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Juliet Jeske

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Dating after Divorce -- Do We Need Tough Love?

Posted: 09/15/11 05:50 PM ET

Since my divorce I have tried a number of methods to try to date again, including online dating and speed dating. I recently got the following via email...I won't mention the company who sent it. I have edited it for length, but the general premise is still there.

Ever gone on a date that you thought was AMAZING only to this day still wonder why the guy/girl never returned your call for a second date? Meet 10-25 singles at "Tough Love" speed dating, where in the event someone does NOT select you as a "match", you'll actually receive feedback as to why via a post-event email summary of each daters constructive and honest comments . At the end of the day, "perception is reality" and "knowing is half the battle."

There are just so many things wrong with this concept. For starters, there are always problems with market research. Anyone in marketing can tell you that only a certain percentage of people actually take the time to fill out any survey, and the people who do tend to be skewed to specific personality traits. Feedback tends to come from customers with an ax to grind. Customers with the tendency to bitch, moan and complain will be more than willing to fill out surveys or questionnaires to their heart's content; satisfied customers rarely bother.

Then there is also the concept of people not really knowing what they want until they see it before them. For instance when surveyed people may say they would hate bubblegum flavored cupcakes, but once given a taste they devour them. The same goes with dating. We have all known potential partners who looked great on paper for us, but the minute we met them there was no spark, no chemistry, no reason to pursue them further. Does this make them inferior and in need of improvement? Of course it doesn't, it is just a fact of life. In the same vein we have all met someone who should have been incompatible for us, and become instantly smitten. Dating is a strange world full of contradictions and things that simply don't make logical sense. We are all like puzzle pieces, some of us fit well together and some of us don't.

I can't help but think that a "tough love" speed dating round complete with feedback might attract the very people who like dolling out punishment, and that in a session of brief three-minute dates only the worst criticism would come out. Some feedback could be useful but most of it would be extremely harmful. Lets say out of 15 people you get...

  • You have bad breath - Problem easily solved, so that could be helpful
  • Sloppy or unkempt appearance - Also easily solved
  • You are creepy/crazy - What is a person supposed to do about that?
  • You talk too much or too fast - One man's chatterbox is music to another man's ears
  • You don't talk enough - Not everyone is an extrovert
  • You are too short, tall, thin, fat, old, young - Again it is all relative
  • You aren't attractive - Imagine getting that feedback from 15 total strangers

Most people in this situation would probably remain vague, especially if they themselves are also being graded and judged. Most of the cards would probably include things like...

  • He/She isn't my type
  • No chemistry
  • Not what I am looking for

And that happens to everyone. If you get 20 people in a room, the chances of any one person meeting a person they are attracted to is slim. So what is the point of this anyway? Socially awkward people picking apart socially awkward people -- my head spins at the thought of such a disaster. And then the poor man or woman who paid money to try to help increase their chances in the dating world now leaves defeated and broken. How could this possibly help them? Imagine going to a speed dating round like this soon after a divorce, and getting negative feedback -- as if you needed more rejection and grief.

What I think might work better for anyone out there who is repeatedly going out on dates and can't figure out why no one seems interested is this: Sit down with trusted friends, people who care about you and aren't making a buck off your misery, and ask your friends and loved ones what they think might help. Because even the most socially awkward can and will find others who will fit them like a glove. Your dating problems might be as simple as popping a breath mint, or combing your hair, and you don't need scorecards from strangers or a "thick skin" to figure that out.

And don't we all know a couple that is composed of two socially awkward, eccentric or even extremely odd partners? Maybe instead of improvement or feedback, all they needed was to find another oddball that matched them to a tee. Sometimes all someone needs to find is another person who really loves their version of being human. Dating after a divorce is difficult and we all get creative, but personally I would avoid anything as potentially scarring as this.

 

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