Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Online Dating

I know that lots of people are trying online dating these days and saying it could be the future of human interaction, so I've thought about the subject a lot. And I have decided after much consideration that, although I know a number of happy couples who met online and I'm sure you do too, online dating is not the future of human interaction, and actually will probably not work for the majority of people who try it.

This decision was hard to come to, because online dating sort of seems like it was custom-made for someone like me who is spectacularly afraid of social rejection, likes to go to bed at 10 PM, talks way too much out of nervousness, and is generally the sort of girl who buys panties in an extra-large value pack at the drugstore. I do enjoy window shopping at fashionable boutiques, so I know there are girls who buy really cute lacy panties that have cheeky designs on them like flowers across the bum. Those girls don't need online dating, probably.

In any case, I will list the arguments most often given in favour of online dating, then will address them one at a time, like I did with clubbing:

1) It's a more efficient use of time because it's mostly people who are looking for the right relationship who do online dating, so you don't have to deal with people who just want to mess around.
2) It's a more efficient use of time because you don't have the time or resources to go out and meet enough people any other way.
3) It's a more efficient use of time because you can focus immediately on people who share your interests.
4) It's a more efficient use of time because you don't have to go through the whole rigamarole of flirting and playing around and can cut right to the chase.
5) It's a more efficient use of time because at least you're going out on dates when you do online dating.

Here are my responses to these arguments:

1) It's actually not a more efficient use of time. My assumption, which I believe to be correct, is that everyone on earth is theoretically looking for the right relationship for them, but that does not mean the right relationship for them is with me or you. This is true online as well as off.

2) It's actually not a more efficient use of time. If you don't have the time or resources to meet people any other way, what you are saying is that you do not have an active social life. I don't believe that I of all people am saying this, but if you don't have an active social life, you should reassess your priorities because online dating will not solve your problem. Even if you meet a great significant other, you will probably continue to be unhappy because you will continue to not have an active social life. By the same token, if you do have an active social life, you will probably find you don't really need online dating.

3) It's actually not a more efficient use of time. Shared interests, like liking the same movies or the same sports, don't matter at all. Chemistry and shared values matter. If you have those, you will surely be able to open your mind to the other person's interests. Someone's online profile can't tell you anything about their values or the chemistry they may have with you.

4) It's actually not a more efficient use of time. Do you think you could accurately assess whether or not you found someone attractive on the basis of seeing them only once in such a contrived situation? I couldn't.

5) It's actually not a more efficient use of time. Going out on dates with arbitrary people doesn't mean you are getting closer to finding the right person. Granted I may be unusually hard to like, but I would say that in order to make a new friend, which is to say someone who can stand talking to me for more than five minutes and laughs at at least one of my jokes, I probably need to meet between 50 and a hundred people - and that's to make a friend. To meet a significant other, the odds will obviously be far less favourable, since you only have one of those at a time. This means that when someone met their partner through online dating, even if they say they went on tons of bad dates, they probably actually had a stroke of luck pretty close to the beginning because I can assure you that nobody will go on three thousand or so bad blind dates. You will burn out way before you get to that point.

As far as I can tell, the best answer to dating woes is still to just be a social animal and try to meet new people naturally. That way, if you have nothing to say to someone, politeness won't demand that you sit with them and have a coffee for an utterly tedious hour. And if you do have something to say to someone, you can go for an untedious coffee with them, and you can say it.


  1. A couple years ago I signed up for eHarmony just for the fun of it, just to see who they would match me up with, but it didn't go very well.... you have to answer like A LOT of questions and supposedly if you really want to meet someone you'll provide truthful, in depth answers (which I didn't) but I still got some matches but then to see a picture or read more information you would need to pay and I wasn't about to do that. I'm sure it works for some people, and even though I heart technology and social networking, I'd much rather meet a potential significant other in real life!!

  2. So I'm 23 and just graduated from college and immediately was frustrated by the challenge of meeting a decent guy that I'd want to date because it essentially comes down to this:

    Where are you supposed to be meeting these people, and even if you live in the building right next door to a great person, what are the odds that you'll meet them?

    I have a very, very active social life, and I hang out with friends in a lot of different circles, but each of those is pretty tight knit. So how do you really branch out beyond there? I don't work with people around my age, and I don't think that bars are really the best place to be meeting future significant others.

    I've done the online dating thing a little bit now (just a free site, OkCupid, that I highly recommend for younger people) and have gone on some dates with some really nice guys. It wasn't awkward, and they didn't work out for whatever reason, but it was way better than meeting guys out at bars who then are texting me to see what I'm doing at 2 a.m.

    I also recently went out with a guy with whom I really clicked, and I really like him and things are going great, but he has a super hectic work schedule and lives about 15 miles away in a different part of L.A. Not too far, but far enough that with his work schedule and all that, I doubt I would have ever naturally just met or run into him.

    Plus, for me, it's not that I have a hard time meeting guys in general--it's meeting the right one that I really click with. And I've yet to run into any real awkwardness with the whole online thing.

    That said, it's not for everyone, and you have to be confident and not take anything personally. At the end of the day, if a guy isn't into you (whether it's online or in person), he's not meant to be the one anyway.

  3. Thanks for your response. I know different people have different experiences with it, so it obviously can be positive. As to where to meet people, I am hardly an expert on that, but it seems to me that it's not really worth it to go on a lot of blind dates because you're still not expanding your social circle when you do that. When it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out and you haven't made any new friends. So... join a club, I guess? Or a gym class? Or meet your friends' relatives?

