Approaching dating like a buffet

A dating friend asked if there were any new interesting men on the horizon as I reenter the dating scene after the meltdown. I shared that an intriguing sounding man showed up in my matches. He’s a graduate school professor at a nearby internationally renowned university. I said, “Even if we’re not attracted to each other after meeting, I think he’d make a fascinating coffee date.”

She said, “Your attitude always amazes me. I wouldn’t think of meeting with someone just because he sounds interesting. I look for signs of shared values, background, interests, sense of humor or other indications we might be a match.”

When looking at an online dating profile, it’s hard to tell much of anything about the man. But if there are several elements that you find interesting, why not at least respond to the match?

buffetIn some ways I approach dating like a buffet. When I partake in a smorgasbord, I’m interested in tasting some new dishes, trying things I probably wouldn’t order from a menu. The same with men. I use online dating as a way to meet men who sound interesting. And just like at a buffet, I take a small taste — a coffee meeting — to see if I want more. If I like what I’ve sampled, I can usually go back for more (a second date).

Knowing you aren’t making a commitment for a whole meal before you know if you’ll like it makes it easier to try new dishes (men). You can allow yourself to experiment. If you never thought you’d like a bald man but never dated one, try a man who seems a match on many items but happens to be hairless. Thought you had a limit for a man’s height? Try an extra-tall guy if all else seems good.

Now, just like a buffet, you can get heartburn if you taste too many options in a short time. Balancing men, just like balancing an overloaded plate, is tricky. So only take on what you know you can juggle. Once you find something you like it is sometimes hard to not want to continue tasting. But at some point you decide you’ve had your fill of new dishes and choose one favorite.

I’ve expanded my choices by being willing to try something different. Know that there are abundant possibilities available and you can perhaps uncover a new taste treat you wouldn’t have found if you weren’t willing to experiment.

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6 responses to “Approaching dating like a buffet”

  1. walt Avatar

    This approach to dating seems very good for the diner, whether male or female. However, how does this interplay with dating ethics? Are you obligated to tell your dates that you are taking a buffet approach to dating, and not anxious to settle on one entree too quickly? Recently I went on a first date with a woman, and casually mentioned that I had been out with one or two women that I might see again. She became upset, and said that she never would have gone out with me if she had known I was seeing other people. Further, she said that she would never date more than one man at a time, and wanted a man who felt the same way. I made clear that I was not sleeping with anyone, or involved to a meaningful degree with anyone, but this seemed to make no difference to her view. While she may have been a bit extreme, are we obligated to discuss our approach with our dates, especially before asking them to commit to a second date?

  2. Christine Avatar

    In a word, no. I think far too much “interviewing” goes on during a first date. Remember when we were younger and a date was doing something active, fun, adventurous and we just enjoyed the experience together. Why are we asking probing, intrusive questions and setting up rules and boundaries when we don’t even know if we enjoy the person’s sense of humor? I think there is certainly a time for these conversations, but not on a first or even second date.

  3. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Hi Walt:

    I don’t mention I’m dating others unless it looks like I’d like to spend time again with the person. Then I feel out his reaction.

    But as I mentioned in “Assume there are other women” most people dating from online sites should assume there are others in the mix, even if you only see one person at a time. The women you were with was naive to get incensed at that — she just didn’t understand how many people use online dating.

  4. Ellen Avatar

    Ah, until the “we-are-exclusive” conversation, we can see whoever, or as many, as we please!!! I’m still a big believer in having dates that are fun so that they are NOT interviews. A walk on the pier, a visit to a museum, or take him shopping to the hardware store – all are fun for me and show me the guy in a “real” setting so I can learn more about him. He can say all he wants about himself, but seeing him in action tells me the truth. Plus it’s likely to be much more fun than a Q&A!!!

    Off to the buffet!
    xo Ellen

  5. Bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    While I’m not actively dating at present, I take the buffet approach to my online penpal friendships. I have male and female penpals ranging in ages from 18 to 60 something from all across the U.S. and six different foreign countries. It’s my belief that we can learn something new from each new person and every new interaction, so, IMHO, until two people have discussed and agreed upon exclusivity in a relationship, it doesn’t make sense to limit your interactions.

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  6. Callebaut Avatar

    So now I know why I have such bad luck at dating; I hate buffets. Standing in line to find that all the best things have been picked over — kind of like the leftover guys who are single in their 40s and 50s — and the emphasis is on quantity, not quality.