Which Leads to More Breakups: Online Dating vs Real Life?

online dating vs meeting in real life

I try pretty hard not to give into confirmation bias. Which is to say that I believe that online dating is a valuable tool in your dating arsenal. And the last thing I want to do is give you studies and information that suggest otherwise. 

But this Engadget synopsis of a Michigan State/Stanford study suggests that online dating is less likely to last and leads to more break-ups than meeting someone in real life. At least that’s what the headline said. I didn’t pay to download the study. 🙂

What Online Dating vs Real Life Dating Studies Show

“The separation and divorce rates for adults who’d paired up through online dating apps and similar technology was much higher than their offline compatriots, and many relationships founded in online dating services tended to end within a year after the survey. Is Online Better Than Offline For Meeting Partners? states that those who met on the web were more likely to date than actually marry compared to people that’d met IRL, too — by more than double.”

The online dating vs real life study doesn’t get more specific than that, so we’re left here to interpret the lack of data for ourselves, through the lens of our own biases.

If you’re going to date for 2 years before you get married, what difference does it make if you met at a party or on OkCupid?

I could accept the possibility that people who met on a dating app are more likely to get divorced, even though a competing study from 2013 said the complete opposite. From a purely objective point of view, it doesn’t make any sense that there’d be a difference either way. I mean, if you’re going to date for 2 years before you get married, what difference does it make if you met at a party or on a dating site like OkCupid?

What Online Dating Studies Fail to Reveal

On the other hand, I see a flaw in what the study seems to suggest, which is that there’s a problem with the fact that people who met on dating sites tend to break up quicker. Quite the contrary. If you never meet someone face to face, and you have a chance encounter that leads to love, you are more likely to stay in a bad or dead-end relationship because of your perception of scarcity. Whereas people online know that members of the opposite sex are abundant and they have choices. It’s never fun to get dumped by someone who met you online, but if you do, you can activate your profile and have a date with another person the next night, quite easily. Which is why it’s dangerous to talk about right and wrong when it comes to online dating.

What I think we can all agree is that online dating apps create a tremendous amount of opportunity to meet people and create a love life from scratch. Some internet daters abuse this and become players and overly picky. But the bottom line is, the availability and options in online dating sites mean that there will be more dates and interactions, more short-term relationships, more (healthy) break-ups, and more chances to win the dating game and find the right person than if you meet one guy through real life dating every two years and go all in on him because you never meet and experience anybody else. 

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

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  1. 1

    I am only speculating here, and this is only an opinion, but it’s easier to idealize someone you mentioned online than IRL.   You’re only seeing a snapshot of that person, literally and figuratively.   Then you meet them IRL and it’s a turn off, obviously you’re probably not going to continue on with that person, but jump back online to meet the next one.   IRL one may get a better, more accurate sense of the person.

    1. 1.1

      Met online, not mentioned.

    2. 1.2

      As usual, I agree with you.

      It’s so easy to create a warped fantasy of the person  online before you meet because you kind of have to live ‘in your head’ when thinking about the person you meet online first.  And it’s easy to create something  because you simply want it to be so but it often doesn’t match the reality.

      I also think like some other posters mentioned, that meeting  people online does encourage the idea that you can be a bit pickier because the options are significantly more than IRL.     Of course, that varies depending on your age, attractiveness, etc.        

      1. 1.2.1

        I completely agree especially when you factor in that you are only visually seeing an image of them that shows them at there best, mix that with a sexy voice over laid with them saying all the right things and yes! You can easily fall for your online fantasy partner.
        As it’s been discussed many times on this blog, ALL online daters are picky, regardless of race or gender, but more sadly, regardless of the own Sexual/Mating Marketing Value, most people online usually go after or wait to be contacted by the top desired people online.

    3. 1.3

      People won’t settle for less than their dream.   The only problem is that dreams aren’t real.   What’s real is the material in front of you.   Everything changes- land formations, weather, species, etc.

      Online dating should only be a tool to be used to meet someone in real life.   Online dating isn’t reality.   You’ve never meet before.   Love is insane enough without adding the online-factor.

  2. 2
    NYC Girl

    Hi Evan – I am not sure whether I agree with the study – so far I broke up with every one I ever dated, whether I’ve met them online or in person….
    Just curious, how did you meet your wife?
    Many thanks for your work – your blog is wonderful!

