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The Problem with Modern Romance Is Too Much Choice (nautil.us)
150 points by dnetesn on Oct 8, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 121 comments



I'm just going to preface this by saying I'm a fairly physically unattractive man (short, Asian, assymetrical face with no strong jawline).

The quality of the women (based on intellect, personality, accomplishments, and appearance) who I've met in real life first before dating have been vastly superior to the women who I managed to find a date with through online dating.

Besides the restrictiveness of the online dating medium, specifically its inability to capture personality or warmth, I think another reason is because the women I meet in real life are able to evaluate me individually for who I am whereas in online dating you're practically always being compared to dozens of people.

I also think that people are overly picky in online dating and treat their specifications as sacrosanct instead of something to constantly self evaluate. For example, it's fairly common for people to specify a preference for a single race, usually their own. When I used to go on match.com I saw plenty of white women who explicitly noted they only wanted to date white men. Fair enough. And you know, a lot of white women I know in real life might have the same preference given the nature of growing up in small towns dominated by a single ethnicity and having consumed culture that largely glamorizes white men. But they also ended up marry Asian men, not through online dating but perhaps because they got to know them in college or at work or through friends. Likewise I'm certain that some of the women I dated in real life wouldn't have given me a chance in online dating. Perhaps it's because we could share laughter and gain trust in one another before even considering the concept of love. I'm sure there's also studies that show repeated exposure of a person has a positive effect on their perception.

And if you read the story in Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance, he mentions a similar anecdote where he met two Indian dudes, one who was struggling to meet anyone through online dating, and the other who exclusively just met women in real life and had no problems in that realm.

I guess my unscientific observation is that while online dating is certainly gaining in popularity and can be successful for some people, that it can sort of be misrepresentative of reality.


When I last used online dating (4+ years ago), I saw a decent number of height requirements stated explicitly from female profiles.

I always found this interesting, not because of the idea itself, but because they chose specific heights as cutoffs. It was particularly common to see women pick 6' as their cutoff. Many of these women were significantly shorter than 6', even if they wore heels.

If you're 5'4" (say), can you really tell the difference between 5'10" and 6'? Are those two inches actually a dealbreaker? Walking past men on the street, can you actually filter out all men under 6' accurately and precisely? It seems extremely unlikely that anyone could do that unless they were quite close to 6' themselves.

And yet it's trivial to filter out every guy under 6' on a site like OkCupid. The site provides built-in functionality to do so. I'm willing to bet a significant percentage of women stating they require a height of 6' or higher would often be willing in real life to date men much shorter than that, because they probably don't even know what 6' precisely looks like.

It's also been convincingly demonstrated that men on dating sites inflate their height by 2 full inches on average. Suppose you don't really know what 6' precisely looks like and go on a date with a 5'10" guy claiming to be 6'. You may not realize he's not actually 6' and believe the claim from his profile. From here on out, your idea of dating "6'" men becomes reinforced based on faulty data.


I used to be infatuated with a tall women that also thought she was 5'9"

I measured her and she was 5'7" and she still was able to book modeling jobs with strict requirements under her adjusted height

People liked the proportions and her long legs

Maybe some future society won't but the phenotype wins now

Just another anecdote about how lying and perception aren't exactly mysterious ways of getting ahead


When you make a strict distinction between hooking up and dating, everything starts to make sense.

Hooking up stats are rather clear: around 80% of women have sex with around 20% of men. That's why an average looking guy on PoF/CL/Tinder/OkCupid has very little chance compared to real life.

This imbalance is actually caused by the guys. Your average guy will throw himself at almost any woman. You join a site, you go through profiles, you message the ones you like. You can easily message 100 girls and get 1 reply. Why? Because every other average guy is doing the same. So an average girl gets 100 messages a day, and there's no way she's replying to all of them - she will pick the top 5-10, and will talk to them.

If your face isn't good looking, don't worry. You can compensate with other things. Hit the gym, girls LOVE fit bodies, even though most of them you tell you they want someone funny/smart/interesting. Don't believe the words, believe the actions. When I started gaining muscle, women started paying attention. Other things that help are: confidence, ability to speak calmly and confidently, dressing better than average, treating women as humans, not as princesses.

If you want to meet lots of women IRL, pick up an activity with mostly women, like dance, yoga.


Parent's comment is entirely correct and shouldn't be downvoted.

