The Trouble With Online Dating

I’m going to tell you something that you already know: dating is a frustrating process of trial and error. For a lot of people, it’s a seemingly never-ending dance of missed connections, nights you’ll never get back again and wondering just what’s wrong with you and why everybody else seems to have it so much easier.

Even for people like me who enjoy the whole dance and the chase and the thrill of the new, there will be points when you really just want to take a step back from it for a while and catch your breath and let your ego recover from the beatings that tend to come with it.

"Hey man, i want to get laid as badly as you do, but do you think maybe we could spend a night NOT getting rejected over and over again?"

“Hey man, i want to get laid as badly as you do, but do you think maybe we could spend a night NOT getting rejected over and over again?”

Online dating is often touted as the solution to dating frustration. Screen your dates in advance! You only have to deal with people who meet your standards! Take all the time you need to craft the perfect dating message

Of course, in practice… it’s a different story. In fact, for many people, online dating is such a trial that they give up early on. But just as when you’re trying to meet your future snugglebunny the old-fashioned way1, it’s important to understand the potential headaches that come with those marathon OKCupid sessions. Many of the things that drive people away from online dating can be headed off at the pass with some preparation.

Get Out of The Offline Dating Mindset

The first step to overcoming your frustration with online dating is to adjust your mindset and expectations accordingly. Online dating takes a different attitude and skill-set than, say, making cold approaches at a bar or flirting with someone you met at a house party.

To start with, you have to rethink the way that you present yourself.

Studies show that between 75% to  93% of communication is non-verbal. When we meet somebody in person, we have hundreds of thousands of verbal and non-verbal clues to give us an intuitive grasp of who we’re talking to and whether or not we’re into them long before we go up and introduce ourselves. Everything from how they stand to how they talk, who they talk to,  how they act around their friends, how they smell, even the pitch and timbre of their voice indicate whether or not we’re likely to have an initial attraction to them that would prompt us to make that all-important first approach. We’re able to process all of these signals so rapidly that we’re often unaware of it; to our conscious mind, we’re just eliding over the ones who we read as “nope, not interested” while we narrow our focus on the people who do it for us.

All of this subconscious presentation and filtering is lost in online dating; all we have are our words and our photos, so we have to consider how to craft as attractive a snapshot of ourselves as possible. In online forums and gaming – where many people meet their partners – how we express ourselves and our personality acts as the initial attractors. Similarly, we try to divine as much of that information as possible from the dating profile photo and username even before we start in on the dating profile. This is why you have to take care to understand exactly what your profile is saying to the women who view it. It takes very little to accidentally give the impression that you’re bitter and resentful and as we all know, there’s nothing that makes panties evaporate faster than complaining about how often you get stuck in the Friend Zone.

You have to treat your dating profile as an advertisement; you are, after all, selling yourself to others. This means that you have to consider your market, what you’re looking for and what makes you, specifically, attractive to others. OKCupid, for example, is structured more heavily towards casual dating and hooking up., on the other hand, leans towards more conventional relationships while eHarmony is specifically marketed towards (straight) people who are looking to get married ASAP while Plenty of Fish is the dating equivalent of a long weekend in Innsmouth.

"I like sunsets, sushi, long walks on the beach and eviscerating outsiders in the name of Dagon."

“I like sunsets, sushi, long walks on the beach and eviscerating outsiders in the name of Dagon.”

You also have to consider where and how to present your best self. If you’re the sort of person who’s clever and witty, then you want to look more towards a site like OKCupid that lets you display your humor like the tail of an Oscar Wilde-loving peacock. At the same time, you’re less likely to  have success when dealing with dating/hook-up apps like Grindr or Tinder. You’re going strictly by photos; you only have a chance to wow them with your wit after they’ve decided you look fuckable.

Play The Numbers Game

Speaking of the offline dating mindset: you’re going to have to accept that online dating is even more of a numbers game than dating in IRL or meatspace or whatever the cool kids are calling “the world” these days. This means sending out more cold e-mails, dealing with more rejections and more dates that go nowhere.

Sorry. It’s part of the price of entry, and it’s better that adjust your expectations accordingly instead of dealing with the slow burn of “WHY WON’T THE MAGICAL BOX PROVIDE ME WITH SEX?”



Remember what I said earlier about how we mentally filter people into “attractive” and “not attractive” when we meet them in person? The lack of non-verbal cues that attract us to others don’t carry across in online dating and, as a result, you’ll occasionally come across people who seem great on paper but who don’t turn you on in person. We can get as righteous as we’d like about “getting to know somebody’s soul” or the purity of meeting people without our hangups about looks, but without that physical component, it’s impossible to guarantee that you’re going to be attracted to somebody in person. This is why so many people get first dates that go nowhere; you may have had great intellectual or emotional chemistry, but physically, it just wasn’t going to work.

And the answer to this is, simply: date more. And that’s where the benefit of the numbers game comes in.

Many people treat online dating as though they were talking to somebody in a bar. In the physical world, unless you’re Jack Harkness, flirting with several different people simultaneously is a major faux-pas and likely to leave you going home alone – possibly wearing several drinks. We often carry this mindset over into online dating and start to give one person – usually the first one to respond – all of our attention, ignoring everybody else until that first conversation has run it’s course.

This is a mistake – and one that makes online dating considerably more inefficient and tedious. One of the advantages of online dating is that you are capable of carrying on several asynchronous conversations, fielding responses from persons X and Y while also sending out an introductory message to person Z. You can and should cast your net far and wide. Focusing on one single person – even if you’re at the “meeting in person” stage – puts far too much importance on them and makes it sting worse if it doesn’t work out the way you’d hope. You want to be using a shotgun, not a spear.

Show, Don’t Tell

Of course, before you can get those dates, you have to make your profile stand out the right way. Most people who have trouble making  online dating work for them make the cardinal mistake that gets drilled into anyone who’s ever taken a basic creative writing course: they’re too busy telling about themselves instead of showing. Some of the oldest and most boring cliches of online dating are the people who just say that they’re some attractive quality… without anything to back it up. Saying that you’re funny or spontaneous or romantic is the dating site equivalent of “I listen to a little bit of everything except country and rap.” It’s so generic as to mean nothing. Everyone has heard it a thousand times before they saw your profile and they didn’t believe it any of those times either.

In the great chain of credibility, being told something is the least believable. Having a second party tell vouch for you is more believable, but being able to show that quality is instant credibility. I could say I’m Dr. NerdLove, Millionaire and that I own a mansion and a yacht and most folks would brush me off.

Seems legit.

Seems legit.

On the other hand, if your friend tells you about the incredibly lavish party they went to at NerdLove Manor (aka: the Gatsby Gambit) last weekend, you’re more inclined to believe that yes, I am a millionaire with a mansion and a yacht. And if I happen to sail past your house – which is quite the feat when you live in the middle of a land-locked city, let me tell you – then you’re far more likely to believe.

This is why you want to demonstrate those qualities, to the best of your ability.  And since you’re dealing with dating profiles, that means using your words… and your pictures.

Take humor for example. Everyone claims to be funny in their profile and most of them are as dull as dry toast when you meet them in person. If you want people to believe that you’re a laugh riot, you have to show them. If you have a sharp wit or a way with words, work that into your profile. Don’t call attention to it, just work it into your “About Me” section or “What I’m Looking For”. If your brand of humor trends to the physical or being silly, then post that picture of you as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from last Halloween or doing something wacky. Telling somebody you’re adventurous is similarly unhelpful. Better to talk about your recent trip to Ankor Wat or – even better – have a photo of you in front of Ta Prohm. Don’t say that you’re athletic, mention that you take part in an amateur soccer league or have a cool photo of you and some of your teammates after your latest scrimmage.

Remember: the web is a visual medium. Photos that back up what you say in your profile will give you more appeal – and credibility – than just saying something.

Speaking of:

Appearances Count

I’ve gone on about the importance of dating profile photos before. These are going to be the corner stone of your time in online dating. People are going to look at your photos long before they bother going through the rest of your profile. If your photos look like somebody accidentally snapped your photo while trying to find Bigfoot, they’re never going to bother with the rest of your profile.

"Wait, I'm confused. Is that his face or a goiter?"

“Wait, I’m confused. Is that his face or a goiter?”

I’m a big proponent of putting your time and effort in the areas that will give you the most return for your investment and in online dating, that’s your main profile photo.

If you can manage it, I strongly recommend having a professionally done headshot for your profile. Failing that, have a talented friend take a few for you. You want something that’s going to entice people to click through to your profile when they’re searching for matches or when your email shows up in their inbox and the more they have to squint, tilt or otherwise try to interpret what they’re looking at, the more likely they are to just move on to the next person on the list. Just remember that you want something that shows a little of your personality, not something that looks like Picture Day in junior high.

You want your main photo to stand out from the crowd. A simple background puts the emphasis on you and makes you pop. A splash of color – a brightly colored shirt, for example – will also catch the eye, especially when compared to the mirror-selfies and the washed out party snaps that seem to populate every dating site ever. Let the rest of your photos be candids, but be sure only to pick the ones that you look good in. I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve seen who’ve posted awkwardly angled “cool” shots that ended up giving a great view of their nose hair and derp face.

Also: when in doubt, leave the flash off and opt for indirect lighting. Direct lighting, especially overhead lighting is nobody’s friend.

He Who Hesitates Is Lost

The number one complaint I get from guys who’re frustrated with online dating are the conversations that start strong and then suddenly she pulls the fade-out. Those long emails back and forth get shorter and shorter until you’re just getting one or two sentences back… at best. Then… silence. Meanwhile, you’re left wondering just what the hell happened and whether or not you should message them again.2

Almost every time I’ve seen this happen, it’s been because the guy took too long to get to the point. They get so caught up in trying to impress their digital coquette that they forget to, y’know, actually ask them on a date.

"Oh. Right. That."

“Oh. Right. That.”

The point of online dating is, y’know, the date. I can understand wanting to make sure there’s some chemistry or not wanting to seem too eager (or desperate), but the longer you take to getting around to actually asking her out, the more likely that either a) she’s going to assume you’re not interested and move on or b) somebody else is going to ask her out first and that guy is going to get the lion’s share of her attention. You can’t just assume that she’s going to be the one to suggest a date; you’re going to have to be willing to be proactive here.

The longer your conversation goes on over email, especially a dating site’s email system, the more emotional momentum you’re bleeding and the greater the likelihood that you’re never going to actually see them in person. You always want to be moving up the communication intimacy ladder. Email on a dating site is about as low-investment as you can get. If you’ve had three to four quality emails back and forth, you should be trying to set up a date. At the very least you want to take it off site – ideally to text or actual phone-calls, but at least to some form of instant messaging. Constantly just swapping messages back and forth gets you nowhere and ultimately just wastes your time. It’s online dating not online pen-paling, after all.

At the same time, sometimes things are just never going to go anywhere. Not getting a response to your latest email is a response: they’re not interested. It’s better to give them up for lost and look elsewhere. Similarly, if you get the sense that their interest is fading or that they’re just being polite by responding – cut them loose and move on to somebody else. There’s no profit in riding that bomb all the way down; it only makes you feel worse about yourself and takes up time needlessly.  You should have better things to do than get hung up with a relative stranger, including messaging other, more likely potential dates.