    With respect to not taking anything personally, another trouble I have with the concept of online dating is continuing to go on dates with someone while simultaneously keeping my expectations low (which you have to do because you don't know the person in the beginning). If I'm going out on dates with someone repeatedly, it will be because I think there's potential, but I don't know what's motivating this guy that I'm dating because I don't know him or how he functions, so my instincts aren't that useful. I hope that makes sense.

  4. Funny, my sis and I were discussing this topic last night, I'm going to point her in the direction of your blog for further insights :)

  5. I tried to sign up for eHarmony quite a few years ago... and it told me that it wouldn't allow me to purchase a memebership because I didn't fit any of the matches available.

    Are you shitting me? I'm that awful?

    The internet dating world is not everything. And unfortunately it allows you to feel like you know someone far more than you do, creating a trust that shouldn't exist so soon. It can be dangerous unless you are cautious.

  6. Yes! Very, very true. And it is hard to be cautious once you are already "dating" someone.

  7. I wonder if the real problem here isn't online dating itself, but actually going on dates. That seems like an especially awkward and excessively formal way to meet someone, especially for the first time. I think the trouble with online dating may be that you're kind've stuck adopting the date as a format for meeting.

    I've always found it better to meet people organically in social settings. In fact, I've never really been on a "first date" before. I've always just been hanging out with someone in a group setting, transitioned to hanging out individually, and then moved from friendship to romance. By the time we went out on a "date," she was already my girlfriend, so I've never really had to sit there at dinner asking myself if I was interested or whether I thought she was interested.

    The fact is, though, that some people just aren't able to make those sorts of transitions, because they're too shy or for whatever reason. Those people benefit from the date format, where romance is at least explicitly on the table from the start. For those people, it seems to me that online dating doesn't include any new downsides that weren't already in dating generally.

  8. I agree with you, but I think you are talking about blind dating, not dating in general. What you described yourself as doing is still dating, even if it wasn't formal and even if you didn't exactly call it that. Hanging out individually when you both have a sense of what's going on is dating.

    I think online dating actually does include the new downside of actually being able to use it to the exclusion of all other methods of meeting people. It wasn't possible to do that before, because you would have actually needed to be set up on a zillion blind dates by someone.

  9. I thought I would reply on here instead of in the forum, for obvious reasons (once you have read).

    Over the last year I have been talking to someone on 20sb every day, pretty much all day. We just spoke as friends for ages and realised we had a lot in common, but then it became evident how much we really liked each other.

    The problem is, the girl I really like lives in Canada.

    I am not usually an internet datey person. I have no trouble finding women, I just find I rarely like people much. When I realised how much I liked this person I knew I had to properly try, regardless of the distance.

    On Sunday I am picking her up from the airport and she is staying with me for 3 weeks. How scary! I'm sure in that time we will be able to see and decide how we both feel about each other, and whether it is something that we want to make a real, not long distance, relationship.

    As for the internet side, I think with it being online has helped a lot. We have been able to learn a lot about each others personalities, and where we have got to now is based entirely on how well we get on with each other, as it is impossible to have a proper physical side.

  10. I don't think I could handle online dating. I'm so beyond awkward as it is, it would just be asking for trouble.

  11. Well, I think online dating probably kind of brings out everyone's awkward side, because you have to try and make conversation with someone you probably have no connection with. Which is awkward.

  12. Can I just reitter: 'It's actually not a more efficient use of time.' :D Love it. :)

  13. I tried the whole online-dating thing. I wouldn't recommend it. There are a BUNCH of weirdos on there. In fact, my online-dating post is scheduled to be posted early in the morning on Valentine's Day, if you're interested in reading a real conversation that I had with a random dude.

    But, for real, I think it's better to meet someone in person. That way they're not shocked to see what you REALLY look like, that you don't have the same voice that you do online, etc.

    I'm gonna start following your blog, by the way. :)


  14. I will definitely check out your post. I'm sorry it was such a bust for you, but glad to hear most people have had the same experiences - it means nobody's crazy!

  15. I'm trying to think if it's any different for a guy and... nope, it's pretty much the same. The contrivedness, the saying to yourself, "She's cute, but if I met her at a party, would we have even looked at each other?" Yeah. I've had that.

    The one thing that's really good about online dating is that it encourages you to get out of your immediate circle of friends. I think that a lot of us, if we didn't date people we met online, would only date friends of friends. And that can get kinda lonely. So online dating does help bring you out of that insular little zone, if you're stuck in it...

  16. I have a lot of issues with online dating. I periodically get 'fed up', cancel my accounts before the time is up but I inevitably end up back on there because I don't know of any other place to meet women.

    I've had a few good dates and a lot of bad ones. but if it wasn't for online dating, I'd be 25 years old with 0 dates under my belt. I'll take the current situation over that.

    I feel like so many of our parents generation have longer lasting marriages and crap because they didn't know everything about each other...online, people seem to have no boundaries.

    I'd much prefer to meet someone in "real life" first, but that just doesn't seem to be happening for me. It seems like it'd be more natural to meet someone at the bank or the restaurant or the grocery store or wherever else.

    I think the reality is I just don't know how to pursue somebody I think is cute and interesting in real life without coming off creepy or stalkerish, so I just don't....