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.

Join our conversation (478 Comments).
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  1. 21

    don’t shoot the messenger juju, just b/c you dislike the message.

    more from the what not to write archives of dating…

    vino: “thanks for the wink. how is your Tuesday?”

    Mz X: “it’s sunny & beautiful out, so it is all good. A little more about me – I’m from the east coast, undergrad in xxx, law school in xxx. I livedin xxx,then I moved here. So what’s your story?”

    vino: “A lawyer? My momma told me to stay away from lady lawyers…they were all trouble. 😉 I also hail from the east, lived in xxx for undergrad,then in xxx, now here. I see you like wines. Any particular favorites?”

    Mz X: “I like malbecs and since I lived in NZ for awhile, I like pinots too. It’s cool you lived in xxxx. I spent a semester in xxxx. It was lots of fun. So what is it you do?”

    mmmm. So subtle. I found this in the email archives. Aside from the fact her pictures sucked (blurry & poorly lit), she’s a lawyer & therefore ‘out.’ Reason – preoccupation with what I do for work. Not one thing about my profile (ie- me) , but made a point tell me 2x she is a lawyer (it’s in her profile too). Essentially, all she did was tell me where she’s lived so that I would give her my resume. blech.

  2. 22

    Okay, let me attempt to word this in a way that would likely pass the censorship here: you, vino, complain how all women are just cold-hearted calculating bitches, but did you ever stop to think why a genuinely nice and kind person would want to be with you?

  3. 23

    re: 22
    That was below the belt.

  4. 24

    Juju, please read my previous posts. Nowhere have I ever said ‘all’ women are heartless bitches or anything so absolute. If you wish to insult, at least be marginally accurate. By the way, by so insulting without provocation, please consider the possibility you prove my point. Have a nice day.


    A pleasure seeing you , as always.

  5. 25

    All right.

    I’ve led the horse to water.

  6. 26


    I gotta say I’m as cynical and sarcastic as the next person (I even composed a form letter for the many mismatched suitors who flooded my box–e.g. “Clearly, from your photo, you are not 45. I’m not dating Gandalf, Santa, or the guy holding the pitchfork in ‘American Gothic.'” ) But you sound like you have an enormous chip on your shoulder. Not every woman who asks about your profession is a gold digger. For most people it’s just a safe conversation starter. We’ve been warned to stay away from so many hot button issues, it leaves us precious little in the way of innocuous banter. Would you be happier if she asked, “What medications do you take on a regular basis?” or “How often do you change your sheets? or “Where do you stand on a woman’s right to choose?” Sheesh.

  7. 27


    First, I’m reprinting previous things from online dating – where there was an extensive profile indicating local restaurants I like, several recent books read, places I’ve gone, activities I enjoy, funny movies, etc. There are pictures of my dog. There are at least a dozen things to ask about. But what’s the first or second question – “What do you do for work?” Nearly every time. Who cares? I’m not working with them….They care. Blech.

    There are several threads on this site on the subject of money & dating, so I won’t rehash those arguments. I’d suggest reading them. One look at that shows how many women expect their ‘dates’ to earn 2x what they earn is nothing short of shocking.

    On the subject of safe conversation starters, how hard is it to say, “Oh I see you like wine. Have you been to Napa/Sonoma?” Or “I read Freakanomics too. What was your favorite part? Mine was…?” Or, “Oh, you like hiking? Have you ever been to Yosemite?” I mean, how hard is that really to start a conversation? Answer – it isn’t. So please spare me the criticism for pointing out disingenuous behavior.


    “We’ve been warned to stay away from so many hot button issues, it leaves us precious little in the way of innocuous banter.” What? Victims of not knowing what to say? Puh-lease. Don’t be so obvious is all. You’re still being less-than-open, but it’s easier to tolerate.

    “But you sound like you have an enormous chip on your shoulder.” Ah yes, I’m unreasonably angry for pointing out people who clearly don’t care about me, but what I can give or do for them.

    “Not every woman who asks about your profession is a gold digger.” – Most are – see articles quoted in other threads.

    Oh, and….

    “What medications do you take on a regular basis?”
    – Aspirin & ibuprofen

    “How often do you change your sheets?”
    – Where’s the wet spot again? 😉

    “Where do you stand on a woman’s right to choose?”
    Choose all you want. Just don’t come looking for $ from him because of YOUR choice.

    Have a nice evening

  8. 28

    Well after reading this thread I finally realize I am not the only male who has not had any luck with dating websites. I’ve tried them all from the free ones to E-harmony, and nothing has worked…

    I’m a 39 yr old, attractive, educated, active, employed, single dad who doesn’t have time to go all over the place looking for “the one”, so I thought I would try it online. UGH…

    Here is what I have discovered, and feel free to comment or correct me if you think I’m wrong…

    1. It ALL comes down to the picture. Nothing more, nothing less. If the woman does not find you even semi-attractive, you won’t even get a visit to your profile.