To learn more, read about hypergamy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergamy

TLDR: All women seek higher status males, inevitably leading to the highest status males reproducing with more females.


The key is that 'higher status', in this context, doesn't mean what it normally means. It took me a long time to figure that out. 'Higher status' means 'building muscle, confidence, ability to speak calmly and confidently, dressing better than average, treating women as humans, not as princesses.'

Being a multimillionaire is not 'higher status' when it comes to meeting women (unless you make it to the hundred-millionaire state')

Being a founder or a corporate exec is not 'higher status' when it comes to meeting women (unless you are C-suite at a fortune-500)


Dancing (I mean couple dancing) is the best way meeting new women. On the dancing floor there is a shortage of men and after a short "do you wanna dance?" question you have right away physical contact. Online dating is quite the opposite.


Hooking up stats are rather clear: around 80% of women have sex with around 20% of men. That's why an average looking guy on PoF/CL/Tinder/OkCupid has very little chance compared to real life.

While I think this sounds very true, do you have a reference?

It completely matches the experience in the city I live in, and I'd love to be able to quote it to people.


Sorry, speaking from my experience. And probably most guys experience. Everyone who has been to highschool can see it.

OKCupid has some research, but they don't record actual sex encounters. They have stats like "As you can see from the gray line, women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium".


The closest thing to "fact" is that about 1/3 of men alive historically have reproduced, compared to about 2/3 of women (or is it 40%-60%?).


The other problem I've noticed is that most women don't have a problem finding a date. They can go to a bar, club, library, grocery store and men ask them out. Why do they need to go online in the first place? They are either too picky or have some other major issue.

Before I was married, I found dates online all the time. 99% of the women I dated had issues or were too picky. I didn't end up finding my wife until I joined some local meetup groups and met her IRL.


Not wanting to date some random people that approach you in public spaces is being "too picky"? Might as well say that having any preference is too picky. By that definition, I'm yet to make a friend that isn't "too picky" or does not have a "major issue".


I think the "too picky" comment wasn't related to that (considering it said "too picky or ..."). Not sure what the OP means though, so you could be right.


I think the point is less about how they are surrounded by people who want to date them and more about the fact that should they chose to, they have the option of any of accepting a date, or even asking for one themselves, from the typically plentiful group of single people who are seeking their attentions.

Ignoring these opportunities in favour of having a computer mediated interaction where they are able to choose precisely what they are interested in... does fit the definition of "picky". Most people probably have their own personal reasons for it, but that doesn't make it less of a fit for the dictionary definition of picky.


But it's just not true? "accepting a date" from how many people? 0-3? I guess for bar/club goers perhaps it's different. But the notion that you're going to have a substantial number of people "lined up" if you're just going about your life is simply false. Sure you can ask people out, but then it's as much of a choice as going online is. Not a default you're passively opted into.

Even OP has admitted that they were easily getting many dates online yet still they had to reject a lot of people (I assume?). And (again assumedly) that is not picky [cause they had "issues"], while somebody not picking whoever from a small pool is.

And that's all without going into how the cohort of people doing the approaching can be skewed in an unfavorable way, the scariness and increased risk of accepting a date in person etc.

I don't want into arguments about definitions. My point is, for the average computer literate person, going on the Internet is the expected rational choice. Or perhaps more widely, that the Internet meme of "women have it easier, there's something wrong with ones that can't find a suitable date" is based on rather troubling judgments.


Thank you, this weird myth that women are just walking around with this amazing pool of compatible men to choose from needs to go away and definitely has no place here. Even for women for whom there is a really large pool, which is not all women, it just creates a lot of extra noise to sift through but it's not really quality.

From what I heard, nobody gets anything serious started in clubs. Bars are probably better but, quite honestly, I don't feel safe going to a bar by myself late in the evening.


I completely concur with the notion that the pool of "compatible" dates is a total myth. That's a total pile of excrement in need of swift disposal.


One thing many people that are focused on online dating don't realize is that most of the other users aren't really serious about it. A lot of my female (and some male) friends had an OK Cupid for really no reason other than just to scroll around when bored or because a friend had one.


I guess that depends on your definition of too picky? If you want to have a partner that shares similar life values to you and it's not that common amongst the population near you (or willing to come up and ask you out) just rolling the dice with random people can get old real quick.

