Joe Choi's Stories and Advice on Writing, Health, and Living a Happier Life

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My Unusual Dating Experiment

I had a crush on the Polish bartender girl at a local bar on New York’s Upper East Side. I’d visit her all the time and try to impress her with the handful of Polish words I knew.

“Masz faceta?” I always asked her. “Do you have a guy?”

Then she would laugh and ask if I needed another beer.

She saw I was actually someone who visited Poland and tried to make an effort to speak the language so she brought me some pierogies from a Polish deli one day. They were delicious. I thought she might’ve liked me then and we’d end up dating and go back to her place in Jamaica, Queens after she got off work and make love into the morning hours.

Then she moved away for good. I went to her going away party at the bar and that was the last time I saw her. Going back to the bar was never the same so I stopped going there all together.

This was the spring of 2009 and I was feeling lonely.

It was 3 years since I graduated college, and 3 years since I last kissed a girl. My chances at kissing the Polish bartender were gone and I’d been out of the game so long I would be so awkward around any women who I couldn’t play my Russian, Ukranian, or Eastern European card on.

So I signed up secretly for an online dating site. I say secretly because online dating still had a stigma back then. I’d log onto the site on private browsing so nobody would ever know.

My goal was simple: Just spend more time around women. That way if the one does come along I wouldn’t be an awkward, nervous wreck around her.

I messaged hundreds of women. I started within a short radius of the zip code I was in. I didn’t get many responses so I had to expand the radius further and further. Eventually, I was messaging women in all 5 boroughs and NJ. Some still had AIM so I dusted off my account from college days and logged in to chat with them.

I went on a few dates. Some of them were awkward. Some of them were uneventful. And some of them were successes in that we got along and texted and called each other afterwards. One of them ended up being my girlfriend for over two years. We even lied to people about how we met because it just wasn’t cool at the time.

Little did I know it, but I was learning my preferences and becoming a competent dater. I started to develop a theory that most people after college become passive in dating so they end up marrying the wrong person. Or they become desperate and latch on to the first person who comes along.

A few months ago, I read John T. Reed’s book, “Succeeding,” and he said something similar. “Did you shop around before you met Bob? No, because he was on sale.”

He wrote about his dating system where he would write form letters to random women whose names he got from local newspapers. He used his driver’s license and West Point Alumni card to prove he was normal and not an axe murderer.

Obviously, times were different when he was coming of age and there are more privacy and security concerns nowadays. However, I did think he was right in creating a system to meet as many women as possible.

I thought of ways I could apply it to today’s world using online tools.

The Problem with Relying on Dating Sites for Men

When you use a dating site you become a commodity. You create a profile along with thousands of other men and then you message women. Women get hundreds of messages per day and sometimes they can’t respond to you even if you two would be a good match.

Commodities in business compete on price. The lowest price wins. In online dating, commodities compete on trivial factors.

Joining dating sites is also passive because you essentially accept whatever comes through the front door. Not that this is always bad. But you’re essentially delegating the important task of finding dates to the site you’ve joined.

People also suck at writing dating profiles.

“I like to go out and have a good time, but don’t mind staying in every now and then.” 

“Looking to meet people. Not looking for sex. If you want to know more just ask.”

“I have a great career, great friends, now I’m just looking for the one special someone who is missing in my life…”

“I’m skeptical, but my friends say I should give this a chance. So here I am!”

Basically, everyone writes generic crap that’s no different than anyone else’s generic crap. It’s like a hiring manager who gets cover letters from job applicants that read: “I’m a hard worker with an interest in your industry looking to utilize my blah blah blah…”

It’s hard to get an idea of what someone is like through their writing. So you have to rely on message blasts and chance to get dates.

My experiment: How to be everywhere at once and go out and find your dates. 

Direct marketers do not try to build their brand and have customers come to them. They come up with products to solve people’s problems and then go out and look for their best customers through mailing lists or targeted ads. I combined my direct marketing knowledge with John T. Reed’s old system to form a new dating system. 

My thinking was as follows:

  • More people are on Facebook than dating sites.
  • In general, single people want to date. But might not want to try online dating.
  • People who browse Facebook are bored and looking for something exciting.
  • There’s lots of data you can use on Facebook to target the segments you want.

So here’s what I’m doing as my experiment: 

  1. I created a sales page for myself where I invite the reader out for a chat over coffee. I talk about myself, reasons for the experiment, and what I’m looking for. I won’t post the link as it’s hidden from search engines and I’m tracking it.
  2. I’m running about 20 Facebook ads targeting women in a certain age range with similar interests.
  3. I had friends write testimonials because anyone who lands on the page would immediately be skeptical I’m sure. I linked the testimonials out to the respective person’s site or LinkedIn profile to solidify the proof. This linking method is what made Google’s search engine algorithm different from others back in the day.
  4. I did not link to my site at all but I did use my full name. The ad and page might pique someone’s interest and she’ll go run her own searches to verify. At which point, she’ll be more involved and committed in the process and more likely to respond to the initial landing page.

My concerns

  • I don’t get to see the photos of potential dates beforehand. Although I did ask people to include them in their responses. I also said I would delete any responses that didn’t follow my instructions. This is to show 1.) This is not a desperation act. 2.) Disqualifies any idiots who can’t follow simple instructions.
  • The targeting is too broad. Facebook’s goal is to make money by running ads to people to get clicks regardless of the person clicking it. My goal is to get clicks from the right people.
  • I’m using right-hand column ads for now. These typically don’t perform as well as newsfeed ones. Once I collect some data and results form the right-hand column I might create myself a fan page for myself so I can start running Newsfeed ads.
  • My ad might show to someone I know although I don’t know too many folks in my new metro area.
  • Facebook will reject the ads because they don’t comply. So far only one ad wasn’t approved.
  • Women will think my idea is creepy. This turned out not to be the case. When I asked my women friends to write testimonials for me most were interested in the experiment and thought it was a good idea. A few liked the idea, but weren’t comfortable putting their name on my sales page, which is fine since I had enough people who said yes.

I’ll run this experiment for a little while and then post the results here at some point. If the results are decent, I might eventually help some friends setup something similar.

Someone mentioned that I should try this and make it into a business by making it easier for people to setup the system. But then this would bring us back to the commodity problem if a lot of people started using it. Women would start seeing all these ads from guys trying to get dates with them and I’m sure they wouldn’t log onto Facebook the same way ever again.

Sometimes having a lot of hoops to jump through is a good thing.

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