Remember: dating is supposed to be fun. In the end these are fairly simple adjustments to make that help eliminate the majority of frustrations with online dating. And the fewer headaches you have to deal with, the more you can actually enjoy being single.

  1. via arranged marriage! None more traditional! []
  2. Spoiler alert: no, you shouldn’t. []

  • Gman

    While I do agree with what you write here, I recently discovered that online dating isn't really my thing. I recently just managed to learn some very important nonverbal communication skills and I realized just how much they are important in human interactions. While I do think that online dating is a great way to weed out a lot of incompatible partners and have an easier time finding people who share your interests and values – in the end it doesn't mean much if there is no physical/real world compatibility. I'd rather take my chances in "meat space" for now.

  • fuzzilla

    I agree that your goal should be to meet sooner rather than later. Enough back and forths to tell that the person seems funny and cool, shares some of your interests and is fun to talk to (which process should take…1-2 days? 3-4 e-mails?), then, "Hey, wanna grab a drink at ABC location?"

    I don't agree that texting or calling is somehow better than using the site's messaging service at the early stage. Due to previous experiences, I'm suspicious if a guy is in a super big hurry to get my private contact information. It makes sense if you've been talking a lot, but if you've barely said hello, I'm thinking, "Um, yeah, what good reason is there not to just talk to me here, dude?" For one thing, OKCupid (and I assume other dating sites) will block people from sending "inappropriate" pictures (i.e., dick pics), and e-mail will not. Often that's precisely why a guy wants to take communication off the dating site – he wants to make you uncomfortable and use you as wank-off material.

    Now, I don't assume all guys are creeps just because a few are, but still, I'd just really rather not regret giving someone my number. Also, you shouldn't get too invested in anyone you haven't met in person, and keeping communication on the dating site can help ensure you don't.

    • Cactus

      I’d agree with this, Fuzzilla. I never had terrible experiences with online dating, but the one guy who asked for my phone number immediately (who I never ended up going on a real date with) was weirdly demanding of my time and once even asked if he could come with me to my shrink’s office (I had never met the dude), and got pissy when I said no. Weeeeirdness.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Yeah but its easy enough to do the reverse and leave the option in the other person's hands. "Hey, I'm going to be away from my laptop most of the day. You can text me at 702-4-GENIUS." You're going to want to do this if you set up a date anyway, right?

      • eselle28

        That's a good way to do that, especially if the message has some other content in it. Someone who's comfortable can reply with her number. Someone who's not can skip over it.

        There are actually people who set up dates without exchanging numbers. I always have to end up giving dates driving directions, so I can't imagine how that would end up working, but I suppose it's doable when meeting in an obvious location and with the assumption that people will be reasonably on time.

        • Anna

          That's usually what I did. I would ask for the guy's number but usually didn't give mine. First date would be for drinks at a bar, or we would meet at the train station, so no need for driving directions. If things went well we could exchange numbers after the first date.

          That said, I'd like to think that I can usually tell when someone is a generally okay guy, and for almost all guys I went on first dates with I wouldn't have minded giving my number. The last guy I met through OKC asked my number, and somehow it took several phonecalls to set up the date, which meant that we talked every day from that point on. That was two months or so ago and things are still going well 🙂

      • fuzzilla

        Fair enough. Two OKC guys recently said, "Here's my number, do what you will with it." One of them I called. We've now been dating for a month and I'm so far deliriously happy. I'd been messaging with him maybe a week and a half at that point (wanted to meet sooner, but schedules didn't allow).

        The other guy kept saying, "It would really be much easier to text." I was kind of on the fence about how interested I was (although I was willing to meet and actively trying to set up a date/time). I kept using the site to communicate and set up a date/time because I was iffy on giving him my number. He kept whining about it and trying to convince me to text instead, and it really pissed me off that he kept asking me a question I had already answered. I was like, "WTF, I haven't even met this guy and he's pissing me off…" He eventually just stopped responding to me because I wouldn't text. How interested could he have really been if he lost interest over something so small? How much time and energy does it take to say, "Meet me at Joe Schmoe's Bar at 7"? I didn't want to waste my afternoon texting with a stranger over something that should be simple and take 5 minutes.

        I suppose you could say I was just more interested in/attracted to the first guy, and that would be correct. The takeaway is – Listening skills and respecting my comfort level are part of why I was more interested.

        • velveeta

          It's great that you met someone you're really into! And I also commend you for following your instincts with that other dude.

        • Dr_NerdLove

          A thing about the second guy: dudes who get *that* pushy about getting your number and texting are, more often than not, looking for sexting partners.

          • OtherRoooToo

            This is … a good tip.

            (Why do so many of the things I haven't even yet considered turn out to be yet another negative to dodge? Le sigh.)

        • assman

          I get annoyed when women don't agree to give numbers and figure "how interested can the be if she won't even give a number". Plus I don't understand what the big deal is? If you don't walk to talk to them anymore block their number or tell them you are not interested. I also generally find that the women who give me the biggest hassle early on tend to be the least attractive, most uncomfortable with men and sex, least trusting and most likely to not work out.

          And I don't think its a small thing if you are setting up a date. What exactly is he supposed to do if you don't show up? You could be late and he has no way of figuring that out or communicating with you in case he is late or needs to change locations.

          This is exactly why I hate online dating. I could get 10x further in a club in a vastly shorter time.

          • fuzzilla

            If we had actually set up a date I would've given him my number to text if he was running late or couldn't find the bar or whatever. After a while it was like he wouldn't communicate with me at all unless it was through his preferred method of texting. I just thought, "Meh. Too bad. I don't wanna. I'm just not that interested." The thing that pissed me off the most was repeatedly being asked a question I had already answered – that just feels so disrespectful to me and makes me stabby.

            Eh, whatever. No regrets. Had I not listened to my gut and worried too much about seeming "fussy" or weird to someone I wasn't that interested in, I would've grown fatigued and turned my profile off and not met the awesome-kind-sexy love bomb that is currently rocking my world.

          • Then why are you bothering with online dating? Clearly it isn't for you.

          • assman

            For the same reason the people by stuff from TV infomercials because I am a sucker and stupid stupid fool. But that ends now!

          • Good for you, dude! I stopped trying to meet people at big parties because it's the worst possible social environment for me; my philosophy is that I've got a limited amount of energy, and I should play to my strengths. Turns out I'm a lot happier now, and I also have more friends. Win-win!

          • isdzan

            Yeah. I opted out as well. I just am not wired to be able to get a good read of someone through writing. I need to meet a guy in person to know if I want to know him better. That isn't to say the medium is bad or anything. It just didn't suit my personality.

          • eselle28

            Of course the women who were careful about their boundaries with you were all ugly and fat (though apparently not too ugly and fat for you to pursue them in the first place). So charming.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "I get annoyed when women don't agree to give numbers and figure "how interested can the be if she won't even give a number". Plus I don't understand what the big deal is?"

            The biggest deal – and there are others – is that we as women have safety considerations that men don't.
            That's … kind of Elementary Meeting People for Dating & Relationships 101.

            (If you're still like "What is she talking about?" you may want to look up Schrödinger's Rapist or Elevatorgate – so well known that they generated over a thousand comments and sparked discussion for over a year, respectively. Granted, a large part of that discussion was (mostly socially-undereducated) guys (or those who really didn't give a d*mn/refused to put a woman's safety considerations before their own preferences for contact / closeness /sexual activity) asking saying "I don't understand what the big deal is" and women explaining it to them over and over again, but … :-/)

            "If you don't walk to talk to them anymore block their number or tell them you are not interested."

            This tells me you really don't get it and/ or have never had to deal with a stalker.

            If you're currently unsatisfied with your dating life and are interested in women? Seriously. Those links may shed a lot of light. Empathy is a very attractive trait. A complete demonstrated lack thereof? Not so much.

    • CaseyXavier

      Yeah I agree with this. Unless we've already progressed to a point where we're both comfortable enough to meet up, I'd be really really put off if a guy started pushing for my number. It'd be a red flag for a lot of people.

    • isdzan

      I just used Burnerapp and similar to get temporary, untraceable numbers when I online dated. If it can keep the cartels and AQ semi-anonymous, I figured it was good enough for this purpose.

      If I had ever hit it off with someone I would have given them my "new" number eventually, but never had it get to that point.

  • Séamus

    This does a really good job of making the whole idea of online dating sound way less appealing than I actually thought it was. You're right, dating SHOULD be fun, but by the sounds of it, it's more like some kind of weird-ass emotional transaction. Think I'll give that whole hoo-ha a big, fat miss.

    • Max

      I see it as a fun writing exercise. Your messages shouldn't be "Oh god, how do I convince this person to talk to me," they should be "hey, I thought of a funny joke or snarky comment based on something in your profile."

      I don't think the "I see you like X. I also like X" messages work. Even if she does respond, the conversation is going to be boring. Make it fun. "You think X is the best ever? Here are 5 silly joking reasons why Y is the best ever!"

      Another strategy I recommend: send throwaway messages to girls when you can't think of what to say/don't think they will respond. Nothing mean or sexual, obviously, but something silly and dumb that you don't really expect to get a response out of. Like, "I like that purple hat you have in picture 3. I am actually a hat salesman. I would like to buy your hat."

      This has 3 benefits:
      1. Due to the fact that they'll often get responses no matter what, ladies don't always put as much effort into their profiles as guys do. So, there are a lot of cool, fun ladies out there that have really generic profiles. This is a good way to bring out their interesting side, if they have one.

      2. Ladies get so many boring identical messages, a weird non sequiter will often stand out.

      3. After sending a bunch of messages where you're actually putting effort in, I think it's cathartic to just say whatever you want (again, nothing mean or sexual). It helps to keep you in the mindset that this isn't life and death, this is just a goofy thing you're doing, so you can have fun with it. Find the girl with the lowest match percentage, and message her! Maybe you'll learn something.

      That ended up way longer than I thought, but I've actually had some success with online dating, so I thought I'd share.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        I like these ideas, although I pretty much say whatever I want already. I'm pretty up front like that and if its going to scare people off, better it happen before I pay for dinner.

        • assman

          Her dinner or yours? Do you normally pay for both?

      • eselle28

        Have you ever actually gotten a reply from someone who had the lowest match percentage you can find, and what was the conversation like if you did?

        My low matches are generally the sort of people who I actively disapprove of, so I've generally assumed they're just being pushy and thoughtless and hit the block button.

        • Nee

          Yeah. The weirdest I get are the guys who are ultra religious and "homosexuality is a sin!" types. Yet they write me, a bi girl. It's not like it's obscure information. It's right there under my name, guys.

          • Stardrake

            That or “I will cure her of her bisexuality!” To be fair, someone who’s ultraconservative and super-religious should also be looking for an exclusive marriage, and it really shouldn’t matter if someone swings both ways if they’re genuinely comitted to a single partner. So from their perspective, if the relationship is successful, it’s a double win.

            Mind you, anyone who’s overtly ‘homosexuality is a sin’ these days proooobably isn’t going to be able to have a successful relationship with anyone who’s comfortable enough with their bisexuality to publicly announce it.

