Jenny Stallard, author of Boyfriend by Christmas, opens up about the new dating theory that transformed her love life...
WHAT IS COLLECT AND SELECT?
For many years I’ve dated using a ‘one at a time’ policy. That is to say, if I was chatting to one bloke online, or had a date set up (or even a second date) with someone, I’d only chat to that particular bloke. If I was dating someone, going for drinks and dinner and texting on the days between the dates, then I didn’t tend to consider any other suitors. Then I heard of ‘collect and select’ from a friend. It’s simple – you don’t only focus on one man until you are sure he’s worth focusing on exclusively. You collect suitors, you date them all, and when you feel one stands out more, you can ‘select’. This theory is part of the dating strategy of the main character in my new novel, Boyfriend by Christmas. It’s her friend who tells her to collect and select. The ultimate aim is not to do your own head in by thinking you mean more to someone – or they mean more to you – before either of you really think – or say – so.
WHY IT WORKS SO WELL
There is only one thing that can result from putting all your dating eggs in one blokes’ basket: torment. If he goes cold on you, the drama sets in. You check what’sapp for his ‘last seen’ time. You ponder on whether he’s busy/bored of you/dead in a ditch. It’s often option two, and if you’ve forsaken other potential dates for this man, you only have yourself to blame for the pain that ensues. After all, if you had a couple of others who were in the ‘collect’ pile, you wouldn’t spin out of control on this one bloke. You might even find that you are choosing who you see, rather than waiting for invites for dates with men you’re not 100% sure about.
C&S HELPS YOU DECIDE WHO YOU DO AND REALLY DON’T LIKE
After a certain age, we often fall into the habit of accepting a second or third date simply because we are asked. We go for it because ‘he could be the one’ or ‘it’s good to see where it goes’, and we don’t always stop to think ‘hold on, do I even want to date him again?!’ Why do we do this? Because we think he’s our only option. But what you need some perspective – or, to be more specific, some collect and select. If you’re not sure a man is right for you, meeting someone else for a wine/coffee/stroll in the park will help you a) feel more rational about the first bloke you were seeing b) realise that you’re selecting him for something more serious, rather than waiting for him to select you.
HOLD UP, THIS ISN’T ABOUT SEX
Now you’re thinking ‘but you can’t snog/sleep with more than one man at once’. Well, you can if you want. But this is a dating theory, not a sex one. Yes, have nookie if you wish (safely of course). But collect and select is about personality. There is nothing wrong with meeting more than one man for a drink during the course of a couple of weeks. Or going on a date on a Thursday night and then getting a number off a cute guy on the Friday. Instead of thinking, ‘oh I won’t give him my number because Mr Thursday was so cute! Mr Thursday might text, I need to be free for him!’ But that’s the mistake we all make. Thursday and Friday’s men can be collected. If Thursday never calls, Friday might. You feel more relaxed, more chilled and more like you might meet a nice man. That is the beauty of collect and select.
SO YOU’VE COLLECTED – WHEN TO SELECT?
Now this one’s a bit harder. You see, I’ve not got to the selecting bit yet either. And you might decide someone is right for you and he not be on the same page. But you’ll get there. I’ll get there. I’m already getting better at not being bothered if man ‘A’ doesn’t text – because there’s a man ‘B’ to chat to on Tinder. It’s all part of the process.
Jenny’s novel, Boyfriend by Christmas began as a column in metro, and is out now. Buy here.