I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Jozen Cummings, editor of the New York Post's Meet Market column, where singles can volunteer to be set up on blind dates. Cummings is also the voice behind the popular dating blog Until I Get Married, sharing his exploits as a bachelor in the big city. As a thoughtful writer and keen observer of all things dating-related, he shared what he's learned from playing matchmaker to New York's single population, and how his own dating life has changed as a result.
What is your process for matching people together for the Meet Market column? Do you look over all the profiles yourself?
I helped develop a questionnaire for people who were interested in participating. At first, we were asking participants to describe themselves, but this was really intimidating. So I changed it to make it more fun and light-hearted [with questions like "who's your celebrity twin" and what's your guilty pleasure?"]. I use their answers as a guide, but I also get to meet everyone who participates because they are required to come by the New York Post office to get their picture taken. Then I get a feel for which people might click.
Has anyone been unhappy to go on a date with the matches you've chosen?
When I first started, one man refused to go out with any of my matches. It was a disaster, because I had a deadline and nobody else to step in for him. I can't force people to participate. I learned that I needed to take control of the situation, and let participants know that they absolutely needed an open mind. It's not like regular online dating or even speed dating - it's a whole new type of dating experience. They also needed to relax and adjust their expectations. The goal is to have fun, and see if you'd be interested in a second date. Nothing more.
What is the best piece of advice you’d give someone before going out on a first date?
Relax! Have a good time and enjoy yourself. Also, I've found that brunch dates tend to go better than evening dates. Maybe because people are more relaxed. They have the whole day in front of them. If there's a connection, they can keep it going.
How has the Meet Market column changed your own dating preferences and who you ask out?
I try to practice what I preach. I keep an open mind, because anything can happen. I've had participants who have become best friends, others who formed relationships, and some who dated a few times and then fell out. Before I started writing Meet Market, I had high expectations and was in a rush to hit it off. Needless to say it didn't go well. Now I'm much more patient.
Let's get personal and talk about your blog. Does anyone turn you down for a date because they think you'll write about it?
No. If a woman tells me she doesn't want me to write about our dates, I respect that. But really, I share deep and personal stuff on it, and chances are one or two dates won't be enough to make that kind of connection. I have gone out with women who don't want to read my blog and would rather get to know me on their own. But the blog is my passion. If you really want to know me, I want you to read my blog.
Do you feel more pressured to go on dates because of the blog?
I don't lack for material for my blog, so I don't go searching for it. I write when I have a good handle on a subject or when some time has gone by and I can talk about it with some perspective. Hindsight is 20/20. My life runs the blog, the blog doesn't run my life.