Does Online Dating Even Work?!

man sitting on the couch with laptop on his lap

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.


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 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.

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  1. 321

    Karl R,

    Thank you. You were right in your assumption. I don’t want to be the ‘alpha female’ (and that’s not naturally who I am, anyway), but equally I don’t want to sit on my hands and wait for a man to magically appear. I want to maximise my chances of meeting a great partner, and not turn into a bitter person who gripes about how hard dating is. I was impressed with your approach and how you took dating seriously and made concerted efforts to improve yourself and your dating outcomes. I was also impressed at how you looked at things – ie. many people who try online dating with no success after several months look at it as a failure, but you looked at how it helped in a general sense & what you got out of it.

    While I’m optimistic and positive about dating in general and would never gripe at how horrible dating/men/the whole world is, I must admit I find it hard sometimes to keep going back and trying again and again when things happen like people ghost/only want sex/come on strong at first &  then flake out (which is what I’m going through at the moment). So I find your words and attitude helpful and encouraging.

    I know you’re married, but as many people have asked, please come back and check this out from time to time and chime in when you can 🙂

    PS I’m assuming when you referred to the anecdote about the Argentinian woman, you do Bikram yoga (due to the sweat, which ‘cold’ yoga doesn’t really produce)? Shout out to a fellow Bikram devotee!!

  2. 322

    well it does work for some people.   Both my daughters met their husbands though Match.

    Not to be plugging that one specific site..but I believe if you have to *pay* for something it has more of a meaning..than say the freebee sites.

    Both my sons-in-laws are wonderful, the girls found what they were looking for, so makes me feel good.



  3. 323

    Thought I’d chime in. I’m a mid 40s male. Seperated from a 12 year relationship. Never had problems meeting people but moved to a small town years ago and own a business in that town and personally decided I didn’t want to date anyone from the town. So I turned to online dating. I subscribed for 1 month. First week was slow, I sent tons if messages and no replies. I changed my main profile pic and also changed my first message tactic. Suddenly I was getting 8, 10 messages a day. I dated women anywhere from 32 to 51 years old. Never had a bad date. And before the month ended, I actually met someone and we connected very good and we both deleted our profiles and are happy together. So for me, I gusss it’s a rare occasion that everything went suoer smooth. I never lied on my profile and tried different approach. 90% of women kept saying they wanted to see a pic of a guy without sunglasses and without a hat. At first my pic was just my face, clean shave no hat no sunglasses. Tben I switched my pic to me sitting in my car, hat on, plain t-shirt and my fully tattooed arm showing. My second was similar but with sunglasses. The responses were 10x better. It also unfortunately attracted women I had no interest in like way young or the tough biker chick ones and that’s normal considering my looks. But like I said, I then found the one I’m with today and some say that it’s true, opposite attracts. So again, for me it worked great.

  4. 324
    dennis 9R4bS1

    I certainly think it’s weird that so   many online dating profiles from women sound like they’re looking for a daddy for their kids..and what’s with this “if you’re not serious don’t bother”   or “only those serious about   marriage need apply”,as though if a guy goes out with her he’d better be of the   mind set   that he’s going to marry her…really? so if the guy is just wanting to date and have fun,he’s not acceptable? any time i read   a profile that reads like a contract that i must have marriage in mind,you can bet i’ll   not   get involved..that’s more than just rushing things.Also,many profiles don’t even mention the woman’s race..I’m certainly not the only person that dates within his own race,so i know it can’t be offensive to do so.Also,i agree witha person above about age ..i have always appeared to be 15 years younger than my real age and have always dated and am only interested in younger women.if i list my age on a site that ‘matches people in that fashion i have no luck..and even those sites that don’t match that way have search features that people use and they all(except maybe 1%) are matching themselves with others their age or younger.In the real world ,people often meet and talk first and age isn’t relatively important enough to inquire about right off the bat.S it’s easier in some cases ,for that very reason,to use real world one on one meetings instead of dating sites.When meeting people in public,if they ask my age i ask them how old i look.whatever they’re reply is i say “sounds good to me..i don’t tell them my age and i have found it easier to find matches that way because they don’t care about age after that first initial half hour or so of talking ..later when   i tell my age,their surprised but not taken back enough to   be discouraged by it..this won’t happen on a dating site.

  5. 325

    Online dating is like going for a job interview. Been on a number of dates where guys have asked about my job aspirations. Where I see my career going. Meet one guy on 45k who said he partly dated online because he was looking for someone to help pay of the mortgage but would be willing to support someone if she was at least 5 years younger than him (I was so he’d have been willing to support me).

    Also feel like it’s a elimination process men try to weed you out rather than get to know you. You’re better off, off line.

  6. 326
    Online 4 Love

    hi thanks for the information and awesome posts

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