How on-line dating is like buying a new hair product.-2

Earlier this week I was at Target walking up and down the aisles in the “Beauty” section searching for a new hair conditioner.  If you’ve seen my bio-pic or know me, I have big curly hair- so I take finding the best products a bit seriously and I have been known to spend half an hour or more looking, comparing and trying to find just the right one. I mean, not all curls are the same.  Just because a product works great for someone else I know doesn’t mean it’s gonna work for me.

And suddenly I was struck by the many parallels between online dating and buying hair products. Let me explain:

Specialty Products/Specialty dating sites

About 100 years ago when you needed to clean your hair there was no such thing as specialty products, like conditioner specifically for curly hair. There was one shampoo option and if you wanted to wash your hair you used it. End of story. Now there are millions of options for all hair types, tons of brands and all kind of price ranges.  This is similar to dating; you used to get to pick between your second cousin or your neighbor if you wanted to get married. Now there are literally millions of options.  Just like there are specialty products for hair, there are endless dating sites that cater directly to all kind of  religious, cultural, lifestyle, etc. niches:  Plenty of Fish, Shaati, Meet Mindful, and Black Cupid, just to name a few. This is great because it allows you to get really specific about who/what you’re looking for without going on 100 blind dates, only to find out that you have glaringly different values and have now wasted yet another night with someone who’s not a match for you.

The value of self-knowledge

I always start my hunt for the perfect product with a lot of personal knowledge about my hair type and my individual hair.  Knowing this info eliminates about 50% of the products on the shelf. If a product advertises that it will give you “volume” I run the other way, as that is the last thing I need. Similarly, by having a true awareness of yourself, you will be better able to filter out the prospects and weed through who is just not what you’re looking for. What was that? A selfie in front of a mirror showing off muscles, a beer belly and some faded tattoos.  If that is a turn-off and reeks of desperation for attention, then good for you, don’t even respond to that wink he sent.  Just keep it moving .

Trying to judge quality based on packaging.

Scouring profiles on a dating site is a lot like scanning the aisle of beauty products ‘til your eyes cross. The options are endless–some are bright and shiny, others are subdued and basic, but the truth is there is no way to tell the quality of what’s inside by how the product is packaged. Obviously it’s not possible or realistic to try them all (or go on a date with every single match you’re sent through a dating site).  Much like online reviews and ingredient lists for products, there are things in a dating profile that can give you clues as to what’s inside the prospective partner.  Are all of their pics of them partying? Do they mention having children? Is their dog in pics? All of these details can clue you into what is important to him and how he spends his time.  So, use a discriminating eye and be an informed consumer. But you’ll never know how that particular product will react with your unique hair unless you try it. Seeing who someone really is deep down takes times, as we all present our best selves on first dates (hopefully, anyway).

Nobody wants to waste time or money

Purchasing high quality hair products takes both time and money. Money, because there are tons of things I’ve bought based on reviews and description that just did not work with my hair. And I was super disappointed each time. There went $20 and a good 30 minutes to an hour of time online or in a store comparing products and I’m not going to be able to get either of those back.  Similarly, dating sites can get pricey especially if you’re using more than one. They typically rope  you with a low introductory offer and then in the fine print you end up subscribing for a several months to a year at a different (higher) rate.  It also takes time to engage in the various stages of communicating with potential mates. And at this point wasting time is not to be taken lightly, so there can be pressure around not investing your energy in talking with men who are obviously not a good fit regardless of how attractive that profile pic is.

Is the risk worth the reward?

When I decide to purchase a new hair product it’s always a risk: will it do what the advertising says it will? Will it meet my expectations? Will I have wasted yet another $20 on my quest to find the perfect combo of moisture and curl definition? Online dating (or dating in general) can be equally risky; will this guy turn out to be who he’s presenting himself to be? Is who he is what I actually want? Will I end up wasting time on yet another guy that turns out to be a platonic friend, a stalker or just a weirdo? Who knows? The only way to know is if you try. So get out there and refine your process so well that you no longer fear “wasting time.”  Want some help with that?  Click here.

Both finding the right hair products and finding the right guy take time, energy and effort. But in the end it is totally worth it to find precisely what you’re searching for. What is your biggest challenge with online dating or dating in general?