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.

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.

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  1. 21
    YAG ( a.k.a. Yet Another Guy)

    Well, I learned where age-appropriate attractive women can be found. I took my high school-age daughters to a local higher-end mall on Sunday. They introduced me to all of the “girlie girl” stores. I had to pinch myself when we entered Sephora. OMG, there were so many hot age-appropriate women in that store that I could not believe my eyes. I received several IOIs too, which made me feel less uneasy about being in the store. It helps that my daughters are twins. Woman always want to talk to me when they discover that my girls are twins.

  2. 22

    I seem the same issues online as IRL, perhaps magnified because on Tinder people do become commodities (next as a verb, uhhh).

    Everybody can get a date or a partner online, you just have to be realistic. Remember most of the planet is coupled up. I’v spent a lot of the last few weeks on this site and others like it, and I strongly feel the biggest issue with dating in general, but especially online, is unrealistic expectations. To the exclusion of almost all else. Men and women. Guys have to realise if you want a 19 year old lingerie model you had better be a tall, white, handsome hedge fund manager. And if if women want a guy like that they had better be a 19 year old model. Being realistic about yourself isn’t about high or low self worth, its about acknowledging the truth of what the opposite sex wants.


  3. 23

    I don’t think dating online has much future unless someone comes with better idea how to run such service. Right now it’s frustrating more than anything (2019-2020). I looked at women’s profiles out of curiosity and I was shocked to notice one horrifying tendency: The younger the profiles of women, the less attractive are the women… What is happening?!! Do beautiful women disappear with each generation? No, I think the service became absolutely unattractive for attractive women. It’s like when men go to sex club and find there older or extremely obese women who want to get laid… sad. But the get what they pay for, at the end. Beauty is not a commodity, as it happens. And it hides away from public now. So no beauty online – men eventually leave those sites too. And online dating will vanish.

    Will you miss it?

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