Some things are worth being picky about and just dealing with up front. If you can choose from 100 people why not eliminate the ones who don't share your religion, for example.


Because you eliminate entire groups of people without considering other attributes - if you met someone and only learned their religion some time later, you might find its not as important to you as you thought. If you rule it out before you can make that discovery , you never know what kind of people you have closed the door on.

Of course I'm someone who married the person who couldn't be more different in politics, personality and background - 17 years ago and going strong. So naturally my perspective here is biased - on the basis of criteria I thought were important to me at that age, I have no doubt I never would have considered her if I saw her profile and went by he facts and figures.


> had issues or were too picky

This seems rather vague and subjective...


I always ask myself: can a person that looks like me, is as smart, has as much money etc... be successful in this situation?

The answer (for me) has is almost always "yes" and so the question becomes how did they do it? What failing of mine should I repair?


Here's another thing society does that heavily penalizes "unattractive" men: Men are strongly stigmatized for wearing make-up for personal (as opposed to professional) use. It really isn't fair. A good foundation and some concealer goes a long way.

I don't think attractiveness matters past initiating the first date in a cold relationship. Who knows, is it because I've gotten older? Getting to know someone makes their face so dynamic and expressive. Every human face is pretty once you get to know it that way. Perhaps that is why it's easier to date people we're already friends with: we already know how pretty and interesting they are, what more could one want?


Attractiveness overall seems a more valued trait in women, though, to a rather catastrophic degree. I think men should be allowed to use makeup, and I think the small amounts that would help others wouldn't notice, but, overall, I don't think the fact that women are supposed to constantly worry about their makeup or their hair or their fashion so disproportionately is an advantage. I got the impression that men don't wear makeup mostly because it doesn't really matter. That's a lot of time better spent doing almost literally anything else.


I'm guessing this isn't so much the case in other cultures as I had a few male Korean friends who wore light make up.


Oh, of course. It even changes with time within the same culture. In the United States at least, away from major cities with a strong culture of liberal individuality, there are extreme social pressures culminating in even violence that police the conduct of both men and women when it comes to self-expression through makeup and fashion.


On the other hand I tend to prefer women who use little to no makeup . It's not necessarily a one-way discrimination, though I agree the reaction is more of an automatic response people in this culture will hold towards men who choose to do so.


High hills is another example.


Understand there is a ratio of 10 men to 1 woman on every dating website.

Any criteria that reduces the number of choices is good for women as it makes their lives easier.

"Well, if I meet someone online he has to be as good as possible right? They are so many men here."


I 100% agree with your post and I have similar experience in my life. While in real life, we build some kind of background via the way we communicate, get things done and how we come across. All of this is missing online. At dating sites, most of people play with prejudice. I think women do not feel safe at these dating sites so they keep their options reserved.


Your anecdote rings with how there are many people who hold racist tendencies, but exclude their friends of said race from those tendencies. Essentially when they think 'all X' they mean 'all X besides those whom I know'


Is it racist to have physical preferences that conform to "race"? If I were, for example, to like tall men, and therefore have a preference for men of a race which is stereotypically tall, does that make me racist?


No. Any dictionary definition of racism suggests a feeling of superiority over the race in question. Romantic preferences have nothing to do with it.


It's a very complicated question because human relationships are complicated.

I would say no, and in fact even having a preference for something like skin complexion isn't enough to make one racist. What is racist is stating the preference in terms of race and categorically denying that one would ever be attractive to a person of <race> or <skin complexion> or whatever. I think it would be pretty ugly to say that you would never date a short person, regardless of any implications for one's ideas about race, too. Like, it's different to say "i find tall people attractive" versus "i find short people unattractive".

Personal preferences aside, the way society signals which physical features are desirable and undesirable is racist. This is largely commercialized and driven by marketing departments these days but it is rooted in all sorts of institutions that govern the desirability and undesirability of certain bodies. So, as an individual, signaling one's preferences can feed into this structural power that decides who is pretty and who is not. Individual preferences are almost certainly partly influenced by messages society sends us and it's important to keep that in mind.


By tendencies I was meaning making jokes like "Having kids is great, you should, unless you're brown. There's enough brown people already"


Yeah, it is by definition. If you are excluding somebody just because of their race (even if they are tall, handsome, or whatever else your are seeking on a partner), then it is.