  3. 3

    Without having read the study, it seems there are some flaws in this. Mainly because of the numbers, I think. The chances of meeting someone in your own social circle, drastically go down after you get older because most are settled and have kids. Those are counted in the study as the non-online complex: one for a few loves, no break ups. So where to look to expand the web. If you somehow missed out on that, or got divorced, you’re inclined to do the online dating. And probably reach a number of relationships of whatever kind and break ups that go beyond the young college couples of whom a few broke up and some don’t. So I don’t know how they did the math, but my guess is that the number of people who start out with on line dating are just way higher. There is something to be said though for meeting someone that matches your cultural background. I have a small group of very good friends and debated many times about the fact that we all grew up in a rural area, were relatively clever and eager to break out. We always wondered if those sort of things were just a coincidence or do create a bond of understanding. If you’re online dating the chances of meeting someone wildly different, go way up. That can be interesting and attractive at first, but later become obstacles. A study about that would be far more interesting to me than real life/online study.  

  4. 4

    You hit the nail on the head here. The perception of scarcity makes it harder to let go of an unhappy relationship because while you may be dissatisfied with your partner, there probably isn’t anyone else on your radar at the moment who seems like a possible option if you limit yourself to real-world chance meetings. The fear of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire is strong. I have recently given online dating a chance (for the first time) and have noticed that I’ve met several so-far good guys that I might have really wanted to hang onto had I met them by happenstance and in isolation of all of the other choices from the “catalog.” But with so many options now, it seems easy to opt out very early on before a potentially unhappy relationship develops and gets me all emotionally involved.
    I would posit one more possible interpretation (with absolutely no empirical data to back this up). Meeting someone online provides absolutely no social context, and therefore does not have the built-in social support network inherent in having met a friend of a friend, a classmate, or a coworker. I believe that the perception that our mutual friends or acquaintances are essentially rooting us on as a couple, whatever their actual level of investment in seeing the relationship succeed, has an effect on the longevity of a couple. This may be positive support to hold together a healthy relationship or something more like pressure to keep an unhealthy couple attached. So, without placing a value judgment on the phenomenon, I still argue that it happens.

    1. 4.1

      Yes true Rachel, online allows you to no be chained to the fear of scarcity, but it does create many other monsters in that fears place, namely as Evan mentioned, the being too picky. Many of the normal human flaws that we all have would be more acceptable in real life, but because of the almost endless options for women online (I’m not trying to turn this into a gender thing), she is more likely to dump the guy who is a great catch but he’s average height and a school teacher, for the guy  who is a cooperate attorney and he’s 6’3.
      The  lawyer isn’t as great a catch long-term  relationship wise, but most people (men and women), instead of sticking with the school teacher, will just  jump back online looking for something better…  Which is a lie, they look for something most close to their ideal perfect mate.  

      1. 4.1.1


      2. 4.1.2

        Not true for me at all. Character counts far more for me than superficial stuff. In fact, I’m more likely to choose the guy with the average salary (provided I’m actually attracted to him) BECAUSE he’s chosen a nurturing career. I don’t want the corporate attorney because no matter how hot or rich he is, we likely won’t value the same things. He would likely value money,   career success and status, and have long hours at the office and frequent business trips. I would like the teacher more because I want a family-oriented man who cares more about being a role model for his students, and spending time with his loved ones than he does his bottom line. Besides, those high-powered, idealistic career guys tend to be so picky they wouldn’t want a girl like me. They’d be searching for the supermodel version of me who also happens to have my values and personality (here’s a hint: she doesn’t exist! ).

        1. Gabri'el

          Holly I was so close to completely liking everything you said until I read that last sentence. I use to model, I have female friends who are still  models, and I have dated models. Having personality and values… WE DO EXIST!
          Your statement makes it seem like no successful guy wants a woman with values and personality, he just wants arm candy  and you make it seem like we models (or former models) are just looks and no substance. Yes I modeled, but I’m in medical school to be a brain surgeon to help people and I must have at least a few brain cells to pass my classes. Maybe you are being rejected for other reasons.

