I started the system with Trello, the project management software I use at work. I just endured one bad first date. A hinged man who may have used his son’s photo as his own. A lawyer whose story of coming out was somehow less interesting than his love for tailored suits. A financial person who thought it strange that I was blonde and Jewish.
Through repeated conflicts of inconsistent values, I discovered a personality trait that I wanted to avoid. It cost me the date I got my version I didn’t like and the time I was able to spend on the sofa. Only books about me, Vicodin, and sadness.
To break this cycle, I decided to keep track of it all. Understand the patterns and change them.
Queue the Trello board. As of today, the board has 6 stages and 8 characteristics. It’s similar to a salesperson’s business development process, where each step represents a step towards a successful transaction, and each trait represents a trait that is likely to lead to success.
The stages are as follows: Veterinarian, Veterinarian, Veterinarian, Schedule, Schedule, and Date. Each person is represented by a Trello card, a type of digital sticky note.
Before I date someone, his card goes from left to right and goes through these stages until we date. If we can’t get there, I’ll archive his card. In that case, the archived card is all of him.
I rate my potential date based on eight characteristics. Five of those features I’m trying to learn before the date. Think of the remaining three after the date.
Before the first date, I try to decide: Does he make me laugh in the text? Does he live in LA? Does he like work Is he going to backpack? Does he answer the phone?
After the first date, I ask myself: does he like himself? Is he curious? Is he kind
It’s a bit crazy and incomplete, yes, it’s judgmental. My systematic approach may be to get rid of someone who can make me the happiest self. But the alternatives that were destined to rely on chemistry, physical attraction, and chance did not lead me to that person.
I want to work on something. Categorize what to do and cards, as opposed to waiting for some guys and I to magically lock their eyes when reaching for the same carton of oat milk at Whole Foods.
So far, my Trello system is working, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. It lays me happily next to someone, forgets my inbox, looks at someone, finds out that I’m growing in a way that matters to me, regardless of the life of his Trello card, it It was a good use of my time to lie there with him who led me in enough moments to believe.
That’s how I first pitched myself to the show — as someone who believed in my system. “The only reason one of my boyfriends was a boyfriend was because they had at least 6 of the 8 traits,” I said in a zoom call with the casting manager.
But that’s not what they wanted me to talk to. They didn’t like my features. For TVs, features such as face, abs, and waistline need to be sexy. A trait that eventually declines and leaves you with a partner you dislike and your own version you dislike even more. Someone who gets angry at how he winds up a tube of toothpaste and doesn’t refill Brita.
It’s time to go back to the studio and re-shoot the scene hugging a persona who is too neurotic to find love, so home viewers warn me of a story, perhaps of my neurosis. I could see it as an exaggeration.
On that teal’s sofa, I waved and stared at the dating host asking me a question.
“Alex, I think the reason you’re alone is because there are too many high standards,” she said. “What do you think?”
“Wow,” I said. “I never thought about it.”
“You can’t expect someone to check so many boxes right away,” she said. “And if you’re doing a very busy review, you probably haven’t checked their box.”
“It makes sense,” I said. “You are probably right.”
She smiled. “Now go out and be more open. Put in people. You have a lot to offer.” Then she turned to the camera and said. Open your heart and heart and be yourself. And thank you for watching. “
She exhaled and turned to me. “I’m glad to see you, Alex. And I’m very happy that your dating life is going well. Good luck with the guy.” Her words were kind and genuine. She got what she was looking for from me and winked when she went out, as if she had poured me into her little Trello board.
As I sat there and turned on the gas lights by agreement, I thought about her TV advice. About how my system created a way to fill with quick left swipes-continuing, you can live alone as a single gay man, probably the second of the LGBTQ kickball team in the wall A system where you can find social verification as an assistant coach, a person who doesn’t believe in calming down because he calls his dog his child and doing so means he believes in something that has completely failed. ..
But I’m not there yet. And as of today, I hate kickball.
For now, my method works more than just looking at Trello boards with names like “Mark Emoji texter” and “David Weird Cat” to show that people know how my “Alex Neurotic Dater” works. Accept that you don’t know what to do. In episodes of their show.
I think of the man who was happy at that time. I sat down on that teal sofa and talked. With his wonderful smile and 8 perfect scores out of 8 features. I’m a man I’m not dating anymore.
Why didn’t it work?
I think it’s because he didn’t like me.
Then. “Does he like me?”
Ninth characteristic to add to the board.
My ridiculous dating system works perfectly!
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