Does Online Dating Even Work?!

Does Online Dating Even Work?!

Dear Evan,

I was curious as to what your real opinion is of online dating. I did meet my girlfriend online, but after a year of painful struggle, meaning hardly any dates despite being educated, employed, and reasonably attractive. Friends of both genders tell that their experiences have been hard in different ways. My guy friends (also educated, attractive) complain that they get no responses and female acquaintences tell me that they get so many emails, etc, that they don’t know where to start-and often do nothing. They don’t have time to “date around” several times a week.(actually neither would I). I assume that the problem exists due to security. Women, being more vulnerable than men, are more hesitant to date online, so you get a situation where there’s a lot more men than women. Aside from my own luck and the trendy radio ads and sexy commercials, it seems as if no one’s happy.

Geoff

Dear Geoff,

Glad to hear you found someone special, and even happier that you spoke up. Most of the people that write about online dating write about what’s wrong with it. It makes sense. I mean, that’s what news is – emphasize the bad, misery loves company, etc. Turn on the TV and it’s not about kittens being saved from trees, but drive-by shootings. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of kittens saved from trees.

Go to one of those websites that reviews dating sites and you’ll see the same. Average review will be 2 out of 5 stars or something like that. Why? Because people who get married from online dating sites rarely get back online to post happy reviews on websites. They move on with their lives, while everyone else complains about the sites and the awful people on the sites.

I don’t deny ANYBODY the negative experiences that they’ve had. I just urge people to find some healthier perspective on the whole thing. A private client told me just this weekend that she’s quitting online dating after three bad dates in a row. Here is what I wrote back to her:

First of all, I’ve had EVERY bad dating experience you can possibly imagine. I’ve had women write me nasty emails, insult me over the phone, ignore my phone calls, stand me up, refuse to thank me for dinner, refuse to reciprocate in bed… Are you getting the idea? And yet I still run around as this super dating advocate, because I believe it is the best prospect to find someone special. If you choose to wait for lightning to strike until you go on another date with the “right” guy, you might be waiting a long, long time. Like, FOREVER.

Abstinence isn’t the answer. Mustering the courage to persevere in light of bad experience is.

Listen, you might think I’m nuts to keep on preaching positivity. That’s fair. All I know is that it’s freakin’ HARD to meet someone. We have our small lives: our circle of married friends, our work buddies, a few single people, and that’s it. And as you get into your mid-30’s, the bar scene is really old and set-ups have become a bit of a joke. While it’s nice to say, “I want to meet someone organically, where our eyes meet, so I can feel chemistry”, that simply doesn’t happen very often. This is why I believe in online dating. Not because it’s perfect – not by a long shot. But because it creates opportunity where previously there was none. My first love, in 2003, was a Filipino woman that worked in the pharmaceutical industry and lived in a different part of town. I NEVER would have met her in “real life”. But I did meet her on Nerve.com. My best friend in New York is marrying a man she met on eHarmony. My sister is in love with a man she met on Nerve. My sister’s best friend is in love with a man she met on eHarmony. I have dozens of clients who are married, engaged and in love with people they met online. And these are just the people that I know well.

So let’s acknowledge the flaws of online dating: the liars, the bores, the flakes, the crazies, the morons, the perverts, the poor spellers, and so on. These people exist offline as well. They just have access to you online. So as I see it, you have two choices: quit online dating and make a supreme effort to go to as many parties, coffee shops and adult education classes as possible OR try to find a way to avoid the worst of the online daters. The third, and most popular choice, is to quit and wait for your soulmate to drop out of the sky, like “The Secret” for love. Yeah, keep praying, people.

Your best bet is to keep dusting yourself off, learning from your mistakes, and staying in the game. Sure, sometimes you’ll get burned. But sometimes, with enough perseverence (as well as luck, timing, a good profile and a positive attitude), you’ll fall in love. And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, you can say “What’s wrong with these terrible people on these awful sites?” Or you can ask, “How can I make this work for me, despite the obvious flaws?”

You know where I stand. But I’ll tell you, all it takes is one person – and you’ll be standing right with me.

