Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Online Dating and "Things in Quotes"

Many people have told me that online dating could be a great solution for me.  The logic is sound.  I spend a lot of time away from home, and most of my free-time activities are not the greatest for meeting new, single people.  So finding available, compatible people using the internet sounds great.  I could do it on my own time, and I could skip the pickup stage.

As I said, the logic is sound.  That, coupled with crushing loneliness (I exaggerate) has convinced me to try online dating on several different occasions.  Actually the most recent time I tried it was due to sheer boredom.  I was stuck at a site, away from home and almost all my days were standby.  So what better to do than peruse matches.  But that is a different story.

I have tried a few different sites, and tried at a few different times.  All in all it has not been very successful for me.  I have found that free sites are heavily geared towards random hookups, and seemed much shadier. After a while I decided to try a site with a paid membership.  This site had an overall better experience, but I grew tired of it after a while for several reasons.

The site did help me get a few dates, and I met a few interesting women, but in the end I think we were just going through the motions.  I know some people who have had great success on this site, and at least one couple who met through it, and are now married with a child.  So I am not trying to say these sites don't work.  I just don't think they work for me.

The basic method of the sites are that you fill out your profile, and lengthy questionnaire.  Then computers use this information to discover your compatibility, and matches you to "compatible" people.  All at once this process works too well, and not at all.  When I say "not at all" I mean that the majority of my matches did not seem overly interesting to me.  And when I say it "works too well" I mean that the majority of my matches were carbon copies of each other.  If there weren't pictures I would swear there were 5 women out there with 500 profiles!

This made me a little jaded about the whole thing.  It made me wonder if the general population is actually that bland, or if these women are just afraid to actually say something original.  Based on all the profiles there are only about three books being published today.  How can no one read anything outside those three books!  Are they trying to fit into a mold, and say all the right things?  I am sure the men do it too.

Maybe it's the reason I don't get a lot of responses.  I talk about liking video games, and going to comic conventions, and reading science fiction, skiing in the mountains, and seeing live music. I try to show a bit of myself.  But I find that most of my matches "like to travel" and "go for drinks with friends".  And that's about it.  I have even tried re-doing my personality profile, but to no avail.  So with the abundance of generic profiles I find myself reverting to the basics of "hot or not", which isn't a good basis for a relationship.

My last gripe is that when you sign up you get a bunch of new matches, which is great.  But then there is barely anything new coming in for the rest of your 3-month membership.  Then as soon as your membership expires, you get loads and loads of new matches everyday.  As well as "offers" to sign back up and "find happiness (TM)".

So to finish my little rant.  The sites seem dishonest in their intentions.  And most of the people seem dishonest about themselves;  "I do the cool kids stuff, I read the cool kid books, I am a cool kid too".  But you are all exactly the same.  If I wanted Ms. Generic I probably wouldn't be single.  So I have grown tired of the online dating scene, as it seems to have removed the human element.  Everyone seems like a robot, with a human face (and not in a sexy Cylon sort of way).

8 comments:

  1. Oh man, I'm so glad you wrote this post! My interest was piqued when you said you didn't like online dating.

    It's interesting to hear about it from a dude's perspective, and I think that's maybe where a lot of your problems are coming from. From what I've read, there are tons more (straight) guys online than (straight) ladies (I have insufficient data for anything non-hetero). Other problem: nerds are still pretty rare. The fact that stuff like The Avengers and its huge movie universe are mainstream hits now is really deceptive. Going to cons, costumes, tabletop gaming, etc. is all still considered hyper-nerdy.

    All that being said, I think everybody is way too picky about wanting to have interests in common nowadays. (This should be taken with a grain of salt considering my less than illustrious relationship history.) Some common interests are important, of course, as are similar goals, values, etc. You want to be able to go out and have fun doing things you both like. You want to be able to talk about the things you care about. I think that it's way more important to find someone who is open to your interests, and you should be open to theirs, and then you can enrich one another.

    That being said, the online landscape seems to be more about finding someone very specific that you want, and instead finding a bunch of people who don't seem to be interested in anything.

