How Rushing A Sorority Is Like Online Dating

sw_fake_ballot_sa03045 I’ve recently come to realize how many things in life are analogous to many other things in life.  One pretty benign, or so it seems, event turns out to represent what happens in another completely unrelated area of life. 

So it is with the sorority rush process and online dating.  I know, I know.  It seems like a real leap here, but go with me for a minute.

Way back in the day, when I was even more naive and wide-eyed than I am now, I had the opportunity to go through sorority rush, bid night, pledge a sorority and eventually be initiated. At the time it intrigued me, but over the years, I’ve often thought it a fairly efficient way of sorting through a vast number of potential prospects in a short amount of time in order to make an important decision effectively and quickly. And for many women the need to sort through a vast amount of emails to determine which contacts to spend time meeting and which to never bother with is imperative.

Greek_party1950s The sorority rush system is actually a highly developed matching system called the preferential bidding system and you can read about it .  In sorority rush, the organizations are matched with prospective members in a manner that gradually narrows the options based on stated preferences of the participants. The result is the prospective new member is eventually matched with an organization where she will live, interact, socialize, study, network, for the rest of her years at the university. It is also a lifetime membership to a national organization.  In other words, we’re not just signing a 30-day month-to-month rental agreement, here, folks. The decision bears some thoughtful, considered deliberation.  So it is with dating, that is, if you are doing anything that remotely resembles seeking out a partner you could build a relationship and a life with.

Enter the world of online dating, which I did nearly three years ago.  I spent some time on that Online Dating Planet for a bit and I noticed some things.  First off, all the things they say about men doing the pursuing and women the selecting were true for the most part.  Really.  I no sooner posted my feeble attempt at a profile, a few recent and accurate pictures, and I was bombarded with emails and winks from prospective suitors.  I recently read an article here where some women have thousands of emails to sort through.  I never had quite that problem, but then again, I also don’t exactly live in the biggest metropolitan area and I limited the distance of my contacts.  Whatever.  The point I am trying to make here is that sorting through all those prospective romantic interests is not unlike the Greek organization sorting through thousands of prospective members in order to meet their membership quotas for the year.  It is impossible to think of responding to every single one individually and meeting them all?  Well, there just isn’t time in a life to do it.

afrog 013aMy inbox was inundated.  At first, I spent hours, days, weeks attempting to reply to every wink or email I received.  It wasn’t long before I realized that was simply ineffective.  I had to put some systems in place for sorting.  Now the systems and criteria I implemented might be different for another woman, but they worked for me.  The same is true in sorority rush.  Some house won’t take those rushing as a sophomore, they only want freshmen.  Since I was a sophomore when I rushed, this instantly eliminated me from a number of quality organizations.  Nothing personal.  It was just reality.  Did I cry about it?  No.  I just went with the remaining options which were also very fine organizations. 

When we date, there are priorities and preferences that we have that provide the basis for our own sorting systems.  For me I eventually determined that I was not going to waste time with a guy who winked or only presented me with a message that said something like “nice smile”, “great profile”, and so on.  If a guy couldn’t take the time to create, at minimum, a brief thoughtfully worded message of interest, I wasn’t interested. (And, yes, guys…we can tell when you cut and paste messages! I deleted those too!) This reduced my inbox to a far more manageable number.  The remaining people made it through to the next round of eliminations. 

At this stage, I put in place some more discriminating criteria.  No picture, no consideration.  No words in the profile, no consideration.  If he was a smoker it was a no.  If he’d never been married or was way too young or too old, it had to be a no. These folks usually received a nice, courteous “no thanks”.

After this, I had to consider interests and potential for compatibility.  This is often difficult to determine just based on a digital p1-Our-House rofile on a dating site, but I did find that there were certain means to eliminate those contenders who would probably eventually opt out anyway in the end.  For example, the spirituality of the person is important.  If he’s out there in religious Looneyville where keeping up an image of doing the right stuff is more important than actually being an authentic, decent individual then we’ll rub and quickly.  Why even meet up for coffee to find that out?  Save time, energy and coffee money.  Just say, “no thanks”. 

