The Future (and Past) of Online Dating

I worked in customer care at JDate in 2002.

I created  e-Cyrano online dating profile writing in 2003.

I published my first book, “I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating” in 2004.

I created my Finding the One Online program in 2008 and launched it the week I got married.

Which is to say that I’ve been at this online dating thing for a long time. I know its strengths. I know its weaknesses. I know how you can get the most out of online dating as much as pretty much anyone on the planet. Which is why I find the future of online dating to be somewhat sobering. Enter this interesting article in Digital Trends.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

Anyone still on the fence because it’s embarrassing/boring to meet online is missing the big picture.

“Vox recently analyzed data from 35 years’ worth of wedding announcements in The New York Times, and found that “online” now ranks as the third most common way people meet – second only to “school” and “mutual friend.” In the older-than-40 age range, it creeps into the second spot. Even more remarkable than the speed with which such services became mainstream is our willingness to fess up: Maybe it wasn’t so much a meet cute as it was a photo swipe while sitting on the john. And you know what? Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that.”

I agree. Doesn’t matter where you start. Only matters where you finish. Anyone still on the fence because it’s embarrassing/boring to meet online is missing the big picture.

You can find love online. Millions have. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fundamental flaws with the process.

In a 2003 article highlighting the beginnings of a perception change regarding those who found love online, The New York Times noted “even those who embrace online dating acknowledge a major flaw: the frequent disconnect between who people say they are online and what they are really like. In one recent example, the Army said it was investigating accusations that a colonel, who is already married, duped dozens of women on into believing that he would be marrying them.”

I was quoted in that article – my first press ever. I had no idea at the time that I’d be talking about the same stuff fourteen years later. Nor did I know what the evolution of smartphones and GPS technology would have in store for my beloved online dating:

“Tinder was genius in terms of reaching college students…Instead of sitting down and creating a profile, it makes it feel like a game. College students are comfortable whipping out their iPhone when waiting in line.” The gamification Lewis refers to is what Tinder users commonly refer to as “the swipe”: a simple yes or no decision that asks users to accept or reject a potential mate with a right or left swoosh of the finger. The feature, introduced to the app by Badeen, serves to both simplify and speed up the process, while essentially transforming the traditionally rigid world of online dating into a mobile game.”

You can find love online. Millions have. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fundamental flaws with the process.


I’ve written about this extensively, so I won’t beat the dead horse until it’s deader. I just think it’s pretty obvious that what you gain in speed, you sacrifice in quality of interaction.

“Designers of dating apps recognized that they had a problem with women getting harassed and overwhelmed by aggressive messages that they had no interest in,” says Klinenberg. “So there’s a growing number of sites to help women initiate or OK the communication chain….Lewis adds that the creep problem may never go away entirely, as eliminating it might ultimately be bad for a company’s bottom line. “If you talk to any straight woman who has used online dating, they hate it because they’re just inundated by creepy guys,” Lewis said.”

Yeah. I did a TEDx talk about this very thing. Make sure you read the comments   if you want to hear how poorly it goes over when you tell people to write better profiles, better emails and slow down a beat. Some people just have to learn the hard way.

Ultimately, like any tool, online dating works better for some than for others. Some people are “demographically undesirable,” to be sure. But when you consider that all of the online marriages are not strictly between tall rich white men and twentysomething supermodels, I think we can agree that there are many more people benefitting from learning how to navigate this space.

What are your thoughts about online dating? What has (or has not) worked well for you?

Your thoughts below are appreciated.