Recently I’ve been thinking about internet dating and how common it has become.
Sites such as Ok Cupid and Plenty of Fish are popular becuase they are free to use (although both offer premium rates for added services). As well as these online websites (which offer a traditional approach to dating where if you like someone’s profile page you will send them a message and arrange to meet in person) there is Tinder, which offers a much more direct approach where you simply choose someone on the basis of looks (I wonder what could go wrong with that approach)?
After trying these three sites I can give you my informed conclusion that the world of online dating is not a world I want to be part of.
Firstly, online dating is a numbers game. Being man puts you at an instant disadvantage becuase of the sheer number of weirdos out there. I talked to women about their experiences of onine dating and they told me that most of the messages they were sent were deleted because they were either overtly sexual or just very inappropriate. It seems that any girl on on a dating website is going to be bombarded with messages. When I signed up with Ok Cupid I found myself reading dozens of profiles of different women, I felt as though I suddenly had access to all kinds of great women and they were all single like me.
However the downside to all this is that you could spend all your time looking for the perfect woman whilst ignoring those who don’t fit your profile of what an ideal woman should be.
I went on a total of eight dates (by date I’m talking about a pre-arranged meeting at a mutually agreed time and place). I found them on the whole to be frustrating, dull and a little bit sad. The women all made at least some effort to be appear interesting, but the conversation was often strained. If I’m being honest, it didn’t help that I chose very typical standard dating venues, ie, pub/restaurant/bar. On these occasions I felt as though I was on a job interview where I was allowed to drink alcolhol. On most dates, you need to be prepared to talk about yourself a lot. If you’re not comfortable with that you’re going to be sitting squirming in your seat, helplessly holding on to the plastic spoon in your drink. The women I went out with seemed to have a list of questions in their head that they wanted to ask me and it felt as though I was taking part in a boyfriend suitability test.
Tinder was the most annoying of the sites. Being able to use your phone’s GPS signal means that you should be able to track down the closest women to you by area. It should be perfect. But instead of cutting through the bullshit that I got caught up in on the other websites (sending messages, waiting days for a reply) I found Tinder to be just as bad. Because you can’t send someone a message until they have ‘liked’ you (the mutual interest rule), it wasn’t possible for me to contact any of the women in my local area whom I would have had the best chances with.
A recent book by the actor and comedian Aziz Ansari explores the world of online dating. In it, Aziz comes to the conclusion that if you only go on boring standard date venues like bars and retaurants you will have boring standard dates. It would be better to take someone somewhere completely unexpected. (in the book, a couple bonded by visiting car rallies, partly becuase they were both fascinated by the strange characters who attended them). I never got the opportunity to go on any random dates, sadly. But I would have liked a diversion, perhaps to an amusement park, an open air concert or even a museum.
Another encounter Ansari describes is of meeting a young man in a small American town.
He told Ansari that he was confident that he woud meet a nice woman eventually. He said that no matter how much a person bugs you, once you get to them you realise that they’re not so bad. A person may not clip their toenails regularly or change their socks but these things you can get used to. Maybe we’re all judging people too quickly. I wonder if anyone is truly at the best on a first date anyway? Perhaps my dating forays would have been more successful if I’d gone for a second or third date, rather than looking for a new woman straight away after a disappointing date.
But I do know that it’s much nicer meeting people offline. And seriously, if a person is happy with someone not changing their socks or clipping their toenails they need to think about raising their standards.