My Never Ending Love-Hate Relationship With Online Dating

As we all know, I’ve had a very interesting relationship with the concept of online dating. On one hand, it is an ideal way for a person like me to screen women for whether or not they deserve my effortsat all. On the other hand, the response rates for males is absurdly low compared to my ability to number close women: if memory serves, OKCupid puts 27% as a decent rate of reply for males. That’s less than one in three.

My own personal philosophy dictates that I stop wasting my time with online dating. If you told me that I had only a 27% chance of success at anything, and asked me if I would like to spend any time on it, I’d answer negatory in an expletive-loaded way. I mean, if you think about it, a 27% chance of getting a reply doesn’t even begin to show how dismal the success rate is of actually getting a date. And then to actually get into a relationship? And then to actually get married and have kids? You had me at 27%.

I’ve been conducting a very unscientific experiment on OKCupid. I assumed the cheery persona of a moder­ately attractive 24 year old female living in New York City. And the prelim­inary unsci­en­tific results are very inter­esting to me. Within the first day of creating a profile, I received eleven messages. This was a Tuesday night. The number of messages I received as the week wore on stayed at a healthy ten, but petered off to three on Saturday and to only two on Sunday. Within five days, I had 127 profile views.This impromptu exper­i­mental online trans­vestism was really quite revealing. For one, I gained valuable insight into my compe­tition: I was able to see what sorts of messages women were getting from other men. They were, by and large, unin­spired and boring. In the online world, there is no way to sweep a woman off her feet. No words can replace the mischievous wink of a sexy rogue or the indif­ferent stare of an alpha male. I tried my very best to place myself into the shoes of a woman when viewing these messages, and I can’t imagine why any woman would bother wasting her time with even one in ten of the suitors in her inbox. The messages them­selves were so deaf­en­ingly unin­ter­esting that I imagine that only the most handsome of men would find them­selves getting any real replies — and even then mere good looks may not be all that much of a motivator. Despite my own mastery of the written word, I have found that most of my success in the online world of dating can be attributed to a couple of factors. For one, I seem to have a better shot with a woman who actually takes the time to read. Secondly, when I employ (by nature and not by artifice) NLP tech­niques, I seem to fare better. And lastly, my target is only of equal or lesser attrac­tiveness than myself.

Contrast this to my real world attempts at the game of pick-up. No, not the fifty-two card variety. The one where the successful men end up with a woman’s number, or even a night of passion. In my expe­ri­ences, I’ve been able to attract and number close women who are of high attrac­tiveness, even women who are taller than me by up to two to three inches (it’s hard to judge from down here). The real world allows for a far more visceral inter­action, with a great number of oppor­tu­nities to employ seduction tech­niques. My success rate is far higher in the real world than it is online.
It would stand to reason then that I would abandon online dating, what with the low success rate. After all, all but the top tier of men are lucky if they get a reply from one in three women. Men are at a signif­icant disad­vantage online: they are the ones expending time and effort to get nothing more than a chance to talk to a woman. It’s absurd really.

So why do I return? We’ll get to that later. For now, I just want to point out that in the realm of finding a mate, women have it at least ten times easier than men do. For one, they are the ones doing the sexual selection. Most men who are not in the top few percentage points (the alpha males) are at signif­icant disad­vantage. They must expend an immense amount of psychic capital in order to procure a mate. In one good week, I got eight profile views where my female profile got more than fifteen times that in less than a week.

It’s no wonder then why women can’t decide what they want: they just have too many goddamned choices. And with a biological and evolu­tionary imper­ative to choose the best genes for her offspring, well, it becomes easy to see why women flit around from man to man. The grass is just always greener on the other side; and since you can’t have your cake and eat it too, it’s no easy choice to settle on the type of man you really want. There’s always that primal urge to mate with that tall, muscular, square-jawed man; all the while, there’s another part of you that wants to seek out a stable partner to raise your offspring with, someone who’ll pay the bills and make the rent and make sure Jimmy and Jane go to the best schools.

The ugly truth is that men are really the ones who are burdened throughout their entire lives. Paternity certainty is difficult to obtain: asking for such a test is an insult how much you trust your wife. Then when you’ve actually got the kids, you’ve got to take care of them. An angry God cursed Adam that he may only win his bread by the sweat of his brow: the burden is on the father to provide for his family. As much as women are increas­ingly becoming willing providers of a second income (in some cases, it isn’t even an option but a necessity), the primary source of income is still mostly from the husband. The ugly truth is that a man who can’t make the rent isn’t very attractive: whether it’s an evolu­tionary thing or a cultural one, the notion that the man should be the bread­winner is not going away anytime soon.