    I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this. Maybe something along the lines of "Keep trying"?

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  2. I agree that the online thing can easily lead you into the trap of looking for something way too specific, and ignoring everything else. Which isn't a good method.
    And having some commonality and being open to each other is great, but from my experience that rarely comes across in the online scene. All I gather from most profiles is that they are human females who are alive.
    Perhaps I am just picky, or tired of it all...

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    1. Yeah, burning yourself out on dating should be avoided to say the least.

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  3. My take on this is a bit different, and is oddly connected to my education (sigh) - I think that a vast majority of people aren't very good at writing, ESPECIALLY about themselves. Students who might be excellent when discussing literature verbally sometimes fall apart in essays.

    Are there some people who simply aren't that interesting? Sure, I buy that. But I think that it sounds like it's a bit more complicated than that.

    Finally, are you sure that your profile isn't generic? (I don't mean this in a harsh way!) From my brief experiences looking at dudes' profiles, saying that you like "video games" and "science fiction" is very, very common. It's best to be specific about *which* games and *which* books, as well as why those are appealing to you so that people who are into those kinds of things can connect to them more easily, and the people who maybe aren't into them can see why you'd find them interesting (and this is definitely important for what Megan was saying about meeting people OPEN to your interests!). Again, communicating is something difficult for everyone, but is so, so important.

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    1. Cat, you make some excellent points. And in a way I think that is partially what I was trying to get across originally. It's not so much that the people aren't interesting, but that none of their personality actually comes across. If we can't bring out our personality, then the "matching" system can't work effectively. And if our online communication is that poor, then the online dating venue doesn't offer any real advantage. It just means we sit in our homes turning down profiles, instead of sitting in a bar and not talking to anyone.

      If I ever do try it out again, I will have to see if I can enhance my profile. Maybe I am a little generic too.

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  4. Oh man, our experiences with online dating are completely different. I was going to write this as a full on post, but this particular textbox is so entrancingly rectangular.

    CONTEXT: I make websites for a living. I am super snobby when it comes to websites. I've tried two dating sites, pof.com and okcupid.com. My professional opinion is that POF is a tacky, exploitative experience. There are also a lot of people on there. I refuse to use that site as I feel it's poorly designed and manipulates peoples' efforts. The other site I have and currently use is okcupid. It's a beautiful experience. There aren't that many people on there. From a professional opinion, that site is fantastic. Here's my profile if you're curious / want to date me: http://www.okcupid.com/profile/kittenexmachina. Maybe you need an OKC profile to view me, I don't know, please don't forward this to all of my clients (except the cool single women).

    I filled out a 100 or 200 questions or something. I've messaged probably 30-40 people over a year and likely exchanged messages with 10-15. I've met up with 7 or so and had enough of a connection to, erm, be amorous with three of them. I am incredible shocked at how well the questions translate to an intellectual connection. It's crazy. Of the people I met up with, I feel like most of them are above averagely well-suited for some kind of romantic, emotional, or physical connection. My only wish would be that Saskatoon would be larger so that more people would be on the site!

    The other thing I really liked about the interactions with people I met up with was that the hangout was explicitly a date. I like hanging out with my female friends one-on-one, some of whom happen to be single and who I could conceivably be interested in developing a romantic, emotional, or physical connection with sometime in our lives. On an online date, there is no ambiguity, and it's refreshing.

    Hmm, have to run for now, but I could literally write books on this. In summary, I feel like online dating has some pretty awesome things going on for it. It's kinda lame to message 40 women and meet up with seven, but sest luh vee.

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  5. PS: if I were going to write a post about online dating, I was going to entitle it: "SLR PHOTOGRAPHY AND COPYWRITING: HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN ONLINE DATING". I have to share this sharp wit or else I'll cut myself or something.

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    1. Glad to see the amount of discussion going on here. Good to hear you chime in Scott. It does sound like you have had a much better experience than me. I have not tried OKC. I tried the eHarmony thing, on recommendation from several people. Perhaps I need to broaden my horizons.

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