PhD in Hookups

by Loweren

This is a place where I share my experience with online dating and casual sex as a nerdy guy in my 20s

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The pipeline of a successful first date

Updated: May 11

When I was first attempting to meet someone in a romantic way, I encountered an obstacle I didn't realize could be possible: I had no idea how the romantic date was structured.


Well, sure, I watched enough movies as a kid and I knew what kinds of things occur on a date: a couple is getting drinks together, they are lying on the grass pointing at clouds, a kiss occurs at some point and maybe there's some between the sheets action. But the flow between these things, the connective tissue tying them into a single whole, was missing. I think many non-american readers can empathize with me if I compare it to a game of baseball shown on a TV screen: the pitcher throws a ball towards the catcher, the batter is deflecting it up in the sky, and then someone is running around trying to touch all the bases. But the overall structure of the game, the rules by which it's determined who wins and who loses, are still escaping my grasp.


Turns out, in real life, if I want to score a home run, it's quite important to have an idea what's happening and in what order. For this reason, I developed a sort of workflow I use when setting up dates and going on them.


From the project development perspective, a date is a series of events that leads to my preferred romantic outcome. An unsuccessful dating life, then, is caused by a bottleneck at one of the stages of the dating pipeline.


To keep things simple and easily defined, I will assume I'm talking about sex as a desired outcome. To make this breakdown work, I can take a pool of my sexual partners, and ask myself what events did lead to sex in hindsight. Simply put, I attempted to perform backwards induction: start with a desired outcome, and figure out what step was preceding it. Then figure out a step before that step, and so forth.


Two terms that I throw frequently here are appeal and logistics. These denote two different types of things that occupy my attention in regards to making the date a successful one.


Appeal: Do I look attractive? Am I a pleasant conversation partner?

Appeal is the emotional reaction I provoke in my date; becoming more appealing means putting more care into fashion, hygiene, and conversation. As a rule of thumb, appeal tells me what to do and how to do it.


Logistics: Where should we meet? When should I kiss her?

Logistics are the nitty-gritty details of a date I have to think about to make sure it goes without a hitch. Improving date logistics means looking up stuff in advance, checking schedules and booking places. As a rule of thumb, logistics tell me when to do something and where to do it.


What follows is a list of stages I need to pass before having sex with a partner, with a description how it feels to be stuck on a certain stage, and some improvements I made to get over the hurdle. Needless to say, I failed each stage many times my dating history.


1) Me and my future sexual partner have to become aware of each other's existence.


How the bottleneck feels like: I don't get a chance to meet potential partners; I spend months by myself without meeting new people; there are no attractive people in my social circle.


How I deal with it: get in situations where there's a possibility of talking with strangers; take up new activities which allow me to meet attractive people; get on dating apps; use premium features


Logistics are important on this stage, since there are a lot of ways to meet new people, but only few of them are efficient. I have to choose, whether to enroll into a class with a dozen of women or spend the same amount of time scrolling through thousands of potential matches.


Since the majority of my sexual partners have been introduced to me by dating apps, I'll take matching on Tinder as a setup for the further breakdown. Logistics comes to help here in the form of premium features many of the apps have - I can sort the feed by newcomers first, send superlikes to tourists to get noticed ahead of any competition, and figure out the best time of the day to bump up my profile.


So by the end of this stage, my dating profile is shown to the potential match, and she decides to...


2) Me and my future partner have to initiate the contact with each other


On dating apps, this takes the form of matching with each other, or texting the first message.


How the bottleneck feels like: I swipe a lot but don't get any matches; I send a lot of messages but don't get any responses.

How I deal with it: improve my photos; improve my profile description; improve my opener message.


Appeal is extremely important here. Luckily, from my experience, the majority of men I saw on my female friends' apps don't seem to put any sort of effort into their profile, which means I can elevate myself with a bare minimum of work.


As this stage ends, a chat window pops up and a dialogue begins.


3) Me and my future partner get to know each other


How the bottleneck feels like: I introduce myself but get ghosted; I get explicitly rejected while texting.

How I deal with it: figure out the texting etiquette; read examples of texting before the successful date; practice texting with foreigners; mirror the texting style of my match.


This is still peak appeal territory, but it shifts from a static public profile page to interacting with my current match: how good am I specifically to her? Here I can be dynamic and change my approach depending on who I match with.


Depending on logistics, this period can last from a couple of minutes to months, though it's never wise to let it continue longer than necessary. By the time I got her added on a messaging app, it's time to think about...

4) Me and my future partner have to arrange a date


How the bottleneck feels like: I text with my matches but it doesn't go anywhere; I ask my matches on a date but they refuse.

How I deal with it: ask for a date in a timely and appropriate manner; find a good place and time for a date.


Appeal and logistics are about equally important here. Not all women install a dating app with the intent to meet their match in the physical world, but they might change their plans if they encounter someone who piqued their interest. At the same time, I need to put thought into good places and activities for dating, looking up stuff in advance if needed.


So the arranged time has arrived, I get out to meet her, and then...


5) I have to escalate physical intimacy while on a date


How the bottleneck feels like: I go on a date but we don't kiss; I try to be intimate but get rejected.

How I deal with it: meet up with more attractive people; put more attention into what I wear; improve my hygiene; find better locations for a date; recognize a good moment to kiss.


Obviously I have to take care of my appeal before going on a date, but, surprisingly, logistics take more attention when planning a date and actually being there. Sometimes I might have a couple ideas in my head and choose one based on circumstances, or totally wing it and adapt to the circumstances. However, for me it's safer and more comfortable to have a plan in my head to fall back on, even if I'm flexible about relying on it.


And finally, I'm embracing my date in a secluded location, we're making out with each other, and there's just one last thing to take care of...


6) I have to arrange a convenient location for sex


How the bottleneck feels like: we make out outside but there's no place indoors we could go to; I ask her to come to my place but she can't make it.

How I deal with it: make sure my apartment is decently clean; book a hotel room; get a ride if the public transport takes too long to get to the place; don't drag the date for too long.


Logistics come one last time to help out here. Both place and time are important considerations for a good hookup site: it should be private, clean and easy to get to. In case of emergency, booking a hotel room online is a good move, however doing it in advance is preferable to not break the flow of the date. I just make sure ahead of time it's possible to cancel the booking without paying the fee.


At last, I arrive home, with an attractive girl in my hands, and I'll leave the rest to your imagination. It's not that kind of blog, after all. Unless..?

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