Posted: Thursday, August 7th, 2008
I have the perfect idea for your next killer app. What the world really needs is an online dating service for families. No, I’m not talking about some creepy SwingTown enabler, I’m talking about a site that will help families find compatible families to spend time with.
I’m not trying to take attention away from singles. I get that it’s rough out there. You’ve spent a lifetime building a list of the traits you want in a life partner and it seems impossible that you’ll be able to find the needle in your haystack of desire. But now imagine you’re a family of four – making your list of demands four times as long – and you’re looking for a perfect match with another family of four who’s list is equally long. It’s a daunting task!
When two people decide to become a couple it can be as simple as mutual attraction and having enough in common to pull together a weekend of activities enjoyable for both.
When two families get together it’s because the wives like each other, the husbands like each other, each wife likes the other husband (not too much), each husband likes the other wife (not too much), the couples have roughly the same number of kids and those kids are roughly the same ages, none of the children has an unexplainable aversion to any of the other children, the families have roughly the same amount of money so one one feels uncomfortable entertaining or traveling with the other, the parents have similar parenting styles so no one family gets driven crazy by the other family’s kids, they live a reasonable minivan ride apart from each other, the moms have similar work (or not work) schedules, there are no pet incompatibilities, and there are no Yankees/Redsox fan issues.
Are you exhausted yet? Tell me about it. Here’s how the family dating process is typically conducted. The first stage isn’t too much of a departure from the singles scene…Two moms who think they may connect well spy each across a playground, soccer field, or school pick up line. One of them gets the courage to approach the other and throw out a safe introductiory line. ”I love your son’s sun hat. Do you remember where you got it?” works well. “Do you come to this park often” is a bit more lame but has worked for me in the past. The moms strike up a little conversation, one of their kids has a melt down, and they hurridly exchange email addresses – usually one of them writing with a crayon from her bag.
Assuming both moms were genuinely interested in the other they’ll email in a few days and arrange a playdate soon thereafter. This is a chance to confirm mom compatibility and test out kid compatibility. If that all goes well, they’ll enter the final (and often diciest) trial – mixing in the husbands. One or the other will host a casual back yard BBQ and that’s where the magic happens and everyone involved is finally able to tell if it’s a good family match or not. The process can take months and can crash and burn painfully at any step. There’s maybe one successful match for every 20 first contacts. Inefficient huh?
That’s why I think, in this age of technology, that you Google, should be able to come up with something better. Something easier. Something more efficient, less painful, and faster. A Match.com like site for families! Plug in all your stats, upload your calendar, and the site will set you up on family outings with families you’ve got a statistically significant chance of loving. Let me know when you’ve got it. My “fun_lovin_family_of_four” will be the first to fill out a profile.
In the mean time, parents – please post a comment with your family dating mishaps, adventures, and triumphs. Or share the new online application that would make your life better.