      • LeeEsq

        I agree with this, I also think that when trying to contact somebody you should think more like letter writing than texting. I think you'll get more successes that way or at the very least get more people to check out your profile.

      • velveeta

        "ladies don't always put as much effort into their profiles as guys do. So, there are a lot of cool, fun ladies out there that have really generic profiles."

        I don't think you've waded through very many guys' profiles, Max. There are countless fellas who cannot say more about themselves than the fact that they "love life", are "equally comfortable in a tux as jeans and a t-shirt", "don't sweat the small stuff" and "love to laugh" It doesn't get much more generic than that.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          And in both cases, they get the results they built a profile for: people who are messaging them based on looks. Maybe its because I'm in Vegas but attractive people aren't difficult to find. Attractive and interesting people are much rarer.

        • eselle28

          I'd agree that there are a lot of guys of that variety. Quite a few don't even bother with the usual cliches and just write two sentences in "about me" to be done with things.

          I'd agree people get what they ask for in most cases, and suspect a lot of those users would be more comfortable using something like Tinder, where they could find a cute and probably fairly mainstream seeming person and do the rest without having to deal with writing essays. That's not for me at all, since I really care what my dates are interested in and how they think and express themselves, but I think it works for some people.

        • LeeEsq

          There are also different profile cultures in different profile sights. OKCupid encourages detailed profiles while JDate does not for some reason.

        • Waddles

          For this reason, I should try internet dating again now I'm in a bigger city with a (presumably) larger dating pool. I love being given a bunch of text boxes to fill up, and am probably looking for someone who thinks similarly. Someone who seems nice but who isn't into wordplay or words in general probably wouldn't work out, and it was a little depressing to reply to someone with a joke recently only to have them say "I don't understand". Not that this is for everyone, and I've disliked sites that prioritise physical attributes over profiles whereas some people presumably go for that, but eh.

        • OtherRoooToo

          Don't forget "I live life to the fullest."

          • velveeta

            Oh my goodness, how did I forget that 😀

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I stand by the "numbers game" description. There's a lot of not-unpleasant but not incredible "hey, cool weeping angel shirt. You've been to Comicon?" messaging with no guaranteed reply but every so often you get to talk to someone about drive-in movies and human sacrifice and even if you don't get a date, that can be fun. Obviously, your conversational topics may vary slightly but the overall idea stands.

  • LeeEsq

    The main problem with online dating is that you know the person less and have no real life interaction unlike traditional dating. Previously, people would know the people they date from daily interactions at work or somewhere even if it was pretty brief. You had some sense of what these people were like simply because you interacted in person. Online dating is the ultimate blind date because you don't even have a referral from a friend. Naturally, real life meetings tend to be more miss than hit.

    • kyidkim

      I agree totally. Meeting people through existing social networks means that they've been filtered for similar values and interests by the people you know best. It's much less work screening somebody you meet through a friend than starting at zero with someone online. Not to mention that beginning as an acquaintance and allowing attraction to build through a slow burn is a much more satisfying way to build a relationship, IMO.

      • LeeEsq

        Online dating is just like regular dating only more so. Everything that a lot of people hate about traditional dating is more amplified with online dating. Just as regular dating tends to favor extroverts and people who like being out in public and having an obviously good time more than introverts; online dating favors that even more because when you finally meet you need to make a better first impression. With regular dating, you already made your first impression. Thats why you were on the date.

        Online dating also suffers from the paradox of choice. With regular dating, you were more or less limited from people you knew in regular life in someway. Online dating puts more potential partners within reach, meaning that people are going to make fewer choices.

  • kyidkim

    Another issue is that we are poor judges of the tone of our online writing. Sarcasm just doesn't translate online, for instance. I've received many "funny" messages that I perceived as vaguely insulting or condescending. Not a good first impression. Ramit Sethi recommends reading your writing out loud before you hit send, which I've found helpful.

    I read "Data, A Love Story" recently, and would recommend it to anyone who dates online. It's a memoir written by a straight woman, but I think it everyone could gain insight from it, in terms of how she optimized her profile and filtered perspective dates to find the guy she later married.

  • CaseyXavier

    I agree with having a really good main profile photo, but really really disagree with the professionally-taken, headshot against a simple background thing. I've recently been asked to moderate pictures on OKC (yeah idk how that happened), and pro pictures send people lunging for Google Image Search because they think it's a fake profile. Pro headshots make me think LinkedIn, not dating site, and may not come across as genuine in the latter.

    IMO a good main profile photo will show your face and smile clearly, be well lit and flattering etc., but look casual and in natural surroundings (by natural I mean like everyday life, not necessarily in a park or forest or summat, heh).

    • nonA

      The biggest thing you want your photo to do is draw click traffic. While the OKC rules should be followed (you should be in it, you should be reasonably recognizable), another face in a sea of faces won’t make you stand out. If you’re smart, you’ll find a way to make them click just to see what the rest of the photo is like.

    • chinchilla

      I don't even have a pro photo for linked in. Woops.

      • Robjection

        That makes two of us.

  • John Mears

    Question, Doc:

    I’m only 5’2. Should I be up front about my height (possibly ruining my chances) or just leave it blank?

    • Dr_NerdLove

      They're going to see you in person eventually, and they're going to react far more strongly than if they knew in advance you were 5'2"… and in many cases, that's not going to be pleasant. Better to be up front about it and filter out the people for whom your height is going to be a deal-breaker.

      Also, a lot of people filter by a range of height, which may well include yours; leaving it blank means you're not going to show up in their searches at all.

    • nonA

      Every dating site I can think of has a field for height. As a rule you should answer honestly.

      There’s no need to mention it specifically in your profile. That sends the message that you’re defensive about it, which is way more unattractive than height is.

    • Short Cam

      You have my sympathy but things are not as bad as they seem. I am also a guy shorter than most women and this is what I have personally observed. Height is either an absolute nonnegotiable necessity or it is something that she doesn't even notice. You are better off being honest sense there is nothing on this earth that will change the mind of a women that refuses to date those of us that are lacking in the height department. The rest of your potential dates will probably not even notice what you put down as your height. Leaving anything blank makes you look lazy at best, dishonest at worse.

      • Jenn

        In this case your height isn't the problem, that you tried to hide it, is.

  • assman

    I think online dating sucks for men. The response rate for men is in the order of 10% if you are lucky to online messages. My response rate is actually more like 5%. And there is a massive imbalance between the number of message you send and the number you receive. I would say typical ratios are 10 to 1. Plus even after you start communicating, women will disappear or stop talking for whatever reason..especially when you ask for a number. Then you have to actually arrange a date and very often you find out the person is significantly different than their online persona. For men this means you have wasted a lot of time. For women no so much because women send far fewer messages than men.

    In addition a large number of profiles are inactive but you never know that so you waste your time sending messages to no one.

    The real guys who should be online are extremely good-looking shy guys. They will be treated like women.

    • assman

      The following pic tell you all you will ever need to know about online dating if you are a man:

      • Johmichaels

        You should read the article this image comes from. It actually points out that getting more messages doesn't make dating easier. If you get 100+ messages a day but most read "U have nice tits" not only will you be unable to read them all, you're also less likely to bother paying attention to the few messages that make a an effort, giving up on the online dating world completely. Whereas for males, we only get a few messages per day but we are more able to respond to them, and more importantly, these are more likely to be from people we would want to have a conversation. With.

        You can have a look at okcupid metrics site for more info- they did an article on profile pic styles and found that number of members contacting is not a reputable judge of success of pic, a better measure would be how many conversations (messages back an forth) came from a particular image. And came up with rules suitable for males and females.

      • Gentleman Johnny
    • Guest

      Hmm interesting. Because most of my female friends have left online dating because sure they get messages but they are either gross messages, or messages accusing them of not really being geeky, or messages telling them they are fat etc etc and so forth. It was so demoralising that they left. I don't think just because women get more messages it's any easier. It's just a different frustration.

      And I know above you said that you don't understand why women are hesitant to give out numbers and I am sure if I explain it you likely still won't accept it. But considering all the dick pics my friends have been sent, as well as the harassing stalking messages that go on and on, well yup women are wary to hand out their numbers. They can block someone far easier on a dating site who starts behaving badly. I really don't think you fully understand what women go through with online dating. It might not be the same kind of frustrations as you do, but I would highly recommend going to tumblr and search the Okcupid tag. You'll notice that the women post about being harassed and called horrible names and the dudes post about non-responses. And it can make me shake my head because if the guys would only do as I do and search that Okcupid tag they might learn WHY women don't respond. Time and time again a woman will politely respond that she isn't interested and she then gets called a "c***" in response. Not responding simply becomes the safest method to avoid harassment.

      At any rate, it sounds like you do much better in person, why do you even bother with online dating then?

      • assman

        "At any rate, it sounds like you do much better in person, why do you even bother with online dating then?"

        My first idea was to just try everything. Which I did. Online dating was part of that. Second I have tried to repeatedly give online dating a chance. Why? Mostly because people keep talking about it. You have articles like this one, friends who try it etc. Third because the sites are pretty good at making a sucker of me. Match sends me emails regularly telling me 10 women have checked out my profile or that some women have expressed interest. I block these emails now because I know Match is evil evil evil.

        On Zoosk with my free profile I would get unsolicited messages and when I winked women would always respond back. So I was like great! Zoosk is probably a friendlier site. I didn't know that most women on Zoosk have setup an automated response to all winks. So I wasn't really getting messages back…I was getting automated responses. I think Zoosk is purposely setup this way to lure unsuspecting me in. Plus Zoosk has the Mega Flirt feature which allows people to send an canned message to a large number of people. This is why I would get a respectable number of unsolicited messages from women. None of these women respond back. So basically on Zoosk you end up thinking you are popular but the truth is that its all just canned and automated responses from uninterested women.

        And Match annoyed the hell out of me. They would send me daily matches with around 10 fairly attractive, often Caucasian women. I would click on their profiles only to find out that they only date White guys. This was pretty typical on Match…I was ethnically excluded from probably more than 50% of profiles. I always wished their was a setting so I didn't have to see these type of profiles at all.

        And the worst is that I think dating websites succeed from your failure. They don't want you to find a successful relationship but they do want to keep you around. So they are designed to give the promise and hope of something but actual deliver nothing. Match is evil evil evil. I got more interest from women on Match after my subscription ended than I did when I had a subscription.

        Zoosk is the last online dating website I will ever try.

        "I really don't think you fully understand what women go through with online dating."

        I can accept everything you say but than the logical response is to have women do more work. Women should be sending way more messages and men should be sending way less.

        • FWIW, I agree with that. I tell all my female friends that the smart thing to do is to be the one making the approach.