        2. Holly

          I said that because I’ve performed a few informal online experiments in which I’ve switched my own pictures for pics of random beautiful women. Each and every time that I did so, without fail I would get HUNDREDS of emails in a matter of days. My real photos NEVER got that reaction, not even when I was brand new to online dating. Not one thing in my profile was changed except the photo and yet all these average guys were falling all over themselves to get my attention when they thought I was a beautiful woman. They all talked about how genuine and down to earth I sounded, like here was their dream girl. Well, most of them were men who I wouldn’t even have been attracted to, so I don’t know how these guys thought they were gonna get a girl who looks like a supermodel. That was the point I was trying to make: that most men are so hung up on looks that they’re waiting for a woman with my personality combined with Angelina Jolie-like looks. A woman who looks like that ain’t gonna look twice at most of those schmucks, yet they’d pass me up in an instant just because I don’t look like a model. Of course I know there are lots of good people who happen to be blessed with God-like looks; I just meant that most of us average folks wouldn’t catch their attention. I’m sorry if what I said bothered you, I don’t mean to sound like I’m trying to insult people who were blessed to have “perfect” looks. I just get frustrated with most men who think they deserve Angelina Jolie and won’t “settle” for a good woman like me.

      3. 4.1.3

        This may be true for some women, but I like to think I’m not that superficial. I’ve stayed in really unhealthy relationships that began IRL partly due to the sunk cost fallacy and partly due to the illusion of scarcity. There was the live-in boyfriend who was great when he was around, but who disappeared for days at a time without explanation. Then came the chronically unemployed “student” and video game addict. Then I fell head over feet for the otherwise incredible boyfriend who was so hung up on his ex that he cancelled plans with me to tend to her when she’d had a bad day.
        I’m an average-looking, non-drool-inspiring kind of chick who doesn’t get picked up in like at the coffee shop or the bank or, well, anywhere else. I get asked out maybe once every 3 years or so in the real world. I just figured I needed to do my best to make these situations work because it’s not like I had other options. Now that I’m online, it’s like gangbusters in here. I don’t know what’s happening, but I have met several guys who actually treat me like a person (because they know they have competition), and I feel for the first time like I have the option of being discerning and waiting for someone who is a good fit before settling into a relationship.

  5. 5

    As an online dater. I have to admit this doesn’t surprise me and makes perfect sense. Online daters seem to think there are always more fish in the sea. Why try to work things out when things get difficult? Every relationship has it’s ups and downs. If online daters are going to readily leave ‘unhappy’ relationships, which all relationships will go through multiple times, it makes sense that they will also have higher divorce rates. Easy come, easy go.

    1. 5.1

      Morris I was going to say this same thing but I wanted to make no one else had said it. Lol. But yes there’s little incentive to “work things out” when everyone can go back online and start over.

  6. 6

    you can activate your profile and have a date the next night, quite easily
    Actually Evan (and you know this) very few men except maybe the top 5% can activate their profile and have a date the next night easily. Women on the other hand can put their profile back up after a breakup and have a full inbox in a matter of hours with many choices of who they want to date next. We men know this all too well. It is the way it is.

    1. 6.1

      I agree JB.. You can activate your profile and maybe have a date the next nite.. But with whom? A high quality person you may be interested in?? That’s not  so easy to find.. And with age it just gets harder and harder.. Young people in their 20’s and 30″s might have an easier time, but the older you get, it just isn’t so easy.. Luckily, I have found someone for the time being and his and my profile are hidden. I really hope this one will work out.. We both admit it has been hard for both of us in online dating. I know this sounds like bragging and maybe it is, but I would consider him and myself in the top 5-10%   in our age bracket, and it has been hard as hell for both of us!

