15 Harsh Realities of Online Dating

I’ve developed my own personal set of dating realities, that have helped me avoid the dating fatigue that is so common, especially amongst online daters.
Publish date:
July 10, 2013
online dating, OKCupid, tips, M

When it comes to online dating, my personal mantra is that it means nothing until it means everything. As such, I’ve developed my own personal set of dating realities. They have helped me avoid the dating fatigue that is so common, especially amongst online daters. Before you head down that rabbit hole again try to keep the following points in mind. These are all open to discussion.

1. It’s not just you.

When I ask male and female clients to tell me how their online dating experience is faring, all of them -– literally all of them -– say the exact same thing. They tell me that they rarely get responses to their messages, meet a lot of flakes and repeatedly hear from people who aren’t their type.

2. There are a dozen reasons why somebody did not respond to you, the majority of which have nothing to do with you.

Sometimes they’re just not that into you. In many other cases that person is traveling, sick, licking their wounds from a break-up, currently interested in someone else, etc. Or, and this is a big one, they never had any intention of replying to anybody. They just wanted to see how many messages they could get. It’s the equivalent of asking people for their number in a bar and never calling.

3. Just because they viewed your profile and didn’t email you doesn’t mean they aren’t interested.

What we say in our ads can be open to interpretation. Here’s an example: someone could read your profile and learn that you consider yourself intellectual. Even if they read The Economist and graduated from Harvard, they might wonder if they are intellectual enough for you. It’s that enough thing that prevents someone from responding. If someone you like reads your profile and doesn’t contact you, email them. I strongly believe that viewing someone’s profile and not emailing is the new wink.

4. There are just some people we are never going to get.

It’s all about knowing your audience. Your target market is typically the people that initiate interest in you or that you can attract with minimal effort without all that push/pull stuff. Focus on those people and you’ll clear out a lot of space for the right person.

5. Cold calling people should be used sparingly.

A “cold call’ is an email you send someone who did not in some way initially show interest in you. I attach zero expectations to these messages. Send ‘em out and let ‘em go. Do what you can to draw people to your profile. Rate, flirt, wink away. Make sure someone you like can see that you viewed their profile. Update your profile daily. Add new photos -– yes, even selfies! –- often. Most importantly, use keywords. People are optimizing their searches now to include specific descriptors in order to find more compatible matches. Don’t just say that you like the outdoors, are into sci-fi or have a great sense of humor. Be specific!

6. Just because you’re not someone’s type doesn’t mean you’re not attractive.

Let’s use Alexander Skarsgard as an example. I think we can say he’s objectively gorgeous, yes? He does absolutely nothing for me. That doesn’t mean he isn’t attractive. It just means he doesn’t flip my lady switch. Now, Jeremy Renner? Rowr.

7. We are all undateable to somebody.

There isn’t some elite segment of daters that never get rejected. I once had a male client tell me that he refuses to date teachers. Other people won’t date folks who live more than X miles away. Or anybody under 5’10”. At any given time, somebody is disqualifying someone for a reason that only makes sense to them. That’s not about you, either.

8. There are no rules any more.

There’s no time for standing on principle anymore. Like ‘em? Email them! Want to go out? Ask them out! The process of dating has become so intensified that there’s just no room for the whole cat and mouse game anymore. Forget about gender roles, too.

9. The longer you spend communicating online, the less likely you’ll meet offline.

I don’t give my phone number out before a date is set up. I wait until the day before or day of the date to give them my digits. If someone hasn’t suggested we meet after the third round of emails, I suggest it. I do not engage anybody beyond a few (no more than three to five) rounds of messages until we meet. YMMV on that one.

10. Profiles are just one-dimensional representations.

Who we are on that page is just the tip of the iceberg. Which leads me to…

11. Everybody lies.

I’ll gird my loins for the reaction to this one. Whether it’s on our profile, during the date, during the relationship or when we’re rejecting someone, there’s a good chance we’re not being totally honest all the time. The key is determining the motivation behind the lie. If someone reveals to you that they fudged their age or are actually separated and not single, first ask them why they chose to present themselves in a way that wasn’t accurate. Sometimes it’s as simple as they wanted to be given a chance. In other instances their deception is more malicious. With experience comes the ability to discern between the two.

12. Refreshing honesty is overrated.

I remember a post here that was submitted by a woman who had been dating a man for about 6 weeks. He made a number of attempts to sleep with her, but she chose to wait. He ended up breaking up with her by telling her that he didn’t find her attractive and that he felt really, really, ridiculously bad about admitting that. There are times when people use “refreshing honesty” to throw us off kilter. One very important tool in our dating arsenal isn’t total honesty, it’s diplomacy. Lack thereof should alert you to the fact that you dodged a bullet.

13. The red flags are in the inconsistencies.

There are certain assumptions that should be challenged. Not everything should be taken at face value. That doesn’t make you cynical or jaded.

14. At any given time, we might be someone’s second choice.

You know that person that faded on you a couple months ago who re-surfaced last week and told you work had been really crazy and that’s why they fell off the face of the earth? There’s a really good chance that they had been pursuing another option and it didn’t work out. Not uncommon, many of us have done it, and it doesn’t make them a dick.

15. Rejection is a great way to gain perspective.

Sometimes it takes it takes that splash of ice cold water that is rejection to get us to see the great people that were under our nose the whole time.

I’ll expand on some of these in the comments. I’m interested to hear what you’re personal dating realities are and if we have any in common.