Aside from being the one to bring in the money, the man cannot show any weakness. Weakness and emotional vulner­a­bility kill a woman’s libido quicker than a Mozam­bique drill drops a perp. A woman doesn’t want to sleep with a man who’s unsure about his future, about whether or not he can put his kids through college. A woman does not find a man who needs some chicken soup and a warm blanket sexually appealing. To think of having sex with a vulnerable needy man so close to her would rouse the evolu­tionary warnings of incest.

So a man is supposed to be earning a steady paycheck, and he can never show any weakness, lest his wife begin consid­ering going with another man. Mate retention, then, is largely a man’s game; it is a game that he must play until the very day that he dies. Add on top of that the issue of paternity, and it seems like one lifelong endurance test. No wonder Al Bundy kept asking God to take him.

I’ve already covered why women have it easier. And at the time, it was mostly just to poke fun. But my cynical outlook has embraced some of the ugly truths in that post more seri­ously now. I wonder if I would ever wish to get married at all then. I want a woman who I can be best friends with. But women don’t fuck their best friends. I suppose in a way, I want it all as well: a woman with whom I can be emotionally vulnerable; a woman who’ll take care of me when I falter; a woman who I can love; a woman who I can make love to.
I suppose that it’s really a matter of finding a woman who is far more romantic than she is anything else. I suppose that, in some way, my desire to find a highly romantic woman is an attempt to find a woman who is driven not by her libido but by a higher thinking: her emotional and intel­lectual ideals; and by extension, a woman who is more inter­ested in an attraction that tran­scends the physical. The ugly truth is that if a woman’s attraction is based on anything physical, very few men will ever find their wives faithful. Only the very few men who are genet­i­cally gifted can even dream of their woman’s sexual fidelity. Even then, if the new liter­ature on prehis­toric sexu­ality is to be believed, sexual fidelity cannot ever be expected.

I wonder if the truly monog­amous can be numbered in even the hundreds. When Vito Corleone was asked by his friend whether he thought his new love was beau­tiful, he replied that for him, there was only his wife and child. I wonder if such dedi­cation and intense loyalty was more common in older times. I suspect not. Will I ever be able to find anyone who is capable of the same dedi­cation and loyalty as I am? Can I ever find a woman who will be faithful in both mind and body for eternity, the same as I would be? I doubt it. It’s not so much an issue of pessimism as it is one of realism. The facts do not weigh in my favor.

In any case, because I value my time and energy very highly, I am going to make myself a New Year’s reso­lution: quit online dating. So far, I’ve always flip-flopped on that reso­lution. No matter how I feel or what I think, I inevitably find myself returning to these websites in hopes of finding love. But I am still single. I still have not been a long-term rela­tionship. My endeavors in the online world of dating have been fruitless. While love supposedly knows no bounds, and while hopeless romantics are by defi­n­ition hopeless, there should be a point in which one decides that it is no longer worth the time and energy to continue a given pursuit; this is that point. I blame my forays back into online dating on idle hands and inherent drive to find love. It’s time to really put an end to it.

So that’s that: the year of 2011, this Wistful Writer will delete all of his online dating profiles. He will forgo the deper­son­alized digital world of quote-unquote romance and abandon the hundreds upon hundreds of ques­tions he has answered for his profiles. And he will also let go of the naïve notion that he will one day find a decent woman to have a family with. It’s been a long process, but it will finally happen.

  • Gary

    Well, here I am again, butting in with my commentary.

    I don't remember much of what I've written previously, but I do vaguely recall speculating that appearance would be the biggest factor in online dating. It's not a scientific hypothesis, it's not even much of an intellectual assumption or guess… it's just that, when you think about it- expectations rise drastically when you log on. This would simply be because the opportunities and/or possibilities that arise from being on the net are so vast that you would automatically fall into a more rigorous selection process. Why settle for less, if the possibility of doing better is there?

    And now that my brain's all lubed up and ready to go… I'm going to go against appearance being the "biggest" factor as I've previously speculated. Instead, I'm imagining some sort of selection algorithm in which appearance comes first, and thus, while it ultimately isn't that "big" of a factor… it's nonetheless a crucial limiting factor. It has to be satisfied before you can address the others.

    This is all nice and theoretical but how does it fit into your experience? I should point out that I don't really know your experiences… so everything I'm going to say is just my impression of your experiences based on what you've written. With that, I wouldn't prioritize your written description. Perhaps it isn't so much that women don't like reading… but that they've just never given your written description a shot, because you failed to satisfy the first step in the algorithm.