      1. 6.1.1

        But with whom? A high quality person you may be interested in?? That’s not  so easy to find….
        That’s because women online  judge men by so many ridiculously delusional standards that 99.9% of men online are not only not deemed “high quality” they’re deemed “no quality”. Yet women online who are unattractive, obese, un educated with horrible pics and 2 sentence profiles etc…. all consider themselves to be high quality and think they deserve the top 5% of men.
        We all know the top 5% of men and women of all age ranges have no problems dating each other. The problem is the bottom 95% of men get ignored for the most part by the bottom 95% of women because of their delusional expectations. Most men are ecstatic to get a response from a “low quality” woman….lol

    2. 6.2

      JB I completely agree. It surprises me sometimes that Evan doesn’t explain the male side of this more like he did in the old days. There is a HUGE difference between a player and a guy who is just trying to hold on to the connection with other women that he’s already build until he knows for sure that one particular woman is worth letting others go for.
      If a man is talking to a woman for 4 weeks but he still checks his online profile, or still talks to other women, it’s not always that his is a player or that he is shopping for something better, it’s because as a male online dater, he knows that if he has met more than one quality woman online, letting them all go for one women, one relationship is a HUGE gamble. Because if the relationship doesn’t work out, then when he comes back all the quality women will no longer be single and it will take him months or even years  to find that again. But women… They know that within hours they will have over a hundred options to choose from.
      The man will have to work to get a quality women, sending out lots of e-mails that get no replies, talking to women that disappear, etc. and that’s just to get one  women who he is truly interested in, but the woman can just sit back and choose. She is  mostly contacted first,  and the number of choices she gets allows her to for the most part get guys who have  most if not all the qualities she is looking for.  

      1. 6.2.1
        Karl R

        Adrian said: (#4.1)
        “online allows you to no be chained to the fear of scarcity,”
        Adrian said: (#6.1)
        “it’s because as a male online dater, he knows that if he has met more than one quality woman online, letting them all go for one women, one relationship is a HUGE gamble. Because if the relationship doesn’t work out, then when he comes back all the quality women will no longer be single and it will take him months or even years to find that again.”

        You’re still chained to the fear of scarcity.

        Some of the  quality women will no longer be single four weeks later. However,  a similar number of quality women will become available again. Either they will have broken up with their significant others, or they will have  decided to give online dating a try for the first time.

        Until you’ve spent a few weeks or months dating a woman, you don’t know whether they are quality women or not.  (Unless the only traits you care about are the external traits.) Therefore, the women you’re attempting to remain in contact with aren’t necessarily even quality women.

        1. Adrian

          Karl R I acknowledge what you are saying about scarcity and quality, but the point that JB was making to which I agreed is: “A man can’t just jump back online after a break up and find someone new as fast as women, online dating doesn’t work for men like that”.  Due to the huge number of men contacting just the “average” woman because of  her looks  & body -I’m not even talking about the more attractive and fit woman online-, the only work a woman has to do is just choose, if he doesn’t work out or meet her expectations, no problem, she can get back online and say next. Few man will care if she is a Doctor or a cashier as long as she is at least averagely attractive and fit, kind  to him,  and makes him feel desired;  and women know this.
          But Karl R, you know that as a man, we have to do all the contacting, so at the very least she knows we are interested, we have no clue how she feels about us, if she is accepting a date because she is bored and waiting for something better or if she truly is also interested. We men have to do  all the impressing with the first e-mail & first date, as  well as with our looks, bodies, and level of success. Because as Evan has repeatedly mentioned woman unlike men, want a better version of themselves. Yet if a man does met all those criteria, he  still may not get a reply, either because she placed  him at # 12 in order of men who she wants to give a chance or because she simply has so many messages in her inbox that she hasn’t even had time to look at  his message. He may not get a second date because of some small thing and she knows she can go back online and by tomorrow night, have a new date lined up who may be closer to her ideal perfect match. The average man can’t do that unless he has a woman he has already been talking to for awhile, both online and on the phone go out with him.
          As Kathy said, sure quality takes time, but with so many options this is easier to find for a women, not the same for a man. And yes I know that there are many women who struggle with online dating, but I think this is more because they themselves regardless of their personal situations: overweight, older that 40 and look it, or a couple of children, etc… These women  struggle not because they aren’t being contacted, but because they just think they deserve better then the guys who are contacting them. Evan always says, “Online dating gives us the illusion of choice”. Both men and women online hold out for something better; and I’m sure if you really questioned the women who struggle you would find that this is mostly the reason, because I’m sure that with the expectation of scammers from Nigeria, this women are getting contacted.

