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.


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. 121

    Jennifer’s also leaving out another huge reason some women especially older women prefer online to “irl”. Online they can “shop”(qualify) specifically by numbers as well as looks ie: Height,income,education etc…. where as “irl” they have no say as to who approaches them. You can’t easily ignore or delete a guy “irl” who shows interest at a bar or singles event as you can online.

  2. 122

    Given that so many profiles are not honest, if some women are going based on numbers (and even photos can be fake), they could run into trouble. My online profile has very few preferences and there are no preferences set for: income, education, salary, job, religion, or physical traits. I am an attractive woman who has been told that my profile is clever, so you might would think my in box would stay at least a little busy, but that’s not the case. Loads of guys view my profile, but very few approach. I think my biggest detractor for guys is the fact that I have two children living at home, although they are older teens. That’s too bad (for the guys, anyway). 😉 Ce la vie.

  3. 123

    Diana,I don’t mean that women’s profilesare set with “preferences” the “qualifiers” are in the mind as they search. Most sites won’t let you “”disqualify” or “filter out” who emails you except Plenty of Fish who’ll let you decide by age or if you have a photowho you will accept emails from but not obviously height,education,income etc… I’m just saying that “SOME” women not alldo use and stick to certain criteria.That’s what Evan is trying to get them to change and stop being so rigid.

    I know personally for myself that recently I’ve actually gotten responses from women who’s first question they ask is “tell me what you do and where you work” and then after I tell them. I’m disqualified and I never hear from them again. Not all of them,but some.

    Just like I don’t disqualify against a woman with kids under 15 for THAT reason alone but I have to draw the line somewhere and recently it was at a woman with 4 kids under 16 who sent me a recent pic (NOT in her profile btw) that was 20-30 lbs heavier than the one IN her profile. We all have our “deal breakers” don’t we…lol It’s just for men we usually don’t let what a woman does for a living or her income,education etc…break the deal all that often.
    We’re so superficial….lol So are the women believe me…lol

  4. 124

    C’est la vie, indeed.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed that on Match people who don’t fill in an answer on one of the questions (e.g. body type, hair color, etc.) don’t show up in searches unless the searcher has no preference on that question. So if you were looking for someone withall but one hair color(and had checked off all the boxes but one), you would not find someone who has “no answer” listed but who may very well fit the bill.

  5. 125

    Thanks for mentioning that, Joe. I search based on age and location. I have all of my details listed. I just click on “no preference” for several of the “what am I looking for” items. Most of the profiles that Match sends my way get disqualified due to their location.

    I had a good chuckle one time when I privately labored over whether a man I was genuinely interested in was living too far away. When I finally let him know this, he sounded irate and asked me whether I was interested in having a relationship or dating my next door neighbor. Well, I guess it depends on your next door neighbor. 😉

  6. 126

    Can’t quite figure out where to post this, so it’s going here. How do most people search for people on Do they search via activity date? Newest first? Just the default “Match picks” mode? A different way?

    The reason why I ask is because I am trying to convince my friend to at least log in to her account daily, even if she does nothing, just so that her account will be active within 24 hours. Because last night while we were searching for her it was 8 pages of 18 profiles per page before we got to people who had been active less often than that. So since she only logs in 1-2 times per week, I was telling her that most guys would never find her in a search. (Her profile is far from new, the alphabetical order search wouldn’t help her…she does have a picture so she might randomly come up sooner in that or in the semi-random default search but no guarantees there.)

  7. 127

    All my searches are in this order

    1. Newest profiles first
    2. Distance from my house (closest first obviously)
    3. Active within a week

    I’m sure most people on every site know if you’re not active in over a week it’s not a great thing. But on Match for guys searching by “distance” first she should still come up to those guys nearest to her on the first page even if she hasn’t logged on in 2 or 3 days.

  8. 128

    Hi A-L. I don’t know how people search on Match, but I make it a point to update my profile every few days, even if it’s just a minor tweak. It helps to keep my profile near the top, if the guy is doing a general search based on age and location.

  9. 129

    Cant quite figure out where to post this, so its going here. How do most people search for people on Do they search via activity date? Newest first? Just the default Match picks mode? A different way?
    I search for women between 32 and 33, living within 20 miles.