It is fine, there is nothing wrong with it, as you should do whatever you want with your romantic life, but it is racist as you are excluding a group of people from your dating pool just because of their race.


Am I also a sexist because I am not gay?


What is racism? I was under the impression there is no scientific validity to the concept.

I think this whole idea of race should be put down, euthanised. I like to mock it by comparing people to dog breeds. We don't call the English Pointer and the Miniature Shar Pei different races, but they have distinctly stronger difference than English compared Chinese people.

In an effort to reclaim my preferences I can often be hearding saying things like "I don't mean to sound racists, but could you pass the salt" at the dinner table.


Being an Asian does not imply unattractiveness. It's one's other properties that determine attractiveness (muscular body, etc).

Considering Asian as a property of unattractiveness is racist. Even if you are an Asian yourself.


Clearly what was meant was that an average white person who was asked to imagine an attractive potential partner, would image a white person of the appropriate gender. Thus asians do not look like the image of "imaginary attractive potential partner" of most people (in the US). This doesn't mean that asians are unattractive. Just that most movie stars are not asians.


White-Asian marriages are something like 80% white male/asian female, 20% white female/asian male.

"Asian" is not an indicator of unattractiveness; "male Asian", on average, is.


So my experience and how it feels for an average to less then average guy in looks(I'm causcasin ..5'10..170.. fit)to be on all these damn apps.

Basically we all want something hot and or attractive to us. I feel for women who are less to average in looks have it better then guys. Probably sign into these apps and get bombarded by guys.

I definitely date using match and plenty of fish(15 different dates a year) Tinder to me is crickets. I'm well aware of why and oh well that's how it goes but it does suck.

Though I've then tried Grindr and other bi apps. I've found both attractive yet if I had found some chick who I liked in my 20s(in my 30s I was in a long term relationship with a chick) and settled down I would most likely have never explored my interest in guys. Would have just kept it to the normal curious fun a lot of us guys have with each other in our teens.

Well using Grindr and others I now know what it feels like to be a chick... sign on and get tons of messages and choose which one catches your eye. This happens each time you open the app. Hey if your into both it's a great way to beat loniless, meet new friends and have fun here/there.

Overall I just wanted to point out one mans use of these dating apps. I'm sure I'm not alone in my struggle with finding the women I want and they want me too. If Tinder keeps you busy your one lucky dude! Probably alone in using those other apps or maybe not and that could be another thing these apps are changing how/who we date and meet?


I find this is one of the more useful comments I've ever read on this topic (dating struggles and difference in male / female viewpoints).

Thanks for sharing.


Yeah it's so tough out there if your looks don't fit the mold. I think based on the upvotes of my thread other guys are doing the same. Probably a small majority are, as if you you are curious and disenchanted by str8 dating apps too then why not?. Us guys are completely wound differenly then women and are equally driven by one thing. I can imagine if I was smoking hot guy women would be sending me hot pics like received on Grindr. That would be awesome but nothing I will experienced in this lifetime.

There's no doubt I could be with a chick now but it wouldn't be with any I want, who excite me and or who fit my check list. Thus until I find her I'm biding my time between all these apps and always playing it safe and infrequently on the bi apps.


So other people found this coherent?


What is hard to follow in my post?


Why was this downvoted?


I didn't downvote you, but I don't think your anecdotal experience advances the discussion (a criticism which applies to most of this thread).


I find it quite interesting to know how things work for gay men. If he does not tell me, I would not know.


Ah, how else could one advance the discussion much without anecdotal experience with this particular topic?


For "discussion", you can have people looking for 2 different things:

1) confirm/discredit/explain/etc the specific facts/opinions in the article

2) expand the article's specific topic into a launch pad for general anecdotes (often manifested as group catharsis)

I can't speak for jessriedel but I assume he's looking for the first type of discussion (science). It's not wrong or right but just pointing out how people look for different commentary. Based on curiousdater's upvotes, many HN readers find his online experience interesting and don't care that his comment could be posted to any submitted story about dating and not just this specific one about the science research into choice fatigue.

To your question, it's not impossible to talk about choice overload without reverting to personal anecdotes.

The article's author Elizabeth Svoboda only used one anecdote which was about her friend Shannon Whitaker. Ignoring that, 99% of the article cites data from professor Barry Schwartz, psychologists Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky, anthropologist Helen Fisher, economist Hanna Halaburda, marketing professor Alexander Chernev, and researcher Daniel Mochon. It also mentions opposing evidence from professor Benjamin Scheibehenne.

