A bit about me, I am in my 30s, female, single, and looking for something serious.

I’ve done online dating off and on over the past ten years. I’ve had some great experiences, and some not so great… who am I kidding? I’ve had some nightmares. I’m tired of investing a lot of time getting to know someone through online messaging and then it goes nowhere. Or spending hours getting ready for a date—after the requisite getting to know you through online messaging—only to find out mid-date that he's already in a 15-year relationship and thought I’d be cool with non-monogamy. (I'm not, David!) Or, after 5-6 dates that have progressed to the overnight stage finding out he is not interested in a long-term relationship or even better, he's ghosting me. (I just assume they died horrible tragic deaths—because what other explanation could there be? I mean, your penis was in my vagina and then you just... what? Decide you never want to talk to me again? No goodbye? No peace out?)

Anyhow... I get it, these are the risks of dating, and even if I date someone for a year or five years, it could all be for naught. My problem is that I am incredibly busy—I'm doing my PhD and working 3 jobs—and I can’t juggle talking to a bunch of people or going on multiple first dates. I don’t want to call it quits (although I am okay with being single) but I want a more efficient process. So after doing a cost benefit analysis, the amount of effort, time, and resources put into this process makes it seem like a losing game. I’m at a point in my life where I want to meet someone and be in a serious long-term, monogamous relationship. Whereas in the past I didn’t really care if these things went nowhere (I was 25 years old!) now I am finding it very frustrating and mostly just a waste of my time.

So… I had this idea: I’d send a message to all my prospective matches (guys who I matched with but hadn't had a conversation with yet) and tell them that I’d like to save us both the time and effort and so I am hosting a meet-and-greet session. I plan to be at a certain coffee spot on a certain date/time and they are welcome to stop by and meet me, but this invite will be sent to about twenty other people, so they go in knowing other guys may be there. I figure a handful will actually show, so it’s a useful way to meet a few guys and also weed out others. I’ll include the message I was thinking of sending out (as an appendix at the end) so you can see what I mean.

I am getting some mixed reviews. My friend sent it to her brother who is doing online dating and he reacted by saying “That’s insane! Any normal guy would pass on that prospect. If she sent me that letter I’d block, delete, and share with all my friends along with the laughing face emoji!” (Just for reference he is 29.) The same friend’s father, also single (age 60) and doing online dating, reacted differently: “This is brilliant. Just be safe.” Of course I would be safe.

So, my questions for you, Dan, are these: Is this idea crazy? Am I going to attract the wrong type of guy? Or no guys? Or all the guys? Should I just play the dating game as it’s been established and hope for the best?

Operation Meet & Greet

P.S. I'm live outside Toronto, and I was hoping to come and see you on Friday, if I can fit it into my schedule. On the other hand, I might be putting OMG into action on that date!

Appendix: OMG Message to Prospective Dates

Hi [insert name],

You are [shared interest here] and so I think we’d be a great match! I don’t know what your experience has been with online dating, but I have been wishing there was a more efficient process so that I don’t waste my time or someone else’s with chats that go nowhere or first dates that end up being a dud. I’m incredibly busy and the thought of going on fifty first dates that go nowhere, or having 100s of conversations that turn into nothing, makes this whole dating process really time-consuming with little, or no, return on time and effort invested.

So, that being said, I had this crazy idea where I would invite a bunch of potential first dates to a meet-and-greet session. You can stop by and say hello—or you can leave if you catch a glimpse of me and decide you’d rather not meet. We can chat for five minutes or an hour. Then if you're interested in a legit first date, you can message me after the meet and greet and we can set something up if the feeling is mutual.

I want to assure you I’m not interested in a casual hook-up and I am taking this seriously, but I just want to find a way to meet people that is respectful of both of our time, and allows us to meet without all the pressure that can come with online dating. I’ve never done this before, so it’s a bit of a leap for me. I plan on being at the [name of coffee shop] located at [address of coffee shop] between the hours of 7 pm and 10 pm on [insert date here]. If you are free and want to stop by and say hello, I would love to meet you.

[My name here]

So... basically... you're inviting twenty guys to a cattle-call audition or to appear on your own personal, low-key, low-stakes version of The Bachelorette?

While I imagine it would be an interesting experiment and while I hope you go ahead with it and report back to us, OMG, my hunch is more men will react like your friend's brother than your friend's father. As much as any individual dude might've wanna meet you... at least until that email came... most guys aren't gonna want to wait in line for five minutes alone with you. I mean, would you wanna wait in a line of twenty women for five minutes alone with a man who didn't think—based on your profile—that you were worth a quick DM exchange and a short solo coffee date? Do you not see the implicit insult built into the ask?

As I understand it, OMG, it's the suitors jockeying for position/advantage that makes The Bachelorette compelling viewing, OMG, as perceived/engineered scarcity and sexual competitiveness invariably bring out the worst in everyone. (Men on The Bachelorette, women on The Bachelor.) So before you went ahead with this experiment, OMG, you should do what I haven't done and watch a few episodes of The Bachelorette. Then ask yourself if the kind of guys you might be inadvertently self-selecting for are really to your taste.

Finally, you say you're too busy to date, with three jobs and a PhD to finish. Do you really have time for a relationship at all right now? Monogamous or not? Short-lived or life-long? If you wanna have that partner nailed down before you finish your PhD, I would suggest setting one lunch break aside a week for a quick meet up with an individual—just one—match from a dating app. And my recent advice for SLAP applies to you too...

If you stay on the apps, invest less time and energy in the men you're matched with in advance of a first face-to-face meeting. That means no more marathon, weeks-long text exchanges with someone you've never met and might never meet and who might not be single or might not look like his pictures or might not even be a man. Exchange a few texts to establish interest and then ask them to meet up for coffee or a drink. If you're too busy at work on a particular week to meet up with someone in the next few days, stay off the apps that week. If someone can't meet up with you or ghost on you, block 'em and move on.

And, hey, if you do attempt this on Friday... maybe do it in the afternoon before my show in Toronto? Then you can come to the talk and give me (and my audience) a full report!

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