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Whilst I’ve been away from posting on this blog, I haven’t been away in checking the traffic to it. What I consistently find is that some of the most popular posts belong to the series I had written about online dating. Apparently, it’s such a hot topic somebody actually did research on the validity of some of my claims.  As an analytical person, I couldn’t be happier to see real data to back up my own experience.  A summary of the findings is below, but here is a link to the research for those of you interested in diving deeper into the raw numbers.

  1. More isn’t always better when it comes to the introductory email. In the study, the author correlated the time it took to write the email (and indirectly the number of characters in the emails) with the email response rate.  Not surprisingly, brevity trumps ramble: “The shortest messages get almost the best absolute response rate, and the reply rate actually goes down as messages approach extreme length.”
  2. There’s a magic number — cross it and you start to scare people off. According to the research, once you approach 360 words (or 1800 characters), the effectiveness of your email goes way down.  THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY words??!  I don’t even read emails that long from people I know, much less a stranger!
  3. Men don’t actually read women’s opening email. Their conclusion is based on the fact that the most effective outreach from a woman to a man is 50 characters long!  Just to give an idea of how long 50 characters is, write the entire alphabet twice but stop at the letter “X” the second time. I don’t know about you, but that’s simply not long enough to convey any kind of message, really!

Personally, I find the result fascinating.  I am awaiting the next installment of their research to see what other findings are up their sleeves.

I’ve always been a go-getter most of my life, now more so than ever.  I have my parents to thank for instilling in me the self confidence to know that if I work hard at something, I can achieve just about anything I want to be and do.  Consequently, I’ve achieved a lot.  But the one thing I want most (since my vacation this past Summer) has eluded me — and that is to have somebody with whom I can share my life.

Love is a finicky subject, to say the least; to say it takes more than hard work to find true love is an understatement.  Whereas most things in my life can be had with compromises if I really wanted them, compromising on who to spend the rest of my life with is not quite acceptable to me.  In short, my quest for true love is a good test of applying the Stockdale Paradox.

The Stockdale Paradox states that one should retain faith that he/she will prevail, regardless of difficulties, while at the same time confront the most brutal facts of his/her reality, whatever they might be.  So let me share with you how I’ve applied it to my life in the dating department.

To retain faith that I will prevail, I placed my current self in the spectrum of my entire life and took an inventory of my qualities, abilities, accomplishments and all that I have to offer to my partner.  When viewed in that light, it’s not hard to keep faith that I will prevail in the end.  The trick is to write them down and review the list often, especially during the time I feel less confident about my success.  I also write letters to myself when I feel good and read those letters when I feel less good.  The trick for me is to use the ebb and flow and ups and downs of life to my advantage and keep me and my faith buoyant.

To confront the most brutal fact of my reality (being single), I do something about it everyday.  I force myself to be more social by going out and meeting people.  I don’t do the bar and club scenes anymore, but I attend street fairs, house parties, and other social gatherings.  And for days I don’t have anything in my calendar, I go to the bookstore/cafe to read.  The most important part is I set absolutely no expectation of my activities other than to meet people I don’t already know.  By doing something everyday, I was able to break down the daunting task of “meeting that special somebody” to just “meeting somebody”.  Meeting people is the easy part, and that makes the reality that much more digest-able.

Notice in both instances, I proactively do something about my situation and at the same time place absolutely no deadline on my activities.  The first part puts me in complete control of my situation, and the second part puts a distance between me and the things I cannot control.  The combined effort gives me a renewed sense everyday that I will succeed in the end.

How about you?  Have you applied the Stockdale Paradox in your life?  If so, I would love to hear about it!

I was chatting with a friend online yesterday.  Since we have not spoken in a while, I was catching her up on the new development in my life, and I told her about my recent heartache.  She asked how I am doing, so I told her I am doing surprisingly well.  Life goes on whether I like it or not, so I’ve decided to live life as fully as I can everyday.  She then asked me a question that caused me to pause in retrospect.  She asked, “Are you over him?”

My initial response to her was, “Yes, I am over him!”  From the start, I took steps to make sure I get over this guy as quickly as I can, and I feel very good about my progress so far.  But my friend questioned my progress, as in she did not fully believe me that I have gotten over the guy.  Later in our conversation, she questioned whether I actually loved the guy at all.

Her questions actually caused me to pause and evaluate the situation.  First, am I really progressing nicely towards getting over the guy?  And second, if the answer to the first question is yes, did I really not love him as much as I thought I did?

I thought about those two questions a lot last night and this morning, and I came to this conclusion: There is a big difference between real love and emotional attachment.  When we are emotionally attached to somebody, we crave their attention and presence.  When we don’t receive their attention and/or have their presence in our lives, we feel sad and maybe even depress.  Real love, on the other hand, is mutual respect and acceptance.

So the answers to the questions above are, yes, I am over the guy because I am no longer emotionally attached to him.  And yes, I did love him because I accepted and respected him while we were together.  In addition, I am forever grateful for all the wonderful memories and life lessons he had taught me.  If that is not love, I am not sure what else counts.

Some of my acquaintances have asked me why did I decide to jump into the dating pool after so many years.  Yes, it has been a few years – four to be exact.  Well, many things changed in my life recently.  For example, I found out that more than anything else, I want to be in a happy relationship, to love and be loved.  It’s not exactly do-able if I were to remain single.  More importantly, I found out that the guy I was (am?) in love with for the past four years did not love me the same way.  Before I explain, let me rewind time and tell you the story from the beginning.

