— This page is still under construction —
...but that's sort of the point.
This is the home of any of the ideas I've been kicking around but haven't published or fully fleshed out yet.
Proceed with curiosity.
Dating App Wayfinder
For dating app photo lineups, try some of these things
📣 Oh hey, I actually got around to publishing this one!
Here ya go: Dating App Photos: Everything You Need to Know
How many selves do we actually have?
I guess I'll start guessing...
Relationship Entrepreneurship: a Lens for Modern Dating
I’m a diehard believer in the importance of building relationships premised upon radical honesty, proactive problem solving, and lifelong mutual growth. Importantly, we can infuse these qualities into every sphere of relationships we have: friendships, professional connections, family ties, and most definitely within romantic relationships.
So many people today are still approaching relationships like used car dealers. They know their own sordid relationship history, how broken and beat down they are, yet they still try to peddle their wares across dive bars and dating apps, glossing over their rough edges, hastily applying a new paint job via some highly curated photo filters, and strategically omitting any mention of the broken ventilation system that’s been causing problems for all previous occupants.
What we need for our modern relationships is a newer, scrappier approach that focuses on what we can bring to the table and build together, rather than trying to pretend to others that we somehow possess exactly the relationship product they’ve been looking for.
We need to become relationship entrepreneurs.
Dating used to be risky, and relationships and marriage were the more surefire bet. However, modern dating apps have so de-risked the process of dating that millions more people now go online to date. No more flowers, mix tapes, and boom box soliloquies under bedroom windows. Dating apps like Tinder quashed the stigma of rejection by only connecting users who mutually liked each other already. Without as much fear of rejection, over 50 million Americans have tried online dating as of 2020, and dating apps are projected to be responsible for 70% of first dates by 2050.
Unfortunately, while dating has become less risky, relationships have become dramatically more risky because the things that used to give us a lot of life stability, like our jobs and our homes, are disappearing before our eyes.
The rise of the freelance economy, in which half of all Americans are projected to become freelancers by 2050, has rendered our career and work lives far more unstable and unpredictable. Consequently, it has become far more difficult to commit to a relationship when you don’t know whether your work life will even provide you income next week. So when we try to approach modern relationships as though they’re as stable and enduring as our careers used to be, we fall flat on our faces.
Without reliable work, we can’t reliably commit to a mortgage, either. According to Urban.org, “In 2015, the average homeownership rate among millennials was 32.2 percent, 28.2 percentage points lower than that of Gen Xers and 42.8 percent lower than that of baby boomers.” I can’t stress enough how much harder it is to commit to a long-term romantic relationship when you lack the stability that comes from long-term relationships with work and housing.
Mortgages and paychecks are two of the most stabilizing influences that societies have ever invented. They enabled us to say things like “I plan to be here, doing this, for next 10–20 years or more.” If we add in monogamy as a third stabilizing influence, we could then say “I plan to be here, doing this, with you, for at least the next 10–20 years or more.” But as these conventions rapidly recede from our grasp, where can we look for stability?
Fortunately, we can learn from society’s entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs are the ultimate de-riskers. They thrive in unstable, unpredictable environments. They take something that sounds insane (“Why would I ever get in the car with a stranger!?”) and turn it into something totally normal (“I’m grabbing an Uber, see you in 10 min”). Modern relationships may be risky, but if we adopt a more entrepreneurial mindset, we can learn to de-risk them, together.
When individuals approach prospective relationships as though they’re building a startup, rather than selling a used car, suddenly relationships begin to feel like the energizing, creative pursuits that we feel excited to embark upon together. We can be more honest with our prospective partners about where we are now, because we’re no longer towing decades of societal baggage around with us. Rather than suffer from expectations about where we “should” be with our careers, housing, etc., we can focus on building what we actually wanted all along.
Entrepreneurial relationships also provide a new level of clarity and flexibility by welcoming an influx of new relationship paradigms that are more uniquely tailored to our actual lived experiences. Startups can be successful whether they have one, two, three, or more cofounders. Going the solo route and building up your relationship with yourself shouldn’t be stigmatized in society, but rather celebrated. The same goes for relationships with multiple cofounders. While society’s monogamous relationship model leads to untold jealousy, pain, and even violence when individuals’ needs and desires don’t fit cleanly within it, a new startup model of relationships wouldn’t bat an eye at a relationship with three or four cofounders. Hell, Paypal had 5 cofounders, and is one of the most successful startups ever.
Society has changed, and we need to change with it. I’m not recommending that everyone become non-monogamous or even that they reject the models of relationships that are working perfectly well for them. But in taking a more entrepreneurial approach to our relationships, I believe we will find greater freedom, happiness, and fulfillment, because we implicitly become the creators and cofounders of our relationships, rather than the stressed out and insecure resellers of relationship norms we no longer truly believe in.
>> Try It Out Yourself
If you frame your relationship as a startup, what else instantly becomes true? What else becomes possible? With you at the helm of your startup, you could certainly call an all-hands meeting to ensure you and your cofounder(s) are all aligned in the company mission. You could produce quarterly and annual reports to evaluate what components of your relationship need tweaking in the coming months. You could orchestrate a pivot if your core product offering isn’t serving your target market, a.k.a. you. Remember, you are both the cofounder and the customer, which is pretty awesome. If you notice that you, the customer, aren’t happy, you have the power — the responsibility — to collect your customer feedback and pivot if that’s what is needed!
If you’re not in a relationship right now, you can delight in the joys of being a prospective founder. Founders are on the lookout for inefficiencies in the market, and eager to build the products and tools to solve them. Let’s say your market inefficiency is that you want someone cuddly to come home to, and to do fun things with, and to develop a deep emotional connection to. When you’re out meeting people, try talking excitedly about the problem you’re trying to solve, such that any prospective cofounder/customers can excitedly collaborate and discuss prospective solutions you could potentially build together.
Not every prospective cofounder relationship turns into a fully fledged startup, and that’s fine. Your most important responsibility as an early-stage founder is to analyze the market, then iterate, test, pivot, and iterate some more until you’ve created a product that works. And the beauty of this is that you don’t need a cofounder to do this. You can start off as a solo founder, working on your own product, and when another person sees the work you’re doing and the excitement and ingenuity you’re bringing to the table, they may even ask you if they can come on board.
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