      2. 6.2.2

        You guys are both just talking out of your asses. I’m a 33 year old woman who is fairly attractive and I’ve been online dating for two years. I have nice pics and a well-written profile and I’ve taken multiple months-long breaks when it’s just gotten too depressing. Wanna know how many emails I currently get? Maybe 2 or 3 a week. And they’re usually crap like, “Hey, what’s up?”. I really wish guys would stop exaggerating about how “easy” it is for women. Okay, two years ago when I was fresh meat, I got a couple hundred emails in a couple months. But most of them were of the aforementioned crap variety. Would you write back to every schmuck who posts fugly pictures with a smartphone and sends a stupid form letter? I’d guess not.  

        1. Adrian

          Hmmm… Okay so Holly what I’m about to say, will have me walking a fine line between honest opinion and cruel opinion, so please don’t take it personal.
          You say that you are attractive, but when it comes to dating, it doesn’t matter “as much” what we think of ourselves, but what our target dating group thinks of us. There is a actual Post that you can search    for on this site,  where Evan discussed this and put it more articulate but bluntly than me.
          And of course you are right every woman doesn’t have a easy time online dating. I just read an excellent post by Karmic Equation  summing up this very matter perfectly (but I can’t remember in what blog subject).  The down side of online dating is that everyone whose body and looks are less than average really struggle, and this is doubly so for women who are the most judged just by their  body and looks.  
          And before you take this as a person attack, it isn’t! I am just giving one possible explanation that is all. Karl R is a 1,000 times better than me with giving advise, so hopefully he’ll comment as well. And maybe you can hire Evan.

        2. Holly

          Well, I’m curvy, with long, straight blonde hair, big brown eyes and a nice smile (thanks to thousands of dollars in dental work!). I’m not fat and I have enough pictures on my profiles that guys can get a good idea what I really look like. If that’s not enough to be considered fairly attractive then I don’t know what is!

        3. starthrower68

          I guess we have to learn not to internalize the preferences of others. Others are going to like what they like and want what they want for their own reasons. I get the frustration this can cause in online dating, but it doesn’t mean we are worthless or somehow less than just because we don’t meet someone’s ideal.

        4. Holly

          I totally agree Star, that’s why I absolutely believe that it’s better to let men contact me first: they’ll choose to contact me if I’m their type. The fact remains though, that it’s only the best-looking women who get swamped with emails from eager men. If you’re just averagely pretty, they don’t seem to care as much.

        5. Joe

          it’s only the best-looking women who get swamped with emails from eager men

          And only the tallest, wealthiest men who get replies!

        6. Holly

          I replied to plenty of men with average height and salaries. I’ll state for the record that while it’s certainly important to me that a man is a good provider, his bottom line and height matter far less than his character and of course, my level of attraction and compatible goals/values/morals/faith with him.

        7. J

          Holly, maybe you will do better in real life dating. Do a search on this site and you will see that curvy has been discussed. Many men online view curvy or a few extra pounds as another way of saying fat. BUT! I just saw yesterday while at the grocery, a handsome, tall, athletic guy with a fat but cute faced women. People aren’t as picky in real life. I agree with you, guys who aren’t attractive, or they are fat, and they aren’t successful have no right complaining why they can’t get a model.

          The weight thing is a sensitive issue with many women (just re-read the comments in the post about the woman who was dating the personal trainer), so I will only say this, I have tried in the past to date women who are not slim, but I just couldn’t continue. I go to the gym everyday, I make really good money, and I have slightly above average looks, so I wasn’t choosing them because I lacked options, it was because with the exception of their body, they had every quality I would want in a wife, yet… When their clothes came off and I could see their true shape without their clothes to hide their bodies… Anyway, now I just DON’T talk to women who aren’t in shape period.

          Now, I’m saying this not to paint myself as a villain or the focus of a lot of angry female comments but to let you know why many guys like myself don’t choose bigger women, because why be with someone who I’m too embarrassed to seen with or I don’t want to touch sexually unless I’m really horny. Now many other guys don’t have a problem with it, so you should just focus on those guys, plus what is fat to one guy, isn’t to another. The point is, don’t take it personal if a guys doesn’t contact you because of your looks online. Know that someone will in real life.