I moved to California five years ago.  I spent the majority of my first year here meeting people and making new friends, something I thoroughly enjoy even today.  During one of the gatherings, I met “K” and connected with him instantly.  It was not love at first sight, but he broke down my wall of hesitation with his charming pursue.  What did he do?  He would drive almost 80 miles round trip, several times a week, just to have lunch with me.  He would engage me in some of the most interesting conversations at all hours of the day.

After hanging out platonically for almost one year, he finally asked me out.  How can you say no to a guy who drove 80 miles just to hang out?  It took me a little while to warm up to him, but I soon fell head over heels for him.  But as my love for him grew stronger, he began to withdraw himself emotionally.  We had arguments over his emotional availability more often, and two years into our relationship, I called it quit.  However, since we became friends first before we dated, I thought it was perfectly OK to hang out as friends afterward.  Or so I thought.

Even as our relationship turned south, our friendship flourished.  We became closer than ever — we would share inside jokes and lean on each other for support and advice.  He would call me to hang out, and we would have lunch and/or dinner about once a week.  I didn’t know it at the time, but hanging out with him even as friends deepened my feelings for him.  It took a vacation away from him to discover my true feelings for him.  So I asked if he would give the relationship another chance.

Turned out while my feelings for him deepened, his feelings for me changed from a romantic one to a purely platonic one.  Not only that, he’s now dating others.  Needless to say, I was devastated.  Looking back, I realize I let his enthusiasm and friendliness fooled me into thinking he still cares about me the way he used to.  I thought the fact that he wanted to hang out so often meant that he still harbors romantic love for me.  Well, I was wrong…very wrong!

What do you do when you love somebody who doesn’t love you back?  You learn to let go of the emotion, the past, the dream of the future, and everything about that person.  It took me a while to get it straight in my head, but I am finally learning to let it go.  And part of letting go is rediscovering others around me.  That’s why I decide to date again.  It’s the only way I am moving forward with my life in the romance department.

Learning to let go is one of the hardest things I ever have to do.  But every time I think about how difficult it is, I say to myself, “This is not helping” to stop myself from feeling sad.  Acceptance follows, even if it’s for just a little while.  But with each passing day, it gets easier.

For all you heart-broken souls out there, I feel your pain.  Sometimes it feels like you are suffering by yourself all alone, but that’s not the case.  At least I am suffering alongside you, even if I don’t know you.  In the end, you will triumph, and you will feel good again.  You have to believe that!

This post is dedicated to my friend, ADK.  While I can’t be there for you in person, I am with you in thoughts!

As mentioned in my previous post, I recently decided to get back into the dating game. It’s only been two weeks, but I’ve met quite a number of people already. Alas, most of the people I’ve met so far don’t make very good first impressions. Nevermind dating, I am not even sure if I want to hang out with them as friends based on their initial behavior. But rather than criticizing, I thought it may be more constructive to write about the kinds of behavior that are complete turn-offs. Here goes (they are not in any particular order):

  1. Do not interrupt conversations needlessly. I met this guy recently who interrupted me six times in the first ten minutes of our conversation. He not only butted in when I was talking, he RAISED his voice to get his two cents in. I finally had to tell him to stop talking over me. He initially complied, but it was back to square one after that. Guess I won’t be talking to him again!
  2. Be careful of the questions you ask. Another guy I met asked me questions that were simply inappropriate for the first meeting. For example, “Were you married before?” simply wasn’t a question you ask a person you have just met, regardless of whether the meeting was platonic or romantic in nature. Stick with neutral questions such as hobbies and activities instead!
  3. Don’t carry on a soliloquy about yourself. Yes, we all like to talk about ourselves, but unless you are on a stage, the monologue is incredibly boring to your audience. This guy I met went on for what seemed like an eternity about his job, his life, his accomplishment, etc. I tuned out after a while, but he didn’t get the hint. Sigh….
  4. Don’t brag about yourself. I may not have gotten an Ivy League education, but I have plenty of friends who did. Truth is, an education does not a person make, Ivy League or not. Some women may find it sexy to date a guy who graduated from Harvard, but I find it incredibly tasteless to use that as an opening line. If you must, a better approach is to mention it with subtle undertone. Better yet, let her find out for herself!
  5. Do act like a man. I met this guy who would start out talking with normal voice but gradually fade as the conversation continued. Hello? I can’t hear you if you whisper. And why are you whispering anyway?
  6. Don’t appear cheap. One of my favorites places to eat are holes-in-the-wall with great food. And although I don’t mind at all going to a hole-in-a-wall restaurant for the first date, I want to know that the reason for the choice is NOT because my date is cheap! So how do you get your date to try your favorite hole-in-a-wall without appearing cheap? Provide her with three or four choices and let her choose. Briefly introduce her to each of the choices, and while you do that, mention that the hole-in-a-wall is one of your favorites.

Well, that’s two weeks worth of dating do’s and don’ts. I will post more as they come up! Meanwhile, feel free to add more of your own in the comment section.

Update: I have since written another post of the do’s and don’ts of making a good first impression.  You can find it here.