Nancy Slotnick: Binders Full of Women

So ever since Romney used that phrase, I have  gotten boatloads full of nostalgic comments about Drip, the dating-café  that I started in the late ‘90s.  That’s because we actually did have binders full of women.  Women seeking Men.  Women seeking women.  And we set them up on dates.  With Matchmaker Café, we now do the same thing—i.e. set up men and women on real dates at a real café, and we introduce them when they get there.  Even though we now have all the technology we can imagine for meeting online, we still need that human interaction.   We still need personalized service and hand holding, even though we have Facebook.  Even though we have these things called aircraft carriers.

What made that comment about binders full of women so funny?  I think it was the irony.  If women were really equal in the world of politics, then Romney wouldn’t need to round up women in binders.  He wouldn’t have to go any farther then his own backyard.  They would already be on his short list.  So the binders represent a problem endemic to the system.  As did the binders at Drip.  They represented the same kind of problem.

When the world was simpler and people usually grew  old in the same town where they had grown up, they would meet their  mates through family and friends.  There were local community hang-outs and places like Cheers where everybody knows your name.  (Drip got compared to Cheers a lot.)  Today there’s a level of anonymity and isolation in big cities that engenders a problem when it comes to dating.  You need those binders full of women.  And you don’t have a staff like Romney did to round them up.  Luckily you’re only looking for one.

So why is it, in this age of Facebook, that no one uses Facebook for dating?  Facebook is our backyard, and it is the technological equivalent of binders full of women, yet there is embarrassment around your Facebook friends  knowing that you are single.  When I coach women about dating, I talk about turning your Cablight on, which means showing that you’re available.  When you turn it on then you get more and better dates.  But when Matchmaker Café wants to show your friends that you are using the App, a lot of you have told me that you want to turn off that feature.

What damage will be done if you’re friends know that you are single or that you are using Matchmaker Café?  Why is there a stigma?  Who has time for this ambivalence and mixed messages?  (Besides Romney’s staff.)  You have to show that you’re available by being open to rejection, and even embracing rejection. You have to post publicly for what you are looking for, even if it’s embarrassing.  I’m going to do that right now.  I’m looking for a café owner or small hospitality group in NYC who would like to partner with me to do a re-make of Drip.  We will have binders full of women.  But this time the binders will be digitized on iPads and the profiles will  utilize Facebook to tap into the existing social graph.  Why?  Because Facebook is online dating’s equivalent of nuclear submarines.  And because it will be so much fun.

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