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.