I don’t really know what it is about my brain… when it is working, I seem to pick up on patterns and tendencies that happen in the world. I have dabbled in the world of online dating after being divorced in 2010. I have come to a few conclusions… First, in my estimation, dating is no easier than it was when I was in college… in fact, it is most likely harder as at the age I am now, life and responsibilities intrude and also the dating pool is larger and more treacherous than the one on the average college campus. Second, while online dating has a few pluses…they are far outweighed by the minuses. Let me see if I can explain…
The overall advantage that someone has when they post a profile on an online dating site is that they will expose their pictures and their information to a much larger audience than they would ever meet in normal everyday life. They are able to ‘market’ themselves to this audience, and depending on how adept they are at humor, a particular turn of phrase, or if they have compelling pictures, they just might have some success. In addition, online dating sites show just how large the pool is… which can be either a good thing or a bad thing. In my opinion, this is where the advantages start to wane…
The Backwardness of Online Dating
Online dating is a fairly unnatural process… If I were to meet someone in a typical way out in the world we would have a conversation, we would probably flirt, we would learn a bit about each other and if the interest had peaked enough and some physical chemistry existed, we might choose to explore something further. Over the coming days and weeks we might determine that we are attracted to each other but just too different, that one or both of us had some sort of ‘dealbreaker’ which made us decide to end things… or we might decide to continue to build something much more long term. All of this would be based on what we had come to know about each other through interaction initiated by that first, in-person meeting. In online dating, everything is backwards. First of all the equation is complicated from the very beginning in that, most men apply the ‘shotgun approach’. A man will typically do a search of some point and contact any woman that he finds interesting which, based on the variety and sheer numbers, could result in him contacting several women. He has no idea if he contacts say 10 women that he will get 1 reply, 5 replies, or replies from all 10. It seems a bit silly to fire off one email into the ether, wait a number of days…not get contacted…and start over. On the other hand, if you get 10 replies, you then have another problem…. Now what do you do? It may sound like a good problem to have, but it gets impractical in a hurry. Now the process starts of emailing, texting, calling and eventually meeting the lady/ladies in question. This can go on for a significant amount of time as people in today’s world have busy schedules, kid responsibilities etc. You can get to know someone ‘on paper’ pretty well this way. Then comes the face-to-face meeting after putting a bunch of time in and deciding whether you are really very interested in someone or not…and guess what? They aren’t the person ‘in person’ that they portrayed themselves to be… In fact, they are 25 pounds heavier and 10 years older then they were in their pictures. Or, they may be everything they claimed to be, the chemistry is just not there. Now you have to have the honest but awkward conversation… Just seems to be a bit backward to me.
Profiles are another topic of interest. In creating a profile on an online site, you write a brief summary of yourself, add additional information which allows others to search for you like how tall you are etc, and you can post pictures. Based on the way they portray themselves, you can tell a lot about a person from their profile and their pictures. This is where some patterns are definitely prevalent and borderline…disturbing
– Women/Men: It is evident enough from your profile, if it is well written, how much a part of your life your children are and how important they are to you. Posting pictures of them is just silly… One family portrait with you and your children is one thing. Individual pictures of each of your kids on a DATING PROFILE is quite another. Someone who is choosing to contact you because of how your kids look is probably not someone you want contacting you. Meeting each other’s children will eventually happen if you pass inspection. This also goes for pets…. Pictures of you and your dog out running around can tell the story of their importance in your life…Individual pictures of your 6 cats paint you as a crazy cat person….Just sayin…
– Women – 7 pictures of you in the bathroom taken with your phone from the same angle where you have the same look on your face doesn’t tell me anything about you other than the fact that you spend an unhealthy amount of time in front of your bathroom mirror and you are particularly adept at making that silly duck face.
– Women/Men – Pictures of landscapes, buildings, etc from interesting parts of the world tells me that you like photography, and you might like to travel…but if you are not in said picture…it becomes suspect.
– Women/Men but mostly Men… Posing with the latest fish you caught or the latest animal you snuck up on and shot may speak to the person you are looking for on a primal level but more likely, it may just disgust them. Again…one of these pictures is enough.
– Men/Women – 12 pictures of you posing with a beer bottle and flipping off the camera… Enough said.
– Men – Many of the ladies I have gone out with lament the fact that many guys have too many pictures with their shirts off. No wonder women typically think we are knuckleheads.
– Women – If you have a dozen pictures of yourself in different bikinis on your profile and you can’t seem to understand why there are so many guys who contact you who are only interested in sex… Sigh.
All in all, a good variety of pictures, showing a person in different situations will help to fill in the blanks about their character if the pictures are well chosen.
Men’s Experience vs. Women’s Experience
If you are an average man attempting online dating, just like in the real world, you are doing most of the work. If you set up a profile and just let it sit there, several things might happen.
– Nothing (This is a very real possibility)
– You get ‘Winked’ at… A lady will come across your profile and wanting you to be the one to do the work, she will wink at you so that you will initiate a conversation.
– You will get a email message sent to you. Before you get too excited…this email may or may not be interesting. If it is interesting you are in luck. It might be a well thought out message from someone who read your profile and thought it sounded good and is asking if you might want to talk. This is the ‘blue skies’ scenario. In my own experience, I got one of these email for every 5 of the ‘Nice Tattoos!’ variety that I got.
Remember: Regardless of the type of contact initiated, it may very well be from a person who falls well outside your demographic with regards to what you are looking for.
For Women the experience is similar but greatly magnified:
– You get a ton of Winks (usually read as a guy who is too lazy to contact you via email)
– You get a ton of emails which can be broken down into a few subcategories…
- From men 15 years outside of your age range (on either side of your own age)
- From guys who can’t form logical sentences and say clever things like ‘Yer Hawt!’
- From guys who have sent the same form letter to 100 other women, hoping that by sheer numbers, they will hear from just one.
- From creepy guys who will continue to contact you and call you names if you don’t respond
- From someone interesting who you might actually consider getting to know
I used to get offended if I had thoroughly read a woman’s profile and taken the time to craft a well thought-out, humorous email based on what I read about her and what we might have in common only to hear crickets and never get a reply. This was irritating to me, but I guess with everything they are dealing with it should not be hard to understand. Especially since most guys, even if they are told very politely, don’t take rejection well.
Anyway, the only other thing I want to say about online dating is that it has a detrimental effect on people. People get addicted to the chase. They get addicted to the fact that if there is one tiny flaw in someone, that there are 10 other people knocking down their door to get to know them. That they can just log on to the online ‘candy store’ and see if there is any new candy to check out. Suddenly, those people who started out ‘looking for a relationship’ are no longer satisfied by that or have lost sight of that as a goal. All in all, it speaks to one of my first blog posts, that we all need to get better at relating to each other.
Just my $.02