        • hobbesian

          I honestly gave up on it for a lot of the same reasons. The biggest is simply that, I gave Online Dating a try in the first place precisely because I'm outcome oriented when it comes to dating. pre-requisitional dating, EG dating before a committed relationship is formed, is just worry, expense, and a constant best behavior as you are trying to impress a person enough to decide you are worth being in a relationship with. Since that's what I want, a relationship, not dating, not hooking up, but an actual relationship that will hopefully become long term. simply put, I just don't find dating "fun", never have and never will. I'd rather go out on my own, spend my money on me, and then at least I already know that I dislike myself and don't want to see me again.. it's less damaging. Apparently according to basically everyone, I am incorrect to feel this way, but it doesn't change the fact that this is how I feel about it. Dating is only fun when it's after the relationship has been formed and you are no longer having to put on a persona in order to keep them interested. I get it, I really do, some people simply gain enjoyment from meeting new people.. I am not one of those people. I don't want to have to date 100 women in order to get a relationship, and I couldn't do it financially even if I wanted to.

          Online dating was supposed to alleviate this somewhat by allowing you to skip a lot of experimentation by being able to read and message people who were allegedly more predisposed to being your "type". That of course lead to the BIGGEST reason why I can't use online dating. Geographically I'm such a square peg in a round hole that it eliminates practically everyone. The last time I had an OKCupid page, the vast majority of people had something in the range of a 60% match with me.. so after messaging everyone with a 75% and up.. and getting 2 responses.. which lead no where? I was out of people to message. The turn over rate wasn't high enough, and the few women who did message me were so totally out of the realm of possibilities of suitable that it was nearly laughable, though I applaud their self esteem!

          The other issue is, because I live in such an economically depressed area, everyone seems to work a miserable part time job, and so that leads to a LOT of women who are looking for a partner who can facilitate an out, and I don't blame them. The last thing they want is to get stuck with someone who is just as broke as they are, or worse someone who doesn't have the desire to change that. So it leads to a LOT of women who are otherwise good matches listing something like "under, 20,000" for their own income.. but then saying they are looking for someone who makes over 50,000$ a year or who owns a house.

          Peoples motivations are really laid bare on online dating.. one woman was extremely upfront about it, "My favorite sex position is the one that ends in you paying my car note"….

          • CaseyXavier

            I'm not interested in telling you 'you are incorrect to feel this way', and I can understand wanting to skip past the arduous task of the dating phase. Logistically, though, I don't get how that's supposed to work. How will you both decide to enter a committed relationship together if you don't at least go on a date first? Compatibility on paper, and even being friends with someone, doesn't tell you very much about how you'd be as a couple. Most people don't jump straight into the committed relationship phase without even going on a date, so that will hinder you that much more (if not completely) if that is your requirement.

          • hobbesian

            well there is some obvious variability to this of course.. but it's also the reason that 100% of my girlfriends have started out as friends or more specifically, women/girls who I spent a LOT of time hanging out around. It eliminated the problematic part of dating for me. If we went out as friends, I didn't mind occasionally paying for them because I would do the same for any of my friends. I guess my point is that I'm still getting something out of the deal, I'm getting to spend time with a friend.* The issue I have with dating is that I'm expected to do 100% of the work, and foot 100% of the bill. I realize that this is not always the case, but at least in my part of the world it is still very much expected. So paying to take 1 woman out on 1 date will cost around 100$ by the time you factor in gas, food, activities, etc. "Free" dates are great, but require you to live someplace where there is actually stuff to do for free.

            So to me, dating is basically just a great way to throw money away because there is no guarantee it will work out.

            I mean, I'm already basically completely hindered anyway since I don't and won't approach women, I was given a number last night but I tried to add her on facebook and she's not accepted.. I could have called her I suppose and I suppose it might have lead to a date (not that I can afford to go on a date right now) but that would have required me to actually call her and talk to her on the phone or risk being rejected now that she's sober. So I picked the easy way and this way if she says no it's not a big deal.

            Honestly I think I'm just never going to get what I want.

            I want the talent equivalent of relationships, much like talent at certain things, you just have it or you don't. I just want the relationship, I don't want to do any of the work to get one, primarily because, well, why bother when it's just going to potentially end? No reason to invest the time or money or effort without a guarantee of it being permanent. The only problem is, even though I acknowledge that I won't be able to get what I want, it doesn't keep me from being lonely or wanting it.

          • Robjection

            Slight nitpick here, but a relationship isn't something that's going to potentially end. It's something that's guaranteed to end at some point, unless (among other things) all parties involved unlock the secret to immortality.

            Carry on.

          • hobbesian

            That's a totally different issue, and you know that wasn't what I meant. Death is not something that I'm factoring in here, only willful action on the part of one partner or another. And lets be honest, It would never be me.. I've been very upfront about the fact I'd rather be in a bad relationship, than not be in a relationship at all. The only thing that could get me to dump someone would be if they were cheating on me.

          • CaseyXavier

            Hmm… two thoughts.

            1) You already know, based on your previous experiences, that entering into a committed relationship is no guarantee that it will be permanent, even if you start out being really good friends. So I don't quite understand what you mean and how that's supposed to happen.

            2) If you won't put in the effort to get a relationship, what would make a woman think you would put in the effort to maintain one?

            OK make that three thoughts, I guess!

            3) If I have it right, you a) won't approach women, b) you don't want to go on dates, c) you don't want to do any work to get a relationship, d) you want a commitment right away, e) you want it to be a permanent commitment right off the bat, and (if I remember correctly, may be getting you confused with someone else) f) you also don't want to settle down yet because you want the romance and experience of er… dating? first? I'm getting confused. This doesn't sound possible, even though many of the site's visitors would really like to help you.

            Also, with the woman whose number you were given, what is the trajectory you're imagining? It sounds like you were hoping to go on a date, which sounds contradictory to what you said earlier.

          • hobbesian

            I think you are slightly confusing me with Leesq..

            I don't really want the experience of dating, I just want to be with someone who is closer to my own maturity level than my chronological age. I get along GREAT with people who are like 22-25, but people who are closer to thirty tend to have maintained the momentum they built up in the first place and are a lot further along in life than I am. Keeping in mind, I've always been a "late bloomer" and I've gotten knocked back to the starting point 3 times now. in a lot of ways I'm closer to a 20-21 year old than I am to what my DL says my age is.

            Nah, not a date, just was hoping for an ego/morale boost really.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "Nah, not a date, just was hoping for an ego/morale boost really."

            I have run into more than one man like this recently.

            The question I continue to ask in situations like this is "If that is what you expect a woman to provide you with … what are you prepared to offer her in return for it?"

            You get companionship and an ego boost from spending time with her. What does she get from spending time with you?

            Because time is a scarce currency for everyone these days. And if she's spending time with you, there are a thousand other things she could be doing with that time that she's choosing to forego. So how does she benefit from doing that?

            (I should have added "What does she get from you – that she wants?" Because frequently these guys just assume that the woman in question wants the same thing they want, often without even bothering to ask that woman, in order to – at minimum – check their assumptions. )

            It does not seem to occur to people — I've run into men, mostly, that do it (though I am sure there are women out there – somewhere – who do it too, though I've never met any, especially since we are encouraged by society to provide endless nurturing and patience in relationships and punished when we do not or cannot) — that relationships are supposed to be mutually, reciprocally beneficial experiences … you know, just like friendships .. not one-way streets.

            Do you guys ever consider that?

          • hobbesian

            uhh you took that waaaaay too far.

            All I wanted was a friend add on facebook! Thats how shitty my self esteem is these days, I get like SUPER excited when people add me on facebook.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "uhh you took that waaaaay too far. "

            Actually, I didn't.

            I was
            a) responding to the precise words you wrote and
            b) detailing my own experience, which is a situation where I don't think you get to judge "where I take" something.

            Nice job trying to dodge the final question, though.

          • I think hobbesian was just being unclear there, any chance you can cut him a little slack? I think he's actually pretty good on the "I have to bring something to the table" front generally speaking, even if he often believes it in a way that makes him sad.

          • OtherRoooToo

            I had to stop and think for a minute why that — "any chance you can cut him a little slack?" — just felt like … a bit of a slap.

            I think it’s because I feel like I’m being exhorted to give *him* a break, when his response doesn’t exactly read like he was giving *me* one.

            (He's not the only one – and his is not the only gender – really struggling with dating here.)

          • Sorry it felt like a slap! Because I like you both and see your points, I was trying to intervene in a situation that was escalating because of a misunderstanding, (rather than because hobbesian is a jerk in the way you describe – which is something I know from other conversations). Let me know if there's a better way I can do that in the future.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "because hobbesian is a jerk in the way you describe"

            I think he makes that point much better than I can do it myself.

            As to your principal point, I've just been discussing with someone how, when I'm communicating in a straightforward way online and people don't know my gender, my words aren't taken as anything other than how they're meant.

            By contrast, if I communicate that way and people *do* know I'm a woman, I do get much more pushback if I don't "soften my approach".

            (You know

            It's almost funny, because I don't reach out to hobbesian generally, because I know how he's likely to react. He'd just said something in this particular instance that I've heard so many times from so many other men recently that I used his remarks to develop some variations on the theme, as it were.

            And given the facts that you do know my gender and I do generally greatly respect your opinion, irrespective of what I think of the Tone Argument generally (and the answer is "not much") I will think twice in this space WRT my delivery as well as my content in future.

            (I do think it's telling in this context that, outside of the occasional nasty outlier, men — and hobbesian's second response to me, again, proves the point better than I can do by myself — don't really have to put in that same level of proportionate effort to manage their communications, either here on this site with a mixed-gender audience or in relationship generally … which is kind of a meta-example of what I feel like I've been talking about all day. So since by virtue of all that I think the point is made, I'll sit down now.)

          • You know, I thought deeply about whether I was reacting to your tone, and I decided that I actually didn't mind the tone. (And I apologize if I made it sound like I did.) It was that you were using a moment when hobbesian found a way to communicate something important about himself in order to talk about something that guys in general do, and that you did it in a way that ignores his specific and particular experience. I know that using specifics to connect to generalities happens a lot on here, and I usually don't mind it, but I thought this was a real breakthrough for hobbesian and it made me sad to see that moment getting turned into something else. I hope that is helpful for you in your future judgment calls, and for the record, I will respect you no matter what you choose.

            Also to be clear: my intent was to say that hobbesian is not generally a jerk in the way you describe, except when his jerkbrain is out of control. I actually think the thing he struggles with the most is feeling like he has nothing to offer and therefore never being able to find a partner again. Which, yeah, makes me really sad for him.

            Finally, I hope it helps to know that I've made suggestions to hobbesian about managing his communication, too, both in this thread and elsewhere. Maybe guys don't have to manage their communication in general, but damned if I'll let a friend of mine shoot himself in the foot when he doesn't have to. 😛

          • hobbesian

            ahh.. thanks.

            And yes, I realize I often come across as a jerk on here. A lot of that is just in the way I deal with confrontation. I tend to get easily frustrated when lots of people are taking positions opposite of mine and I often can't respond to each of them in the way I would like to before more people tend to pile on. Doesn't help that I was raised in a definite "Shout louder, get your way!" type of family.

            I also often have a hard time articulating my feelings properly.

            when you combine the two it just results in a lot of argueing.