    2. IF you get the visit to your profile, it then comes down to the “two” vital stats, height and weight. If you are too short or too tall, too fat or too thin, this is the next eliminating step.

    3. IF you make it past 1 and 2, then it comes down to your occupation and how much money you make. No matter how much the woman professes she doesn’t care about money or a job and that she is very independent, she wants a man that can take care of her. If you don’t make the amount she is comfortable with, you’re done.

    4. IF you have kids under the age of 18, you’re done at this step. She is single and wants ALL the attention. IF she has kids under the age of 18 and a really good parent, she’s probably not on the dating website to begin with. She is “too busy” to date.

    5. If (and only if) you make it past these steps, will she finally read what your profile has to say.

    What I don’t get is that most women’s profiles tell you all of the qualities she is looking for in a man and how important they are to her. But none of these qualities are ever the “eliminating ones”. As long as you pass through steps 1 and 5, she would be happy to take a man that blows her off three times for a date, tells her she’s fat, beats on her for fun, and tells her how much he hates her family. And you know what, if he broke it off with her and called her back in a month, she’d be happy to take him back.

    1. 28.1
      Sarah Jo

      Are you f******* serious? What constitutes a good mother is being single until your children are 18? What world do you live in? So say a single mother heaven forbid finds a guy online and falls in love, gets married and the guy becomes the best step parent her child could ever wish for, it’s wrong because she’s a bad mother for meeting online?

    2. 28.2

      I find that women over 40 isn’t getting any luck because of their age. I’m over 40 with a child under 18 and would love to date. I don’t care about how much a man makes as long as he’s good to me. I would like someone over 5’11 because I’m 5’1. Lol. there’s nothing wrong with a man with a lil weight. They give great hugs.   So that’s what I’m looking for and still haven’t found it.

      1. 28.2.1

        …how does a man 5’11” hug a 5′ woman? standing on   a staircase?…..

    3. 28.3

      My response to you is it depends on what women you are emailing.   If you are emailing the top tier of attractive women they everything you typed is correct.   Why is that?   Because those women are getting bombarded with emails, and have their pick of who they want to go out with.      Understand the huge discrepancy between how much correspondence men get versus women.   I am your age, and most men in our age range set their age range below their own. So if you are looking for a 30 year old attractive woman, she has her choice and most people are going to take the hottest looking guy, with the least baggage,  who is over 6′ tall and skinny.   Why because she can.      I bet there are a lot of average looking women in your age range that would love to talk to you and whom you would make the cut with, but you are not emailing them.          If I am getting over 30 emails a day, like I did when I online dated, yes I am going to look at pictures.   I am sorry but I simply don’t have the time to do otherwise, and it is the quickest way to weed men out.   I am also going to chose a man without kids over one who has them, because my lifestyle is not such that I want to become a parent.

  9. 29


    I can’t see what exactly surprises you. Wouldn’t 1 and 2 be the eliminating factors for you as well? 3 is so deeply rooted in our biology and evolution that I don’t know how many generations it will take for the situation to change. I personally know a woman with an exaggerated sense of responsibility (in all areas of life), and she is absolutely unable to accept the man paying for anything at all, but that’s an aberration rather than the norm.

    But what I wanted to comment on was 4. I once dated a man with a child from a previous marriage, before I had any preferences on the subject. He had his daughter every weekend. Whatever parties and events I was invited to I had to attend alone. (That particular situation was exacerbated by the fact that on weekdays he worked until 8 or 9 pm.) And sooner or later the question arises: why do I need a boyfriend at all? I felt like I was on my own all the time anyway.

    If I have a choice (and I do), why would I agree to the additional liability of someone else’s child? Besides, it’s not like I am asking for anything I cannot offer.

    Of course the qualities they list mean “after the basic prerequisites are fulfilled” (most commonly, the physical attraction).

    I am sure the process is exactly the same for [many] men. Including your very last point.

