If you’ve read through the reviews on this website, you will have surely noticed that the majority of reviews are pretty negative about online dating. Is it really that bad?
No, it’s not so bad. My sister’s best friend met her husband on an online dating service, and they don’t seem shy about telling people how they met. Go tell them that online dating services suck and are useless. I’m sure they’d disagree. In fact, with online dating becoming more mainstream, you meet more and more couples who say they met online.
So where does all the animosity come from in the reviews? First of all, the review writing process is biased in favor of people with an axe to grind. It’s the person who’s really angry who is most motivated to seek out an online dating review site and take the time to write a review. Those whose experiences are positive aren’t as motivated to speak out.
What online dating services can do for you is expand the pool of people you can meet beyond your immediate circle of acquaintances and work/social activities. But what it’s not likely to do is allow you to date people who wouldn’t have been interested in you if you met through more traditional offline methods.
Men without any exceptional qualities get mad because women ten years younger than them don’t respond to their emails. And women get mad because they can’t find a man closer in age who is six feet or taller and earns six figures. (To understand the problem with that, you need to do a little math. If 25% of men are six feet or taller, and if 10% of men earn six figures, and there’s no correlation between the two, then women with both of these requirements have limited themselves to only 2.5% of men. No wonder why they can’t meet anyone!)
I believe that our dating expectations have been ruined by Hollywood. We go to the movies or turn on the television, and we see all these beautiful people. Then we expect the people we meet in real life to look that good. Unfortunately less than ten percent of the people we meet in real life look as good as the people in the media.
Expectations for first dates run too high as well. People expect all of their dates to be Hollywood moments like they see in the movies, but on real dates the dinner isn’t always perfect, or sometimes the conversation isn’t so good, or it feels awkward. This is life and you need to give people a second or third chance.
My advice for men: you need to send emails to women around two years younger than you who don’t look like super models, and then you will probably be able to find some dates. And my advice for women: you need to be willing to give a chance to men who are a little shorter and a little poorer and a little less good looking than your ideal.
The majority of the negative reviews are written by men, and this unfortunately reflects the nature of the offline dating world. Dating is harder for men than women because there is a shortage of women. But wait, aren’t there an equal number of men and women? Nope. For starters, there are 105 boy babies born for every 100 girl babies. Furthermore, the situation is far worse than that for men in their twenties. Because of poaching of younger women by successful older men, and a slightly greater percent of women than men desiring to take time off from dating, the webmaster estimates that the are probably 120 single men in their twenties for every 100 single women in their twenties. Because of this real world unbalanced ratio, we see that there are around 150 female profiles for every 100 male profiles on online dating services such as Match.com (which is where I tested the theory). This unbalanced ratio, however, is not Match.com’s fault. It simply reflects the way things are.
Are the online dating services completely perfect? No, they are out to make money like all businesses, and sometimes they go too far in trying to make a few extra dollars. My biggest complaint about certain online dating services is that they don’t tell you who’s a member and who isn’t. This is obviously very annoying for those services where only members can read emails, because you might wind up wasting a lot of time writing a well thought out email to someone who can’t see it.
My next complaint, not quite as big, is that the online dating sites use too much compression on their JPEGs, leaving all of the photos full of JPEG artifacts. This is only compounded by the problem that people seem completely clueless when it comes to cropping and uploading their photos.
However, despite the above problems, online dating services can very useful ways to meet people. Give them a try if you haven’t.
The male/female ratio of online dating
One of the facts of online dating is that there are more men than women online. For example, Match.com recently told ABC News that 59% of their subscribers are men and 41% are women. You can confirm the ratio yourself by doing searches for profiles.
The high male/female ratio of online dating is not the fault of the online dating services, but it reflects the unfortunate realities of the real world. Over a decade ago I recall reading a New York Times article that stated that there were approximately 6 single men in their twenties for every five single women.
How is this possible? Aren’t there an approximately equal number of boy and girl babies born each year? The biggest contributor to the skewed ratio is serial polygamy. A man in his twenties marries a woman in her twenties, then in his thirties he divorces her and marries another woman in her twenties, then in his forties he marries another women in her twenties. This happens. I have a friend who’s in his fifties and his current wife is in her twenties.
There is also parallel polygamy. My sister, when she was in her twenties, knew a guy who had two girlfriends at the same time (neither, of course, knew of the other one’s existence). And at the same time he was also hitting on my sister, trying to bring his harem up to three!
What’s going on in the real world is reflected in the virtual world of online dating. In fact, it’s skewed worse than in the real world, because online dating sites attract a much greater percentage of people who have trouble finding dates. So not only will there be more men, there will be more undesirable (for whatever reasons) members of both sexes.
Men who use online dating services will initially try to contact the few women they are interested in. But because the desirable women receive more emails than they can respond to, male subscribers eventually figure out that they have to send out massive numbers of emails because the response rate is so low. So we wind up in the situation we’re in now. Female subscribers to online dating services receive more emails than they can respond to, and male subscribers send out large numbers of emails and rarely get a response.
Women actually complain about this, but I think they are in a far better situation than men. If you are a man, how do you fix the problem? The answer is that you need to move to Manhattan. There are more single women in Manhattan than men. If you do searches in Match.com for Manhattan, you will find about 50% more female profiles than male profiles. The opposite of the ratio for the rest of the United States.
Living in Manhattan and using Match.com, I’ve been quite happy with how many women respond to my emails. And being a nerdy IT professional, I’m not a high priority catch for most women. They’d rather be going out with the good looking athletic men. You also get to meet women of a caliber you’d never find in Phoenix, Arizona, like graduates of Harvard and Yale law schools.