Lessons Learned from my Adventures in Online Dating

  1. Apparently, every man inflates his height by at least two inches
  2. People who claim to “look X number of years younger” usually have a maturity level that is multiplier of X number of years younger too.
  3. Less than 10% of women are more attractive than their pictures upon first meeting. Usually it’s the women with the accidental and or group photos who are in that 10%
  4. There ought to be a mandatory “honesty window” after the first drink, during which one or both parties are afforded opportunity to end a date without explanation or harsh feelings.
  5. The slim response rate to “real” emails (differentiated from the vulgar, the one liners, the barely literate) encourages men to use such passive approaches like the wink, woo, or whatever one-click measure a given site has.
  6. Despite the slim odds expressed in #5, the wink is still the hallmark of a lazy flirt and/or an inactive mind.
    1. Rule #6 applies primarily to men. Yes, it’s a double standard, yes, all men need to get over it.
  7. If a woman is interested in you, there is no volume of messages in her inbox that will delay a response to a well written message.
  8. Women with only one picture posted have a tendency to prefer an informational imbalance. That passive power play will extend to other areas of virtual and actual interaction.
  9. Match algorithms are a terrific guide, but musical preferences are an incredibly accurate predictor of compatibility.
  10. Women who don’t read are almost certainly going to be poor conversationalists (further evidence provided in the form of Sarah Palin.)
  11. Just as a gentleman doesn’t have the option of refusing a drink from a lady (he is required to offer at least 10 minutes of polite conversation,) he is similarly obliged to respond to all valid initial messages from a woman… if only to encourage the practice of women choosing rather then waiting to be chosen.
  12. The existence of true chemistry cannot be confirmed via email exchanges but the absence of it can.
  13. Women and men who are obviously hiding something in their pictures (i.e. – always wearing hats, all pictures taken from slimming angles, facial close-ups only) have esteem issues.  This shouldn’t inherently eliminate them, but it is an important data point.
  14. Optimism is a good thing – I know six married couples who met via electronic assistance, and three more who are engaged or about to be – but should never be confused with the over-eager.
  15. Reasonable caution and pessimism shouldn’t be confused, one is pragmatic, the other unattractive.
  16. The effort may not always be appreciated or rewarded, but one should always dress with some effort and intention.  Failure to exhibit effort may be a sign of latent pessimism.
  17. Always have a reason to meet someone in person. “Why not,” ego boosts, and “nothing better to do” are not reasons.

This list was originally drafted in response to a message received from a woman and her list of lessons.  Feel free (not like any of you lovely blogtarts* need permission to express your opinions) to disagree with any of the aforementioned and/or add your own.

* term lifted from the incredibly talented author the Skrinkering Hearts blog, a woman I am delighted to call a virtual friend.


28 Responses to Lessons Learned from my Adventures in Online Dating

  1. Lisa says:

    Men under 6′ tended to lie, in my experience. The ones who said they looked years younger, or worse, lied about their age in their profile, because they just feel younger than they are/don’t want to be excluded from searches need to be avoided altogether.

    Men who are lazy about the communication are going to be lazy or arrogant with regard to the dating. I don’t know if the same applies to women.

    I agree with #4 wholeheartedly. Would save a lot of time.

    That is an important distinction that I wish I had made – the lying about height tends to happen primarily for men under six feet. I know why some people (primarily men) lie in their profiles but I don’t understand the concept – all things will be discovered soon enough. And yes, lazy communicators are a non gender specific lot.

  2. You know—you *know*—how much I appreciate this post.

    The greatest lesson I’ve learned thus far is to not take it all so damn seriously. Just respond. Just go out for that one drink to see if there’s a spark. Just accept the wink. Just post a real picture and be done with it!

    Agreed – the underlying paradox of online dating is that most people would have little problem meeting a stranger for a drink if they had been asked by that stranger after 10 minutes of conversation in a coffeeshop/bar/grocery store/gym/etc. In that situation, one knows very little about a person; yet those same people, are reticent to meet an online date without having had ____ amount of communication.

  3. LiLu says:

    I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve wanted to say blogtarts after hearing her use it. It’s the bee’s knees.