    1. 29.1
      Dan Christensen

      I don’t have a clue who you are, what you do, or why you find it necessary to be so confrontational with, essentially, strangers. I won’t speculate or offer any intuitive input. I do think, however, that you are the very woman that these posters have been describing. You make more money than them, you would never “date” them because they don’t fit into your myopic vision and are probably alone and convinced yourself that you “like it that way”. I have no idea why you just can’t go to the store, buy what you need, go home and feed your cat (Disclaimer: I own 8 of them). Let the adults who actually are too busy with real lives to go to bars (not to discount those that don’t drink or smoke) and let us be who we are. Your picture makes me believe that you are under 40 and (I only have  anecdotal evidence to back this up) are an ageist. I actually sympathize    with your plight (i.e. I still remember being 30) but your interjections, no matter how  poignant and verbose add nothing to the dialogue those of us that are trying to improve our lives by finding another human being to connect with on an essentially spiritual level are trying to have. Go back to your room and watch some more True Blood. Peace, out  

  10. 30

    By the way, as far as the numbers are concerned, you forgot age.

    I don’t even answer the e-mails that do not include a picture [in which I can actually see the person] and the vital stats. I can’t afford to.

    1. 30.1

      I agree with you. Don’t argue with misogynists

  11. 31

    Scott, you are right. It all comes down to the picture. For a kick you should find a guy’s pic that’s a “10” put it up on any site and watch how ridiculous all the women act and the crazy things that they say and do….lol
    This profile I actually wrote in less than a minute with NO substance on purpose and because he was “hot” every woman “loved his profile”…lol
    go figure. Like Evan says it’s human nature. Everyone(men too) thinks they deserve the most attractive people on the site. Even if they’re a “3”.

    What it really taught me is that as a guy who’s maybe a “5” or a “6” I basically have very little or NO value online. Even with quality pics I still look like I look …lol I still try though but it’s “just another club in the bag” as far as meeting women. What are gonna do ? Hang out in the supermarket ?? …LOL

  12. 32


    I hear what you are saying, and NO, I’m not surprised by any of it. I think it just goes to show why internet dating does not really work for most men. Except for Evan (who is probably getting a kickback from a dating service), most of the comments I have read here from men are NOT positive.

    I didn’t include or even consider age because when I am looking at a women’s profile it generally indicates what she is looking for as an age range. If I don’t fit in, I don’t initiate a contact.

    As women, like you said, you have a choice. You just watch all the emails collect in your inbox. Men, on the other hand don’t have it that way.

    Maybe I’m not the “norm” for guys but I’d like to think there are a lot of men out there like me. When I do a search for women that I “match” with, I actually do read the profiles of those who I might not find “very” attractive at first glance. I do know from having relationships in my past, that personality and character can go a long way to making someone seem attractive. It’s the package, not just the picture. I’ve read profiles of women who became even more attractive after I took the time to read about them. If compatibility and personality were not a big factor in making a relationship work, then why some dating sites use them as the criteria for matching?

    From what your saying, it seems the dating sites would be more effective if we could punch in hair color, eye color, boob size, big butt, small butt, well hung, build, etc. and come up with matches in your zip code that way. Once you get that out of the way, then you can read the more superficial stuff in the profile.

    As far as kids? If a man is truly looking to integrate you into his life with his children, it can be done. It takes some work on everyones part. But like you said, YOU have “a choice”, because your inbox will be full again in the next 24 hours…


  13. 33


    I am bi-cultural and use ethnic dating sites, as I would ideally prefer someone with the same background (that explains the different [from something like] format).

    It’s exactly the same way for me, I don’t have to find the person VERY attractive, merely acceptable, appearance-wise. I couldn’t care less about the color of anything (I honestly could know a person for years and not even know their eye color (unless it’s brown, but only because that’s usually easy to predict)), and sometimes I wish the size was a known from the start =), as it could potentially completely ruin the courtship, but I have to disagree with you on all those criteria as being part of the person’s profile – I can see almost all the things that interest me in a clear full-height picture anyway =), and not all of them matter, to me.

    As for that relationship I had – at that point I wasn’t exactly looking to be “integrated”. It takes time for both parties to decide whether the introduction to the kids is even warranted, and we only survived 5-6 weeks. The first couple of weeks he came over every night, and we both somehow subsisted on 3 hours of sleep during that period, but it’s not sustainable long-term. If I felt that the man (any man with children) simply completes me, I guess I would have gone through the effort required, but the likelihood of that is negligible anyway.

    And as far as “kickbacks” are concerned – I could tell you about so many negative experiences of my own (with online dating), so much disappointment and disillusionment that sometimes took me prolonged periods of time to recover from. Only to harp on that would not be helpful to anyone including myself. In terms of quantity, if not quality, online dating still remains the best way to meet new people. Try to vary your methods some, though, participate in activities with your children and whatnot – some women just swoon over men they perceive as good fathers.

  14. 34
    Evan Marc Katz

    “Kickbacks”? Honestly, Scott.

    Everything I say, I believe, because I’ve seen it up close.