    On the matter of the ugly truth, as you've called it. I think your conclusion might be a bit misguided by your circumstances and definitely not taking into account other people's circumstances. Yes, it's hard being a man, but you know what? Somewhere out there, on some other blog, a woman is writing on the burdens of being a woman, perhaps coming to the conclusion that the real burden is on women. It's pretty silly when you think about it, to attribute the burdens of romancing to one's sex or gender.

    In reality, both sexes and/or genders have their burdens. They aren't neccessarily the same, and I'm not sure if anyone can really weigh in on who bears a heavier burden, for that is highly subjective. What is important to realize here, is that it doesn't so much have to do with whether one is man or woman, but one's "sexual value." It's really not that difficult to me, as a guy, to imagine the circumstances of an "ugly" woman who has to fight to retain her mate and keep him from cheating. So, by stepping out of a man's shoes and the world of being the bread winner and all… and into the world of constantly having to make sure you appear youthful, attractive, of optimal bodyweight and all that womenly nonsense that us men are so fond of- women bear a pretty heavy burden themselves.

    And to play devil's advocate here… one may even say that women have it harder. Men generally select their women with more emphasis on appearance than women select their men. Given this, and given that appearance is something you're born with and not something you can change, whereas socioeconomic status is malleable, it begs the question of who really has a harder time: the physically unattractive male who can always get rich, or the physically unattractive woman who really can't do much else.

  • This main idea of this piece was just me articulating why I ought to quit online dating for good, and to touch on whether or not I should even bother trying to get married. A lot of your comment, while appreciated, was directed towards premises I wasn't really making.

    Yes, you've mentioned appearance being an important factor in the online world of dating, and it's something that I'm actually confirming when I contrast my ability to have success with women in the real world with the online world. I don't have the space to explain the dynamics of picking up women and successfully attracting them, so let me recommend that you look up an anecdote called the Iranian from hell to get an idea on where I'm coming from.

    I attract visual attention from women who are objectively more attractive than I am when I'm out and about in the real world, whereas my successes online are severely limited relative to those real life interactions, thus indicating to me that the disparity between my successes lie in the inherent format of these male-female interactions. Status indicators, body language, and any other information related to mate selection is by and large lost in translation from the real to the virtual. Essentially, it's the difference between a photograph and a motion picture: you must capture a striking image in the blink of an eye with photography, whereas motion pictures allow you to build an emotionally evocative moment both visually and aurally. In other words, the former (real life being the motion picture) is more forgiving and patient than the latter (an online profile being a snapshot).

    I'm afraid you're kind of pulling a straw man fallacy when you speak on not prioritizing my written description. Whether due to an error in my writing or your mistaken interpretation, my point in mentioning my "mastery of the written word" was this: my profile is well written and conforms to the standards of most male profiles that receive a higher than average response rate (standards that I've culled from both dating experts as well as the more or less underground community of pickup artists).

    However, in terms of absolutes, I simply do not receive many responses. When I do receive responses, they are from women who are more cerebral (as exhibited in their profiles). The dates I've gone on through OKCupid were all with women who are more inclined to read (i.e. more intellectual, more inclined towards intellectual stimulation). I'm not very good at research methods (and I'm not conducting scientific experiments), so it's hard to discern if I am meeting fewer women than I would like because:

    A) I have written my profile in a way that screens for more cerebral women (who are rarer),
    B) I have written my profile in a way that appeals to a narrower audience,

    or

    C) Any number of other factors

    Of course, as you've said in the past and now again, response rates can attributed to the whole idea of aesthetics. If you delve into the PUA community, you'll very rapidly understand that looks on the part of men do not matter nearly as much as you think (again, look up the Iranian from hell story). Why not? Well, as you know, a lot of it has to do with socioeconomic status and alpha posturing. However, in the isolated context of an online dating site, there's no easy way to discern between an alpha male and a beta male based on profiles alone. That's why, I am guessing, looks matter more online: that's all they have to go on.

    The truth is that there are men who should theoretically be quite successful with women on account of their statistics – tall men of European descent with money who are successful business owners are highly desirable – but who actually do quite poorly because they do not understand the game of attracting women. Meanwhile, you have men who are statistically disadvantaged – men who are shorter than average and of a racial minority, for example – who are wildly successful. In real life that is.

    The purpose of pointing this out is that online dating reduces people into statistics, and that I should quit because my advantages do not translate into statistics very well. There's also the race factor working against me (check this OkCupid article on how race affects reply rates). The short of it is that white males have the highest reply rates, and that if you aren't white, you're at a severe disadvantage.