    It is most certainly the bee’s knees… another phrase I love.

  4. Christina says:

    I met my husband online but he was one in a million. I have been off of dating sites for 4 years but still get winks, emails etc. Don’t people see that I have been inactive for years!

    The worst part, I forgot my username and password so I can’t change the options.

    You make seven couple then. By the by, pretty much all of those sites have a lost password/username function.

  5. kitty says:

    number 10 is not just for the online… at all. if you don’t read, we have so little in common!

    Unless you (not the specific you, but the abstract notion of some random you) are of the type of person not cursed with intellectual curiosity. In which case, please breed/date amongst yourselves.

  6. I used to wear slimming hats. Then I realized that minimizing the size of my brain house was perhaps NOT the best way to convince potential suitors to be interested in me for my wits.

    Also, I might point out that there is NO excuse for cut-and-paste emails sent multiple times. Certainly not with grammar/spelling errors.

    That is most certainly a worthy addition to the list. Though I must say that the slim response rates for gentleman (as noted in #5) encourages the form email. There is, however, no excuse for poor spelling and or grammar, though one should be forgiven copy editing errors in my opinion.

  7. Lusty Reader says:

    none to add, but this is super interesting! i especially like #14, my friends and i absolutely detest people who “try too hard.” it’s always the quality that turns us off from people, but is often hard to define. that eager beaver syndrome is annoying and off putting.

    Additionally it should be noted that men who are seek to prematurely rush into things is among the precursors for controlling/abusive behavior. For clarity’s sake: I am not implying that every man who rushes into something is controlling or abusive, or will become so. But if it doesn’t feel right, this should be treated as red data point if not a red flag.

  8. shineoutloud says:

    Blogtarts! Oh man, that’s great.

    I think I generally agree with these. Though I think the picture thing applies across the board.

    The picture thing is absolutely not gender specific. When people hide things and you can tell, that tells you something… you might not learn exactly what it is until later but it is an indicator.

  9. Gofahne says:

    All good points and I think there are just as many (if not more in Dallas) criticisms of “traditional” dating. #4,7,and 12 should be absolute requirements of the e-dating world. Interesting perspective. Great post.

    Thank you, and I think that #7 can be extrapolated to the notion that “the right person makes things easier no matter how busy one might be.”

  10. k8 says:

    I got some criticism awhile back for refusing to respond to winks or emails from men who were atrocious spellers and used things like u r the 1 fr me in their profile. I figure if you’re not putting any effort into your profile, then you’re definitely not going to put any effort into me. I was called classist and arrogant for that refusal, but it stands. I will throw away a newspaper, magazine, newsletter or any kind of flier that wants my attention if it has a spelling error in it. If you don’t care, then I don’t have time.

    This may be part of the reason I’m still single, but no matter. I will not give in.

    As someone who is both a touch dyslexic and a poor copy editor, I hope that people can forgive my occasional brain lapse that will lead to errors that spell check can’t catch. I think it is a totality of a message/profile/blog post/whatever, that lets one know if a mistake was innocent in origin, or part of malicious laziness or ignorance. Though, I may have to have you proof my out going messages from now on.

    Edited to correct a mistake that I noticed after updating.

  11. k8 says:

    That’s the thing. If it’s riddled with errors that spellcheck could have fixed, that’s where I draw the line. Innocent mistakes than anyone would make don’t bother me. Hey! I think faster than I can type and we ALL make mistakes.

    I only bold faced that mistake because you said I could do so to underscore the point.

  12. Jean says:

    Good rules to go by. My online dating adventures have turned up very little, but my personal guidelines match up very close with this list.

    I keep reminding myself of the optimism part, though. At least, for the next few months until my website subscription expires 😉

    Moreover, my stats are pretty abysmal but I am proud of my optimism in general even if I harbor a teeny bit of shame of it here.

  13. vie says:

    As someone who’s also been on OkCupid for two years, I whole-heartedly agree with almost all of this list – though I suppose I’ve been fortunate with the height thing, since I’ve only met two liars, out of about 30-35 people.