If he’s a guy who spent all his time out and about with no indication that he occasionally stayed home to rejuvenate and maintain his household, then I was out.  That’s a lifestyle that I can’t sustain with a time commitment that would destroy my ability to maintain my own home and my career, let alone keep my kids in clean clothing.  I’m wise to politely decline, no matter how attractive he might otherwise be.  Our differing preferences in how we spend time will ultimately create problems unless one or the other of us is willing to change and expecting one party to change in order to sustain a relationship (even before a relationship has been established) is not a good sign.  It would have been like me saying, “Yeah, I want to pledge that house but only if they will completely redesign their organization to suit me.”  So not going to happen!

So, you see how the process of matching by criteria and gradually eliminating the prospects is an efficient decision making tool? 

When I was looking to pledge a sorority there were certain things that were important to me: reputation of the otri_delta_slide_show_and_stuff_534rganization, involvement on campus, leadership of members, social life, priority placed on academics, philanthropy, networking potential and so on.  Of course, the actual architecture of the house and its interior were important to me, but these were minor in comparison to the things that really created the organizations “soul”.

When dating, we all have our own ideas of what we are looking for in relationship.  Tall, fit, active, handy, homeowner, non-smoker, spiritual, not spiritual, conversationalist, education, income, etc.  All these facets determine what we think will be a good fit for us.  It is not a bad idea to have these priorities or preferences.  It is actually a good thing and can prevent us from wasting valuable time and energy on relationships or individuals who are not a good fit.  If the organization I am looking at has no room for sophomores in their organization, then as a sophomore, I would have been wasting time and emotional energy hoping I could pledge that house and I may have missed the opportunity to become a member of an organization that would have been even more suitable for me.  On the other hand, spending so much time about what a guy looks like and how much he makes (having a job is good! Making six figures, not required) is a bit like obsessing about the structure aesthetics of the sorority house instead of paying attention to the quality of life that goes on within that house.

theperuviankiss All this effort before even deciding to meet with someone?  Yes, pretty much.  Oh, sure.  There were occasions when I made exceptions.  100% of those exceptions never made it past the first date.  Once I began putting some more systematic thought into the dating process, I found I was going out on dates that were more enjoyable and I was actually having more than one or two dates with a person.  I wasn’t dreading the proverbial coffee date and more and more of those coffee dates led to something more. Even after the something more, the process continued to be a two-sided matching process as my dates and I continued to get to know each other. Dating is like sorority rush and that’s not a bad thing!

What I’d like to hear from others is what kind of criteria do you use to eliminate people you don’t think will be a good fit for you?  Is it looks, income, personality, education, values (if values what values are important)? 

What’s your criteria when involved in the two-sided matching process of dating?

23 thoughts on “How Rushing A Sorority Is Like Online Dating

  1. It’s a great analogy, and very true. I’m not one for “love by checklist,” but I think that as a way to meet people with whom you have a likelihood of bonding – as a casual friend, a real friend, potentially a love interest (all of which takes time) – knowing what you want is helpful.

    Things like education, humor, open-mind – these go far for me. But a person can’t just SAY he is funny or open-minded; the words need to express it.

    I actually have met men who didn’t post pictures, and it’s never been a problem. It’s more of a problem when a man posts a picture that is 5 or 10 years old and I don’t recognize him!!!

    I prefer to take some time and email for a bit (lest the profile be a custom-written work penned by someone else). Then phone, then meet. And I judge tremendously by the words used – in writing or in person. The proverbial writer’s rule of “show don’t tell.”

    Everyone says the key to a great relationship is communication. If that’s the case, we all need compatible communicators!


    1. BigLittleWolf – I completely agree. I prefer to first learn how someone will communicate with me first. I have found that communication is one of my biggest criteria.

      To want to understand first, and then desire to be understood is one trait I really admire. It tells me that you want to listen and comprehend. This also means that the other person has to be willing to accept this same trait from me.