    Basically, when I'm reduced to statistics, I've got a very low probability of success. If you simply look at the most objective factors (height and race), it becomes quite clear that actively participating in (i.e. expending effort messaging women) online dating sites is an entirely foolish pursuit considering the chances of success. Like you said before: I should just stick to real world interactions.

    On to the ugly truth. You said that it's silly to attribute the burdens of romancing to one's gender. I'm afraid that this here is another straw man argument. I was not attributing any difficulties of romance to my being a man. I was discussing whether or not I would even wish to get married considering the absurd situation men are put in when entering such an arrangement. Of course, I quite readily admit that this view is based on cynical assumptions (e.g. women don't want to be with emotionally vulnerable men, women don't sleep with their best friends). I even openly proposed that the only woman that would foot the bill would be the rare one who, like myself, ignores prehistoric impulses and engages in a relationship on a more emotional and intellectual level. In other words, I am criticizing my own unrealistic expectations.

    As for the subjectiveness of the difficulties of either sex, well…to be fair, this is my blog and as such is an expression of my views. As such, I'm not all that interested in having a debate for two reasons: firstly, I'm not trying to force my views on anyone; and secondly, it's just one of those things where people have to agree to disagree. Even so, let's not turn to misology here. I've already posted on how men have it more difficult in some very important ways. I've already made some very salient points on how women have it easier: your position of devil's advocate unfortunately doesn't really provide much of an argument against the points I've already made. But ultimately, like I said before in that old post, it's just different for everybody, not just different between the two sexes.

    Finally, as a side note, do keep in mind these are largely just depressing ramblings of mine. Nobody really feels the need to vent their happiness, but it's not quite the same with negative feelings. This blog is far from a complete picture of what I happens in my life: many pieces are largely out of context. But that should be obvious anyway.

  • Gary

    Dude, I'm well aware that you're a normal person. No need to convince me of that. I'm sure my ramblings here might give the impression that I'm some sort of serious internet nerd, but I'm not- only at home and on the safety of the internet.

    In anycase, I should've presented myself better or set the tone better. I'm not good at that stuff.

    You're right. I wasn't addressing the "thesis" (too formal?) of your post. It's not that I didn't understand it or whatever, it's just that I really don't have much input on the matter. What I did was add my "2 cents," on specific things that you brought up, outside of its original context. I apologize if you mistook them as strawmen arguments or an invitation to debate.

    What I meant by not prioritizing the written description, was actually a direct response to your order of impact on the factors you presented as the reasons as to what kind of contacts you make. This was in relation to the selection algorithm that I presented, in which the visual description comes before the written description. In other words, I wanted to invert your list, such that you narrow it down to written description.

    As for the "Iranian from Hell," and PUA stuff- I'm not familiar with it, but it seems interesting (quickly googled it.) However, I was strictly speaking about the online selection process, not what happens in person. I find no problems with what you're saying… and we can very integrate this into what I was talking about, where in person, you'd have multiple pathways or a series of algorithms. One where the ugly man may very well proceed with alternative approaches, as opposed to the linear, single pathway you see online.

    As for low response rates- if you acknowledge the online selection algorithm, it is neither A or B (the points you presented.) It is because, prior to the possibility of A or B having any effect, many possible conctacts may have had rejected you based on looks alone, prior to even reading your written description.

    Now, being a long time reader of your stuff, I think you are in fact screening out undesireables (for you.) That only matters after Step 1. Let's say you're looking for green marbles out of a bag of many colors… but somehow, there's a bottleneck effect in which you only wind up with a fraction of the original number of marbles. There'd be green marbles with what you wind up with, but had there been no bottleneck effect, you would've had access to an even greater amount of green marbles. The bottleneck in this case is appearance. This is the point where A or B kicks in, where you would further reduce the number of green marbles you have access to, say, light green or dark green marbles. I'm sure you get my point here.

    I'm aware that appearance has its own variables too (that is, race, height, all that mumbo jumbo.) I was actually motivated to do some googling and read that OKCupid post right before I made my earlier comment (actually, I wound up reading all of their posts because they were so damned interesting.) I also discovered this:
    http://blog.kiamatthews.com/post/331277005

    This is actually what motivated me to concieve of the selection process algorithm, because in her case, no one even bothered to read her profile when they saw that she was black. Anyway, I'm not sure what else to type and this is getting horribly long. Check that out though, it's hilarious as well as it is angering.

    • Heh, what a great find. I, like you, found it quite humorous while finding the results quite outrageous.