  10. 130

    32 and 33 !!!!!! …you’re kidding right ??

  11. 131

    Jennifer – Actually,the conclusionsI’ve drawn about whyinternet dating hasn’t worked for me do seem representative of what most men go through. A few Google searches about online dating or readingmany ofthe above posts seem to reinforce my opinion. And, thats all it is, my opinion; based upon my own life. You are certainly right that there are other types of girls online dating then those I have met. The world is a big place. But they do seem to be the exception, not the rule. If a guy were to ask me what I think of online dating, I would share with him my experiences. They are the only truth I know. I wouldnt share with him what potential experiences I think are out there. Id tell him about my actual interactions and dates, and the conclusions I have come to based upon them. Believe me, and I cant stress this enough, I hold out hope for the type of girl you described. Best of luck to us all in the New Year.

  12. 132

    Rick #124

    If the women you encounter online are so bad, why aren’t you dating one of your many high-quality female friends?

  13. 133

    is online dating a good thing or a bad thing? it depends – are you male or female? formost menit is not very good and heres why:
    -Far fewerfemales than males, usually its anywhere from 2x more men up to 10x as many males as there are females
    -Of the women that do post,the percentage of attractive women is much smaller than the percentage of attractive women outin the real world. ( to test this brows a dating site, then walk down a crowded street and compare)
    -add to this thaton some sitemanyfemale profiles are fakes made by the site to attract males.Many are also fakes that spam once they get your email(especially CL where almostall the W4M are spam)
    For women on the other hand.. it might not be so bad, even pretty good maybe.
    – the biggest complaint from women is that its not easy to find the perfect guy (but are the choices available online so much worse than (irl))
    + women get messaged often, get replies to thier messagesand can go on dates if they choose ( my guess based on the numbers discrepency).

  14. 134
    scott (second)

    So i have decided to use this online dating to see what it’s albout
    i have managed to get replies within four or six emails sent to different woman
    but how, i had to change my strategy a few times to be successful.
    Here’s one i tryed, you have imagen that you are in a bar having a drink and you’re approaching her for example
    You see a cute girl stood at the bar you walk up to her and say your icebreaker she talk’s to you and after she has finnished look her in the eye’s you say “well it was nice talking to you”(not sarcastic but sincere) you then shake her hand and turn around to talk to someone else, to her it’s like rejection so she trys to engage in conversion again.
    So you find a cute girl on the intrernet you click on her proflie you read it hopfully its only short you send her the icebreaker(find something in her profile you can use) then wright “iv just read your proflie”, so this is like she’s taking to you in the bar(your reading her prolie “im anna i like, movies, cinema, frends…….”)
    then you wright “we just are’nt a very good match come to think of it, but good luck anyway” (she will see this as rejection) then send it. With in 20 minutes she read my profile and sent me a message, ok this won’t always work, but it’s a good way to get her attention.
    The message read “how dare you, who do you think you are sending that as a first message”
    What’s this saying “why did you reject me” she’s also curious. You send a message back saying “Your proflie just has no depth, more depth creates more interest, Tell me something interesting about yourself” by doing this you see your setting the standerd,
    What your saying is your looks dont mean anything to me, and what you said in your poor profile is’nt going to cut it. The thing is she read my profile so if she was’nt interested why send the message in the first place, most people wouldn’t even bother. Sound’s like misdirection, remember action’s speak louder than words.

  15. 135

    It worked for me.  It took 4 men to get the right one at number 5.  The first man liked to dress up in womens clothing, the second one forgot to tell me he was married and living in a camper in his soon to be x's backyard, the third one was ok but had 40 yr. old "kids" still living at home with him and the next one city hunted and bleached animal skulls!!

    The 5th man and I hit it off.  He was very persistant and really went after me.  We have been together for 2 yrs. and live together and are engaged so yes it can work.

  16. 136


    So this mean that even if I’m an attractive 29 years-old woman, who’s got a great job and is a single mother should be ruled out just because I decided to be responsible and carry on with the consequences of my actions or because once I divorced I kept custody? Does this mean that the 70% of single moms you’re talking about don’t have the same right as you or anyone else to find love and start anew?

