Dating Filter: What do I want?
February 4, 2020 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I am a straight mid-30s man who recently exited the only relationship of my life after a few years. I have never had sex with or even kissed anyone else. Part of the reason it ended was because I want to experience dating a variety people before I get married. Now that I am trying to start dating again, how can I know what kind of dating/relationship I am looking for?

I know I am not looking for anonymous hookups, but I don't want to get right back into a long-term relationship. I probably don't want to marry the next person I date. I want to have sex, but not just sex. Maybe hookups where we really get to know each other first? Maybe casual or short-term dating? Maybe dating heading towards a long-term relationship, but taking it really slow and dating multiple people? Are there many women in my age range who would be up for any of those?

I am in the DC area, if that makes any difference.

In Bumble, I think the choices for "what are you looking for?" are "something casual", "relationship", "marriage", or "I don't know yet." Which should I put? Are there many women my age who would even be open to "something casual" or "I don't know yet"?

In OKCupid, I think the choices are "hookups", "short-term dating", "long-term dating", and friends. I'm not totally sure what hookups or short-term dating would entail, as I have never done either.

How do I decide where I want?
posted by hijol to Human Relations (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Are there many women my age who would even be open to "something casual" or "I don't know yet"?

This isn't the relevant question, because you're not in the business of deceiving women about you want. Or at least, you shouldn't be.

Your answer is "I don't know yet." And if that filters out certain women, well, yes, That's this category doing the job people need it to do. You do not want to be misleading people about your intentions. If you have to ask us, you don't know yet.
posted by Miko at 11:14 AM on February 4, 2020 [34 favorites]

People who are looking for a monogamous relationship are unlikely to be cool with you dating other people simultaneously. I'm anti-monogamy myself, so I'd say "oh well," but that will dramatically limit your options.

My personal experience is that most men and women over 30 are looking for long-term relationships, and the rest are looking for something casual. Casual means sex; possibly ongoing and possibly leading to a relationship, but sex is the focus at least initially. So choose "casual" if that works for you. "Hookups" means the same thing.

Otherwise, choose "I don't know," because that is more honest than saying you're looking for a long-term relationship if you're not. On OKC, choose "short-term;" I honestly have no idea what that means but I don't think anyone else does either so it won't mislead anyone.

In the past, OKC let you select as many options as you want. If you think you might be looking for a long-term relationship as part of this exploration, you can check that one too. But be upfront in your written profile. Make it clear that you're not quite ready to settle down yet and that you like to get to know people before having sex.
posted by metasarah at 11:23 AM on February 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the answers so far!

To be clear, I'm asking this because I don't want to deceive anyone. But if putting "I don't know yet" is going to result in 0 matches, then I guess I better figure out what I want before making a profile. And if not putting "relationship" is going to result in 0 matches, then maybe I need to rethink what I am actually looking for (not just what I say).
posted by hijol at 11:37 AM on February 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

You're very unlikely to find anyone in your dating pool that doesn't have caveats to their personal circumstances vis-a-vis commitment. Those checkboxes on dating sites are extremely context-dependent and generally for people looking for specific things. You won't go wrong saying you're interested in a long-term relationship, nobody will reasonably expect that to be a binding oath. After a couple dates when you feel like that conversation is appropriate you can talk about where you see yourself headed.

FWIW as a late 30s divorced guy who went back to the dating pool a few years ago, working on yourself, being comfortable in your own skin and really understanding who you are and what you want is going to be the key for finding something lasting. Dating online will be likely really frustrating beforehand. But YMMV, good luck!
posted by misterdaniel at 11:49 AM on February 4, 2020

As a data point - I am 36/m, have "don't know" on my bumble because it's true, and get to kiss a range of people. It's fun, and I don't feel I'm deceiving anyone. If someone asks what it means, I just tell them the truth. The way it generally works is that you go on some dates, and then maybe start sleeping together, and then if you really like each other have an 'exclusivity' conversation.

I... love talking about this? Please memail me if you'd like to.
posted by wattle at 11:50 AM on February 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

30s woman here who dates men your age.

Anyway, if I were you I would choose "I'm not sure" and explicitly tell the women you match with exactly what you wrote here -- that you exited a long term relationship recently, are looking for new experiences, and you (bold, highlight, italic) are not looking to settle down or marry anytime soon. There's nothing to spin here. I'd argue that you do in fact know what you want, and that "what" it is no committment for the foreseeable future.

Being very, very clear about a of this will ensure you minimize the wasting of time, including your own, and the maximization of happiness. There are women out there who aren't necessarily looking for anything serious either. There are many women around your own age in the same boat who will understand where you are coming from. Message those women.
posted by shaademaan at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

Maybe this Captain Awkward post will help.
posted by foxjacket at 1:43 PM on February 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I know a good deal of women in your dating age range in the DC area who use dating apps/sites and so I can tell you that your matches will not be 0 if you're honest about what you're looking for, even if it is "I don't know yet."

Honesty is the key thing. I know some women who'd maybe like a long-term relationship but aren't against having some fun while looking for one.

I haven't used a dating app/site in a really long time but I also have to assume that if you start out with "I don't know yet," you're not stuck with that forever.
posted by darksong at 2:25 PM on February 4, 2020

In my mind what you are looking for is "something casual" and "short term dating." I don't think that only means hook ups. I think it's clearer than "I don't know." You can also use your words in your profile to describe what you are looking for: "interesting in short term and casual dating."

There are likely women in your age group and older who are also recently divorced or out of long term relationships who also want to date and have fun and not move right away into something serious.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:35 PM on February 4, 2020

I am very put off by people who profess to know what they want from me before they've ever met me, so "I don't know yet" is the only answer I would find interesting. But that answer doesn't actually seem to be true for you at all; you know that you want to date and have sex with several women, if you can. There are more and less acceptable ways to indicate this, but being coy about it to the point of being deceptive is not the way. don't pretend to be open to anything if you're only open to some things.

Luckily for you, plenty of people are not like me, and actively seek out partners who like to write the screenplay before they hold a casting call, so to speak; who like to know what is going to happen (in this case, friendly dating with affection and (you hope) sex, but without exclusivity). this is clear enough that you do not have to mess around with disclaimers about what if you fall in love by accident and what if things move slower or faster than you expected. worry about that when it happens. Check the boxes for both long-term and short-term and casual dating, nobody else knows what those mean either.

you don't have to spell out the sex part and really probably shouldn't, wanting to sleep with someone after getting to know them on several pleasant dates is normal to do but strange to specify. just propose it politely and graciously when the time seems right.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:35 PM on February 4, 2020

Just chiming in to say that on Bumble at least you aren't required to specify what you're looking for - that's optional additional data that helps people narrow down their matches when they're looking for something specific. If I were you I'd leave it off my profile entirely. For what it's worth, the kind of dating you're describing is incredibly common in my metropolitan area (NYC.) I'd say it's the default mode even. I personally find it a turn off when a man is incredibly specific about the type of relationship he's imagining and prefer our connection to emerge organically. This goes for casual relationships as well as more serious ones. If I were you I'd just avoid matching with anyone who specifies that they are looking for a long term commitment. You can discuss what you're available for more in person, probably before sleeping together.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 7:09 AM on February 5, 2020

« Older Should I stay or should I go?   |   Daycare bills Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.