I’ve spent a few years treading water in online dating, swimming through speed dating events, and holding my breath at the local “meet markets.” When I really felt lonely, I could line up five or six dates a week. But the more dates I went on, the more frustrated I became with the type of women I was meeting. I just didn’t click with any of them.
Some were hot, but uninteresting – most of them watched too much TV. Others were interesting, but I found them physically unattractive. Studies show that when we seek a lover, we tend to seek someone very similar to ourselves. 1
Once I found this out, I began to ask myself a very serious question: “Would I date myself?”
Initially, that answer was a resounding no. And that bothered me. So I spent a lot of time pushing myself outside my comfort zones to become someone I would date. Practically a year later, I was pretty pleased with who I was. In fact, I kept thinking I wish I could clone a lady version of myself. As narcissistic as this sounds, I was actually seeking someone who had similar interest and passions, rather than an actual clone.
A few years ago, prior to my real self-improvement path, I quickly read through “Models,” Mark Manson’s book. 2 He discusses a thing called demographics, or how our interests, beliefs and behaviors limit our dating market. I read that chapter twice. I loved the concept, and started doing additional research. Both the matching hypothesis (the reason that we choose mates) and the assortment effect which illustrates that “Likes Attract Likes.”
Or, as I refer to it, You Attract What You Are.
Countless studies show that we tend to seek individuals that match our values, beliefs, physical attractiveness, socio-economic status, and life goals. Sometimes we actually seek individuals who are better suited to help us achieve our professional or personal goals. Maybe that’s marrying a politician to boost one’s social status, dating someone more attractive, or finding a partner with more money. Someone may date a less attractive person if he is wealthy and of a higher status. Some people are willing to compensate certain qualities of their partners in the pursuit of what’s important to them.
All social interactions are contextual, and so is meeting people. How you are going to interact with them is going to depend on whether you’re in a coffee shop on the weekend, at a business convention, at a house party, or walking your dog. The context in which you live and interact with others shapes what you find attractive.
There is a range of attractiveness that you deem worthy of dating on a long-term basis, and in a good way, those demographics limit the types of people you surround yourself with. If you’re a software engineer who doesn’t enjoy live music and spends his free time coding algorithms, then you’re going to have a hard time attracting and maintaining a relationship with someone that enjoys expressing their body through dancing and attends concerts.
If this software engineer found himself at the local meet market, he might attract someone who likes to dance with pick-up lines, physical appearance or checklist behavior. But eventually the friction of his interest being different than theirs will lead him to become less attracted to them, and vice-versa. If there’s too much friction, the level of attraction between the two parties will sink. If there’s no attraction, there’s no motivation to continue the relationship.
So I began to wonder: what exactly causes friction? And how do our interests, values, and culture impact our dating economy?
To make this easier, I am going to break this down into a series of posts.
- Part 1: We will start out at a fifty-thousand-foot view by exploring cultural values, stereotypes, and the socialization process relative to where you live. This affects how you see yourself, and what you choose to value.
- Part 2: Next, we will dive into the heart of assortment theory by exploring how our values affect the people we attract.
- Part 3: Here, we will explore different ways to develop your dating niche and attract people you’ll love.
- Part 4: I’ll teach you how use demographics to find your ideal partner.