      You would be surprised how many people don’t take a minute, to pause, and to actually listen.

      Compatible communication should be the first trait that anyone looks for in a healthy relationship.


      1. BLW and Travis,
        Well, you two just don’t know how relevant this compatible communication thing is for me right now…
        Sigh…seriously? I’m thinking that’s a book deal “Compatible Communication” if I ever heard one.
        Travis! Quick! If we’re really nice to BLW maybe she’ll let us co-author or contribute!! LOL!
        Oh, yeah, and that reminds me, I have a post to write regarding some of Travis’ earlier comments. I’d better get crackin’
        BLW, kudos on getting featured on WordPress homepage…go check her out folks. She so rocks!


        1. BLW, you rock. Your awesome! Can I contribute or co-author? Please?


          Finding someone who desires to listen and then be able to constructively respond and work to solve miss-communications, and has patience. That’s pure gold.

          Isn’t that the dream?


          1. BLW,
            See, we’re hoping you keep us in mind when you land that book deal. Hey, if you sign an agent, maybe you could put in a good word for us too? LOL!

            Communication and healthy communication at that is critical to the success of a relationship. Two people can communicate but the messages can so easily get twisted and distorted and then before you know it feelings are hurt, distance is created and the relationship can easily be sabotaged. I started a post about this awhile back called Breakdowns and Breakups. Maybe I should pull that one out and dust it off.

            Also, Travis, I haven’t forgot about responding to your thoughts in the other post, but life Sunday night through Wednesday is the worst for me. I went out and bought a pumpkin so my youngest could enter a pumpkin carving contest that her/our school is having Thursday night and I mean that felt like a major accomplishment, but then there was dinner, taxi mom and now I have stuff to prep for tomorrow’s class.

            Yeah, I know…just more lame excuses!!! LOL! And ALL the left socks have gone missing on me!


            1. I never saw this. You guys crack me up! Yeah – I’ll write the definitive use of French lingerie and sexy shoes in lovemaking over the age of 45. (Think there’s a market? I’ll throw in some oo-la-la secrets from my “travels in france.”)

              Laughing… (And where do those missing socks go? I have an alternate-universe theory. Or perhaps they get sucked up through vents and air shafts and used by the creatures living over my bedroom… OMG. I’m scaring myself.)


  2. You are right, sorority recruitment does resemble speed-dating – in more ways than one!

    Have you ever been in such an intense rapid-fire-conversation type of an interview situation outside of sorority recruitment? It is a unique experience, but the parallels you draw are insightful and definitely true. Hopefully one speed-dating experience is also sufficient for all.

    Thank you for the terrific post. I’ve shared it with my friends on Facebook and Twitter too.


  3. So I have this other idea. What if we started something called SLOW DATING – you know, like slow dancing? The opposite of speed dating, NO checklists allowed – but you find “common character points” or even “humor” points to get in the right vicinity, and then you take your time getting to know someone – think it’s time has come?

    Still allowed… Third Date Sex (but with someone else, on any damn date you please). Sound confusing?

    Hell, it works in France.


    1. Hmmm… that sounds like “normal dating” to me. Where you meet, talk, laugh, enjoy each other learning about each other over time… taking your sweet time in doing so?

      Now your “Still allowed… third date ( but with someone else… )”… eh? lol.


  4. Yeah, well, call me confusing. (Better than calling me confused.)

    But there’s a lot to be said for certain things “the old fashioned way” without expected timetables. Obviously human beings need sexual contact, but the concept of Speed dating (no I haven’t tried it) is like a variation on everything that’s wrong with internet dating, but exponentially so. Internet “meeting” ought to be just that – a way to meet – and then let whatever is going to happen, happen. But it rarely works that way in my experience. People dispose of each other before they could possibly know each other. It strikes me as strange. My point about TDS was simply that there will always be certain “needs” that some require fulfilling – and why not, if you’re dealing with 2 consenting adults.

    But a real relationship? It takes time, and care.