          • OtherRoooToo

            “Also to be clear: my intent was to say that hobbesian is not generally a jerk in the way you describe, except when his jerkbrain is out of control. I actually think the thing he struggles with the most is feeling like he has nothing to offer and therefore never being able to find a partner again. Which, yeah, makes me really sad for him. “

            And again, I think my wider point is how much attention you’ve – and your attention is kind of synecdochic here; I’m talking also about the attention of the board, and of the wider culture – paid to his concerns (about relationship) as opposed to mine, even though, which I also repeat, there are just as many women who feel like he feels (and/or can identify with the feelings he articulates) as there are men, struggling with those same types of concerns.

            And I feel like those womens’ problems and complaints are ignored and brushed aside in favor of the larger percentage of attention that’s paid to the plights of the men.

            I mean, at this point I’m measuring in terms of comparative pixels devoted. Just reading down the thread. Just reading down the length of your comment, and how much attention you devoted to (over?) explaining his concerns to me – when, actually, I got them without your having to explain them (especially since I lurked for a long time before commenting, and have observed how much digital ink he himself has devoted to them) – as compared to any actual focus on the concerns I iterated, on my own behalf as well as those concerns I (at least know anecdotally I) share with other women.

            (In other words, in the latter case, pretty much … none?)

            If I haven’t yet made it clear, what I’m getting at is that men and their relationship concerns are getting a disproportionate amount of attention, and women and their relationship concerns relative to these same men are getting dismissed and ignored. And I don’t think anyone who observes the current state of relationships can convincingly say that pattern of attention doesn’t contribute to the problems those relationships are exhibiting. What goes on on this board is just a microcosm, but I think the large part of my point is that it’s certainly rather vividly representative of the problem.

          • FormerlyShyGuy

            "And I feel like those womens’ problems and complaints are ignored and brushed aside in favor of the larger percentage of attention that’s paid to the plights of the men. "

            I don't agree that this is accurate but for the sake of argument is that not understandable in this particular space?

            This blog was created to relay DNLs experiences and knowledge to men where there was a lack of advice that is effective, and respectful to women.

          • Actually, I have a specific friendship with hobbesian; among other things, we've been having extended private conversations, so I have information here you don't. If I had to choose, I'd say that I have a significantly closer relationship with hobbesian than I do with you, because you and I just haven't talked directly all that much.

            While I agree with you about the larger point, the post I'm responding to is a pretty good example of you doing the thing that I thought was hurtful in the first place: taking something that's specific to a particular person's experience and turning in into some kind of generalized point. Except this time you're hurting MY feelings, because you're rendering a friendship that is very meaningful to me invisible.

          • OtherRoooToo

            Self-admitted by the man himself:

            "And yes, I realize I often come across as a jerk on here. A lot of that is just in the way I deal with confrontation. I tend to get easily frustrated when lots of people are taking positions opposite of mine and I often can't respond to each of them in the way I would like to before more people tend to pile on. Doesn't help that I was raised in a definite "Shout louder, get your way!" type of family.

            I also often have a hard time articulating my feelings properly. "

            So I maintain that "jerk-esque", especially in the face of a person's own admission, would have been a reasonable interpretation, not just by me, but by anybody reading, of how the remarks were coming across.

            And this

            "because you're rendering a friendship that is very meaningful to me invisible."

            Not only was that unintentional — and if we're going to talk about invisibility (which we're not, because … what matters to me or other women who might feel like I do is apparently quite irrelevant here) — but there's absolutely no way I would have known that, would I have?

            But now that I know mind-reading is required …


            As I said, I'm bowing out here. I am familiar with the social convention that maintains it … doesn't really serve anyone in the interaction to hang about where one is unwanted.

          • hobbesian

            Dodge the question? You're lucky I even responded to you at all. I don't owe you a response, and it is entirely up to me to pick what I respond to.

          • CaseyXavier

            My bad, sorry! Your age thing shouldn't be a big deal, a lot of (if not most) women are open to dating older guys. After reading kleenestar's comments and yours I get what you mean a little better now, I'd probably have taken the 'ego boost' thing the wrong way, heh. If friendship is all you're looking for (to start) an FB invite is probably the best way to approach things rather than a call.

            I'm just still confused about the 'guarantee it will be permanent' thing as I'm not sure that even your very close female friends can offer you that.

          • hobbesian

            no one can offer it, and the rational part of me knows it is too much to ask for. The irrational emotional part of me is what is looking for a guarantee what happened to me the last two times doesn't happen again.. cause I honestly don't know if I'll be able to give it another shot if it backfires so spectacularly again.

          • Johmichaels

            This may not be well received because I'm bringing up solutions, and honestly I think you're a bit problem focused right now, but you don't need to pay for all dates, and you don't need to organise all dates. Many women are even offended if you suggest you paying their share, and many women like a man asking "what would you like to do?" (Second date with my now wife was entirely her idea, with me happy to follow along).

            You seem to be resigned to things the way they are, and that's fine if it's what you want. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to date, and taking a time of dating to improve your own health and identity can drastically improve your dating chances in the future.

            But if you're not happy, and it doesn't sound like you are,mcomplaining about how difficult change is isn't going to make you happy. And coming up with excuses, which is everyone's normal reaction to change because change is scary, is something that needs to be challenged. You say you shouldn't invest in dating because if a relationship doesn't work out, it will be a waste or money? That's a self defeating prophecy right there. Do you apply for work, even though you realise that working hard on an application could potentially be a waste of time if you are unsuccessful? Do you study, even though you are aware if you do not pass a course it will have been a waste of time and money! Do you see films, even though if you don't like it, or the film breaks down it will have been a aste of time and money?

            These excuses are annoyingly emptying to follow, but they can pretty much stop you doing anything, good or bad. I find a good way to look at change is to make sure you always gain from the experience. Okay, I may not have a relationship from this date,but I will definitely improve my conversation skills, learn what's going on, and at least have a fun night with a person I may not otherwise have known.

            But I think before all that, you need to ask yourself why you want a relationship. That desire is coming clear in everything you write, to the point that it appears which woman would form a part of that relationship is irrelevant. Finding out why you want a relationship is the first step in actually getting one, as most women want to be wanted for who they are, not because someone has an idea of a relationship and wants to shove them in, whether they fit or. Not.

            After asking yourself that, you can follow to the pair of this question-why do you not like being single? You've said previously any relationship is better tha no relationship- why is that? Being single has a lot of benefits over a relationship, not least of all that being a happy single person makes someone much more attractive than a single person who desperately needs a partner for whatever reason. If there is some problem you hope that a partner will solve for you, I'm sorry but that's not going to happen, and you would benefit from working on your own problems, then finding someone to join you.

          • I have to say, I'm 100% on board with the "get to know women as friends, let relationship develop" approach. Now when you say you don't want to date, I think I understand what you mean. You don't want to go on dates with strangers or try to build romantic relationships with people you don't know. You want to already have something worth having with that person before you invest in trying to make it romantic. Dude, that makes SO MUCH SENSE to me, and it's very much my own dating experience.

            I think you do have a talent at relationships, which is that you're good at taking women you're friends with and building romantic relationships with them. The problem is that most people are INCREDIBLY CRAPPY at doing that precise thing, so you're getting a lot of advice pointing you away from your strength and toward your weaknesses. That isn't the fault of the advice-givers – they're playing the odds, and hell, it took me this long to figure out what might be going on with you so it's no shame to them that they didn't know. But what it says to me is that if you want more dating success, you want to be figuring out how to make more female friends, not to immediately date but to expand your dating pool in the future.

            It sounds like you'd be a lot more willing to invest time and effort in building a relationship with a female friend than with a total stranger, since that's a win-win – it's work you enjoy, and even if it doesn't go well, you've still made a better connection with a wonderful friend.

            Does that make any sense?

          • hobbesian

            yeah that basically seems really spot on to what I was trying to say.

          • I just spent the weekend with a group of partnered women; literally every single one had married a guy they were friends with, except for the pair who, as they put it, "arranged their own arranged marriage." To me what you want seems 100% totally the norm.

            If you want to get better advice about this topic, I would suggest you not say "I hate dating," since you really only mean you hate specific types of dating. I would say something like, "I prefer to grow my romantic relationships out of friendships, how can I do that better?" I think you will get much more useful advice and have fewer really frustrating arguments. 😀

          • isdzan

            I totally understood you, probably because I am kind of the same. It takes me a long time to warm up to people, so anyone I'd end up romantically involved with would become a friend first. "Whirlwind romance" for me is 2ish months from meeting to relationship and it mostly went that fast because we met at the house of a cousin whose judgment I trust. He and I value similar qualities, so if a person is in his house the odds of us clicking are high and the person is probably trustworthy.

          • OtherRoooToo

            ", I'm 100% on board with the "get to know women as friends, let relationship develop" approach"

            I offered a man that recently. It didn't go well.

            He got very angry, and used the "I don't WANT to be friends" approach in response.

            Recently, after that blew up in both our faces, I saw that he'd posted a "friends first" ad on a site I knew. I thought "Well, gosh – I wonder where he got that idea?" o.O

            I will also admit – and I hope other men are reading here too and taking from it what positive relating hints they can – that I felt both cheated and hurt that he would offer other women something he wouldn't even give me a chance with, after having destroyed the potential for *our* relationship because he didn't want to do that when I first suggested it.

            I'd go even further and also say – as I saw the identical ad posted in "romantic" and "strictly platonic" sections – that he's being completely dishonest with at least half those women, because if he's looking for the same thing with them that he was looking for with me, then he's approaching them under a certain set of rather unabashed pretenses because he's not really looking for something "strictly platonic" at all.

            The latter is such textbook NiceGuy® behavior as it's been described countless other times in the blogosphere that I'd be embarrassed to the point of blushing if I didn't have memories – some of them written tome, mind – of behavior (and declarations that he was looking for a serious relationship with someone like me) that was 180 degrees from how he ended up behaving.

            (So no, guys – I won't be blaming myself for this one, so I'd appreciate it if no one else tried to either – it takes time to see & observe how people are going to behave with you, and we women do not have some magical intuition that predicts how you will behave right off the bat … unless you're sending us those red-flag messages on dating sites, LOLsigh. We have to see how words & actions match over time, at least over a few months, which I feel was certainly one of the other lessons here. I had some tiny indications that arguably could have been lime-colored flags … halfway between green and yellow … but I tried to set those aside under the other rod & cane we women are beaten with in Western society — the "Give him a chaaaance!" one. I don't enjoy the Kobayashi Maru scenario any more than James T. Kirk did as a cadet.)

            If men run around treating women like this and making all the women they initially interact with feel like this, I would posit that after awhile, they're not going to have anyone left to date.

            I'm just saying.

          • Hmm, what I meant was more "get to know women who you would want to befriend, then look within that group for dates." Sounds like basically the opposite of your jerk dude's idea, which is "pretend to be friends in order to get a date." When the friendship is genuine, I've seen this work beautifully.

          • hobbesian

            I've met most of my previous partners through mutual friend groups. It means they are at least already semi-vetted. If we both like spending time with the same people, we will probably like spending time around each other also. The problem was that for those times, I was spending time around shitty people to start with. I'm trying to fix that, but trying to start over from scratch is REALLY hard when basically everyone your age is a freaking workaholic if they aren't a party monster.

          • OtherRoooToo

            “When the friendship is genuine, I've seen this work beautifully.”

            Which is, again, why I proposed it to him in the first place.