    I’ve helped people find love in both their 20’s and 60’s.
    I’ve helped Asian men meet Caucasian women.
    I’ve helped a pair of sisters find love.
    I’ve helped a woman in a wheelchair to get engaged.

    So while I’m not denying the source of anyone’s negativity – it IS a jungle out there – I can GUARANTEE you that every single person reading this can improve their success exponentially with new photos, a new profile, a new email technique, and a new understanding of the opposite sex.

    There are MILLIONS of positive stories out there. If you don’t have them, the answer isn’t to blame the system, however unfair it might be. It’s to do something different.

  15. 35
    Evan Marc Katz


    It would be no exaggeration to say that I have hundreds of customer testimonials. It would also be no exaggeration to say that most people I work with don’t like having their names and photos attached to a very Googleable dating coach.

    So, am I going to post the emails that I helped teach my clients to write? No.

    Am I going to post their essays and “out” them to the world? No.

    I trust that you appreciate my discretion on behalf of my valued clients. I’m not being evasive. I’m being honorable.

    However, if your appetite is still not satiated, click here to see a few success stories from the first 18 months of my business:

    Click here if you want to hear some more recent tales of success:

    And if you’re still skeptical about my “success” stories and “paid” services for “working” with me, well, there’s nothing I’m going to do that’s going to convince you.

    Have a good weekend.


  16. 36


    I would really appreciate hearing some of the success stories out there. Can you please post some legitimate details, including what their picture looked like, what they wrote, how they corresponded, where they met? You know, SPECIFIC details about specific situations, including the websites they used.

    While I find your words enlightening, you speak in very broad and general terms with no real specifics (unless I am missing them somewhere on your site) to back them up. What ARE these “success” stories? Do we get that information for free, or is that part of your “paid” services when we “work with you?

    Since most men are very detail oriented and very specific in nature, maybe that would help us to be more encouraged with this website dating that you are so excited about. Details, please…

    All of us men would like to know!


  17. 37
    Karl R

    I took advantage of the free advice that Evan has posted around, and it improved the number of responses that I got.

    I spent about 8 or 9 months last year using online dating. Nothing went past the first few dates. But I’d still say that online dating was very useful for me.

    By the end of that period, I had lots of experience with asking women out and lots of experience going on first dates. When I met an interesting woman at my church, I was calm and confident when I asked her out. On the first date, I was relaxed and able to be myself.

    We dated for 4 1/2 months.

    That experience also helped me be confident and relaxed when I met my current girlfriend (while out dancing). Our first date was about a month ago.

    Andrew Hunt (#20) said:
    “I sometimes don’t get why confident people are online. They are capable enough to meet someone for real in a club or something.”

    People who hang out in bars and clubs have one thing in common … they like to drink. For many of us, it’s not an ideal place to meet someone.

    Obviously I have several offline options for meeting women. However, few places or activities provide access to a limitless supply of interesting women. Should I have a dry spell where I’m not encountering any new women, I can always turn to online dating to introduce me to women that I’d never run across through my normal daily activities.

  18. 38

    I have to disagree with Juju and Scott here about the importance of the photo in online dating. Granted, if I find the picture repulsive, then there’s no way anything in the profile is going to help. With that exception noted, however, the #1 thing that draws me to a guy’s profile is what he actually writes. If your profile is funny or interesting and doesn’t just say the same stupid stuff as everyone else’s (I like watching tv, sports, working out and am looking for an attractive woman who takes care of her body to have some fun with…) then I am totally interested. These are the guys who I will initiate contact with rather than waiting for them to contact me, because they’re RARE! And unless they look totally repusive, it makes no difference whatsoever what they look like.

    Now if you have the same bland profile as everyone else, then the picture, height, weight, income, etc are all that you CAN be judged on. So, though I receive no kickbacks from Evan or anyone else, I agree with him that online dating can work, and the biggest key for me is writing a good profile (the it also helps to have good pictures, even if you’re no 10, for those who are more visually oriented).

  19. 39

    Internet dating trades on the superficial – a photo a profile nothing else. If you read women’s profiles very careful 99% are looking for the same thing, and they have been brainwashed by the superficial society we now live in. Every man is looking for a blond supermodel, every woman for a Brad Pitt lookalike. Thats why there are so many older single women about now – and increasing all of the time. How on earth did people find partners before internet dating Evan?!!! Stick to the tried and trusted and safer way, get out there and meet people instead of spending hours in computerland living a fantasy.

  20. 40

    I don’t know if I’m just looking for a solution to my problem but this post is really good. I’m in love with 2 persons I met online and I’m not really sure if what I’m doing right now is good or not. One thing I’m sure though, that we don’t meet people by chance. So….whether it’s online or not, I’d still give my best to know people I meet.

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