Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

February 13, 2007

Please take a moment to tell me what you think of me...

I went on a blind date the other day. When people ask with an amused expression on their face, as you likely are right now, "How was it?" I have a really hard time answering. I feel this way about almost all blind dates.

Here is how I am answering all blind date questions from now on as I've learned there isn't much more you can say after going from "complete stranger" to "a guy I'm dating" in 2.5 emails and one phone call.

a) It was awful. I will never see him again.
b) It wasn't awful. I would go out with him again if the opportunity presented itself.

Perhaps you will be happy to know that the friend of a friend I went out with falls into the "b" category.

But so what? The operative part of answer b is "if the opportunity presented itself."

I approach first dates the same as job interviews. At the age of 34, there is only one thing I know - I am completely incapable of being anyone but myself. So I decided a long time ago to not get nervous on first dates or job interviews and just do the one thing I know how - be myself (but no martinis during the job interview).

Because of this, I think I'm a pretty damn good first date. I'm not timid or overbearing, I'm friendly, I ask a lot of questions, have interesting things to say, almost always make the guy laugh, and generally keep the conversation moving. With a few very glaring exceptions, I've never had a first date or an interview that outright bombed.

I have, however, not been called back for a second interview or a second date despite what I thought was a pretty good showing. Here's where the comparison between the two scenarios quickly ends. You can follow up and be a pest when going after a job. In fact, it's expected.
Quite the opposite with a date, right?

If I am really confident post-date, I will send the guy an email saying, "I had a great time, blah, blah." Basically the thank you letter of dating. But for the most part, I've been repeatedly told by guys and girls alike that the man should make the next move for date #2.

But more often than I would prefer, he simply disappears. Maybe people are just trying to make me feel better, but I've heard this happens to lots of other men and women too. Sometimes I have no idea why and it is shockingly sudden (like with Rabbi M. - until I pestered him, that is). Other times he will just fade away.

In the majority of these disapperance cases, I barely notice or care. He was a complete stranger after all. A fellow soldier I passed on the battlefield, maybe shared some grub in the mess tent for an hour or two. Hardly any time to get attached, so relatively easy to let go. But it would be really nice to have a little feedback before he was gone for good, wouldn't it?

So, here's my idea. A dating exit survey. It would go something like this.

At the awkward end of a first date, you hand him this just as you part ways.

Dear (name of date),
Thank you for spending time with me (today, tonight). I know we are both busy people and our time is valuable, so I hope it was a worthwhile experience for you.

As is often the case with first dates, you may be considering making this our last date as well. I may be thinking the same thing and, I assure you, there are no hard feelings if this is the case. However, I would like to ask you to take a few moments to evaluate your experience with me (today, tonight) so that I can better serve my first dates in the future.

Please answer the following questions as honestly as possible and return to me in this pre-addressed, stamped envelope.

Q1. I plan on contacting you again.
a) Yes
b) No
c) Not Sure

If yes, skip the rest of the survey and give me a call when you want to go out again. I swear I'm pretty fun on a second date too.
If you answered No or Maybe, please continue on to Q2

Q2. I will not be contacting you again because (check all that apply):
a) I felt our personalities were just not a match
b) You talked too much
c) I wasn't attracted to you
d) Our religious beliefs aren't a fit
e) We don't have the same taste in music
f) You drink too much
g)I hate tennis
h) I suspect you may have used drugs
i) You're weird
j) You are too into your cat
k) I'm too short for you
l) I can tell you want to get married - soon
m) You didn't have sex with me tonight
n) You brought up your mom
o) We live too far away from each other
p) You don't care about your career enough
q) You ordered an appetizer AND dessert
r) I'm afraid I'll show up in your blog

Thank you for your time. Drive carefully.

What's wrong with a little data gathering? I mean, how the hell are you supposed to go out there and sell your "product" without a little feedback from the customer? That would NEVER fly in the business world, so how is it supposed to work in dating? I just need a little feedback. It doesn't mean I'll change who I am. I may ignore the data completely. It is after all, only their opinion.

In consumer research, it is brand perception that matters. The actual product is almost insignificant. Especially if it has already been through extensive product redevelopment in its late 20s and is about as good as it's going to get.

Why the hell do I always choose Ivory soap instead of Lever 2000? They haven't done a damn thing to change Ivory in 50 years, but I believe it is the best soap on the market. And I'm sure that perception was caused by millions of dollars of consumer research conducted by Procter & Gamble to find out what consumers thought about Ivory soap, and then another ten million working to change that perception through clever ads with babies' butts and white, fluffy towels.

The same goes with first dates. I need this data to see where I am to start with. Then I can evaluate what consumer perceptions I need to work on changing (if any). How else can you do this without some preliminary data gathering?

The scary part is that the problem with my product could be that the customer base I am targeting is all wrong to begin with. So I just have to keep dating, and dating - changing the customer base until my product is sold once and for all. I just hope I haven't reached my expiration date by then.

So does this mean I'll have to change metaphors (similies technically) for this blog? Dating is Marketing? It just doesn't have the same ring does it?


Anonymous said...

I love this idea. I need to do it myself. I am 36 and tired of wondering what happened.
I say do it and I will do the same.

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

You know, I really wish I had done it while I was dating (I'm 6 months in to a relationship now). But no matter how much I stressed the whole "I swear I really don't care, I'm just curious" I know they guy would never believe it. I can just see the guy telling his buddy, "Man, that chick is all psycho and shit." You know? But if you do it, PLEASE, PLEASE share what happens! Good luck...