            I thought we had enough nerditude and other cultural things in common (in addition to finding him attractive even though his current affect wouldn’t arguably fit into the ”conventionally so” box) that I thought we had a foundation we could build on.

            He didn’t read as a jerk right out of the box, which was why I gave him a chaaAAAAANCE trying to do it his way, as we as women are so frequently exhorted to do.

          • Wait, sorry, I don't understand why you are arguing with me here. Or maybe you don't mean to be arguing? I'm not saying that this guy wasn't an ass – he was. I'm saying that for some people, being friends first is a great way to date. I happen to be one of them. That doesn't mean there aren't lying assholes out there who would like to exploit my preferences.

          • OtherRoooToo

            I'm not saying any of that.

            (I am actually a little hurt that you'd just classify him as a "jerk" when there were things that attracted me to him enough to give him a chance in the first place, and get to know him well enough to find out that there were jerky things about him that … either he need(ed) to decide were important enough WRT the way he interacted to people that they needed to change, or I need(ed) to go. But there is something about the way I'm communicating here where … you're consistently not understanding what I'm trying to write, which means, I nee to communicate differently or just … let it go, and at this point I think I'm going to choose the latter.)

            And I'm not "arguing" with you.

            (And apropos of our discussion in the other thread – and elsewhere, though I think there's some sort of implicit prohibition about mentioning that here – I'm not only a little chagrined, but also a little … suspicious … that you continually seem to be reading my statements as such.)

          • Jim

            Total stranger, who doesn't know why he's reading this whole thread, weighing in: Your posts read quite confrontational, and, I think, defensive and a little bit aggressive at the same time. I was surprised that it surprised you that Kleenestar thought you were arguing, so I assume the confrontational tone of writing isn't intentional, but it does come through as such. Wouldn't have otherwise written, but there it is anyway.

          • CaseyXavier

            I think that was really good advice for hobbesian's needs/wants, thanks for that perspective because I couldn't see it until this comment.

          • assman

            @hobbesian: Hmm very interesting. This is of course a common human problem. I enjoyed the way you expressed it.

            Basically you are depressed or apathetic. But what interesting is the nature of your thoughts. I guess I would say there are two basic ways of thinking:

            Negative approach – you are always looking for why things won't work. You measure the cost of everything. The energy required, the trouble it will take, the difficulties involved, the pointlessness of the exercise. Everything seems like a waste of time. You only want to do something if you are sure things will work out. You avoid anything that could possibly lead to failure. You think everything is really hard, difficult and the nothing seems to be worth the effort involved. Houllebecq has whole books written on this way of looking at the world.

            Positive approach – you think anything could work. You are eager to try everything. You see possibilities of success in anything you try. You enjoy trying things even if they don't work. You are eager to try out everything. Even thinking about all the possibilities for success make you feel good and makes everything appear easy.

            I think both ways but at different times. Depressives tend to be negative. Manics tend to be overly positive. Manics are will to waste enormous time and energy on a lot of things which are unlikely to work. Depressives are unwilling to waste any energy and time unless they are sure things will work. Manics are often unrealistic. Depressive are realistic but they never end up doing anything so although the waste less time on pointless solutions, they are also less likely to try things they haven't done before…they are less innovative.

            I would say a lot of exercise is a good way to deal with this problem.

          • raindancing

            This is coming from a super-cautious woman, but back when I was dating, I would have been uncomfortable with the facebook request. When I give someone my phone number, I'm saying I'm comfortable with that level of communication. Facebook is a whole 'nuther level.

            Of course, it really would depend on how much interaction we'd had at that point, and whether you were a stranger or a friend of a friend.

            It's possible a woman might interpret the fact that she invited you to call her, and you chose to disregard that and contact her in a different way, as pushing on her boundaries.

          • hobbesian

            see the thing is, all I asked was if she was on facebook and if I could add her. we had quite a few mutual acquaintances. She chose to include the number, I didn't ask for it.

            it's weird because to me I'd rather a stranger have my facebook info than my number. my phone plan charges me to block numbers, and nothing will stop them from just calling from a different phone or texting from pinger or something. Facebook though I can block myself at no cost..

          • raindancing

            I see. I wouldn't think that would come across as boundary-testing then.

          • hobbesian

            she did eventually add me, but I don't think she's very active on it. Thing is she was just a really neat person to talk to and I'd like to talk with her more.. I'm sure I'll see her around since as I said we do have quite a few mutual acquaintances.

          • Jim

            So the story might easily be that she just doesn't use facebook much, and added you late because of that. Might even have been a bit hurt that you didn't call, since culturally, a women expressing interest and giving out a phone number is seen as a more vulnerable position than if a man does so.

          • eselle28

            It's interesting to me where people draw those lines. It is harder to block people from my phone, but my mom sees what's posted on my wall. I have Facebook friends I've never actually met, but no one gets added until I at least have a good read on whether they can behave appropriately. The only one who's inconvenienced if I give out my number is me, so that's not such a big deal to me.

    • Max

      See my post above about making it fun for you. Then it's like, if she responds, great, if she doesn't, oh well.

    • johmichaels

      Inactivate profiles are easy to distinguish. Most sites will say when someone was last online-if it's more than a month don't bother messaging. They're not online.

      As a guy who is fairly shy, but not too good looking online dating can be great, as long as you don't expect a magic box where sex falls out-it requires skills, learning from mistakes, and actual improvement over time. Going over the same failing techniques over and over again is not going to work online, just as it wouldn't offline.

    • progshell

      I closed down my OKCupid profile about two months ago for very similar reasons. Due to the objective numbers of men and women online, women have the advantage and men the disadvantage (if we want to get perfectly tumblr about it non-binary and trans* people would have it the worst though). I just got tired of playing a game, and it is a game, where the odds were so fully biased against me. For example, in my time on OKC girls would often specify things in the "message me if" section that, if gender-flipped, would be seen as totally inappropriate and creepy. It's perfectly reasonable for a girl to specify that she'd like to date tall guys or guys with great hair while any man posting that he wants really any specific physical trait in a woman would be roundly ridiculed on the OKCupid tag on tumblr. I just have absolutely no interest in playing that sort of game biased as it is against me.

      For what it's worth, after I shut down my account I went to a Halloween party dressed as Jack Torrance and met the girl I've been hooking up with since then. All I can say is real life got me laid without having to go on a date (btw I come down on the "dating is not fun" side) or spend any money. All online dating did was convince me I was ugly, boring and worthless.

      • Waddles

        Worth pointing out that not all gender-flips should be equal. It's like how the word "cracker" is less offensive than the n-word, because white people were never disadvantaged by racial discrimination in the way that black people were (and are). Centuries of inequality mean that women get a pass on some things that men can't do. But sure, if you find someone's demands unreasonable, don't message them and move on.

    • Waddles

      Internet dating may suck for men, but from talking to my sister it seems far worse for women. Sure, you get messages, but most of them are one-line demands for sex, rude or abusive, or just weird. I've received very few messages on OKC (none in my geographic or age range, either) and never had any replies to my messages, but at least all the messages I got were polite and interesting. It is a little offputting when someone just stops messaging for no apparent reason, but if you're playing the numbers game I suppose you just shrug and move on, or if it weirds you out too much, quit online dating and try something else.

      I agree that women should be encouraged to be more open and assertive, but as individuals we're not going to crush gender roles globally, so to some extent we have to go to war with the army we have and accept that our breaks are what they are.

      • progshell

        Man, what I wouldn't give to be inundated with one-line demands for sex…

        (Yeah, I get that I'm missing the point, but from where I'm standing that sounds pretty great.)

  • Johmichaels

    So you're angry that women say "I only want to date tall guys" instead of being like men and not saying it, but still only dating tall guys?

    Seriously though, continue complaining about how unfair it is for men while dating….but just don't expect much to change though. The world of tumblr is filled with men who seem to think they are owed a sex partner without any work or effort, and get very annoyed with women who dare to disagree.

    • nonA

      To take Assman's side a bit:

      Lots of girls will take the amount of attention they receive and get an inflated idea what they can pull on the dating market. Combined with the idea that they can find their ideal mate if only they figure out how to filter out everybody else (which is ridiculous if you give it a moment's thought, but so few people do), it leads to some rather nasty entitled behavior.

      I can't feel too bad if people with unrealistic expectations fail to have them met, but they do contribute to the message that guys need to be romance leads or they should GTFO. Dudes are exposed to "advice" in that vein too often, and it means more deprogramming work before they can have a healthy/realistic idea how things really work.

      • Guest


        Because from my side of things all I see are women who have been called fat, or sent overtly sexualised comments, or told they aren't really who they claim to be, or all of the above, who quit online dating and only feel worse about themselves. Show me the entitled women out there please. The women for whom being asked for sexual favours as a first message, being treated like an object, being negged over and over and over again, being questioned about how real her geek creds are, is empowering.

        • nonA

          First things first, whenever a girl says she gets nothing but gross stuff ask for a look at her inbox. The gross stuff exists, but she’s mentally editing out the massive amounts of inoffensive but boring. The truly offensive stuff is a very slim minority.

          (Not that anyone should feel like they should settle for inoffensively boring. Just that what’s stated is different from reality. With maybe a side note that if the only thing you say is “don’t be gross”, you have a lot of people thinking that being inoffensively boring will set them apart when in reality it does the exact opposite.)

          It’d be trivial to point out girls who have an inflated sense of what they bring to the table, but I’d end up using specific profiles and picking on specific people feels like a faux pas. Do your own search, see how often you see girls who think a cute picture, a cliche filled profile and a list of demands are all they need. That’s not actually a way to find someone who’s worth getting into a relationship with.

          • Guest

            Well I've also been shown their inboxes, and I can tell you it isn't the "slim minority". I take it from personal experience you've seen the inboxes of these ladies?

            And have you seen the number of dudes who do the exact same thing as the supposed entitled women on dating sites? Probably not as you aren't looking at their profiles. I think we can safely say there is a portion of the population that is rather entitled in general. But go on, believe what you want to, so much easier to think you are hard done by and that women are the enemy and to blame for your failures at online dating than to maybe think we are all in this together, all have our own different kinds of shit to deal with, and that the good ones are harder to find for sure but are maybe worth the effort. On both sides.

          • Guest

            I need to say something else. I find it rather disgusting that you are implying that women who are harassed online are really just blowing it out of proportion, that they are ignoring all the good or even harmless but boring messages, and just being overly dramatic about the "slim minority" of messages. The fact that I have had numerous friends quit because it was so painful to be online, so insulting, so hurtful and demeaning, well clearly they were just being shallow women and not paying attention to the majority of good messages they were getting. They don't know their own situation, they are blinded by their own irrationality.

            It's really damn offensive of you to suggest that they are just blowing things out of proportion. That they really could have a lovely dating life if only they weren't so blind to the reality of their situation which is a blessed one full of prospects. Shows how much you respect women and their powers of reasoning. Just. Wow.

          • nonA

            "clearly they were just being shallow women and not paying attention to the majority of good messages they were getting."

            If you want to ignore the part where I called that "settling" and explicitly said that nobody should, knock yourself out.

            "They don't know their own situation, they are blinded by their own irrationality."