The personal anecdote about her friend was only a tiny amount of text at the beginning and the end. The anecdote was used as a narrative device to frame the article but it wasn't the main message.


>So is there an ideally sized choice set when it comes to dating—one large enough to include variety and depth, yet small enough that you can fairly weigh each prospect’s potential without tripping your brain’s overload switch? [...] Fisher puts people somewhere in the middle of that range. “Once you’ve met nine people who are vaguely in the ballpark, choose one and get to know that person better. If nothing works in that nine, go for another nine,” she says.

The article talks about simultaneous choices (choice overload). A related concept is serial choices and the "when to stop looking for The One" dilemma. That's been modeled as The Secretary Problem[1] which calculates a 37% stopping point. It also has been discussed by several authors: [2] [3] [4] [5]

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretary_problem

[2]https://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Live-Computer-Science-Deci...

[3]https://youtu.be/OwKj-wgXteo?t=10m12s

[4]https://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Love-Patterns-Ultimate-Eq...

[5]https://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_fry_the_mathematics_of_love...


It is worth noting that the 1/e secretary problem solution is optimal only if your goal is to maximize the probability of choosing the single best secretary.

If your goal is to do expectimax optimization, as decision theory would dictate, you should make a decision after reviewing sqrt(n) applicants. That's assuming a uniform distribution of utility among secretary choices. If the distribution is non-uniform, another heuristic might be better.


I assure you that in dating, utility is not even close to uniformly distributed over secretaries. It is almost the least uniform naturally-occurring distribution I can think of.


It's not the secretary problem, because in the secretary problem you cannot recall a dismissed candidate and you can only evaluate one candidate at a time.


Yes, I had already stated it was not The Secretary Problem. See that I used the phrase "a related concept ... serial ..."


This is the key passage of the article that pretty much says it.

In short, if you're faced with 30 jars of jam to choose from, you'll narrow by brand or GMO-status or whatever. Facing a choice for a mate in a list of 1,000 people, you filter by height, race, tits, or some other attribute.

Your outcome will be the same (ie. you'll have jam in your toast or a person in your life), but the criteria different.

> When Benjamin Scheibehenne, a professor of cognition and consumer behavior at the University of Geneva, set out to replicate the jam study, he found no evidence that people were less satisfied with their choices when they had a larger array to select from. “It seems to be fairly difficult to overload or confuse or frustrate people just based on the number of options,” Scheibehenne says. “In most situations, people are quite good at coping.” He points out that if abundant choice were really as paralyzing as Schwartz and others have proposed, people would constantly get stymied in everyday situations like deciding which shirt to wear or what to have for lunch.

> Instead, Scheibehenne argues that people generally avoid being overwhelmed by practicing a kind of quick-and-dirty mental judo, using some kind of shortcut to limit their choices—whether that means giving certain factors more weight or simply skipping some of the presented choices.


This makes compete sense. As they say in the world of freelancing, "if you have too much demand, raise prices". Same in dating, if you have too much choice, raise standards ". Conversely, beggars can't be choosers.


The feeling I am developing is that the success of dating apps correlates with the fact that people spend more and more time working/looking for a job. I am pretty not attractive but while in high-school/university I had multiple partners whom I would meet just in my daily life and I felt it was the same for most of my friends, but when we all started working full time (even doing very different things) everything changed suddenly for most of us. I felt it myself, I had little time to socialize with people because I would spend most of my time in a place where socializing is not only not among the top priorities but is in fact often discouraged (can cause conflict of interests etc). The same thing literally drove some of my friends crazy. After I moved (last year) to a different country for a new job (with a girl that had become my wife by that time) I (we) noticed how difficult it was to simply make new friends. Before, it was really easy to come across so many different kind of people, while now I meet mostly males who did an engineering degree to whom I can't anyway speak much. A very close friend I have of my same age recently told me, during a rather depressing conversation, that I did the best thing by marrying just after having started a professional career with the girl I met in Uni, because trying afterwards is just so much harder. Guys from work who are single just turn to dating apps, or go to courses on seduction etc. I do think a healthy society should try to address this issue, somehow.


That it's much harder to date/make new friends once you're done with school is hardly a new phenomenon - it was true when I started working 15 years ago, and it was probably true 30 years ago too.


