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  • Sue Schleifer

This Story Is About More Than Online Dating


In the last several years, I know of several people who have met their partners through an online dating service and others who have not been successful with this approach.

When I heard from a friend that she had recently met a man, I asked her what her “secret sauce” was. This was not the first person whom she fell in love with through a dating website. She also met her husband this way. He unfortunately died unexpectidely a few years ago.

She wrote to me that “the secret sauce is eHarmony plus to write a profile such that it will resonate with the ideal partner and mostly not with anyone else. The thing is to say who you actually are, what you actually want, and don’t give up. It’s a needle-in-a- haystack kind of thing, so it’s important to be able to recognize “hay” and say ‘No” to it. Luck and hope are also involved. That’s it!” She also added that she met an incredible man and that despite age (she’s in her 70s) and obstacles (they live in different states and met during the pandemic), they fell in love. She said it was a surprise and now is moving to be with him.

I replied that she is the secret sauce. She is a writer, so most likely composed a compelling story about herself and about her wishes for a partner. In addition, she has “done the work” to know herself. She practices meditation which I suspect has been helpful in her ability to accept and articulate whom she really is rather than whom she would like to be or whom she thinks others want her to be.

Julia Galef, in her book The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Some Don’t, writes that people with a Scout Mindset are curious, open, and grounded and that these qualities predict good judgment. It turns out that many researchers have demonstrated that most of us don’t have very good judgment. We do not excel at understanding what we know or believe and adjusting our beliefs when we find out new information. However, it is possible to develop our self-awareness so that we are able to make better decisions.

One key way to help us to be more self-aware is to ask what questions rather than why questions. For example, asking “What is going on here? What do I want in a relationship? What makes me happy? Rather than asking “Why did s/he do that? Why doesn’t s/he understand me? Why am I unhappy? The “what” questions help us to reflect and move forward. The “why” questions keep us stuck in the past.

So whether we are looking for a mate, wanting to be a more empathetic partner, or a more effective leader we might want to develop our self-awareness skills or “scout mindset.”