Ted: There’s no stigma anymore [with online dating].
Robin: Oh, there’s a stigma. That’s why people always say “There’s no stigma anymore.”
– How I Met Your Mother: Season 3 Episode 5 (2007)
Many people use online dating but not everyone admits to using it. It’s become so common that some claim it is second only to being introduced by friends. Online dating allows you to meet people that would never otherwise interact with in “real life” and it can be done with a lower time investment. While it has shortcomings, it is a useful supplement to all the other ways of meeting people.
Let me address common criticisms of online dating that may be keeping you away from it:
- There’s lot of desperate/undesirable/weird people and fake profiles: Yes, and at a higher rate than in real life. But I’ve now seen multiple friends in relationships, and even marriages, that originated online.
- Women are inundated with messages, but even the most desirable men rarely receive any replies: Absolutely true. But remember that dating is a two-sided market. Women may be having all the choice but ultimately they eventually have to choose that one lucky man who put in the effort – which could be you.
- I’m in my early 20s and online dating is for “old” people: It does skew older but I have gone on dates with younger people.
My tips for online dating:
- Don’t pay for it: In big cities, common free websites probably work as well or better e.g. https://www.okcupid.com/.
- Get professionally done photos: It makes an enormous difference since people make snap judgments about your profile.
- Don’t get too emotionally invested in any one person/stranger: The reply rate is so low that it’s not worth your time. Just do a quick scan of their profile and if anything seems interesting to you, send a quick message referencing that and mentioning something interesting about you. The alternative approach is where you send every prospect a cut-and-paste message that sounds personalized but isn’t, without even reading their profile. This gives you greater volume but a lower reply rate.
- Avoid burnout, especially if you are not getting replies: Don’t spend hours every night on the website or you’ll get discouraged. Just message 1 or 2 people every couple of days. Use the rest of your time meeting people in real life.
- Only message people who have been online in the last day: They are far more likely to be active and to read your message. There are so many people on online dating that it doesn’t matter if you miss people by using such a filter.
- Be open-minded: Most people are mistaken when it comes to predicting who they will fall in love with. Use online dating as a way to casually date many people quickly, so that you can get an idea of actual deal breakers. If you instead restrict your criteria to “physically attractive Ivy League Masters graduate, within 2 years of my age, is of a particular race, knows how to cook & speak Klingon”, then you are denying yourself the ability to experiment and learn more about who you actually like. Oh, and you forgot that the Klingon speaker has to like you back too.
So until next time my friends, keep online dating!