I treated online dating like a start-up and found a husband
It was a Sunday morning in 2014. I’d arrived home from breakfast to find a newspaper article positioned conspicuously on the coffee table. “Women over 35 should stop being so fussy,” read the headline, followed by some observations by a male fertility specialist. I smiled sarcastically and thanked my mother for cutting it out.
Inside, my chest roared with anger. How could a male fertility doctor know what it’s like to be a single woman in Sydney? I was 36 years old and had been dating non-stop for 2½ years. RSVP, eHarmony and Tinder – I’d just clocked date number 100. Was I being too fussy?
Let me skip back two years. I woke one Christmas on a fold-out bed in the garage of some friends, the same fold-out bed I’d slept on at Christmas as a child. I hadn’t been on a date for a decade following the death of my first love in a car accident. But that morning I sat and looked at the concrete walls of the garage and began to calculate: if I meet a man by next Christmas, it’ll take a year of dating to move in, another two before he’d agree to try for kids. By then, I’d be approaching 38. Yikes!
In the years I’d spent as a single woman, I’d focused on my career. I’d built a business as a music manager representing artists Matt Corby, Evermore and Lisa Mitchell. I’d started two technology companies: Posse.com and Hey You – the app used by a million Australians to order and pay for coffee. I wrote a popular blog and gave talks at business conferences where I encouraged other women to strive for their goals. Surely, I had the skills to find a husband.
I decided to act. I’d approach dating in the same way that I approached business: start with a goal, break it into monthly and weekly objectives, then stick to it. I would not stop until I found happiness. I remember curling up on a beach with a Moleskine notebook making my plan for the year ahead. I wrote a heading: Personal goal. One date every week for a year.
I felt sick imagining myself listing myself on dating sites like a “for sale” item at a market. What if someone from work saw me? But behind the fear I felt the emergence of something else: hope. Fifty-two different men. That’s better odds than The Bachelorette. I wish I could tell you that one of the first 52 was The One. I wish I could tell you that finding love is as simple as sticking to a plan. What followed was 138 dates in three years across Sydney, New York and San Francisco. I made some dreadful mistakes, I got humiliated and I had my heart torn up several times. But I kept going. I made notes after every date, journalling lessons, guideline lists and ideas for improving my strategy. I enlisted a therapist and friends for advice.
If you are one of the 4½ million Australians who’ll use an internet dating site this year, or if you’re single and you’re not sure if you should take the risk, then this article is for you. I’ll describe the process I developed to manage a pipeline of 138 men, and who I needed to become in order to become The One for someone else.