Well, it is true, of course. But I sometimes think about 2 things: - Somehow, we are working more [1] while not earning significantly more, and we do while progress promised us shorter hours in the past. Hence I guess the phenomenon is just getting worse? - My father (I'm originally from Italy) dropped out from school when he was 16, and many of the parents of my friends had a similar experience. We never have the impression they strongly shared our views on the issue. Like, maybe they also experienced it, but they still reject the idea it is a general problem and simply attribute it to weak, singular case and so on. Not sure.

[1] http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/18/news/economy/bernie-sanders-...


Anecdotal agreement:

I spent some time using online dating several years ago, but I wasn't really sure what I was looking for. I messaged a lot of women, got ignored by a lot of women, went on a couple of very unfulfilling dates. The issue was that (for me and my targets) when you log in there's just so many people. So you use very brutal winnowing to filter down to a manageable set, but (obviously) you can only filter based on the info the site gives you: Height, weight, religion, ethnicity, facial appearance. In so doing you throw away tons of potential matches that you'd have got along great with, but the people you're left with aren't really "matches" at all. They had no particular reason to talk to me, and I had no particular reason to talk to them. "Hello fellow human; do you wish to discuss current events?"

A couple years later (after a fairly unhappy but very educational relationship with someone I did NOT meet on a dating site) I tried online dating again. This time I had a very specific idea what I was looking for, and used keyword searches to find potential matches. I quickly filtered it down to 3 possible matches in my city, one of whom was far and away the best match. I messaged her, she replied, and 4.5 years later we're still happily dating.

I think online dating is great if you have very specific criteria and you're trying to find someone who matches at all, and need the ability to perform a hard filter on a large pool of people you know don't match. Online dating is terrible if you don't really know what you're looking for, and you're just trying to find people to talk to.

(And of course, that goes both ways. Online dating is a horrible way to meet someone who doesn't know what they're looking for, because they're likely to use very arbitrary was to filter the pool down to a manageable subset. But it's great if your target does know what they're looking for, because if you match, your message will really stand out.)


I think the issue of "too much choice" in online dating has seeped out into the real world, making people believe the world is full of infinite choice, so why get married? Why settle? Why TRY? When the world beckons.


That's another thing, everyone has the freedom to move and live wherever they want, to work where they want under their conditions (hours, pay, etc. Interestingly enough, working conditions aren't up for debate as much), etc. The other part is that there's very, very few relationships that end up in "for life"; my parents' generation is still the ones that believe in marriage for life, they manage their problems like adults. But there's no social reason to stay together anymore, at least if both parties are financially independent - on that note, I know a few people that stay together not because they want to, but for practical and financial reasons. as in, the woman / mother can't move because she couldn't afford it. Kinda sad really.


Considering HN is a relatively affluent crowd would anyone who is having trouble online dating pay to have their dating profile edited/rewritten and also their msgs to potential dates (I say to women as would seem to be most likely) . Thus saving time and lessening frustration?

There seem to be a lot of decently intelligent men that are not skilled at writing good profiles and msgs.

Thoughts on what one would pay, with and without a guarantee of X success.


I think the HN crowd would do better at just meeting people in person. People can get "profile reviews" for free (see /r/okcupid), but success depends on a lot of random factors no one can really control. Though I'm guessing "good/serious profiles" are more attractive to late 20s women than women my age (22), so maybe I'm wrong.

That said, I hear the demographics in SV are pretty bad for men. Here in NYC, I met my partner fairly easily through a friend (classic way).


One can easily control type of pics and text you write on your profile along with type of messages one sends.


Yes, but how many people will be OK with the idea of paying someone to choose what to say and what to send to a potential mate? I'm guessing more than I think (after all, people pay to learn from "pick up artist").

What I like about real life dating and meeting is that if something goes wrong, at least I know what it was (for the most part, definitely not always). I've had friends who don't reply to messages because they simply forget about them or are busy, or decide to not do online dating any more without telling anyone. Maybe that's less common than I think, though.


You don't need to pay someone to write messages for you.

As much as things like PUA and /redpill are hated on this site, I've learned a few grains of wisdom from some of the online dating threads.

Advice for Guys:

1. Don't write long messages. 2. Try to keep the ratio at 1/1 or less (you vs them). 3. Go for a number / date as soon as possible. 4. If #2 or #3 fail, move on to someone else. It is a numbers game, and you are at the disadvantage as a 20 something guy.