    My opinion is totally based on presumptions but after reading what you wrote, I think I know why you’re still single.

  17. 137

    @Diane #140 –

    You’ve only had to go through 5?

  18. 138
    Karl R

    Mimi asked: (#141)
    “Does this mean that the 70% of single moms you’re talking about don’t have the same right as you or anyone else to find love and start anew?”

    Dating isn’t a right. Dating isn’t egalitarian. Dating is millions of people making individually biased decisions.

    If you’re attractive, you have an advantage. If you’re unattractive, you’re at a disadvantage. This pattern applies across many traits.

    As a single mother, you probably will be ruled out by a number of men like Vino. It doesn’t matter whether you “should be ruled out”. Some men will rule you out. That doesn’t mean you can’t find love. It does mean that it might take you longer.

    If you don’t want it to take longer for you, then there is an easy solution: don’t rule out as many men as other women do.

  19. 139

    Vino, at #14-

    I don’t know if you’re on this blog anymore, but I’m curious- if women aren’t supposed to use flattering adjectives to describe themselves, how exactly ARE they supposed to describe themselves? From what you’ve written, you seem to have knocked out EVERY member of the female population.

    Also- you’ve said women who are emotionally/physically healty don’t do the online thing. What about men? I’m assuming it’s the same there. You’re online dating- are you categorizing yourself as unhealthy as well? If so, how do you expect to find a healthy woman?

    Again- don’t know if you’re still reading, so it’s likely that my questions will remain unanswered…

  20. 140


    No, it means no such thing. Being a single mom means men like Vino will automatically weed themselves out as your dating prospects. Which is a GOOD thing. And a big time saver as well.

  21. 141
    Karl R

    sayanta, (#144)
    Evan can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he advises that you not use any adjectives to describe yourself in your profile.

    And I believe Evan booted Vino from the blog over a year ago.

  22. 142

    #146, Karl-

    Oh, yeah I know that. I’m not an adjective fan myself- it’s just the way Vino was expressing himself- it just came across as kind of misogynistic. Booted from the blog? Really? I mean, don’t agree with his comments, but it seems that then half the people here should have been booted- lol.

  23. 143


    I don’t think it makes any sense to pick on Vino.  Obviously there are men and women out there who are less than completely considerate and open-minded.  Isn’t it healthy to get the perspective of someone like that on a site like that?  

    And I do not think that Vino said anything that objectionable.  Except for people at the bottom of the barrel, everyone has standards.  As Karl and Sayanta have said, being in a relationship isn’t a right, but a single mom is a single mom as a result of her own choices, someone who is “ugly” or fat (things that you apparently didn’t have a problem with) just inherited bad genes.  And frankly, a single parent’s lifestyle is going to be very different from a non-parent’s. 
    So this mean that even if I’m an attractive 29 years-old woman, who’s got a great job and is a single mother . . . Does this mean that the 70% of single moms you’re talking about don’t have the same right as you or anyone else to find love and start anew?”
    Unless you believe that only successful and attractive people have a “right to start anew,” what moral difference does it make if you’re attractive or not or successful or not? 

    The only thing that’s unfair is how moms usually do A LOT more childrearing after a separation.  Single dads, whose custody might be a few days per month or nothing at all, thus tend to have it a lot easier with geting back into relationships.  One night/six night splits are unfair (though often willingly chosen), but the unfairness comes from the father, not men the mom would like to date. 

  24. 144

    I don’t know if this has been discussed before, so my apologies. But probably the biggest ‘annoyance’ to put it mildly, is getting a bazillion winks and only a handful of e-mails on a paid site. But when I was on POF, it was a bazillion e-mails and a handful of winks (same pics by the way). Oh, the irony.