        8. Holly

          Curvy in my case means “true hourglass”, not fat, not chubby, not big-boned. I have maybe 20 extra pounds on me, which with a 5’7″ medium frame, doesn’t come close to being fat. I was a larger woman for several years when I was in my 20s but I lost over 80 pounds. I realize that most men have been brainwashed by a culture which tells them what to find beautiful. I know this because I’ve been brainwashed the same way. And if there are men who don’t want to date me because I have a soft and feminine form rather than the hard muscled, zero body fat physique that is glorified in our popular culture, that’s their choice. I don’t waste time or energy anymore with worrying about what I’m not and what I don’t have and who likes me and who doesn’t. I was beautifully and wonderfully made in God’s image, as are we all. He knew what He was doing when he gave me this body. My body doesn’t exist solely for the excitement of men, it exists to glorify the gift of health and life that I’ve been given, and to do good work for the society in which I live. Yes, we are meant to be attractive to each other. Attractive physical qualities are good! But through our culture, we’ve been brainwashed to believe that there is only one way to be, and one “perfect” form of another person to desire. I refuse to listen to those voices any longer. What I learned from this experience is that it’s easy to fall back on placing blame. “Well, if only guys weren’t just looking for a Victoria’s Secret model”, “If only women weren’t holding out for a guy with a six-figure salary”, etc. We tell ourselves all these little stories about what’s wrong with the other sex. We tell them because it’s much easier to get defensive than it is to admit that we are insecure. It’s easier to place blame on our external circumstances than it is to make a commitment to change something that’s bothering us about ourselves. Maybe the reason online dating seems so hard is because so many of us are looking for things in a partner that reflect either who we think we are or who we want to be. It’s so easy to succumb to the mentality of “Well, I’ll just have to keep looking” every time the person we’re with turns out not to be that perfect match we thought we’d finally found. I guess if I’ve learned anything about myself over the past two years, it’s that I was trying so hard to attain the kind of body that men would glorify because I thought it was so important to be what they want me to be. What I never stopped to consider is that I am fine right now just the way I am. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying to progress, because I am constantly striving to better myself. What I’ve come to realize is that I want the man who will love me and accept me as I am right now at this moment. I know without a doubt that there are men like that out there and I have faith that one day very soon, I’ll meet the right one.

        9. mery

          I understand you are frustrated, however from your writing itself, there is a very strong sense of hostility and that is probably what is affecting your chances honestly. Hostility and anger is never attractive no matter how one looks.

        10. Mike

          “2 or 3 a week”? Holly, most guys in your situation would be lucky to get 2 or 3 responses a YEAR.

          You have no idea how well off you are.

        11. Karmic Equation


          Every time you write like that, I have to respond.

          For goodness sake. If you keep writing to 9’s and 10’s when you’re only a 5, you’re lucky to even get the 2-3 annual responses.

          Write to women in your own league for a change. If you don’t know what that league is, I’ve written plenty on how you can figure that out.

          And if you’re not attracted to women in your league…well, then, how can you expect women above your league to be attracted to you?

          Do some self-improvement. Go to the gym and buff up. Get a better haircut. Dress better. If all else fails, consider plastic surgery, if you MUST date only 9/10s. Most celebrities don’t start out beautiful or handsome. Most have had some P.S. done to get that way.

        12. Karl R

          Holly said:

          “Curvy in my case means ‘true hourglass’, not fat, not chubby, not big-boned. I have maybe 20 extra pounds on me, which with a 5’7″ medium frame, doesn’t come close to being fat.”



          You’re caught in limbo between three things: what you are, what you say, and what people think that means.

          If I envision “curvy”, it’s what you describe.   An hourglass figure.   It even includes women who are larger than you, but still manage to have an hourglass figure.

          Back when I was online, I ran some demographics on the women in my city (which is one of the fattest cities in the country).

          Women 30-34

          Slender: 21.8%

          Athletic & Toned: 17.1%

          About Average: 28.6%

          Curvy: 13.2%

          A Few Extra Pounds: 6.3%

          Full-Figured: 4.3%

          Big & Beautiful: 1.6%

          Heavyset: 0.4%


          I’ve compared these numbers to BMI statistics for the same age range.   It’s clear that many women are … euphamistic … when deciding which label to use for themselves.   (Before any of you men decide to berate women, the men were actually worse about this.)