            People are irrational. Women, as I'm sure you're aware, are people. In this case, humans have a long history of disproportionately remembering extreme cases.

            Since you seem wedded to your narrative, though, I have a handy case study. A guy who sends messages of the sort that messages that compose most of your average girls' inbox, and a female telling him why it's a bad message even though he isn't asking for a quick blowie. My goal is for that to be the usual level of advice given, instead of focusing too much on the extreme bad cases.

          • eselle28

            But that's all good advice. The guy in question doesn't have a good profile picture. I don't think the fact that a woman is in it is the real problem. I've seen amazing pictures of guys with their family members or friends. It's just a bad picture. It's boring, doesn't show his face, and isn't nearly as flattering as some others in his profile.

            His message could also use some work. The first and third paragraphs are just complete filler. He asks one question, which is fine enough, but either being more brief or more substantive would be a better strategy. Way too many emoticons for my taste. It's not a terrible message, but he's not really coming across that well to me, either – and I work with a much more limited dating pool than the women he's likely writing (given that he's written 30 of them and that his profile is fairly generic and focused on dating younger women, I'm going to say there's good odds that he's writing really desirable women in their mid-twenties rather than zeroing in on women likely to like him as much as he likes them).

          • nonA

            It's good advice because it assumes his message is the standard quality of blah that most women get, and focuses on how a normal guy can improve what he's doing instead of fixating on the extreme cases of bad. The dude is a textook case of why "be legible, don't be gross" isn't enough. And why thinking it is enough gets you nowhere.

            Which is kind of what I was going for. There's a lot of bad advice out there, and a significant chunk of it comes from women who don't really know what they want*. I don't care what people do in their dating lives, I just want the advice environment to be healthier.

            *(Not because they're women, but because they're humans instead of vulcans.)

          • eselle28

            I don't think the usual advice is "don't be gross" either. Though I'm going to say that if he were messaging women who merely refrained from being illegible and gross, he'd have some replies. He almost certainly wants more, just from looking at that age range, so it's only sensible he'd be expected to offer more.

          • Brandon

            So you're saying not one of your female friends received a single email that wasn't offensive and had zero dating prospects whatsoever? I'm not buying it.

            Maybe the reason so many guys are so rude and inconsiderate is because what goes around comes around. You can't scorn and treat with contempt every single person who reaches out and sends a nice and respectful email, or otherwise leave people hanging at any and every opportunity and then wonder why all of the sudden no one is nice and respectful anymore especially when you want to insist that no one (male OR FEMALE) is entitled to anything.

          • Johmichaels

            So, when men become rude and insulting it's the fault of the women? How dare they not respond to all messages (which as all posters have stated are much higher in number than messages males receive). Every woman is required by law to respond to every man who posts to her, whether that be sexist, whether it be a one word sentence, and never say anything rude (The definition of rude online including not responding, responding and politely refusing the offer, responding late, responding…..pretty much any response which isn't "Do me now!" Can earn women a tirade of abuse online).

            Or, y'know, men could take responsibility for their actions. They wouldn't send abusive messages to their bosses, to their coworkers, to their friends if they hadn't responded to a message on time, and if they did no one online would say they earned the right to do it, but apparently a woman doesn't have such rights.

            I've had one critical message in the entire time I was online dating. One, and that was a woman rightly guessing I was sending a generic message. Nothing compared to what my female friends received online, or what I see regularly online. Maybe it's because generally I try to be polite with women and not go on tirades to "punish them" for some reason (Seriously, getting angry at a woman online is not going to get you anymore laid. Seriously, no benefit whatsoever, unless you like hurting women).

            Sure, a woman won't receive only sexist comments on her dating profile, she'll also have one word messages, or generic messages that say nothing. And maybe, just maybe, in50+ messages there will be a message from a guy who read her profile, and wrote a message that reflects this, and is exactly the sort of guy she would want to go. But if she's getting the vast majority of messages being offensive, abusive or hurtful, you're going to blame her for not bothering to read every single one in the hope that the next guy isn't going to try and hurt her?

            I mean, if you went to a bar, and twenty women started abusing you loudly, insulting and maybe even threatenng – are you going to stick around to check if there are any women there worth meeting, while still receiving the abuse? No, of course you wouldn't, but for some reason we expect women to put up with that shit.

          • Brandon

            Yeah I'll blame her for not putting forth the effort necessary to be successful at online dating. Just like everyone blames us for not putting forth the effort to be successful at online dating.

          • Johmichaels

            Not everyone blames us, as in men, everyone blames you, as in you. Just as there are many sites pointing out the creepy guys of okcupid, most of those sites also take time to point out the genuine success stories of online dating.

            Anyway, what exactly are you arguing here? You started out saying women are to blame if they receive abusive or offensive comments, because other women don't reply back, but now you're saying women are to blame for not getting dates but not attempting to contact guys themselves.

            All very interesting arguments, but neither are going to get you any closer to getting a date, sex, or a relationship. Or are going on online dating not to meet people (the whole point of online dating) but to punish women for behaving in ways you disagree with?

          • Guest

            Didn't say that did I? I said it wasn't a "slim minority" that were the gross messages. They did get a few nice nice messages and even attempted a few dates (those ended up being with guys who wanted commitment right after date one so that didn't work . . .). I'm saying that the overwhelming harassment was enough to force these women off the site despite their maybe being some good messages. It was too hard for them. Just as it seems to be too hard for some guys to consistently message women and maybe hear back 1 in every 50 or so. Both sides are experiencing the same odds but in different ways. And both are getting discouraged. That was all I was trying to say.

            As to the rest of your comment about how it's all women's faults that they are treated how they are, uh no. Just . . . no.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "The truly offensive stuff is a very slim minority."

            That's … a fallacy.

            I'm also going to guess it's untested. I'd challenge you to put up a faux female profile on a site that permits it and see what types of responses you get. That "slim minority" is much, MUCH bigger than you declare it to be here, with such (unsupported) authority.

          • isdzan

            Especially if you are darker, bigger, mother, older, or not conventionally (or unconventionally) attractive. I think the most depressing/horrifying thing I have seen was an older, bigger, black single mom's inbox. It was ugly….really, really ugly. I don't think she even had 1 bland/boring message. It was wall-to-wall hate mail.

          • OtherRoooToo

            That's … I wish it was as surprising as it is horrifying.
            But to me, it's not.


          • FormerlyShyGuy

            Crazy that people forgot what they were taught in kindergarden, if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all.

          • nonA

            Actually it goes the opposite way. Girls who complain about getting nothing but hate mail never show their inboxes. Girls who do show their inboxes tend to be pretty light on it.

            I've made a she-sock to see what it's like. I'll do it again and post screencaps if you really want me to, but will you actually change your stance if the evidence disagrees with you?

          • isdzan

            I'd be totally curious to see you do a she sock of a bigger or browner or older single mom or some combination of above. I had always figured most people had similar nasty:bland:ok ratios to mine and the few other women whose in boxes I had seen (3:5:2 for the curious).

            I saw the inbox of the woman I mentioned above because she was crying in the bathroom at work during lunch. I guess the negative got to her and she needed a vent. She handed me her phone and what I saw floored me. I asked her if she wanted me to decon it and when I was done ditching the ugly messages there was nothing left. It had never occurred to me that it could get that bad. I wonder if it was a fluke or if that is common for her demographic..

            Her profile was kind of sweet, if a little trite and Christian heavy. She isn't either attractive or unattractive, like most people. On the bigger side, 2 kids, never married, nice solid middle class job. I honestly couldn't see what would inspire the hate.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "but will you actually change your stance if the evidence disagrees with you?"

            Not really, no.


            First reason? Lies, damn lies, statistics. I work with government contracts, so I've seen "statistics" and "studies" manipulated to show just about any conclusion the presenter of said stats/"studies" wants its audience to reach.

            Second reason? It's happened to me personally.

            Nobody other than isdzan in her very moving example said anything about "nothing but hatemail" – that's your hyperbole – and I'm completely uninterested in anyone trying to use "statistics" as a bludgeon to brush aside and disregard what I've already communicated is my own personal experience.

            Even if that person technically might be "right" about the (manipulated) conclusion they're looking to reach, they're also showing me just by doing such a thing that what they're *really* looking to do is dismiss my feelings — not to speak of the feelings of every *other* woman who has *already articulated* that she has had that experience — and I'm completely uninterested in much anyone has to say who is looking to treat me like that.

            Sorry not sorry.

            You're missing the point, dude. This is not about your "evidence". This is about women who have said "This is how it is for us, and this is how we feel about how it is", and you saying in response to all of us "There is evidence against you, and so you're ridiculous." That's completely dismissive and invalidating, and women – at least I, and the women I know – aren't real interested in being in relationship (or even acquaintance) with people who behave like that.

            We get enough of that in every day life — and that kind of dismissiveness isn't really *that* different from those guys we've been spending so much time telling you about (and other men who think the way you seem to think about this) who push themselves into our inboxes. It's just disregard of our feelings of a different kind.

          • velveeta

            "see how often you see girls who think a cute picture, a cliche filled profile and a list of demands are all they need"

            That really sucks that you encounter so many profiles like that! We women run into many, many profiles of guys with a cute (or not) picture, a cliche-heavy profile, and a list of demands–one of the main ones being that he only wants to date woman somewhat or much younger than him.

          • nonA

            No, no. Guys think that bland listings of their accomplishments are what they should sell themselves on, as well as the obligatory list of cliches.

            Which I guess gets back to my main point. The more you say "it's an ocean of wang pics out there", the more you have guys assuming that anything better than a wang pic will set them apart. Stop assuming the truly obnoxious cases will listen to advice (I'm pretty sure the guy spamming pics of his junk knows it's bad form, he just doesn't care), stop talking so much about bare minimum standards (it implies that's all you have to do to be good), and instead of talking about how to meet the bare minimums, spend that airtime talking about how to stand out from the mediocrity.

          • eselle28

            I guess that's the evo psych prediction of how men should behave when they're lazy, but in reality, there are a lot of guys who post shirtless selfies and who write a couple cliched sentences about looking for a good woman and call it good. I just received a message from a guy with a profile like that a few minutes ago.

      • Here's the thing, though: the research says the opposite. There's a substantial body of psychological research showing that American men, on average, have an inflated idea of their abilities at just about everything. If you want someone to give you an accurate self-assessment, ask a typical woman or a depressed man.

        • That is very fascinating kleenestar. I'm going to try and look up some of this research.

    • OtherRoooToo

      "the world of tumblr is filled with men who seem to think they are owed a sex partner without any work or effort, and get very annoyed with women who dare to disagree."

      And it is the "without any effort" part that really does change the minds of many women.

      (Also, wasn't there just a whole thread's subtopic worth of comments about this? The LW was talking about his "girlfriend" like she was some prestigious refrigerator — listing the "qualities" he found "desirable" in her without any effort whatsoever to find out what she was like as a person or what she cared about. Why would a woman find that attractive behavior? How can a man think that a woman would find that attractive? And why would a man think that a woman would continue to invest her time and energy in a man who didn't behave attractively — and by that I mean, specifically, behave like he didn't give a d*mn about her at all as a person??)

