Saturday, July 08, 2006

Focus And Serendipity

Recently, while talking about the importance of focus in achieving goals with someone, I was asked to recall one instance in my life where focus had made no difference to my real objective but at least lead to serendipitous discoveries.

From the time my friend M convinced me to try online dating, I must have interacted with a couple of hundred men – many of the "interactions" lasting only a couple of e-mails. I always had a good idea of what I was looking for. Given the lessons learned from being married before, I also knew what was negotiable and what was not. I was painfully aware of my limits and limitations. In time, I grew focused in my efforts to find "the one". Instead of waiting to be contacted by men who clearly did not get what I was all about, I took initiative. If a man could not put together a blurb that held my attention for thirty seconds chances of finding a lifetime of bliss with him were minimal. I had created a well-defined sort and filter criteria that I hoped would lead to the right man for me.

My focus resulted in meeting with a bizarre assortment of characters including (but not limited to) a married man, an affianced man, a man whose divorce had cost him $80K plus half his retirement and yet referred to his ex as “my wife”, a man who said that the sound of my voice gave him a hard-on, a man who on first speaking with me confessed that he had once overdosed on Paxil and had spent a night in the psych ward, a man who sent me a picture of his seven year old daughter in a bathtub covered only in bubbles and asked to see a picture of my child, a man with two PhDs who copiously dispensed wisdom and advice from a pedestal 50,000 feet high for months even as he impressed upon me my insignificance in his life beyond being a charitable project, a man who by way of introduction asked to know my IQ and said his was 160.

My girlfriends have come to conclude that I am the ultimate weird magnet. The stories of my dating misadventures are legion. Being that I have analyzed data for a living for many years and am considered to be pretty good at it, it was not long before I brought to bear upon my personal life the power of data analytics. I put together a spreadsheet with as much raw data on the men that I had encountered.

I did not question a priori, the relevance of any data (vital stats, age, location, profession, preferred colors, place of birth, length of longest relationship, years married, total cost of divorce settlement if known, number of previous relationships adjusted for the times three rule, shoe size, brand of cologne, date and time of birth, fantasies and sexual preferences if known, date of first connecting, number of e-mails exchanged, average length of phone conversation, length of acquaintance, timbre of voice, phone numbers, favorite food, any data on ex-wife etc) in my ability to recognize patterns and analyze trends for future reference.

From my experience having more data points has always been beneficial. I put together a crude algorithm for analysis and came up with some very interesting observations (a full discussion of which I will save for a later post). I would have doubtless thrown an industrial strength data mining/data discovery engine at my data set had the volumes warranted it. This is an example of focus not influencing my real objective (i.e. finding the man I can spend the rest of my life with) in any way but leading to many illuminating discoveries along the way.


SFGary said...

So were all these train wrecks desi? hard to believe. I can't get over married guys on dating sites, what are they thinking?

BTW the problem carries over to men as well. I met a couple of women online and one, a fellow desi ( emotionally abused by her ex) actually set up by a friend. Apparently these women have not heard about the rules of dating: never talk about your Ex on the first date. One was still nostalgic about the boyfriend who had dumped her, the other two compared me to their ex's before the dinner ended...kind of makes one want to give the whole thing up and retire to an Ashram.

Heartcrossings said...

Unfortunately yes. All these dudes were desis and that's only a small sampling of everything I've seen and heard so far.

I think desis (men and women) haven't quite figured the dating thing out so they act like bulls in a china shop.

The Ashram sounds like a fine option :)