A Dating Goddess reader wrote lamenting her string of dates who weren’t a fit. She said, “I am struck by how consistently poor my ‘picking ability’ is.”
How is your picking ability? Do you, too, have a string of first dates, but not second ones? Or you may have multiple dates, but nothing long term? After many go-nowhere first dates, I’m a pickier picker.
My grandmother was a cotton picker — she harvested cotton by hand on her family’s farm as a young woman. (We loved telling her, “Take your cotton-picking hands off that!”) She said there are ways to tell if the cotton is ready to be harvested.
If you’re having a string of first dates and few second or third ones, let’s apply some cotton-picking tips to man picking.
- Do you know what you’re looking for? In cotton, you look for burst bolls (seed capsules). If you’re not clear what you want, you’ll go out with pretty much anyone. While I’m an advocate of meeting men who don’t meet your criteria 100%, there are some who are just too far afield to be a match. I now turn down 9 out of 10 inquiries I receive. If you’re not clear, read the posting on your boyfriend job application and start writing yours.
- Is he ready to be picked? If the bolls aren’t open, you can’t harvest the cotton. If a man isn’t ready for a relationship, no matter what you do, he won’t do more than play around. Each man has his own readiness signals, but working to please you, talking about a future together and maturely discussing conflicts are good clues.
- Are there indications this isn’t a good pick? Professional cotton farmers know crop problem signs. Although you’re not a professional dater, you know when you see insurmountable problems. Don’t ignore red flags. I don’t agree to meet with any man who uses foul language or poor grammar in emails or on the phone. If he doesn’t seem to know how to make conversation, dominates the discussion, or bashes his ex(es) or women, I decline a face-to-face.
- Additionally, do you establish some mutual connection before meeting? If you go out with someone after only a few brief contacts, you don’t know enough about him to know if he’s a potential match. If you talk or email and ask some important questions, you’re more likely to find someone who’s going to be a fit. Don’t interrogate him, but if his view on important issues is intolerable to you, there’s not a match. Better know now than after spending more time exploring.
I believe every person I spend more than a few minutes with is a teacher. If you just dismiss the non-fits as cads, jerks or losers, you learn nothing. Why did you attract him to you? What is he there to teach you? If you don’t learn the lesson, you’ll keep getting more of the same until you do. So better sit down and ask yourself, “What did I learn from the encounter?” And saying, “Avoid losers” isn’t an acceptable answer.
Even if you learned to better identify what you don’t want, that’s a good lesson. It will help you discern what you want and notice when a guy has it.
Sharpen your picking skills and you’ll have better luck finding guys who are a better fit.