      Really, guys – really! I can at least attest to this personally, as well as having heard my women friends say it literally dozens of times recently. (Do the rates go up through the holidays, or something …?).

  • MCSpanner

    Online dating is even more good-looks essential as "regular" dating is. I've been a member of 3 of them over the course of the last 4 or 5 years and I genuinely do not understand when people argue that a good profile is just as important. All 3 were structured so that you learn nothing about the person until after you've clicked the photo – immediately putting you into a "too ugly" or "I can live with that/attractive" category before the person has even learned a single thing about you.

    If you've failed at the usual dating methods because of your looks, don't expect that to change just because you're now a still image on someone's computer screen rather than a living being in their current environment.

    • eselle28

      I'd agree it gives even more of an advantage to people who are attractive. People who look good on paper in other ways (impressive careers, good at expressing themselves in writing) have an advantage too.

      I'd say that online dating is most helpful for people who have limited social groups, approach anxiety, trouble recognizing when others are interested in them or expressing their own interest, or who are looking for fairly specific traits in a partner.

  • von Kalifornen

    Is it bad that I kind of wish I could have an Even More Traditional arranged marriage?

    • progSHELL

      …kinda yeah…

    • Nope, I don't think it's bad. It's a totally valid way of finding someone to spend your life with, assuming you're willing to buy in to the associated values.

      • isdzan

        And accept whoever is picked for you.

        • Guest

          Actually arranged marriage these days isn't necessarily someone being picked for you and that's it. It's more like a series of people being chosen, that then you get to "date" with a view of choosing one of them to marry. There is a lot more choice involved than some stereotypes would have you think. I have a few friends who have had arranged marriages (who are very happy now) and it was interesting to hear about the process. They had a lot of say, and didn't have to marry anyone they didn't want to. Now that's not to say that the system can't be abused, but I think there is a lot of misconception surrounding what modern arranged marriages are like.

          • raindancing

            I knew an Indian woman who said hers went like this: her parents approached her one day when she was 21, and said that they hadn't planned on bringing marriage up until she was 27, but they noticed that she got along really well with H, and would she like them to talk to his parents? She said yes, and she and H were very happy together.

            I also knew a guy in high school who went back to India for a goodbye trip when he was 16, to see all of his relatives who lived there one last time, because once he turned 17 the contract that his grandparents had made with another family would become enforceable and if he went to India he could be forced to marry someone that he had never met.

          • isdzan

            The people I know who have them (Turkomen, Bosnian, Saudi, Sudanese) had caring degrees of choice ranging from picking from a group preselected by family to no choice at all. All of them, though, had to accept that the prescreening would be done by someone else, which may or may not use the same criteria as you would prefer, which may or may not be a good thing.

            I'd say it is 50% happy, 25% indifferent and 25% miserable among the people I know, so probably about the same as any other marriage arrangement.

  • Rylan…

    It's been a couple of years since I last ventured into online dating. I lasted roughly a year–six months as a paid user on Match, then six months on OKCupid–before deleting my profile and resigning myself to more warmer approaches, largely due to the same frustrations that most people encounter.

    In the time since–after devouring article after article on the subject, many of which from this very site–I can most definitely identify things that were preventing me from showcasing the best, truest version of myself. Now, I feel better equipped to write a proper profile and interact with people on the site more efficiently. But as much as I would like to rejoin OKCupid or find another site, I fear that I won't fare that much better, given the state of things.

    The most pressing issues are that I am currently between jobs–and therefore can't date as much as I'd prefer–and that I just don't have quality, recently-taken pictures of myself. The photos, I suppose, are easy enough to acquire, but I feel that no matter how charming or witty my profile/messages are, it won't matter as soon as people find out that I can only (barely) manage a date every other week or so.

    • enail0_o

      That doesn't seem like the worst limitation (EDIT: in the sense of 'i think you can work with this,' not in the sense of 'other people have it worse so shaddup'). A lot of people go on dates with many people and might be totally cool with every other week or so anyway. But if the limitation is financial, you could also make a go of thinking up cheap or free date activities and/or trying to date people who don't expect you to pay every time.

      • Evvery other week seems reasonable, especially if you figure in time to find some folks you want to date who also want to date you, some scheduling conflicts (as always happens with adults), etc. The bigger issue would be if you find someone to date and you want to see them more often and you have run out of free/cheaper date ideas.

        Free/cheap dates are usually the most fun or interesting because they are usually more novel activities. Free night at the museum, movies in the park, city walking tours, book readings, lectures, concerts in parks, picnics, farmers markets, art shows/craft fairs, etc. can usually be done for under $10 per person (would have been $5 but picnics can be more expensive)

        • OhRylan

          Now that you mention it, going on new and interesting dates with the same person while remaining within my means is, more accurately, my chief concern (if in fact, being unemployed doesn't disqualify me from dating successfully online) . A museum or the like is fine for a single, first date, but if we wish to continue seeing each other, how many free events can we possibly go to before she realizes that I'm not someone worth… *ahem* … investing in.

          • Johmichaels

            It gets easier the more dates you are on. The more a woman gets to know you, the more she will trust you, and the more she will be happy to have a smaller date at your place or her place.

          • eselle28

            This hypothetical woman is going to know that you're between jobs on the first date, or possibly the second. Someone who chooses to keep seeing you will at least be theoretically okay with that.

            Isdzan's recommendation to become the expert on cheap and free things in your community is a good one. Additionally, you will eventually get to know a woman well enough that hanging out at your place or her place and watching a movie on TV becomes one of your possible date options. In that vein, it's worth it to learn to cook. It's a not a good first date, but it's a good date for women who know you will enough to want to hang out at your place, and it's generally a useful relationship and life skill.

          • OhRylan

            This is presuming that women will agree to date me even under these circumstances, of which, I am still dubious, due to my prior dating experience and what I have read from pretty much every article published outside of this website that discusses such matters. I expect most, if not all women to see the section on OKCupid, which displays my income and will certainly–and understandably–be left blank, as a giant red flag.

            I mean, have any woman who frequent this site dated someone for an extended period of time, someone whom they met online, who was essentially broke for most if not the entirety of that relationship?

            I don't mean to be difficult, but personally, my experience doesn't offer a stark contrast to the idea that one doesn't required ample funds in order to have a prosperous dating life. All of the women I've dated expected me not just to contribute, but *provide* monetarily.

            The last thing I want is to open up the proverbial can of worms about women and money, I would just appreciate some reassurance.

          • enail0_o

            One thing you might do is try to figure out ways to signal in your profile that you bring non-monetary contributions to the relationship – things like being great at thinking of fun free things to do, being supportive, being a good cook, and so forth. Show that it's just that you happen to be an awesome person who's unemployed but looking after themselves, not that you're sitting waiting for a someone to come and fix your life for you. That will make you more likely to catch the attention of women who don't expect money to be part of what you bring to the table, but do want to know that they're not going to be the only one bringing stuff.

          • Johmichaels

            I met my wife on the day I quit a full time job. I didn't get any income out of welfare for the next twelve months, and no regular income for 18 months. And she wasn't the only woman I dated while I was unemployed with no income,

            It's not impossible, but it is possible. What really helped is we were both in a similar financial situation (both students), so we're really happy to go from "going out" dates to "staying in" dates for financial reasons.

            As for whether it is expected that men provide monetarily, well I can't talk for all experiences, but most women I dated were quite offended if I tried to pay for them. It might be that if you're finding women want you to provide financially during dates….it might just be a case of them, rather than you, that are the issue here, and by continuing on dating you may find many more women happy to share costs of dates.

          • I can't speak to online dating specifically, but I am a woman and my now-husband was pretty damn broke for the first three years we were dating. We had lots of arguments about it, since he felt like he should be taking me out, but eventually he just agreed to let me pay for everything on the understanding that we had a "from each according to their abilities" arrangement. A couple of years later I went to grad school and he got his chance to be the financial hero.

            For this to work, you'll want to find ways of selecting women who aren't deeply attached to gender roles around dating. You'll also want to show that you're a non-financial contributor to the relationship, especially if you're looking for something long-term. We can help you work on both of these things if you want.

          • Also: I think you'll do better if you get your own head straight about this. If you're conflicted and guilty or think you're less attractive because you don't have money, that will come across at some level. You don't have money right now – okay. That's a fact. But it doesn't have to define you romantically or personally. It just means that's your particular challenge, and other people might have other things they have to overcome.

    • Johmichaels

      Every other week is fine, especially considering you're just starting dating. I'd suggest limiting the number of people you contact, just because you don't want to end up having to turn down a potential second date because you've already got a first date planned with someone else but can't afford it, but otherwise it's fine.

      Remember, a first date is just a first date. There is no guarantee of an ongoing relationship, and you shouldn't be expecting one at this time. Just have a night out, get to know someone, see where it goes. She may not like you, and (something nerdy guys often overlook-it really surprised me when it happened!) you may not like her, but you can still build up your confidence, have a fun night out, and know a little bit more for your next date.

      Remember also, you're not the only person out there with limited finances. A lot of people are out of work right now, a lot more are studying or otherwise limited in their finances. They would be more than willing to organise a free or cheap date (especially a second date if they enjoyed the first) if it meant spending more time with someone they liked,

  • Dolemite

    "If you can manage it, I strongly recommend having a professionally done headshot for your profile."

    No. Nononononono.

    You should use a decent camera:

    But yguys should absolutely not go for the "glamour shot":

    The TL;DR version: don't look at the camera, and don't smile,

  • Wow, I don't appreciate the fact that saying "I love all music except country and rap" is a dealbreaker. I love all good music INCLUDING country and rap, why the hell is not being a genre fascist looked down upon in the online dating world? If it's good, it's good. If it's not, it's not. Who give a shit about genres? They blend together all the time anyways. Seriously if people are going to judge you based on something silly like your music tastes, however "bland" they may be, then I will never even bother trying online dating.

    • Catiline

      There's nothing wrong with liking lots of kinds of music, just as there's nothing wrong with BEING nice or romantic or any of the other traits the Doc mentioned in that paragraph. The point isn't that liking many genres is bland; the point is that saying you like all different genres of music actually doesn't tell me anything about your musical tastes, any more than someone saying, "I am nice," "I am romantic," or, "I am funny," tells me anything about your personality. It's the statement that's generic and bland, not the actual trait.

      If you want to get across that you like many kinds of music, you could name a few favourite bands from different genres, or talk about songs you tend to play over and over, or about some great live music event you once saw. Talking about specific things you like not only helps give the people reading your profile more information; it also tends to bring out enthusiasm in the person writing that just saying, "I like music!" doesn't. And enthusiasm is attractive!

      But none of this is actually about dealbreakers. It's about how to make your profile better reflect who you really are.

    • eselle28

      It's fine to like lots of kinds of music. The problem with the statement is that it's vague to the point of being useless, negative, and generally means, "I like Top 40 pop and mainstream rock, and think that means my musical tastes are diverse. I've listened to very little rap or country, and am judging both genres based primarily on their fans."

      If your musical tastes are actually diverse, give some examples of favorites. That'll get the point across more easily, plus it avoids the trap of having to self-assess the breadth of your tastes and lets the reader make the judgement.

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