    1. I see Internet dating and the terrible idea of speed dating, as just a way to to have an introduction. I think the biggest problem with Internet dating is that it creates apathy. Which in turn, breeds apathy. You get stunted and not give people a chance.

      I first and foremost want the real relationship. TDS, (oddly is a name of a company that I know) is something I just don’t want. I would rather wait, and build up the heat, and work on creating a real relationship. Being in love first I believe, follows the idea of quality. Versus TDS, which feels like quantity. Being in love, makes the passion that much greater. And I would wait for the greater… because it just plain rocks.


  5. Big difference – in sorority rush, you go visit in person, and meet people in the flesh. With online dating, you’re skimming through checkboxes and online prose. Chemistry is felt in person.

    Also, as Malcolm Gladwell wrote in “Blink”, you can’t really articulate your romantic ideal. It is something felt by the whole body, felt in an instant.

    Maybe you can cull your choices in a similar fashion. But you might be weeding out damn good prospects. And you get left with lieing bastards.

    I stopped online dating years ago. Still looking to pledge to a woman again.

    (Despite my strong opinion in this comment, I did like your post. Well put together! I simply hate online dating that much.)


    1. Great comments, dadshouse!
      I think I agree with you to a point. Not sure chemistry is always felt in person. I’ve felt some great “chemistry” with people online who are intelligent, witty and genuine. I’ve then confirmed that chemistry in person. I’ve also had great online chemistry that dissipates upon meeting the person…which is why I created my list. It is simply impossible to meet everyone when online dating, so I had to prioritize the items that gave me the best possible chance of having online chemistry spark in person.

      I do think it is a good idea for anyone to know what their priorities and preferences are. This saves a bunch of wasted time on folks who simply might be great people but won’t be a good fit.

      I raise my glass in agreement of your thoughts about online dating. I recently went through a pretty disappointing breakup and thought briefly about going back to online dating to just see if I could meet some people and stave off the feelings of complete rejection and failure. 🙂 After reading your post on A Decade of Divorced Dating, and the really negative elements I was reminded why I quit the online scene in the first place. I decided not to go back to online dating.


    2. It took me 3 months of continual tweaking my “summary” of who I was and what i wanted before I started meeting people that fit what I was looking for. Writing those summaries requires some pretty good skills. Which actually made it easier to expose the ones that are B.S.

      I’ve found online dating (And, I can fully understand the hatred for it) as just a door to a noisy party. As your walking through, you hear the BS that people spout, the giggles, the flirting and you go and sit, and weed out and focus on certain people that might be interesting. I’ve had success with the introductions for the most part. And, just like meeting someone socially first, the dating process will help you to see the cream rise to the top. And, that’s the normal part. Those introductions was just as a good as if I met someone in a social setting and then had the relationship crap out after the dating.

      It’s easy to tell when someone is lying, just as it is in person. I’ve never had a problem weeding out the lying bastards (LOL)

      When it came to online dating… scratch that, online introductions, I’m cautious and talk with honesty, which forces them to talk with honesty. I honestly believe that the same rules apply to online introductions as they apply to social introductions. It’s just a different point of view.

      Plus, the the crappy ones are fun to joke and blog about later…


      1. Travis,
        I like your noisy party analogy. Maybe I won’t throw in the towel just yet. I’m not exactly up for it right now though…maybe down the road a piece I’ll see it differently.


        1. Not everybody likes to go to noisy parties… Too much stimulus and very little contentment. It’s a lot of work and some of us have to go to work in the morning. 🙂


  6. I’ve done a ton of online dating prior to meeting my Ex. That’s also how we met as well. It was nice to know something about the person going in and I preferred it to the bar scene by a long shot. It got pretty exhausting though. The good sites are all pay and once I paid I felt the pressure to “get my money’s worth.” Lately I’ve either done set ups or gone out with someone I already know. Dating, no matter how it’s done, can be like a big interview. Ideally I’d rather get to know someone socially and then move toward dating. Hard to find female friends though.


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