      I concur with your so-called algorithm. Actually, I act according to it myself (I'm sure I've said so somewhere in one of these posts). I look at the profile picture first and determine whether or not she's attractive enough before proceeding with anything else. Of course, my standards of physical attractiveness are skewed: she's either acceptable or not. More specifically, an HB10 gets no more attention or effort from me than an HB6.

      As for that bottleneck and marbles example, I think that's entirely appropriate and pretty much on the spot. As for me getting screened out based on looks, it's a tough nut to crack. The reason I bring up my relative success in the real world is to contrast it with my relative failure in the online world.

      Bare with me in the following thought process…I need to write it out to think straight.

      In the real world, I read receptive body language in women rated as high as 8.5 reacting to my presence (e.g. flipping of hair to expose neck and shoulders, crossing of leg towards me, ventral fronting, submissive eye contact, interested gazes, etc.). Just to be clear, these are not signs that these women will drop their knickers with one look from me; all it means is that I have an implicit chance to try to get with them. In other words, they'll give me the time of day. Summarily, in real life, my physical attributes do not preclude me from getting a chance with women who are rated up to an 8.5.

      Taking that into consideration, I am quite certain that I have absolutely no chance with an HB8.5 when talking to her online. There must be something missing in the translation. Online, my photos are a very fair representation of how I look, if not skewed towards the more attractive side of the spectrum. If I have high success rates in the real world but low success rate in the virtual world….then that must mean…

      Whether it's my demeanor, movement, or some other hard to quantify quality, these are the things one cannot capture in an online profile. And so it appears that it is these intangibles that make or break my ability to attract women.

      Wait a second….I just had a thought, about my photos.

      The typical interaction goes as follows:
      1) I message a girl.
      2) She reads my message.
      3) If it passes her filter, she clicks on my profile.
      4) Then, and only then, is she able to judge me on my physical looks: the tiny thumbnails that are visible are too small to get a good look.

      How can I be rejected on looks if girls aren't even clicking on my profile when I send them a message? That must mean that my I'm being largely ignored: I'm not even being rejected on account of anything in my control (e.g. the words in my profile, my physical appearance as seen in my photos)….sorry, I'm being rejected on account of my messages (initiating contact).

      I actually just did the math: my reply rate is 39% (I thought it was 48% at first but then realized that I was counting notifications, which aren't actual communications), which is much better than the average of 27%. I suppose then that a lot of these negative outlooks are just in my head. In reality, I'm not doing as bad as I thought. Then again, reply rates are not indicative of the quality of my love life…

      I think the moral of the story in my case (at least the moral I should be learning for myself) is that quantity doesn't mean diddly, and that it's quality that will ultimately trump everything else in the long run. At least that's what my strategy should yield.

      And yeah, I've been having sleep issues for the past bunch of days, so I'm sure there's something incoherent here…heh.

  • Gary

    Hey man. This is late… I actually read your reply after you posted it, but got lazy and didn't respond. Anyways, I actually have to apologize, as I realize I made a very stupid mistake by trying to analyze this without really being cognizant of how internet dating works and thus confused myself and probably you as well.

    Well, what happened was, being a non-internet dater and not very familiar with how it works, I had to work off my imagination (which itself is not that inaccurate.) What I failed to take into account was the matter of you initiating contact. The scenario I had in mind was one where you were passively being selected for (which probably applies more to women than it does to men.)

    So it appears that we have two processes at work in this two way system, one where you get contacted and one where you initiate contact. I suppose we can characterize these as "afferent" and "efferent" processes, the latter of whom your issue with response rates would fall under. This other "algorithm," we might imagine, would in fact, take into consideration the written component.

    This does muddle things up a bit. In the efferent process, it isn't so much your written description as your "opening line(s)." Is a "portrait" or "avatar" displayed when one reads these messages? If so, then both obviously matter… If not, then it probably runs something like this:

    Hot Ass Bitch recieves message –if reads–> reads message –if yes–> clicks profile –appearance check–> and so on…
    We'd simply just insert the algorithm from the passive selection/afferent process once we hit the evaluation of appearence.

    One such consequence of this strategy, would be, and I recall reading this somewhere during my "research" on it, that women just wind up ignoring most of the messages men send them simply because there's so much of 'em. I also recall reading that the more attractive, the more messages. Anyhow.. yeah, that would be completely out of your control, in an entirely random manner. This would be bottleneck 1 (-if read->) We get a few more later on, once we insert the afferent algorithm in… those would be issues of things like height, race, etc. They'd kick in when they view your profile.