          And if I compare the percentiles in Match.com with actual height-weight ratios for women who are 33 and 5’7″, I would conclude that curvy women generally weigh 184-205 lbs.

          If you go online and look at the pictures of women who describe themselves as “curvy”, you will probably discover that you’re one of the thinnest.   Many of the “curvy” women are counting the spare tire around their midsection as one of their curves.


          Filters are brutal:

          Let’s say that you put down that you’re willing to date men who are “A Few Extra Pounds.”   I’m sure there are some good looking guys who are carrying a couple extra inches around their midsection.

          Then you start getting emails from men who are “A Few Extra Pounds”.   All of them are obese.   Not just overweight … obese.   Maybe one or two are morbidly obese.   So you start browsing through profiles of the men who describe themselves that way, and you discover that almost all of them are obese.   What do you do?

          You might decide to save yourself some trouble and stop including “A Few Extra Pounds” in your filters.   It’s not worth the steady stream of obese men just to catch the handful that are just a little above average.

          So the next guy who put “a few extra pounds”, because he has about 20 extra pounds, gets ruled out with all the obese men.


          And that’s where you’re at.   Most “curvy” women don’t really match that description.   And most men have discovered that’s the case.   Therefore, even the men who love hourglass figures won’t waste their time looking at the profiles of “curvy” women.   They filter them out, and never even see your profile picture.

          If you can accurately call yourself “About Average”, you might try that and see if it works better.   It should at least get you past a few filters.

  7. 7

    Hmmm.   I’m surprised that there’s any difference; as far as I’m concerned, OLD is just another way to come into contact with other singles.   2 possible reasons, off the top of my head:

    1.   When you meet a guy through work or friends, you might hear about the bad traits before you even get in a relationship.   So, for example,   if you meet a cute man online, you may have to go out with him for a few months before you realize that he’s an alcoholic but if you meet him at the office, your coworkers might warn you from the get-go and so you never even accept a date with him.   


    2.   Super-traditional folks are, as we know, less likely to divorce, not bc they’re necessarily happier but bc of their cultural, religious reasons.   And I’m guessing that super-traditional types are less likely to date online than more mainstream or adventurous individuals.   So perhaps its more an issue of the self-selection that goes into OLD.

  8. 8

    Evan is right, If you date for at least two years before marrying, regardless of how you met, one is far less likely to divorce. There are more earlier break-ups with on line because it’s far easier for folks to hide who they truly are.   I can attest that here in this small mountain town, there literally are no good choices and women here who don’t go on line do not break up because they’re not dating period. Theoretically, IRL would be best as you truly see the person and have some level of social proof but that requires a critical mass of like minded folk of the opposite sex.

  9. 9

    I like what Evan says about “healthy break-ups”.

    I have felt pressured to stay in a bad relationships which began IRL, in order to avoid disappointing people. I cannot imagine staying with someone I met online for any other reason than I really wanted to be with that person.

    Breaking up with someone you met online is easier to do because generally you have no pre-existing social connections, or friends in common. So there is no angst or emabarassment over what you say to such-a-such a person about why you “dumped” their friend. Also, you never, ever have to see the person again post break-up. This makes it much easier to cut ties, whether you are the one calling it all off, or the person being “dumped”.

    Sure, this is open to abuse. But by using the right web site, you can meet people who mostly are (like me) looking for love and a permanent partnership. And if that’s what’s going on, then I see the ease with which you can end things after meeting online only as an advantage, not a downside.  

    Also, unlike the author of the first reply to Evan’s piece, I think that I am much less prone to idealising people I meet online than people I meet IRL. Online, I feel no pressure of epxectation. Online dating is wonderfully pragmatic, there is a degree of anonymity, there is (if you are both sensible) an understanding that you are assessing each other for fit – all of which I find really useful. Using online dating I am better at being straightforward (which guys love, I have discovered) and at doing nothing and letting the pool of available guys self-select down to the ones who really like me and will make the effort to peruse a relationship with me.   Also I think I am much clearer about my boundaries in the online context (although that has seeped into RL since I started). All of this makes it more likely that I am going to a) get into relationships and b) end every relationship which is not good for me. Which is good. Healthy break-ups. Love it.

    The online dating process rocks. IMO.