    A few more I would add:

    -People who whine about how they don’t know what to use to describe themselves are typically either pretty cookie-cutter, boring, or lack self-awareness.
    -Many men have terrible taste in choosing their own photos, and 30% of the time will be more attractive than you expected.
    -If you start an IM conversation with a woman and bring up sex, start using pet names, or discuss how much you think that “looks don’t really matter,” in the first 20 minutes, the likelihood of you getting to meet her in person is a hell of a lot lower because we won’t trust you (well, this one doesn’t, at least).
    -If you are geographically distant, do not bother. I don’t have time for it, and I doubt you really do, either.

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of your additions.

  14. elle dubya says:

    i think if i see the phrase “searching for my partner in crime” one more time i shall have a fit. i signed up for okcupid recently but have quickly come to the conclusion that i’m fishing from too small of a pond.

    I harbor a great deal of disdain for the usage of clichés in general and a more pointed disdain when written. In the same way, I also abhor people telling me they are something that I should be able to determine on my own – i.e. telling me you’re smart when I should be able to glean that from intelligent writing or telling me that your attractive when I should be able to judge for myself from pictures.

  15. Barbara says:

    It seems amazing that relationships ever work at all!

    It’s too bad that people can’t just be content with being themselves.

    That we humans continue to procreate despite all of the ways we try to sabotage the process amazes me too.

  16. carrie m says:

    Excellent list, as are the additions from vie. The most important point here: be true to yourself and what you want. Don’t take it all too seriously, as hard as that is. You WILL recognize the person who may be right for you and vice versa. Why? Because you have not allowed yourself to overlook the stuff you don’t really like in someone, whatever it may be. I became an online dating success story this summer, and in some ways it felt incredibly random but mostly, it showed me that I was right to hold out for someone who got me.

    RR, I liked your comment about paying attention to red flags. I told a friend of mine that the second she started feeling even the slightest bit uncomfortable – in an email, IM conversation, date, whatever – be done with it. It’s not worth it. The person who is right for you or even right NOW for you won’t make you feel like that.

    Finally, I’ll say that as a big reader I thought my man would also need to be a reader. But he’s not. And it’s fine. He’s not uneducated and he speaks well, but he likes to listen to me talk about books and stories and writing. Which turns out is just fine with me. I have book friends to geek out with. Hell, it’s better than him being a fan of James Patterson/Alex Cross!

    We all have Spidey Sense – some more finely tuned than others – and we should all do a better job of paying attention when it starts tingling.

  17. brookem says:

    thank you for the shoutout RR! i love my blog friends, and have always been a fan of poptarts. i figured the two together were such an endearing match that i couldn’t resist.

    i think you are aware of this, that my manfriend and i met online? it sure did take a lot of weeding out for us to happen upon each other. he was luckier. he didn’t date anyone from online before me, and then we met… and, well… the rest is history. but i for sure had a few doozies. i guess i just tried to look at this sour dates as opening my eyes up even more to what i did, and didn’t want in a date.

    also, i like number four, by a lot.

    You’re very welcome, and thank you. Few things crystallize what we want quite as well as being in possession of something we don’t.

  18. Red says:

    I tend to try and stick to the rule: If there is a pic with his shirt off, with kids or tons of scenery pics. Or if his “About My Date” has nothing, which means he’ll take anything he can get. I move on.

    I was once told that any guy who list himself as 6 ft is anything but because no one is just 6 ft. If he lists anything more specific such as 6’1″ then that is his true height.

    Thanks! I love this post.

    Call me judgmental – and I know many of you already have – but I view the shirtless picture as tacit admission of priorities askew.

  19. #4 should be an accepted rule in the dating world. It would have saved me from some bad evenings. However, I am glad the bad dates didn’t deter me because I met my husband online.

    I have drafted legislation to that effect, but I can’t seem to get my congressman to propose it… oh, wait, I live in DC so I don’t have congressional representation..

  20. Lazygal says:

    I’ve never done the on-line dating thing, although I know people that have (some very successfully, too, including my 85y.o. cousin). That list makes me wonder if I ever will…

    I love that your 85yo cousin did online dating… it makes me smile, probably more than it should.