    Now, with that framework, we can easily plug in the statistics (if we have them, which I don't) if we want to do the math. At each forward step of the algorithm we can simply apply whatever statistics we have available to arrive at some final percentage. And if you really want to be rigorous and cool with it, which I doubt you do (and neither would I,) but you could probably view each encounter as a unique function (for bottlenecks n>1,) where bottleneck would be a constant, lol.

    What's up with the HB stuff? Makes me think of drawing pencils. And ventral fronting? WTF? Is that like scapulae retraction with thoracic extension? Sounds like these PUA guys analyzed the shit out of social interaction and placed fancy labels on it, lol. Anyways, I agree with you on that, and it's like I previously stated. There are two systems (there has to be.) In person, you get a wide and diverse array of options or pathways (I'm no expert or PUA guy, so I'm not going to bother listing them all out.) If you are blocked in one, either due to limiting reactants or insufficient activation energy, there are always other pathways in which the reaction can proceed. What does this mean?

    Well, it means everything we've both agreed on so far. It is far easier to land a date in real life than it is online. You get a web of possibilities and an entire array of diverse pathways in which you can exploit in person. Online, it becomes reduced to those two algorithms. It also means that online, things become "easier" in the sense that it is much more simple (and far more conducive to us analyzing it like the way we are.)

    Given that, let's answer your question about whether it's worth it to continue online dating. If you've got the dough, go for it. What you wind up losing is your money. If it's free, on the other hand, you really have nothing to lose but your time. Let's go with free, because I personally (I'm talking about me here,) think I'd be losing money if I went with online dating, since I don't think I would rate well on appearance. If it's free, and I have the time, well, why not? It's better than nothing if you discount real life pursuits. If you include real life pursuits and/or opportunities, then its in addition to that. That can't be a bad thing if you want to maximize chances of success.

    As for the "moral," of the story. I don't think what we've talked about has any relevance to the quantity vs. quality argument you presented. Everything we've discussed has no bearing on what strategy you should take when you initiate contact (the efferent process.)

    The answer, if we take into account the algorithm I laid out above… is both. You'd need a degree of "Zerg" strategy to overcome bottleneck 1. And then you'd need quality to overcome the checkpoints that come later. The quantity vs. quality thing, it seems, was a red herring of sorts. The answer is a some sort of ratio of "Zerg" to "Protoss" strategy that works for you. I suppose you'd wind up with some sort of "Terran" strategy. If you expend too much resources (quality approach) on first contact, then you might risk losing your precious siege tanks or whatever without any reward. It seems reasonable to go with some sort of strategy where you send out probes and if there's any hint of receptiveness, then you throw all your best units at it… anyway, I think thats all I have to say. All I really wanted to do was analyze how online dating works, I can't really dispense advice. You have far more experience than I do, and I trust you know best how to proceed. I'm sure that you know it isn't just quality that would work either, and that you probably just stated that on a whim or whatever.

    Goodluck with your endeavor.

  • Hey Gary,

    There was a documentary called "The Science of Attraction" or something like that. I watched it recently, and while most of it is old news, it does highlight some important points. One of them is that looks don't matter to women as it does to men. So even if you don't think you rate well in looks, I wouldn't discount putting up a free profile on dating sites.

    And that's actually been my conclusion (pssh, yeah right…we heard that one before: I'm going to back off the online dating. I used to pay subscription fees six months at a time, but right now I'm only using OKCupid. But I'm slowly weaning myself off of it. Actually, the truth is that I'm merely reducing the energy I expend on it. I've actually developed a way to automate sending messages lol. I haven't used it yet because I'm not sure I want to do that, and also because I haven't crafted a good message yet, but I may decide to use my automated process in the future. Considering all the factors weighing against me, the shotgun approach seems to be the best way to go about doing online dating. I've been trying the hard way for the longest time: targeting with great precision the women I am trying to meet. It took me an inordinate amount of time to read profiles and to write messages that built rapport and demonstrated compatibility, and it was all for nought. So shotgunning is the next strategy. It's inelegant, but I suppose I have to break away from my idealism if I want to actually meet women.

    But when all is said and done, I now think online dating is largely for the birds. While it should work in an ideal world to bring together people who otherwise may not have met, the truth that we keep arriving at (but that I keep ignoring) is that online dating is largely a matter of picking out the most physically attractive mate. Only in an ideal world would people look at profiles and become attracted to personalities, and then and only then look at physical attraction. The sad truth is that pretty much nobody works that way, at least not online.