  25. 145

    I’ve been on and off dating sites both paid and free and found my results to be very luke warm.  I thought I had caught a very nice fish on POF and we dated for about a month and a half and then she freaked out and hopped off the hook.  I have all but given up on the whole thing.  I have a decent profile, recent photographs and still nothing.  I really think that all of us, myself included, have a checklist of the type of person we want to be with.  And some of us that have been divorced seem to be a little more picky.  We know what we want and there is no sense in settling for someone that does not meet our standards.  The whole online thing simply perpetuates this the idea.  Where else can you look at a persons picture and simply reject them without even talking to them.  Or you can read someone’s profile  and then reject them because he or she is a certain height or weight or have the same education level or make a certain amount of money.  Oh well I think I’ll try meeting people the old fashioned way.  But gasp, that means I’d have to leave the house and actually talk to them.  I really wish I could teleport myself back to the eighties when the dance clubs in my city were hopping and it was so much easier to talk to women.  Clubbing today is a young man’s game and besides most of them 1) don’t know how to dance and 2) are meat-heads or ditzes.

  26. 146
    Karl R

    After reading an OkCupid blog post discussing how poorly and eHarmony performed, I decided to do some fact-checking.

    Info taken from eHarmony’s website:
    “With over 15K new members joining everyday and 236* of them getting married each day; it’s easy to see why eHarmony is a brand people trust with their most important life decision”

    * The source was a survey of 7,135 people who got married.

    236 / 15,000 = 1.57%
    eHarmony caters exclusively to people who are serious about getting married, yet only 1.6% end up getting married.

    Info taken from a advertisement:
    “12 couples got married or engaged today thanks to”
    “Engage 2.8 million users who connect online and meet offline.”

    Assuming that the source of the “12 couples” was from the same survey of married people…
    12 couples = 24 people per day = 8,760 per year
    8,760 / 2,800,000 = 0.64%
    Of’s 2.8 million users, only 0.6% get married each year.

    The same advertisement said:
    “56 million+ first emails sent per year”

    56 million emails / 4,380 marriages = 12,785
    For every marriage, 12,875 first emails were sent.

    At least was smart enough to drop this information from their advertisments.

    Of the 88.9 million single people in the US, 4.4 million got married (during the same year as eHarmony’s survey).
    4.4 million / 88.9 million = 4.9%
    If you’re single, your chance of getting married is 4.9%, regardless of whether you use online dating.

    No wonder so many of us say that we do better offline than online.

    hiker said: (#150)
    “I think I’ll try meeting people the old fashioned way.  But gasp, that means I’d have to leave the house and actually talk to them.”

    It might improve your odds.

  27. 147

    RE: Karl’s #151
    How many of Match’s 56 million e-mails were spam?  For instance, “I think you’re hot.  Call me at xxx-xxxx,” or some such garbage.  I suspect that’s a large percentage, and it might improve Match’s odds.  But wow, makes me feel lucky I didn’t have to wade through 12,000 some e-mails!

  28. 148

    Match is a complete joke.  I have a pretty good profile, current photographs and I even change it from time to time.  I send notes to those I am interested in and occasionally they will respond and then all communication stops.  And just for the record I usually keep the conversation about things in their profiles and never anything vulgar or sexually explicit.  But a lot of the time the women will not respond and what’s worse will not even view my profile.  I used to worry about it but now I don’t even give half the women in my area a second thought.  If they view my profile and don’t email me or even wink I take that to mean they weren’t interested.
    The only criteria I have in my profile that might eliminate some of the women online is that I would like to date has to be physically fit or at least trying to be.  None of the other aspects such as income, job, or religion will eliminate a person from a possible date/relationship.  I think some women have unrealistic expectations and pass over many a guy because they don’t make enough money, aren’t into travel(which takes $$), or even don’t own a home.
    @ Karl R #151, thanks for posting that and you are absolutely correct getting out to meet people the old fashioned way will greatly improve your odds.  Trying to find love online does nothing but deflate a person’s confidence.

  29. 149

    And just so you know many of the same people on Match also can be also found on POF and even though this is a free site you have to wade through a lot of “non-keepers.”  I imagine a lot of people on POF actually believe they’ve got a better chance of finding love.  The site is free so you can imagine the “quality” of people that entices.  And the forums are full of both men and women complaining about the type of people found on the site.    But what they tend to forget is that you get what you pay for on POF which equals “Nothing.”

  30. 150

    TO Hiker
    Just a thought: if I read a guy’s profile and he has a list of very specific things he wants in a woman; I’ll not wink or send an email even if I am interested because he’s eliminated me in some way in his list. 

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