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The Math of Dating

Romance by the numbers

by Cheryl Blackwell

From the December, 2010 issue

Tell a friend, a sibling, or a neighbor that you are using an online dating site, and it seems as though every one of them has a story.

Some things about online dating are the same regardless of one's age, sex, or geographic location (but for the record I am fifty-four, female, and live in Ann Arbor). And though the Internet changes the way dates begin, the outcomes follow the same patterns they always have. After using a number of Internet dating sites-Yahoo,, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, and Craigslist-off and on for five years, and having been out on more than a hundred dates, I have discovered there are basically five outcomes to dating:

  1. You want to see the person again, but they don't want to see you….47.5%
  2. The other person wants to see you again but you don't want to see them……47.5%
  3. Both parties agree…it ain't going to happen….3.5%
  4. Both parties are interested in a second date…..1.45 %
  5. Both parties are interested in dating and seeing what develops down the road….. .05%
That's right, the odds of meeting a "keeper" or even getting a second date are about as good as those of the Detroit Lions having a winning season, finding a free parking spot during Art Fair, or beating the "regulars" to the hidden antiques and collectibles at Treasure Mart.

So why would a well-educated and seemingly sane female roll the dice and decide it's worth the time and effort?

Because it can be fun. Mind you, I am talking about dating with an open mind, without expectations or a script, where I keep things in perspective and for heaven's sake don't take myself too seriously. That does not mean that I don't take the guy I am meeting or the date itself seriously, just that I realize most dates are one-time deals. So instead of lamenting what will never be, why not enjoy the conversation and take the opportunity to learn about another person?

With realistic expectations, I can honestly
...continued below...

say that most of my dates have been positive experiences. I have learned the "real story" behind a number of professions and occupations. Also, following up on the recommendations I received from some of my dates, I have discovered some wonderful books, obscure movies, dive diners, fabulous thrift shops, and off-the-beaten-path vacation spots.

Of course, for certain dates the most positive experience was a good cup of coffee or glass of red wine, or simply that the date was finally at an end. (Once, at Quarter Bistro, I ordered a glass of champagne to celebrate the end of the date!) Furthermore, with time, I have come to realize that some of my worst dates became my best stories. My coworkers stop what they are doing and gather around to hear them.

My first bad date tested my theory that everyone has an hour or two of good conversation in them. I knew I was in trouble when my date told me that his three-year-old son was his best friend. After twenty minutes, it became obvious that his son was his only friend.

My shortest date ever was on a Saturday morning at Jefferson Market. The gentleman began complaining when he saw the long line for coffee. He must have really needed a cup of coffee, because his complaining escalated and did not stop even when he was at the table with coffee in hand. When I suggested that he might want to relax and quit complaining, he decided to drink his coffee at another table-a move I enthusiastically applauded.

Then there was Bob at Leopold Brothers, who talked about himself in the third person the entire evening. He told me that Bob had grown up in Ann Arbor, and that Bob enjoyed jazz. He said if I was curious to know anything else about "our guy" to just ask. I didn't have the heart to tell him that if "this gal" wanted to know anything else about him that "Cheryl" would consult the appropriate chapter in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Good date? Bad date? Turns out when all is said and done, it may just be a matter of perspective and having a good sense of humor.

If you're interested in knowing more, I am available for coffee or drinks most evenings after 6 p.m.    (end of article)

[Originally published in December, 2010.]


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