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3 Quick Ways To Stop Wasting Your Precious Dating Time

Stephen Hussey

I say “precious dating time”.

But all time is precious really.

That’s why my current obsession is with the art of reduction. Cutting the fat. Losing the unnecessary (I had another sentence after this one but it added nothing so now it’s gone).

One great illusion in dating is somehow the idea that more is better. It’s the reassurance that if you’re going on lots of dates, something like progress must be happening.

I’ve found the opposite to be true.


When you cram your schedule with so many dates you have to keep personal cheat notes to identify who you met and where (“Bob from marketing”, “James from the gourmet cheese tasting”, “Clarence from the World of Warcraft convention”), things very quickly become empty and too much like an obligation.

Dating becomes a monster you have to feed with more and more endless (and pointless) events – some other bar or mindless activity to meet new people, some boring conversation with some guy or girl you already know is not your type.

Here are three quick rules I now have to make this whole process a lot more fun, and a lot less time-draining:

1. Meet guys in places you enjoy

Cut out activities you don’t enjoy.

Get off the singles treadmill of going to places you can’t stand (where you’ll meet people you can’t stand) simply because you think you have to.

I’m all for being “out there” and meeting people (most days at least), but that doesn’t mean you ought to spend your precious free time trudging around bars and crappy singles events just because that’s what you heard people do when they’re trying to sniff out a partner.

When it comes to actually going on a date my personal rule is to only do something you would want to do anyway.

It becomes a quick way of knowing if you have a connection with the other person. For example, if you absolutely have to go running and exercise at the weekends but the guy thinks you’re insane for leaving the house on a Saturday, you already know this doesn’t have much of a chance anyway.

The person you’re going to be truly happy with is the person who’s going to enjoy doing normal stuff: taking a walk, eating ice cream, looking at dumb videos on your laptop, wandering around a park or museum and just chatting.

The more regular pleasurable activities you incorporate into your dating life, the more effectively you’ll be using your time.

2. Stop going on dates before you’ve established a connection with the guy

Cut out guys with whom you feel no connection.

Whether you meet him online or at a friend’s birthday, try to build some connection and find out if you have rapport before actually spending precious hours hanging out in his company.

It sounds stingy, but there’s nothing worse than showing up to the date and finding out in 5 minutes that you have barely any chemistry.

At the very least, know if you are (a) physically interested, and (b) enjoy his conversation before you choose to give up perfectly good Netflix hours on Saturday night.

3. Stop investing too much time in a first date

Cut the time you invest on a first date.

People park aside way too much time for people they barely know. Dating should be a process of investing a little, making an effort, but still letting the guy earn a place in your schedule.

If you both already happen to feel irresistible chemistry and want nothing more than sit on a couch in an over-priced cocktail bar talking for 4 hours without knowing where the time went: good for you.

For everyone else: start the date by keeping it small.

Book aside an hour and see how things go. You can always move on to another venue spontaneously if you’re both having the time of your lives.

As for the long, interminable, clichéd dinner-dates…save that until you’re bored and married. You’re single for god’s sake.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

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42 Replies to “3 Quick Ways To Stop Wasting Your Precious Dating Time”

  • Steve,

    You’re right. I do not want to waste my precious Netflix hours! Haha. Especially if the Netflix time involves Kevin Spacey, Anthony Bourdain, or Francois Arnaud! Those are hours, I know, are well spent. :D

    The balance between “have to” and “want to” can be a tough one! I am working with my group at work on this concept. It seems that people understand it, but continue to have more “have tos” in their lives. I am trying to get them to embrace the special moments eating ice cream, having a Lord of the Rings marathon (many moments), hosting a game night…

    There are endless possibilities. Most people that I have encounter stuff let with this because they think they “should” or “should not” be doing this or that. Thoughts are powerful.

    My preference would be a Netflix date with a guy I had already been on a few dates with. :)

    Happy Hump Day!


    1. Hi Arianna!

      Your list of Netflix boyfriends is very different from mine! But I have friends who share your tastes exactly ;).

      It’s funny about the “have to” and the “want to.” I think there are times when “have to” is important and necessary and times when it’s really not. Like advice…getting advice is great when you need it but not always welcome. (I’ve had a couple friends I had to learn not to talk to about problems because they feel obliged to solve them for me and get mad if I don’t take their advice!) But nice when you have the choice to take it or leave it…And of course, we’re all here!