    Also, OKCupid might not be the right site for me. Because it's free, it probably draws a lot of people who aren't really serious about meeting anyone. Actually…this might be a key piece of the puzzle. I've met so many more women with so much less effort when I was on Chemistry compared to OKCupid. I suppose that paid dating sites have the downside of an uncertain amount of fresh new members, but the upside is that people who pay are people who are serious about meeting up.

    Here's to closing this chapter of my life. It's about time, really.

  • Gary

    Doesn't seem to be anything wrong with free sites- it's your time, if you've got it. Money, on the other hand, could be spent on something else a little more rewarding.

    Thanks for the tip, I actually already acknowledge that looks aren't as important for men than it is for women. Still, I have a feeling that's something that applies moreso to "real life," than it does for something like internet dating sites. It isn't just a feeling though. It's everything we've talked about. Given the linear process… you have to pass the appearance check and the very fact of that- that appearance is isolated in that manner, exaggerates it's importance in the decision making process. What I'm meaning to say, but can't really figure out how to articulate is… you get directly confronted by appearance and with that very confrontation, it becomes a bigger issue than it would be if you were not directly confronted by it.

    What do you mean by automated process? Did you refine your search and contact algorithm or something? Anyways, it's like I said before… the best way to go about any of that, is going to be a "shotgun" as you say, to "sniping" ratio. If there's a ton of other guys doing the same thing, shotgunning every woman they see, while you go about making strictly quality investments in first contact- there's a huge chance you are wasting your time. Cause some bastard out there whose spamming everyone, is probably more likely to be read, and your quality message, not even seen in midst of the 500 other messages she's got.

    You do have one advantage though. You're a writer and you'll probably be better able to come up with a convincing/persuasive spam message than someone else whose going to write, "hey baby, u wanna be mah valentine n maybe sum1 more??" If they take they take the bait, then you move in with the big guns.

    Yeah, it's kinda gay. But, when you think about it, there's nothing "ideal" or "unideal" about it. It's just something you have to do. Kinda like, having to actually go out to meet women, and not expecting them to show up your doorstep. Or anything else for that matter where you actually have to do something trivial. It's kinda like, if you're a really good singer- sure, it'd be great if people notice you without you even trying. But for most great singers, you're still going to need to do silly trivial things, that mean nothing (that everyone else also has to do,) like fill out forms, go to auditions, etc.

  • Right, I get what you're saying: regardless of how much less a man's looks matter to a woman relative to how important a woman's looks are to men, a man's looks (maybe even women's too?) are more important online than they are in real life.

    It's kind of stupid, because I was quoted in the New York Times about OKCupid in a couple of years ago and I should've followed my own advice then: just don't do online dating, because the statistics for non-whites are pretty dismal. The reality of online dating is, as we've probably established a long time ago (but kept ignoring because of my unrealistic idealism), pretty much statistics based attraction. If you make lots of money, are over 5'10", and are white, online dating will be lots of fun for you. Otherwise, it's a loser's game.

  • Oh, as for that automated process. I found a way to write a macro to click on all of my matches and email them a form mail. I might consider using it (I still haven't spammed the lucky ladies of OkCupid yet), but in light of all this information, I'll probably decide to not waste another second of my time on this bullshit.

  • Seabreeze

    As a woman, reading this post, I had to comment. After joining Match.com (a paying dating website) I can say that it's just as hard for women as it would appear to be for men.  Being very attractive seems to put men off, make them write the most awful & mean emails.  If only men knew that what a woman really wants is someone who is not trying to impress us… I want a man who is himself and relatively normal ! Also, what is it about these men who wait about 5 days before responding to a woman's email (in response to his original email)… Urgh the games, it's not necessary !!!!  Also, we're all human, with human feelings & a heart… please don't go on there and forget who you are and taken on a persona you think women want, it's not clever and you're going to be very cold at night !  I don't know if I am crazy for still believing I might find someone online, but in the mean time, I hold out hope.

    • wistfulwriter

      Hi Seabreeze,

      Thank you for writing in.  Your female perspective is very much appreciated.

      I feel that you may be one of the few women who actually prefer not to play games (which means you're a rare catch!).  The delayed response tactic is used by both men and women to say that you have better things to do than check your messages all the time.  I have always felt such a tactic to be complete rubbish.

      The mean things that men may say might be a bastardization of the now-prevalent "neg" that, while once a PUA tactic, has since become a maligned tool in a man's seduction toolbox.  And if it's not any attempt to seduce, perhaps it's just a way for frustrated men to vent about their rejections (not that I condone this behavior).