4
5

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Comments:

  1. 241
    Tommy

    I was reading many of the comments here, many pointing out how online dating does not work and how a photo changes the responses one gets.   I am a e-harmony online dater and I do not post my photos by default.  I am a 5 – 7 on the scale of facial looks, 5’10” and slender / athletic build, slight hair and I am 51.  My profile activity, I have to initiate 80% of it at the start and women initiate the other 20% of the times.  I do not communicate with all that e-harmony suggest as some of the profile information just does not attract me or worse turns me off.  I do not require a picture of a “match” initially, I am happy to communicate if their profile is attractive to me.  After that I find after the standard types of “communications” I get many photo nudges for which I will respond and provide a photo.  I would say 60 – 70% of the women that I am communicating with will continue, the other 30 – 40% will drop off.  For me, this works, I believe the e-harmony model, although somewhat costly can keep one interested longer so that they have a better understanding of who you are.  At that point the photo may not be the end all to be all in regards to the dating cycle.
     

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  4. 242
    diamond

    I’ve been on online dating for several months its not worth the time and the energy ive invested in it. most of the men or in relationship or married they try to use you for sex and hussle you for money pretending to be interested in when their not its just a a mind game. date hook  up and badoo are the worse dating theirs no need to worst your time there you will only get stood up, used, and hussled.

    1. 242.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Diamond – You’re using a site called “Date Hook Up” and you’re shocked that men want sex. How about you try a different site, try Finding the One Online, and learn how to filter out bad guys before you meet?

  5. 243
    Stace

    For me, it took ONE man and the first date.
    I believe online dating works as well as offline…
    Obviously there are advantages to meeting someone offline but there are also advantages to having an online connection first, especially if chemistry is not front and center.
    I am 36 years old and not naive enough to understand that part of his attraction was physical.  After all, this is what will separate (partly) a friendship from a relationship. One cannot expect that physical attraction will not be important.  And yes, I know that many men find me ‘very’ attractive. I am also educated, successful, yadda, yadda, yadda. However, I am a black woman and I also am divorced with two kids from my previous marriage.  So, I also know that to go after Mr. 35 year old hottie may not be that realistic for me.  I find that men aren’t as realistic in terms of who is in their league.  Let’s face it, you have to be or else you will think it’s not working but only because your expectations aren’t realistic. So the 65 year old who thinks he ‘looks good for his age’ and consistently goes after Ms. 30 year old hottie is simply not realistic.
    The guy I responded to was 5’7″ and not my ideal physically (early 40s) and I must admit that if meeting him in person, I would have never given him a second look.  Speaking online before meeting gave me another perspective because his personality is so freaking awesome. He is also educated, mature, marriage minded, stable, honorable, and has loads of integrity.  What more can I ask for?  As a result, when I met him, I decided to give him a chance and now we are very, very happy.  So yeah, it’s not all bad but like everything else, there is trial and error.
     

  6. 244
    Anonymous

    I agree with this article. But the demoralising feeling that can be gained through online dating is real. I once chatted to a colleague at work about finding ‘the one’ and he mentioned a friend who had done exactly this. They weren’t lucky, but it turns out they actually went out on ten dates that didn’t work out. On the eleventh date he struck gold. It’s hard work and you need a thick skin, but anything worth having doesnt come easily.

  7. 245
    April

     i just got caught up in all your comments and its kinda consoling to see its not just me that has issues with online dating.
    most of you guys say how women like guys that are taller and with a good profile picture, but i think its same for you guys too. i am 5’2 and African, i hardly get as much a wink. i wonder if i alter some of the information maybe i will get more messages.
     

  8. 246
    Tia

    it certainly wasn’t for me, and im not being negative by the way. it just wasn’t for me. I just find the staggering possibilities seem to keep men ( and women) in a constant flux of “looking” because although you may be great, he could have done better. there is no such thing as online dating, only finding someone online, but its quality not quantity you want.  the numbers are probably pretty small for people who have met that way and stayed together through the years, married etc. finding a date or FWB online shouldn’t be hard.  its a market for people, we are tricked into believing we have all these options, when really we don’t.  I much rather like m eeting someone in “real life” who sees me and knows right away if he is attracted to me and likewise the rest falls into play

  9. 247
    Tia

    I just wanted to add this paragraph I found on another web site pertaining to internet dating ,joe kentwordpress.  I think it  can sum uup many of these experiences  rather well 
     
    When a girl (guy) goes on a dating website, she is in a shopping kind of a mode.  But when you meet a girl in real life, he/ she’s not necessarily shopping and judging.  He/She might have been reading, or thinking, or dreaming, and then you had the guts and bravery to approach her and start a conversation.  To evoke  him/her.  To sweep her off her feet.  It’s a magical and spontaneous thing, and it’s completely lost on a website.”

