As it happened, both had tried online dating without success, Sarah, for over 18 months and Mitch for close to 6.
One afternoon, approximately 4 years ago, they were introduced to one another at a friend’s gathering. The two hit it off immediately. Their chemistry was something to behold. But at the time, we were all quite bemused at the unlikely couple.
Mitch, at 5’10”, was an inch shorter than Sarah. He had a thick-set body type and numerous tattoos. He was a prosperous carpenter, the picture of a successful, blue collar guy. Mitch wasn’t an unattractive guy, but he was no model, either. Sarah, in contrast, at 6 feet tall, was stunning. Curiously, she had – up until then, at least – stuck to dating leaner men who were all taller than her. She’d always commented that she would never date someone without at least a bachelor’s degree and who wasn’t at least her own height, so Mitch, while successful in his own right, was clearly outside of Sarah’s ‘type’.
The surprises kept coming from the other direction, too. Mitch had typically gone for girls over whom he stood tall – he’d never dated anyone taller than about 5’8”. And that wasn’t all. Mitch had a history of going for younger women. In his time dating, none of us could remember Mitch dating anyone who wasn’t four or more years younger than he was. Sarah, it turned out, was his own age.
“She’d always commented that she would never date someone without at least a bachelor’s degree and who wasn’t taller than her”
The couple continued their courtship as strongly as they started. Within 18 months, the two were engaged and were married just 12 months later – to this day, remaining one of the happiest and tightest couples I know.
But, their surprising choice in partner was not the most astounding thing about the coming together of this unlikely couple.
The most astounding thing was that, in their time spent online dating, they had both been on the same dating website.
The two of them were blown away when they found out, wondering what could have possibly happened. Yes, these two, a match made in heaven, had both been in the same place, at the same time, looking for love and, yet, missed one another entirely.
It was incredibly fortunate that they were both at the party that day and did meet in real life. Online dating had failed them both.
How was it that this perfect couple, both looking for love in the same place, had managed to miss each other?
I, of course, was as curious about the answer as anyone. I had my suspicions, but wanted them confirmed. For curiosity’s sake, we all found a time to sit down together. Relatively quickly, my suspicions were confirmed.
Both Sarah and Mitch had missed one another, because they’d both made the most common mistake people make when dating online.
They had searched for a mate, based on narrow, superficial parameters that have no relevance to actual love.
Sarah had searched for men 6’1” or over. Not only that, she had asked for a guy with a college education or higher. She’d even searched for a ‘lean’ or ‘athletic’ body type. Mitch was 5’10”, high-school educated only and had listed himself as ‘average’ body type. She’d ruled him out on not one, but three parameters. Sarah hadn’t just missed Mitch… She’d fired in the opposite direction!
It wasn’t much better from Mitch’s angle, either. He’d searched for women 5’10” or under, so he just missed Sarah on height, and searched for women 27 or under (he and Sarah were both 29) and so shot well clear of Sarah on age. He’d missed her on two parameters.
Despite what the two of them thought they wanted, they had found an incredibly fulfilling, passionate love outside of it.
“They had searched for a mate, based on narrow, superficial parameters that have no relevance to actual love.”
The mistake Mitch and Sarah had made is the single biggest mistake made in online dating today.
With an abundance of available choices, men and women, alike, look for some way to sort through it. Men think, “Oh well, there are plenty of women, I’ll look for young, pretty ones.” While women think, “There are too many men, I’ll just go for the tall and well earning types.”
Online dating is a breeding pool for this mentality. The entire system is geared towards it in the way profiles are setup and the way users search for matches. It all revolves around superficial traits that do not matter when it comes to love. Yes, such traits would be nice. But no, they are not essential.
Traits that actually matter – How much of a caring lover is he? How selfless is he? What sort of man is he, at his core? Are not available online. How could they be? So instead, when people search for matches, they ask superficial questions, such as, “How tall is he?” or “How much money does he or she earn?” As Sarah and Mitch have shown – and as, hopefully, you now realise – answers to questions, such as these, have no relevance to finding the one.
Every day, millions of women miss out on great guys, like Mitch, because they rule them out in the search parameters. They search on height, body type, income, or other superficial parameters, like Sarah did, and do not cast their net wide enough to find gold.
If you want to be successful in online dating, you have to let go of your ‘ideals’ and come back to the real world.
“Rather than searching for the fantasy guy, you want to search for what could be the fantasy guy, even if it’s a little out of your comfort zone”
This doesn’t mean dropping your standards. It means not being superficial, to the point, where you rule out a great guy, like Sarah did with Mitch, because you’re obsessed with some sort of ‘ideal’. Lusting after such superficial traits doesn’t show you have standards. It just shows immaturity; you’re out for what love should look like, rather than what it could look like.
Broaden your horizons online. Rather than searching for the fantasy guy, you want to search for what could be the fantasy guy, even if it’s a little out of your comfort zone.
Sarah’s ideal was a tall, educated, lean guy. What she could have – and did – fall in love with was a shorter, stockier tradie.
Mitch’s ideal was a younger, smaller woman. What he could have – and did – fall in love with was a taller woman his own age.
If both of these two had been self-aware enough to know what traits that – if the right person came along – they could put aside, they could have found each other online. Fortunately, their superficial approach to online dating didn’t cost them; they lucked out and met one another at a party.
Most people are not so fortunate.
If you want to give yourself the best chance at meeting ‘the one’, then rather than asking yourself “What would I, ideally, like to fall in love with?” you have to ask yourself: “What could I fall in love with, if everything else was right?”
You might, ideally, like to fall in love with a guy taller than you, but you could fall in love with a guy up to 2-inches shorter than you, if he was the right guy.
You might, ideally, like to fall in love with a guy earning over $80K, but for the right, motivated guy, going in the right direction with life, $50K might be enough.
You might, ideally, like to fall in love with a Caucasian guy, but if the right guy came along, you’d be open to dating someone of a partial or fully different race.
I know what you’re thinking. “If I cast the net that wide, I’m going to have to deal with a bunch of creeps and weirdos!” Well, newsflash. This is online dating! The creeps and weirdos come part of the parcel. You asked for them, just by logging on. You may as well learn to accept them, while making sure, in the meantime, unlike Sarah, you cast the net wide enough that you don’t miss a guy like Mitch.
It’s not about lowering your standards. It’s about giving guys, who ‘could’ be Mr. Right (if everything else was on-point), a chance.
You can still be picky about the few parameters online that matter. For example, if he just wants casual flings, if he doesn’t want kids, if he has an opposing religious faith or smokes, these all might represent good reasons to rule out a man, based on your own values and goals. But outside of these, be wary of narrowing down on other parameters online. There are not predictors of love, and each one presents a dangerously high chance of ruling out great guys.
“It’s not about lowering your standards. It’s about giving guys, who ‘could’ be Mr. Right (if everything else was on-point), a chance”
If you’re serious about finding the one – no matter in what form he comes, rethink the way you search (and judge) men online. It’s so easy to get into the habit – because of the sheer numbers available – of searching for guys on superficial traits.
Hopefully, by now, you understand how to give yourself the best chances of success online. Online dating shouldn’t be about finding what ‘looks’ like love. It should be about finding love. If you’re unable to let go of at least – some – of the superficial parameters you would, ideally, want in partner, perhaps, it’s time to question if you’re online for the right reasons.