Over the past few years I’ve spent a fair dollop of time on dating services. First there was Match.com, then along came OKCupid, then Tinder blew up the scene followed closely by Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel. There are plenty of others, but these are the ones I’ve tried. And by “tried” I don’t mean just downloading the app and swiping a couple times or casually perusing a website. I’ve been out on many dates (probably dozens at this point?) and I have a decent perspective on the merits and drawbacks of each.

First off, I realize that last sentence could be taken multiple ways. Am I bragging? Dozens of dates may sound like a lot to some people and when I was just dipping my toe into the online dating waters it would have sounded like a lot to me too. Maybe I’m some arrogant playboy announcing my dating prowess to the world. Or maybe I suck at dating. Isn’t the whole goal of dating to find someone that you click with, can be with long-term, and maybe even marry? Through that lens I have abjectly failed dozens of times. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. I would be really happy if I could find a girl to be with long-term, but I also happen to enjoy dating and meeting new girls. So sue me.

Tangent resolved; back to the subject at hand. I’m an experienced online dater. And the experience that I’ve accumulated from all those dates (some awesome, some meh, and some comedically terrible) has helped me learn a lot about myself and what I’m looking for in a girl.

The obvious: looks

I don’t really have a “type”, in fact, I don’t think guys really have types…maybe that’s a subject for a separate post. I can appreciate curvy girls but I tend to gravitate towards a fit physique.

I don’t really discriminate between tall or short girls…as long as I’m taller. I’m 6’2” so that’s usually not an issue, but I’ve been out on dates with girls taller than me and try as I might, I just can’t get past the height thing.

Long luxurious hair of any hue is attractive, but some girls can definitely pull off the sexy pixie short-haired look.

Tasteful tattoos can be cool and interesting (I don’t have any of my own) but there is a limit on that spectrum.

On a more nitpicky level, I’ve recently discovered that teeth/smile can be a dealbreaker. A girl can have a bangin’ bod, be super-intelligent, but if something’s wrong with those pearly whites then I probably can’t get onboard.

Chemistry

This is hard to quantify but I’m going to give it my best shot. Intelligence is a plus, but I don’t necessarily need a doctor of philosophy or rocket scientist to be satisfied. If a girl can logically work through an opinion and hold her own in a debate then I’m a happy camper.

A sense of playfulness in conversation and just in general is pretty important for me. I’m a light-hearted person by nature, but I tend to be a “personality chameleon” in that I often take on characteristics of the person I’m hanging out with. If I’m on a date with a girl who’s more serious or intense then I take on a similar vibe and that’s just not me. I’m much more comfortable hanging out with a more jokey smiley type girl.

Drive

Physical attraction and basic chemistry can carry a relationship for at least a couple months but at that point the deeper truths start to emerge. Respect and mutual admiration take on a much larger role once the initial thrill of a new relationship starts to wear off. Drive, passion, toughness, and determination are a few things that I find to be most admirable in a friendship or romantic relationship. I respect people with those traits. I’ve tried to date girls who had all the other traits (physically attractive, intelligent, good chemistry) but lacked drive which meant I respected them less and ultimately spelled the end of those relationships.

In Summation…

If I could find a girl who checked all those boxes I would be a lucky dude indeed. Despite the ocean of choices that online dating creates, it’s still really hard to find someone who’s perfect for you. And listing all these requirements for the perfect girl can be kind of presumptuous if I’m not similarly awesome. I think pretty highly of myself and I measure out pretty well on an objective scale (reasonably attractive, financially secure, reasonably intelligent, not entirely socially impaired), but those stats apply to plenty of guys and those perfect girls tend to get snapped up pretty quickly by all those jerks!

However, I proceed undaunted…and try to enjoy the ride along the way.