Online Dating Tips – Commitment Symmetry

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Image courtesy of Adrian Becerra

An Under-Appreciated Aspect of Online Dating

Most of the questions we get from readers interested in online dating focus on either writing the perfect online dating first message, or on creating a really good online dating profile.

Now both these aspects of online dating are important of course. If your online dating first message isn’t striking and engaging, she isn’t going to bother to read your profile. And if your online dating profile isn’t impressive, she isn’t going to bother replying.

But never forget that the purpose of great online dating messages and profiles is to get the girl out on a date! Messages and winks and pokes and all the rest of it mean nothing – until you’re sat next to the girl having a milkshake telling her why you like her, she’s just a pen-pal.

Today I want to talk about how you set the date up when you come to meet a girl through online dating. Today’s post isn’t about the best places to meet her or what to say when you arrive. It’s about the fundamental logistics of commitment.

Make Your Plans Symmetrical

By “commitment symmetry” I mean that both you and the girl should commit yourselves equally to meeting up. This means either that you both demonstrate “high” commitment, or that you both demonstrate “low” commitment. Let’s take a look at how they both might work.

High/High: Obviously the best scenario is that you both commit yourselves to meeting at an agreed time and place. The commitment is symmetrical in this example because it’s high commitment from you and high commitment from her:

You: Fancy a drink in Soho tomorrow night. I think you owe me the first one!
Girl: You’re on! Not sure I owe you a drink tho mister x
You: We’ll see about that… 8 o’clock at the corner of Brewer and Wardour?
Girl: Yes indeed – see you there x

Low/Low: Firm plans are best, but there’s nothing wrong with both agreeing to just play it by ear. At least this way you get to keep your options open too:

You: Fancy a drink in Soho tomorrow night. I think you owe me the first one!
Girl: Can I say maybe? I’ve had a massive week of work and might just feel like going back to bed!
You: Ok let’s touch base in the morning and see how we both feel.
Girl: Will do. Night handsome x

As long as you maintain commitment symmetry, you ensure that you keep things even between you. And you ensure that you don’t waste your time keeping time blocked off for someone who’s only 50-50 to show up.

Commitment Symmetry and “Flaky Girls”

Often guys complain about flaky girls. They get frustrated that they arrange to see girls who then cancel or don’t show up. They’d save themselves a lot of trouble if they just remembered the principle of commitment symmetry.

High/Low: Flakes usually happen when you don’t have commitment symmetry. They happen when you give high commitment and the girl gives low commitment:

You: Fancy a drink in Soho tomorrow night. I think you owe me the first one!
Girl: Can I say maybe? I’m supposed to be going to this party but not sure if I’m gonna end up going!
You: Ok sure just let me know tomorrow.
Girl: Will do. Night handsome x

Bad, bad, bad! You have committed yourself to seeing her tomorrow evening. She hasn’t committed herself to seeing you. In fact, she hasn’t committed herself to anything; the “tomorrow” gives her enough leeway to make her mind up at the last minute.

This situation means you’re going to have to turn down anything else that might come up in the meantime. You’re going to be nervous all day because you don’t know if she’s coming or not. And you can’t even chase her because you’ve left it that she’ll get back to you.

How to Force Commitment Symmetry

Dealing with a situation like the high/low text exchange above is impossible. You can’t go ahead and plan something else (in case she decides to meet you). You can’t chase her (because it’ll look desperate). You’re like the guy in the joke who asked how to get to Balbriggan and was told: “Well I wouldn’t start from here”.

All you can do is ensure you maintain commitment symmetry next time you arrange an online dating date. If she comes back to you with low commitment, you have two options:

1. Demand a yes or no. This is the braver and stronger option, but it runs the risk of costing yourself the date there and then. I’ve started doing this recently, simply because I’m getting less and less tolerant of wasting time. But it’s something you have to feel comfortable with before you try it:

You: Fancy a drink in Soho tomorrow night. I think you owe me the first one!
Girl: Can I say maybe? I’ve had a massive week of work and might just feel like going back to bed!
You: Nah I don’t really do maybes. If you can’t commit now it’s fine, but I’ll arrange to see someone else.
Girl: You’re right, I’m not really a maybe girl either. Let’s meet tomorrow.
You: Good stuff. 8 o’clock at the corner of Brewer and Wardour?
Girl: Yes indeed – see you there x

2. Fall back to low commitment yourself: This is the softer option and has a nice laid back vibe to it. But beware that it does rather leave you dangling still:

You: Fancy a drink in Soho tomorrow night. I think you owe me the first one!
Girl: Can I say maybe? I’ve had a massive week of work and might just feel like going back to bed!
You: I tell you what, I’m only 50-50 myself. Let’s have a re-think mid-afternoon and decide if we still both fancy it.
Girl: Sounds good, chat tomorrow x

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