  10. 248
    Steve

    Hey Evan,

    You say online dating works. I want you to prove to me that it really does, because in all of my online dating efforts I’ve had little to no success. I think my looks are the problem.

    Consider the following: despite having my profile professionally written not once, but twice, and having a headshot professionally taken, over 1000 women looked at my profile on match.com. Only one wrote, and when we finally met in person, she decided she didn’t find me attractive at all. If I wrote to any women who looked at my profile, my message would be ignored, despite me taking some time to craft a personalized, intelligent message that went beyond just saying, “wazzup?” In six months of being online, I think I actually met maybe three women in person, and all rejected me or played the usual LJBF game.

    I think online dating only works for men if they are at least 6′ tall, look like George Clooney, and clearly have money. Shorter men sometimes succeed, but they still have to be good looking or look like classic alpha males. So go on, prove to me that online dating really works.

    P.S. – I notice that you seem to focus mainly on helping women. What’s up with that?
     

  11. 249
    Lea

    I have logged ten years of on-and-off online dating. I am a 39-year-old woman, about to turn 40 in a couple of months. I want very much to find a life partner, but if my alternatives are settling for a single and reasonably fulfilled life or online dating anymore, Lordy, let me take the comfortable single life. Bottom line: Online dating sucks.

    I just cancelled a subscription to a major dating site after 48 hours on it. I don’t expect my soulmate to drop out of the sky, a la “The Secret.” But I will take an organic, energized, real-life courtship or nothing at all. Seriously. That is how much I have come to hate online dating.

    I once fell in love with someone I met in the real world. For a couple of months before I realized I had fallen for this person, I found him so awkward of appearance that I sort of felt sorry for him. But, over a period of time, his amazing personality trumped any ungainliness in his physical appearance. I began to notice the way he walked–with this wonderful bounce in his step and sense of purpose. I loved his sense of humor. The banter between us just flowed. There was real, palpable chemistry. There was genuine energy and life behind the connection. 

    Now think about it. I would have utterly and totally dismissed this person on an online dating site. Online dating simply robs you of that authentic experience–that gradual peeling away of layers, the slow revelation of the mystery of another human being, the nuances in growing attraction, the subtle exchanges. After much deliberation, I cancelled my subscription today. I will not cheat myself out of this amazing experience of falling–FALLING–for the unexpected and disarming. It will be that, or it will be nothing for me. And I’m prepared to accept nothing.  That is how much of a calculated racket I think online dating is.

    I don’t doubt that many people fall in love with folks they met online, and have genuine and beautiful relationships. It’s just never happened for me, not in ten years, and I don’t think it ever will online. After ten years of abundantly disappointing experiences, I think I’m entitled to call it quits. What did Albert Einstein say about insanity? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.” Enough is enough. I’m throwing in the towel with online dating.

    I’m taking my chances on the Universe putting that One in the path of my daily living, or else the Universe providing everything I need to enjoy a life of singlehood. As a fairly spiritually-inclined person, I cannot conceive of a benevolent Universe that would require me to keep beating my head against the wall with online dating after this many years. And I absolutely stand by that. 

  12. 250
    JB

    Well I thought in 18 yrs of online dating I’d seen it all but alas I was wrong. A woman I had emailed back and forth with a couple of times a few months ago got engaged last week as is seen on her Facebook page (4 days ago) with many “congrats”, “I’m happy for you’s” etc….. including latest pic with fiancé taken on the 27th. Yet not only is her profile on Match still up and searchable she continues to log in every day. Unbelievable!! I’m sure there’s a logical “explanation” …..lol Yeah right. Ladies???

  13. 251
    hunter

    JB,
    ……you mentioned “logical explanation,”……you were never told, “a mans mind is limited by logic,”……get it?…..

  14. 252
    Kayley Alvies

    I went on three bad dates in a row also but then the fourth guy ended up being my husband! He lived 45 minutes away and was in the Air Force, our worlds would have never touched if it hadn’t been for ChristianMingle.com!!!