  21. titania says:

    From my not-so-long-ago online dating times, I’d add that I would never respond to a profile without a picture, in particular if the send them as attachments. I think they are too many married creeps out there looking for fun on the side. For my particular case, I also ruled out republican and religious nuts, not becasue there is something wrong with them, but because I know there is no way in hell we would get along.

    Religious nuts are definitely on my eliminate immediately list, have strongly held religious beliefs does not make one a nut. Fanaticism makes one a nut in my mind.

  22. titania says:

    Ah! also out, anyone who used “lol” or any of those, and anyone who says “I like to have fun” as description. Ok, that’s it, I think…

    I will forgive one “lol” but the second is grounds to immediately hit the back button. The stupid, worthless descriptors bother me too but mostly because I hate the words I have wasted in my life and would never wish to be with someone who uses them so carelessly.

  23. Grace says:

    This is a wonderful list! #1 is a big pet peeve of mine. Men regularly tell me that I am lying when I say I am 5’6″ because they are only an inch taller than me and they are 5’10”. Right.

    Thank you. I wonder how many men actually know how tall they are relative to what they have convinced themselves for all of these years.

  24. Dave Isnothere says:

    Wow, what a great list! As a successful and attractive 42-year old with no kids, I tried online dating at Match for about three months after much prodding from my friends, mostly my female friends. I have generated my own list. For starters, #4 above should be mandatory for everyone. I probably went on about 7 dates, and I saw a few times that the other party “checked-out/tuned-out” within 10-15 minutes of meeting. Hey, you are not going to make a connection with everyone. I was guilty of that as well, but at least I was a gentleman about it and tried to listen and engage in conversation.
    Also, being tall and in-shape, I don’t have to lie about my height or body type (it’s obvious from meeting me), so that one goes right out the window; but I guess men lie about both of those things?!? Without further ado, my list:
    [1] Speaking of lies, women tend to lie most about (in order of most BS to least): body type, materialism, attractiveness, relationship baggage, age, money, sense of humor, hobbies, and education.
    [2] Let’s be honest, when I see “height/weight proportionate”, or “average”, I automatically assume overweight, judging by what “today’s woman” calls average. 5’4” 140# is not average, that’s overweight.
    [3] Any woman that will not meet you initially for a “coffee date” is not worth your time. That just says that “I am high-maintenance”.
    [4] Be leery of any woman who says she not into materialism. Just look at her handbag – she is!
    [5] The closer a woman is to a 10, the less honest men (and women) will be with her about what a total bitch she is. This causes her to have a skewed vision of the world and her place in it.
    [6] There are plenty of serial daters out there. Out of the 7 women I met, only 2 offered to pay part of the bill. Most were just looking for a free meal(s)/drinks, on my dime. I was going to pay the bill regardless, but it was the “offer” that set these other women apart from the pack. That says so much – class, independence, self-worth, etc.
    [7] I can’t even begin to tell you how many gold-diggers there are on dating sites. I see no need to potentially work myself into an early grave to keep them in shiny trinkets and new cars.
    [8] Women with children – I don’t have them, nor do I want to be involved with someone who does. Thankfully, as I age, that gets to be less and less of an issue. I know, sounds rather shitty on the surface, but I see no reason to be a full-time father to someone else’s kids. I did it for over 10 years and it’s a completely thankless job being a “step-parent”. However, women in my age bracket tend to be divorced with kids, many of whom have “cashed-out” of their marriages keeping the house, car, kids, and bank accounts while literally driving the ex-husband to the poor house in “child support” and “alimony”. They are out there looking for Hubby #2, and if you want to be that guy, I have two words for you – prenuptial agreement.
    [9] The ratio of men to women on these dating sites is skewed heavily in favor of women. Realize that she receives 30 e-mails to your 3, and that she is probably “dating” five or six guys at once. If you are OK with that, then by all means carry-on. I wasn’t.
    [10] Online dating is a strange place now and it really didn’t used to be. Now it’s like a cheap singles club where everyone is looking to hook up for a quick piece of ass (usually men).

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