The 'zero date' rule will change the way you approach dating.


You’ve set your Tinder preferences. You’ve penned the witty bio. You’ve played profile picture bingo (one selfie, one with friends, one with an animal – preferably a dog, and one from your travels).

You lure a few people in, have some banter, even the odd date, but months later you feel more like you’re playing a game of dating roulette than making any meaningful connections. Must be the algorithm…. or something.

Well podcaster Christina Wallace has come up with a way of optimising the online dating process. Using knowledge gained from her work in sales, marketing and startups, she created a forehead-slappingly simple system, which she kindly shared with the masses in a recent TED Talk.

The key takeaway is a pre-screening theory called the ‘zero date’. We’ll let her explain:

“The research, and my experience, shows you only need about 30 seconds with someone to tell if you click.
So I invented the zero date,” she said in her lecture.

“The zero date is one drink, one hour, with the goal of answering one question: ‘Would I like to have dinner with this person?’ Not: ‘Are they the one?’ Literally, ‘Would I like to spend three hours across the table from this person?'”

The theory is designed to save everyone’s time by getting the chat offline as quickly as possible.

Because let’s be honest, you’re going to learn far more meaningful things about a person in a single hour, face-to-face, than you ever could over from two weeks of intermittent Tinder messages.


The fixed time frame also means:

A) You have an easy out if you’re not interested. “You tell them you have a hard stop. Drinks with girlfriends, a conference call with China – it doesn’t matter, they don’t know you,” Wallace said.

B) You can also fit several zero dates into one weekend, even one evening, if you’re feeling especially efficient. “Then you only have to do your hair and pick out one great outfit a week.”

Video by Mamamia

It takes the pressure off because it’s not a real date; it’s more of a pre-screening. [Not that he or she needs to know that of course.]

And then if at the end of that hour you’re keen, you arrange the real thing.

But does it work, you ask? Well, Wallace’s last zero date went a little something like this:

You can watch Christina’s full Ted Talk below.