  15. 253
    Fearless Fred

    Interesting. Had a few good dates from online sites talked to some ok people no big problems. if you have the patience and persistence it probably works,.My former wife did meet the millionaire of her dreams online and that worked for a couple of years for her.  It requires lots of time  to say not interested to nice people is always awkward and not the best feeling. The language people use here to label and describe people is appalling and very uncharitable though. Cynical,  sarcastic   stuff is best kept to your self. I live in a small community where they very quickly tell you to be nice or wash your mouth out if you said what is said online here and elsewhere. Perhaps online is too unreal and fantasy for humans to really deal with sensibly.The pent up dreams fears fantasies and bad behavior all seem end up there.Online dating is no different.

  16. 254
    Richard

    I have tried online dating in a small city for about 5 years and have only ended up meeting a few girls.  Here are my real world experiences:
          Girl #1: A local veterinarian I met on match.com.  She was open to meeting after a couple introductory emails.  Met that same weekend and spent the day at a local resort town.  She was nice, but quirky, more a friend than a girlfriend for me. Ultimately she just didn’t feel like someone I would fall for.  Was glad we brought it offline and met quickly.  Parted friends, with no additional dates.
          Girl #2: A girl that had moved to the area recently from California on match.com.  A few emails and she was ready to meet.  Met that weekend at a college cafe.  Cool girl but she seemed ready to jump in pretty quickly.  Was starting over and had no friends or family around.  No spark for me physically.  Again, glad we met sooner rather than later.  No second date.
           Girl #3: Local grad student met on match.com.  Didn’t want to meet right away like the other girls.  Spent a month emailing back and forth as she kept putting off meeting.  Finally met at a lakefront cafe.  She came clean saying she was trying to lose weight as she had gained 25 lbs since her online pics.  I was ok with that as she was still cute.  But it was weird meeting for the first time after emailing for so long.  All the easy conversation of a first meet had already been gone over.  The date was a little stale.  She decided to move away a few weeks later.  No second date.  Regretted getting strung along since she knew she was moving the whole time.
          Girl #4: Local retail clerk that was counterculture.  Met on POF. Agreed to meet after a few msgs.  Picked her up at her house and went to see a local band at a bar.  She ditched me halfway through but texted me after to apologize.  Didn’t have much in common other than being bored and looking to date.  
          Girl #5: Local student met on POF.  Again, agreed to meet after a couple messages.  Met at a bar for a few hours.  Went ok but she was much younger.  Texted for a bit after the meet but she faded away.  No second date.

    So, pretty poor results.  I did not find love, a long term relationship, or even a second date for that matter.  These were just the girls I met IRL.  There were a dozen or so others that I contacted that replied back and forth but never ended up meeting.  The girls on match.com are more committed to meet, maybe because it is a pay service.  On the free sites, the girls flake out much more often.  I would suggest meeting as soon as comfortable for both.  If the girl doesn’t want to meet after 3 or 4 emails over a week or so, she isn’t serious about meeting.  Meeting in a mutually agreed upon public place is safe and easy to do.  

    My conclusion is that online dating doesn’t work.  I don’t have any friends whom it has worked for either.  I see the same girls still online 5 years later.  Its’ obviously not working for them either.  Here’s the problem.  When I go to a party or club I know right away if I am attracted to someone, even though they are a perfect stranger.  I go up to them and introduce myself and get to know them.  Online dating is the exact opposite.   You find out all about the person, their likes and dislikes,  favorite books, music, movies, their job and life story, all before knowing if there is any chemistry  Then you meet them and see if you click.  It’s backwards and that’s why it doesn’t work.

      1. 254.1.1
        Richard

        I’m certainly not going to believe a study about online dating that was paid for by eHarmony:

        It was commissioned by the dating website eHarmony, according to the study’s conflict of interest statement. Company officials say eHarmony paid Harris Interactive $130,000 to field the research. Cacioppo has been a member of eHarmony’s Scientific Advisory Board since it was created in 2007. In addition, former eHarmony researcher Gian Gonzaga is one of the five co-authors. 

