The Hazards of Online Love

04/18/2011

Online dating is serious business these days. It’s the #11 fastest growing industry, and is worth over $1 billion a year; more than porn. No surprise then that it’s pretty popular, and often the go-to method to meet new people for most singles. While it used to be a bit of a taboo to be on these sites, a 26 year old woman told me today she felt like bars and clubs had a bigger negative stigma today, and that she had no problem admitting to using it. Can’t say I disagree.

If you know my history it’s probably no surprise that I’ve entered this world in the last year as well. I don’t have time to invest a lot into it and be a professional dater, as it can easily consume hours keeping up with messages, not to mention the resulting dates. I commented to a friend recently that the daily matches were almost a hassle – every day I get another list of people to reject.

I do find it a valuable tool for modern courtship, however. I don’t like to waste time with people who aren’t a good fit, so anything that can at least run a basic pre-qualification filter is a good thing. My experience is that I’m still uninterested in 95% of those who pass that filter, so it could use some improvement, but at least it’s something. While I’ve met some cool people at bars and parties and such, I don’t really go to those places looking for someone, because there’s little to go on other than someone’s looks, which isn’t the most important quality to me. I don’t care how hot a woman is, if she spends all of her time manicuring her body but not her mind, I’m not interested. I’ve been surprised, but it’s not much of a lead qualifier.

There are some trends I see in the online dating world that are interesting though. For example, practically every woman is really into sports! Who knew? They also work out constantly, and are really into eating healthy, though you wouldn’t have guessed from their photos. And you’d be amazed how old a ’28 year old’ can look.

Other patterns: everyone is super thankful for their family, and loves their job and, in a quirky twist sure to show their smart sense of humor, also their iPhones. Many women are really big wine drinkers, though it doesn’t seem to be their drink of choice when it actually comes to ordering something. They also enjoy posing in front of bathroom mirrors and while driving their car. The above-the-head-to-maximize-cleavage-with-pouty-face is also a popular pose.

Most women also talk about how important honesty and open communication is to them, though they seem to be have a hard time with it in practice. I haven’t seen one profile say they’re looking for someone physically attractive, which also defies behavior observed in real life.

I’m sure all the ladies are dealing with similar issues. For fun earlier, I did a reverse search to see what the guys were up to. Also a lot of bathroom mirror pictures, but many with shirts off. Lots of talk about their cars and their money. Pro-tip for the ladies – guys with money don’t talk about it. I was actually pretty surprised by how lame and douchey the competition seemed to be. I’m definitely a car guy, but I’d never talk about what kind of car I drive, if for no other reason than I don’t really want to attract the kind of person who cares. It would seem that there’s a lot of rough on both sides to wade through for the diamonds.

It’s understandable to want to make a good first impression, but it seems many people are putting up giant fronts. For as many people who say they value honesty, I find it surprising how dishonest many seem to be right from the very start, with themselves as well as those they are meeting. I get it, you’re a little overweight, you’re not a world traveler, you don’t have a glamorous job, you don’t read the Times, and so you feel unconfident.

But if I may make a suggestion to the online dating world, it would be to become a person you can be proud of. Nobody is stopping you from being interesting but you. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in relationships, it’s that they will never be right if you’re pretending to be someone else. You have to know who you are, and like who you are, and have the patience to find someone who likes you for you. I know that’s cliche, but it’s true.

So if you think a true online profile of you is boring, go do something interesting to change it! What better motivation could you have for self-improvement than true love? And if you really don’t like wine, or sports, and you like to spend most of your time at home with your cats watching cooking shows, that’s ok too. You might not bag that dashing young hedge fund manager with a summer home in France, but if you’re true to yourself hopefully you’ll find someone who genuinely connects with you, which is what we should all be looking for anyway.

One final note: if you’re reading this and we’ve dated, or are dating, I’m not talking about you. You’re cool.