      The thing that Matthew says about how, in online dating, you should be “online one night a week and dating the other 6 nights!” fills me with feelings of…uh, horror? inadequacy? exhaustion? every time I hear it. Even if I were able to meet 6 single straight guys my age every week (hahahahaha), 6 nights in a row of trying to impress strangers one-on-one sounds like it would take more energy than I put into ANYthing else in my life! I like using that energy (and time) for other things, like work and friends and cooking and cycling. And I would need to increase my Netflix time just to recover ;).

      1. Hi Emily!

        I completely agree that it can seem overwhelming to think about 6 nights of dating in one week… but I think Matt has the right idea in that the more you meet, the more choices you have! Even 3 dates a week sounds like a good compromise. :P It is definitely more fun when you are not trying to impress anyone. Ultimately, you want a partner who accept you for who you are anyway, right? Of course, making a first impression is important!
        I love your list of interests! :)

        Netflix for life! ;P!


  • Wonderful advice. As a newly-single-for-the-second-time woman, I find I’m approaching the whole dating scene TOTALLY differently. I love these tips, especially #1 because I’m much more attached to my own routines and alone time now, and sometimes I fear that I will have to sacrifice too much to be in a relationship. It makes total sense that the right person will fit seamlessly into my life (and I in his) rather than requiring major changes or adjustments. Thanks!

  • I agree with all of this, especially that last point. All I want to do on a first date is grab a cup of coffee or meet for a drink. I meet most of my dates online and no matter how many exchanges we have by messaging, it’s still hard for me to tell if I’m attracted to them until we meet. If within the first 30 minutes, I’m not feeling it, I don’t want to be obligated to stay another 30 minutes to an hour making mindless small talk.

  • Another great post I couldn’t agree more. I’m definitely going to adopt these ideas to my dating life. I really agree with creating a connection before giving up your time.

    Thanks Stephen

  • Stephen thanks for this article. Some great advice to use when meeting up with a guy. I think the boring dinner dates can also be saved for when you actually have a connection with them and it worth going on.

  • Hi Steve,

    Greetings from Madrid. I was away from the Internet for several weeks, because I was walking the Camino de Santiago. It was a great experience with an unexpected side effect of meeting many fit men on the daily basis. This also fits nicely with your first point (excuse the pun).

    I agree with your entire article and would add that economists have several related concepts. For example, we have to remind ourselves about the opportunity cost, i.e., by doing something undesirable we are missing an opportunity todo something desirable instead; the missed opportunity has the cost. The sunk cost fallacy prompts us to continue doing something that has been paid for, even if the activity becomes useless or even harmful. Some examples are expensive dinners and expensive gifts, but this could also be expenditures of time and effort.

    More generally, ¨the more the better¨ is a treacherous principle because it frequently backfires.


    1. Hi Victoria,

      I have a friend from Minnesota who just came back from walking the Camino as well! A week or two ago; I don’t know if you overlapped but you might have…

      I like your points about sunk costs. The value of an experience is difficult to identify, though. I remember one time when I went back to a dating profile I’d thought was long dead and ended up getting sucked back in for a while… I met two guys who I corresponded with for a while before we actually had a chance to meet up. In both cases, the date was a total bust, and I felt like I had given up precious time that I could have spent knitting or sleeping or hanging out with friends. However, the time and energy invested did yield a return in that a) I had a renewed zest for all the things I got to do with my own time that I DID enjoy, and stopped worrying about being single (etc.), and b) my correspondence with both men was engaging (more so than in person), but time-consuming in itself. Meeting the guys was an effective way to stop spending that time on something that was amusing but ultimately futile, since illusory. So I was glad for the experience as a whole. I also got some good stories out of it ;).

  • Hey Matthew,

    I’ve been dating this guy off and on for almost a year. He rarely ever tells me his feelings for me. We’ve had fights where he has every opportunity to walk away. Instead he will stay and I still can’t figure out. We spend a lot of time together going out doing things we both like to do. We don’t have a problem having a conversation. I can’t remember the last time he’s complemented me on how I look or said anything regards to his feelings. I know at one point he had said awhile back he didn’t want a relationship bUT he has feelings. Then we continued on anyways and we had a few fights that I thought we we’re done. But he would work it out just like a relationship. We are in agreement that we’re not seeing anyone else. He’s made it clear that he is not going to see anyone else. But beyond that I’m not sure how to get him to share how he feels about me.

  • It’s always been super hard for me to meet guys. The guys I’ve met were in a completely random setting. It’s bizarre. But it’s just hard for me to meet people like other women do.