         

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          You can be as skeptical as you want; but that doesn’t change the fact that millions of people have found love online – and if you’re not one of them, it doesn’t negate the fact that online dating works for lots of folks – including all of the women on the success stories page above…

        2. JennLee

          It only works for those who are willing to accept that it is not an online store where you get to look at what is on offer and select what you want. You have to accept that what you want may not be what is actually available to you. If you are sending messages to the top 30% but not receiving any real interest in return, then the reality is that you aren’t in the top 30%. Likely not even in the top 40%. I think both men and women who are not in the top 30% are resisting accepting that. In other words, online dating can work for them if they are willing to accept that they have to stop chasing a pipe dream. They have to resist what a natural inclination is, which is to trait it like you are shopping and everything listed is available. You can’t window shop and choose only from the top tier. If you aren’t in that top tier and that is what you are doing, you are wasting your time. The problem is that it is painful for some people to admit they are not top tier. This is the main reason online doesn’t work for some people. I think people know this but they think it is just the other side being too picky. They don’t see themselves as being too picky also.

    1. 254.2
      EmeraldDust

      Richared @ 254 “Online dating is the exact opposite.   You find out all about the person, their likes and dislikes,  favorite books, music, movies, their job and life story, all before knowing if there is any chemistry”

      Hi Richard, I agree that this is the biggest challenge of OLD.  You meet a 2D person in cyberspace.  Their 2D profile could make them look terrific. “On paper” they look like a perfect match for you.  You move to phone call, and at least have the added dimension of voice.  But it’s still not a real world meeting.  Then you meet in the 3D, audio-visual, interactive real world and it all falls flat.  It’s really awkward getting from e-mail to phone and then deciding by phone that you aren’t a match.  It’s even more awkward getting to the in person meet up, and then deciding it’s a no-go. (that’s why people -men and women, do the slow fade, the disappearing, make a date for a week later, then cancel by text, etc) 
      I would actually PREFER  meeting IRL in the beginning.  I would know right away if I were attracted to him and he to me.  (by reading his facial expressions, body language and voice tone) 
      But since my divorce I have met men IRL and through OLD and neither have worked FOR ME.
      But I still can not conclude that it doesn’t work for anyone, because I know couples who have met IRL and through OLD. So the only logical thing to do is try ALL avenues until you get what you want (or give up).
      Since I have had MORE dates through OLD (and consequently more FAILED meetings) than real world, I don’t want to completely eliminate any option.
      But I think it was on THIS blog that I read a stat that after 60, the ratio of men to women is 2:1.  That doesn’t even take into account the ratio of WILLING men.  So if the ratio is 2:1 and only HALF of those men want a real relationship (as opposed to just casual sex)  the odds are lowered.  AND, I’m just not attracted to many men in my age range, so the odds are lowered even more.  AND, of that handful of men who I am attracted to, that are geographically close, age appropriate, I like their personality, etc.  and  are available, they just aren’t into me, so the odds are tiny.
      So it’s not the method of meeting that is flawed.  We are just fighting against some really slim odds.
      And it’s not that much easier for men, because even tho they start with the 2:1 advantage, once THEY factor out for whom they find attractive, who finds them attractive, who’s willing to have a relationship, who’s geographically close. etc/ it’s tough for men my age also.
       
      Being happily single is not the worst thing that can happen to someone.  Being MISERABLY stuck in a bad marriage is.  If I have to settle for that middle of the road, 2nd best lifestyle of happily single, so be it.
      The BEST thing is to be happily coupled up (at my age marriage is optional for a relationship), the second best thing is to have a solitary life filled with good friends and happy experiences.  
      I think the best thing I can do at this point in my life is create a happy, content single life and stay open to the POSSIBILITY of a relationship, but I no longer vigorously pursue one.
       

  17. 255
    Paul Pugliese

    Hey kids, if it makes you feel any better, way back when 1980 this happened to me. My wife put an ad in a personal section of a local paper. I was one of 20 guys who answered it. I got lucky and we have been married for 31 years, hang in there and keep trying, it is not impossible. Paul

  18. 256
    Jenny Ravelo

    I’ve read that 1/3 of people that get married after 2005 met their suposes online and report more happiness. Online dating expands your options, as others have said so you get to meet people it’s hard to meet offline. What we don’t know are is the marriage ratio for online daters vs. the mariage ratio of offline daters, which is important.

    As online dating expands your options for good people it also expands the possibility of meeting someone bad. When people decide to create a profile it’s because they’ve been having problems finding someone offline. The reality is that if you’ve got baggage, you’ll take it everywhere you go.

    If you’re a confident person that knows what you want, online dating might be a very good option because after you let all the bad fish slip, you get a great deal of good fish, but if you’re someone with issues, you’ll continue to be the “victim” of bad dates. 

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