    1. 9.1

      I should also have said that “all of this” makes it more likely c) that the wrong guys for me (eg who can’t accept my boundaries or don’t dig me that much) are going to call things off with me too.
      Which is also a GOOD thing.   

  10. 10

    Adelaide, I would also say d) if something doesn’t work out with an on liner, you need never run into the person again. In a small town, it’s impossible to get away from someone either you decided wasn’t working for you, or whom you really cared for and found out he was cheating with another. They know where you live (was stalked by a reject last spring), you run into them, their friends who now hate you, their latest girlfriend in the grocery, at meetings, the places you eat, hang out, even on the trail in the woods. Not good.

  11. 11

    As someone with an Anxious attachment style, I think online dating is more effective because – like you said in the article – it helps me to avoid the “scarcity” mentality. It has given me experience with a wider range of men, and I’ve learned that I am worth being treated well. I discovered that there are sweet and genuine guys who will send me long, in-depth messages every day and make a real effort to get to know me. Even though I’m not in a committed relationship, I’ve made some great long-term friendships which I really value. So I see it as a win-win situation.

    Having said all that, I do think the benefit of meeting in real life is that you often have mutual friends or community, who can vouch for the other person’s character. It can be hard to do this when you meet someone online, as you may not know any of their friends or groups they hang out with. So I think that it is prudent to take longer to get to know a person, if you have met them online and don’t share a common community, workplace, church or friendship group.

  12. 12

    I’m not certain which type of origination (online or IRL) of relationships experience higher rates of breakups, but I’m pretty damned certain that online dating is (or is becoming) a major contributor to the break up of already-existing relationships!

    1. 12.1
      Karmic Equation

      LOL. I read somewhere that it was FaceBook breaking up existing relationships.

      1. 12.1.1

        Yeah, I suspect many people use FB as just another dating app so I would be inclined to agree.

  13. 13

    I have found that most men are looking for women 10 to 15 yrs younger.   I am 54, athletic, active and would like someone who is active as well.   Women may get more messages than men on dating websites mainly because men start the conversation.   I get messages from 25 to 90 year old.   Obviously a lot of them are out of my preferred age. 🙂

    If women were to initialize conversation, we too who have less choices as men feel they do.

    I am dating someone that I met on a dating website right now, I was looking for someone who would treat me right   and it looks like I might have found him but it took quite a few first meetings.   And thanks to Evan with his great advise, I did not pass him up even though his profile was not much ( one poor photo, just a couple of lines, but good lines.   🙂 ) . And I really enjoy the blog!

  14. 14

    I am on an on line daiting site right now and I have come to the  Conclusion that it is all fantasy.   Both men and women can put whatever they want into their profile, how great they are, what they like to do, and what type of person they are looking for.   Then add the photos, some years old. Then scroll to your hearts content and wait for messages.   I say fantasy because, no one wants to meet anymore, all they want to do is message.   I am an older woman, just turned 50… My photos are up to date, but private. If guys want to see my photo they just have to ask and I will send them. I have described myself as neither beautiful nor ugly. Because I don’t have my picture up I get very few messages. It seems that both sides don’t want to take a chance.   When I do send photos I have been called:   “Sexy”, a “Hotty”, told “I’d take you any time, any place”, “date you for ever”…   Very flattering   for a woman of my age.   But that is all it is Empty Flattery!   Because you are never asked to meet, and when after   2 to 3 weeks of this you suggest meeting, yeah, the messages stop instantly.   No one wants to meet face to face , it’s easier to pretend your perfect in messages and hold fast to the illusion that you are going to find that perfect, drop dead gorgeous, younger half to you.   It makes me so sad. Especially the ones of us that are looking for truth.


  15. 15
    Mary cris

    I agree. Thank you Evan.

    Thumbs up to you.

    You are an inspiration.

    Keep a good work.


  16. 16

    Yes, online dating is fine as long one realizes that until there is an actual meeting in person arranged, everything is simple fantasy. No matter how well-written a profile may be, it cannot give anything more than an impression.

    Men are cautious these days, and for good reason. Women want men who are financially a step up, are taller and a little older.   The first requirement is a huge hazard if the marriage fails and goes to court…..men lose their children, and pay spousal support/child support.




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