  • Great article, Stephen! Again perfect timing ( psychic perhaps?) and reminder on how to set up dates as well as how important it is to build rapport before even going out!! Thanks again! Will definitely keep them in mind going forward – may help with the motivation to keep trying out and exploring things as well. ;) It is finally summer after all!
    Warmest regards,
    Shev XX

  • I found this very true and I recently joined tinder as a joke and at first I was getting a lot of convos and had to remind myself “which one is this?” Now these guys don’t even msg losers that’s why their on tinder can’t even say hi online!!

    I prefer guys I’ve build a connection with like this one guy I believe we had a good connection when I met him at work to my luck he was leaving the state I added him on fb and he hasn’t accpeted me :/ OH WELL he was a complete hottie

    Lots of love Stephen from Houston

      1. Stephen- I am curious about your take on Tinder. Do you really think it’s a waste of time? I happen to agree and thinking about getting off it…

  • I have a simple but I believe powerful question I think that needs to be answered by you.

    I made introduced myself to a man on a dating site. We exchanged a few emails and a conversation on the phone. He seems like a nice guy.
    The feeling I’m having is a bit confusing. I’ll tell you why.

    We arranged to meet this Sunday for a drink. He is willing to drive into the city. Asked where I’d like to meet etc.
    I basically said I’m open to most places and flexible. The text after that took me back! He said I quote, “That’s my girl!!!”
    Ok Mathew help me with this one. Should I run? Dazed and confused in San Francisco!

    1. lol All I can say is that I agree: that is a very weird thing to text before a first date.

      1. I’m curios to know what did you answer to him?? I would have said: well I’n not your girl yet, but maybe if you play your cards better, we’ll see ;)


  • I really needed this tonight, I have been “shoulding” myself all week, because everyone keeps saying you should go out and do this and that, and i really don’t feel like just going out with any punk I meet. I much rather spend time reading or watching hockey on saturday night. Plus I am still getting over the guy I broke up with last month.

    BY the way, what is your advice on that, when you are trying to get over a guy, it is way more depressing to go on dates, because no one is him..

    Thanks Stephen, this was perfect!


  • Yes! I’m glad you make the point that we don’t have to go on dates for the sake of going on dates! What with Matthew’s techniques for getting the guy theoretically meaning that women could get themselves a handful of dates A WEEK by following the effective advice – and to judge from the Inspiration Stories, some are indeed racking it up – I was starting to think I was the only one going on practically no dates at all.

    However, I am meeting guys. In real life, not online. And the way I see it is this: in real life, that first interaction is the ‘date’, it’s a date in miniature. This week for instance, I got talking to two guys, on two separate occasions, at the bus stop (different bus stops; alas, there is not one magic bus stop). Both then asked for my number, but each time I found a nice way to get out of giving it to them – why go on subsequent dates when I’d already had enough time to know that we weren’t on the same page? With the second guy especially, we both ended up getting the same bus… which then got stuck in traffic. We had a lot of lively, interesting banter, but after 45 minutes, I knew it wasn’t meant to be.

  • “And (b) enjoy his conversation before you choose to give up perfectly good Netflix hours on Saturday night”.

    Hahaha you crack me up XD

  • And what about this kind of wasting dating time: if he is wonderful, as i can see and feel- genuinely in love with me& really involved, but i already spot a few red flags(about his exs and having a nature of a womanizer); should i break up with him as a matter of precaution in order not to get deeper into a potentially dangerous ground?

    he had extremely intense but toxic love with his ex, but long time after a a break-up keeps a GALLERY of her pictures, hidden… last time when he was already with me he accepted a present from her she sended to him, and until the moment he met me he kept in touch with her… it’s like he didnt want to be with her already a long time cuz she was toxic, but apparently he must still want her. i dont wanna men with another woman in his head… is it already a good reason to break up? I would be grateful for advice

  • So what if he seems good but you are highly academic and need security and he seems to free to take life as it comes. Do you tell him to try planning because that’s what you want or see where his method of life gets him even if he has nothing under his name at 30?

  • I once asked out 9 guys in one week, as a dare. I haven’t asked a guy out since, totes had to make a spreadsheet that week and they ALL got so mad and tried and almost succeeded in ruining my life (no joke).

    So, I was reading ‘get the guy’ today, and I was reading about how more is better, the funnel effect… Frankly, I just don’t think most women on this page have ‘this’ issue, unless they ask out a bunch of guys and get pitty dates, cause that’s how it’s ALWAYS going to feel when the woman asks a guy out. The end. Shortest comment ever, for me.

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