There’s no more stressful time in a company’s life than when it doesn’t know who its customer is.
Trying to bring a product to market without knowing your market is a clear path to financial ruin. But until you close your doors, you’ll be in a frantic search for someone – anyone – who will take what you are selling. You’ll try selling to everyone, and despite all your efforts, you’ll hardly make a dent.
When you refuse to pick a specific customer and solve a specific problem, your business will flounder from competitive industry to competitive industry, low margins to low margins.
But when you find your market and the product that can solve that market’s problem, something magical happens: you become someone people want to work with. You won’t have to force or cajole them, and you won’t have to feel angst about what exactly your business exists to do. That’s called product/market fit, and it’s hard to achieve in business. But it’s a precondition to sustainable growth, and it’s just as important in life outside of business.
There’s no more stressful time in a young person’s life than when they don’t know their dating product/market fit.
(That’s right. I’m going to explain dating by means of a startup business analogy. I am the most romantic man alive, clearly.)
Younger people feel a lot of low-level anxiety about the opposite sex precisely because they don’t know 1) themselves and 2) what kind of person they’re interested in. As a result, they put a lot of pressure on themselves to be “generally” appealing to all girls/guys.
You know what sucks about that strategy? There’s a low-level anxiety that comes with any opposite-sex interaction. A rejection by one person of the opposite sex feels like rejection by an entire gender. You know you want something from the opposite sex, but you just can’t explain it to them or to yourself. Nobody’s happy, and your “enterprise” is probably doomed to failure.
Your mistake? You’re trying to “sell yourself” to too many people, and as a result, you’re putting the wrong version of yourself in front of people who are almost invariably wrong for you.
Find your own dating fit the same way good companies find product/market fit. Find a specific problem you are especially suited to solve. In dating terms, that means finding and focusing on the kind of person you won’t just be “generally appealing to.” You want to find the kind of person who will be crazy about you.
Don’t be the kind of guy or girl every guy or girl wants. Learn how to be the kind of guy every punk rock, dog-loving, hiking girl wants. Be the kind of girl every chess-loving, disco-dancing, motorcycle-riding guy wants. With every way in which you’re unique, you’re more likely to have an “unfair advantage” in a given dating niche.
Of course, finding the kind of person you want to be with – finding your dating product/market fit – also isn’t easy. It’s going to take a lot of trial and error.
But you need to set out with that fit in mind. Focus and intentionality justify themselves in time.
When you focus in your relationship energies and priorities on only the kind of person you mesh well with, you won’t give a damn what anyone else thinks: other people of the opposite sex, outside observers, family, what have you. You’ll know your core values and that you’re pursuing them. You’ll be in a great position to grow.