      Speaking on your point about how games are not necessary: I must say that women have a great deal of power in shaping the behaviors of men. Consider the role that women play in the overall game of mate finding.  Women are the choosers and men must necessarily submit themselves for acceptance by females. Even the hottest Hollywood stars must essentially ask a female for permission for sexual access (we're not going to count starfuckers and other women who are extremely sexually aggressive and promiscuous).  Men are the pursuers and the women the ones who grant access (the gatekeepers, so to speak), there is just no way around it.

      With that in mind, women have the power to shape the behaviors of men. Women may say that they just want normal nice men, but empirically speaking this is sadly not the case.  Perhaps this is what women want after they have "played the field," or when they have reached a certain age.  But women who are thirty and younger certainly would not be satisfied with a man who is simply the marrying type.  This is the reason that men cannot simply be normal in their romantic interactions: 'normal' never worked for them.  In other words, being normal never got anyone laid, to put it bluntly. So when being normal doesn't work, men go about seeking the solution. And the solution is found in the seduction (i.e. PUA) industry.

      The entire seduction industry that trains men to be successful women is borne out of the male desire for sexual access to females.  The industry exists because there are many men who do not have the necessary skill set to be successful with women.  So what does that tell you about men?

      Men, realizing that being normal and nice isn't getting them anywhere in their love lives, spend time, money, and energy figuring out how to get women. And what do they learn in these PUA boot camps?  They learn what turns a woman on and how to attract them.  

      To put it more concretely: for the sake of simplicity, let us say that women are only attracted to men who know how to write sonnets.  Most men do not know what sonnets are, let alone how to write them.  Thus, most men cannot attract women.  In time, however, men realize that the men who are attracting women are all poets. Literally all the men who are in a romantic or sexual relationship with women are poets.  Given some more time (well, much more time: men are slow, if you didn't realize), they will begin to realize that they need to learn what about poets is giving them sexual access to females.  They will learn that you need to be able to write sonnets. Suddenly, there is a great demand for learning how to write sonnets. And, given that we are in a capitalist society, there will suddenly be many many sonnet-writing teachers.

      How does this relate to our situation?  Well, as you can see, men will learn how to write sonnets in order to get women.  So, really, if enough women would actually get with men who are normal and nice, then men will be normal and nice. 

      But as it stands, women are not giving normal nice men the time of day.  They are giving sexual access only to those men who exhibit a variety of factors that I won't delve into at this juncture.  Women control the behaviors of men in this way. So if you really like men who are normal and nice, spread the word and tell your friends to give nice normal guys the time of day.  Then, by the next generation, hopefully we'll have a return to normalcy :)

      In any case, I must thank you again for voicing your opinion, thank you so much for participating! If you have any further thoughts or reports on your online dating experiences, please do write in!

      Terrance

  • Howardhughes

    Bravo

  • duh

    There is something very wrong with your experiment:  The fake profile you put up of the attractive, cheery, 24 year old woman compared to your profile is comparing apples to oranges.  Of course that profile is going to get a lot of messages!  If you put up a fake profile of a 24-year old, attractive, rich man I bet that profile would get a lot of messages as well.

    How old are you?  If you want to do a more accurate experiment put up a fake profile of an average-looking woman your age with a mediocre personality and a chip on her shoulder.  I bet that one won't get a ton of messages either.

    Also, what the hell is wrong with a 27% success rate?  Do you really think that 100% of women that you find attractive are supposed to reciprocate your interest??

    I think if you lost the negative attitude and the unrealistic expectations you might have a lot more success in the dating game…

    • wistfulwriter

      This post is way behind me by now, but I must point out your fallacies nonetheless.

      The point of my "experiment" was merely to see just what sort of men I was competing against.  So there is nothing "wrong" with it because I was not comparing anything.  Please read more carefully next time.  I summed up the conclusion of my "experiment" as follows:For now, I just want to point out that in the realm of finding a mate, women have it at least ten times easier than men do. For one, they are the ones doing the sexual selection.Moving on.I never said that I "think that 100% of women that you find attractive are supposed to reciprocate your interest," so you're sort of strawmanning when you refer to my "unrealistic expectations."  As for the negative attitude, you (presumably) assume that it shows through in my interactions.  You have no data to work with in regards to how I present myself to others and how I interact with them, so I am afraid that your argument here is, sadly, void. Of course, I would be ungrateful if I did not acknowledge that you are probably just trying to help a fellow out.  To which I respond: as misguided and lacking in tact as your comment was, thank you for reaching out to try to help. I am not being sarcastic here: I am actually taking the time out to recognize your helpful nature.