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Past calendar year, in the middle of the pandemic, I appeared as a visitor on a (now-defunct) relationship show. With cameras rolling, I sat on a teal couch up coming to the show’s host, who had prepped for an job interview with a gentleman who is neurotic about relationship — a male who composes spreadsheets of romance stages and lists of characteristics of opportunity dates.

That gentleman is me. It’s who I am and what I do. In the host’s thoughts, my neurosis was bad. In mine, it was good. So great, in actuality, that I not long ago experienced achieved a male I preferred and could see a future with.

“So, Alex,” she explained. “How’s your adore life?”

“I just commenced dating a boy,” I reported. “So, it is good.”

Her encounter soured and she touched her earpiece. Obviously my reply was not the 1 she was anticipating.

Out walked the producer putting on her “I’m important” headset. She was the sort of particular person who definitely excelled at her position — a task that I was creating hard.

She defined that my adore life was not supposed to be superior. The cause they brought me on the show is since my expectations ended up too superior I had ridiculous lists of relationship specifications that they assumed arrived from my deep panic of motivation, as if I have been sabotaging myself with a system that would exclude virtually everybody.

They assumed incorrect.

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I have several fears: inadequacy, coming throughout as determined, operating into the guy from the bus in 5th grade who told me I experienced “woman hips.” But worry of determination? No. However, I wasn’t about to struggle the producer and host whose present I wanted to be on.

They were correct about just one matter, nevertheless. I am in fact an remarkable checklist maker. I produce dating checklists and procedures that are calculated with instruments and knowledge. Minor tidbits of facts that inspire me to preserve paddling through a sea of prospective boyfriends although blocking me from docking my ship on a mediocre “good enough” romance. A romance similar to that of so many couples I know, loaded with silent meals, wandering eyes and forlorn regrets of what else just about every of them could have been.

I commenced my system 7 decades in the past on Trello, the challenge administration computer software I use at get the job done. I basically had endured 1 also numerous bad very first dates. The Hinge dude who may perhaps have utilised his son’s photos as his own. The law firm whose coming-out tale was in some way much less intriguing than his enjoy of customized satisfies. The finance bro who thought it was bizarre that I was Jewish while blonde.

I professional repeated collisions of misaligned values and found individuality traits I required to stay clear of. Dates that triggered me to be variations of myself I did not like and charge me time that I could have invested on my couch: just me, a Vicodin and a e-book about sadness.

To split this cycle, I decided to monitor it all. Make perception of the patterns and modify them.

Cue the Trello board. As of nowadays, the board has 6 stages and 8 traits. It is similar to the company improvement procedure of a salesperson, with every single phase symbolizing a stage towards a profitable deal and just about every trait representing a attribute that is additional very likely to guide to achievement.

The stages are: To Vet, Vetting, Vetted, Scheduling, Scheduled and Dating. Every single human being is represented by a Trello card — a sort of electronic sticky take note.

Before I go on a date with any individual, his card progresses from still left to correct, passing through these levels right up until we’re relationship. If we in no way get that much, I archive his card, in which scenario an archived card is all he will at any time be.

I consider my potential dates primarily based on 8 attributes. Five of those people attributes I attempt to discover about before the day. The remaining 3 I imagine about right after the date.

Just before the initially day, I try out to ascertain the following: Does he make me chuckle by way of textual content? Does he reside in LA? Does he like his occupation? Is he down to go backpacking? Will he get on the phone?

Right after the very first date, I inquire myself: Does he like himself? Is he curious? Is he kind?

It’s a very little insane, imperfect and, yes, judgmental. My systematic tactic may possibly properly be weeding out an individual who could make me my happiest self. But the leaving-it-up-to-destiny substitute of relying on chemistry, actual physical attraction and serendipity have not led me to that individual either.

I would prefer to have something to do the job on. Duties to do and cards to sort, as opposed to waiting around around in Complete Foodstuff for some dude and me to magically lock eyes as we reach for the identical carton of oat milk.

So far, my Trello system has labored, or at least that is what I inform myself. It has led me to additional than enough times of lying happily subsequent to another person and forgetting about my inbox, of looking at a person and being aware of that I’m escalating in approaches that subject to me, and believing, regardless of his Trello card’s longevity, that lying there with him was a very good use of my time.

That’s how I initially pitched myself to the exhibit — as someone who considered in my technique. “The only rationale any of my boyfriends have been boyfriends at all is due to the fact they had at the very least six out of eight characteristics,” I experienced reported on a Zoom connect with with the casting manager.

But which is not what they wanted me to discuss about. They did not like my characteristics. For Television, characteristics will need to be alluring: face, ab muscles and girth. Attributes that finally fade and depart you with a spouse you detest and a model of your self you detest even extra. Anyone you get angry at for how he rolls up the toothpaste tube or does not refill the Brita.

Again in the studio, it was time to reshoot the scene with me embracing my way too-neurotic-to-ever-discover-love persona, so viewers at home could see me as a cautionary tale, an exaggeration, potentially, of their personal neuroses.

On that teal sofa, with my palms shaking, I stared at the relationship host as she strike me with her questions.

“Alex, I imagine the explanation you’re on your own is because you have much too several significant requirements,” she stated. “What do you believe?”

“Wow,” I explained. “I hardly ever believed of that.”

“You can’t anticipate someone to verify that many boxes that promptly,” she explained. “And if you are so chaotic vetting, you are most likely not examining their bins.”

“That makes perception,” I reported. “You’re in all probability correct.”

She smiled. “Now go out there and be far more open minded. Allow men and women in. You have so significantly to give.” Then she turned to the camera and explained, “You all have so significantly to supply. Open your hearts and minds and be yourselves. And many thanks for viewing.”

She exhaled and turned to me. “Great conference you, Alex. And I am so satisfied that your dating lifetime is going nicely. Good luck with that dude.” Her text seemed kind and real. She winked as she walked out, having gotten from me what she was on the lookout for, as if she had funneled me by way of her very own tiny Trello board.

As I sat there, consensually gaslit, I assumed about her produced-for-Television set advice. About how my system has produced a method comprehensive of swift remaining-swipes — a technique that, if continued, may well lead me to a lifetime on your own as a one homosexual person, probably finding social validation as a 2nd assistant mentor on an intramural L.G.B.T.Q. kickball team, someone who refers to his pet dogs as his youngsters and who doesn’t feel in settling down since accomplishing so would imply that he believes in something at which he has fully unsuccessful.

But I’m not there nonetheless. And as of right now, I loathe kickball.

For now, I will glance at my Trello board with names like “Mark Emojitexter” and “DavidWeirdCat” and accept that I really don’t know that my methods get the job done any a lot more than the fact demonstrate people knew how I, “AlexNeuroticDater,” would fare on an episode of their exhibit.

I think back again to the male I was fortunately dating then. The just one I spoke about though sitting down on that teal sofa. With his wonderful smile and best rating of eight out of eight features. The dude I’m no for a longer period relationship.

Why did not it function out?

I think it’s for the reason that he did not like me back again.

Effectively then. “Does he like me again?”

A ninth trait to include to the board.

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