You know you want to meet someone special. But thinking about the effort required for hitting the dating scene leaves you exhausted before beginning the journey. Isn’t there an easier way to find love? And, must it always involve stepping into the revolving dating door?

Despite its rigors, dating is the necessary means to a rewarding end. We need this real-life experience to refine our wants and needs. The more people we meet, the more acute our focus. Dating is the perfect system for discovering our preferences. Unless you’re content to date the pizza delivery guy or the female UPS employee that arrived on your doorstep, you’ll never know the advantages gained by interacting with a variety of prospective partners.

Dating gives us the opportunity to expand our wish list of qualities and dispositional traits we desire in a mate. It opens up new doors to characteristics we like, formerly not considered. We become better at excluding personality types with red flags and undesirable baggage. This culling process improves our ability at partner selection and enables us to escape unwanted romances from the start.

Dating is a numbers game. Before you bemoan the process, consider the possibility that there’s something far more to this game than previously imagined. There’s a unique benefit that’s well worth the effort of your sifting through the sea of romantic possibilities. You’ll be the one who wins at the end of this game.

I have a friend, now engaged, who dated voraciously. She knew the basic outline of what she wanted in a partner. On numerous Internet sites and going out several times a week, she approached dating like a business. After 6 months she’d had a few flings and some no-goes, but gained valid insight. She discovered a conflict within herself that finally needed to be addressed. What type of man was her best choice? Personality Type A, or Type B?

She’d had two long-term relationships with both types of men. The Type A male had the power and financial resources she admired, but little time to spend with her. The Type B guy had time to spend with her, but their togetherness mostly centered upon her taking care of him financially and emotionally. She’d lost valuable time in her own career by managing the life of Mr. Type B. Yet, the endless nights alone couldn’t be soothed by a gorgeous home and gardens with Mr. Type A. What to do?

The real problem was with her, not the guys she’d been dating. She’d been looking at an “EITHER/OR” scenario. By sending out opposing messages, she was stuck in a holding pattern. I suggested she allow for the possibility of both, in one partner. A man who was financially stable, yet free to spend time with her. This was a radical concept. She’d never considered morphing these two qualities together. Did such a man exist? In the real world? She’d never know unless she put her two requests, together.

She met her ideal man. Interestingly, when she was “off duty.” Exhausted from months of applied dating, it was on the night her friends insisted she go out when all she wanted to stay at home. That night, with no apparent effort on her part, their world’s intersected.

Her former dating experiences had filled in the gaps of her limited thinking. She took stock of her wants and needs. She created an improved version of her ideal. The moment she was clear, her partner showed up.

Dating by the numbers is often misunderstood. It isn’t about going out every night. It isn’t about looking, hunting, or hoping. It’s about clarity. This is a clarity that can only be gained through contrast. With each new interaction we begin to refine those qualities we must have, and those things that are negotiable.

Dating allows the opportunity to see the many variations of these qualities via their presentation in each new person. The numbers game is a service we give to ourselves, that eventually allows us the ability to recognize our true mate… when we meet them.