I have had decent success in my 30's using this strategy - far more than I had in my 20's, though a lot of this is due to my age and other factors, not just messaging.

Honestly, if I knew at 25 what I know now, I wouldn't recommend any guys that aren't in the top 20% of attractiveness (i.e. tall, fit, good job, social skills) to bother with online dating. It is about as effective as trying to pick up random women at bars at closing time (i.e. it probably won't work, and will waste a lot of time, energy, pride, and money).


Very polished profiles help to get first dates, but not actually finding good partners.

I know/have friends that are actually really good at getting the first date, but strike out after it. At the end of the day you need in person skills, and being polished yourself to be lucky at it.

People that are polished in person and come out as they have their stuff together, tend to do much better in meeting people in real life. It seems that most dating apps are geared/optimized towards engagement and keep you swiping more than actually finding a partner.

Also, the only success stories I have heard of online/app dating has been only from women.


Is it really about what's written???

90% is visual is it not?

How is it for you ... if you don't find her attractive as im sure you look at her pics first.. are you going to bother reading what her profile says?


TL;DR - Put some real effort and time into optimizing your dating profile.

I think it is how it is written. I met my wife on Match.com 16 years ago, back in the dinosaur age of internet dating. If you look around on these sites, they often have a 2000 character (or similar) limit on the text you can put in the profile, and most ads do not even use 10% of that. "I'm not good at these forms, just ask me anything!" or some useless drivel that does not tell me about the person.

My profiles had the most success when I used all the character count, and I spent a fair amount of time editing in Word. Since you get one shot to make a first impression, why not make the best possible? I try to get someone who knows me well to read it, and to check to make sure the tone is correct. Who wants to date someone who comes across as angry or bitter?

If I put that much effort into the wording, I would always get a ton of top level choices. The women wrote me, I didn't have to chase them. I think the differentiator was that they could clearly get a sense of my personality (what I thought was funny, etc) from reading the max length profile, and it stood apart from the 100 character competition. At the end of the day, it is a sales job like any other - put on your best presentation, clearly explain your deal breakers in a positive way, and be better prepared than the next guy.

Because all you have to do is be more appealing than the competition. If the other guy is more attractive, but seems boring, then you will probably beat him if your profile is amusing. Intelligent women get tired of pretty but stupid guys, they usually want someone with more substance. If you can communicate that in your ad before the first date, then you are several steps ahead.

I have an outside sales background; once I put dating in the context of selling it became something I was quite good at. I was just selling myself after all.


Having sat with both male and female friends who were swiping on Tinder, both are important. A poorly written bio does not get a pass from a pretty face and a well written bio can make up for average looks. With how much artistic discretion one has with a camera, lighting, and makeup, everyone should be able to take a good selfie. It's harder to make the case for personality in text than looks with a photo.


Do people judge on looks, of course but women less so. How a profile is written can absolutely make a difference. It is your personality translated in to words.


Nah as bisexual guy and in my experience women are more judgemental then guys.

They after all might procreate with you.


Just to put some data on this phenomenon. Women rate 80% of men as less attractive than average. Oddly enough, they message them anyways.

https://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/your-looks-and-online-dat...


Average? That's ok. If it were median there would be some problem here though... ;)

(e.g. If every men is the same, except one who is beautiful, than everybody is below the average but one.)


Uhh, you can't have 80% below the median. That's impossible by definition.


Yes that's my point. But 80% below the average can be a valid/true valuation, no logical glitch here: If the "wisdom of the (female) crowd" says that's the case, then it may be true - so I don't see the issue here...

So to clarify - your data says nothing about whether women are judgemental - they may be just realistic ;) If beauty is in the eye of the beholder than how can we argue them?


My experience is the same as yours, but there might also be a big difference between gay and straight guys. The dating pool is a lot smaller for gay guys. What percentage of people are gay? Like 5%?


From what I've seen, women judge more on looks than men, but what they find attractive is far more diverse than men. OKCupid has some interesting data [1] supporting this. When you consider that most relationships form between people of a similar age, it follows that the man is compromising more on looks.

[1] http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/christian-rudder-datacly...


Christian Rudder doesn't normalize his dating data. Take what he says with a grain of salt.


Replace your profile photos with stock photos of models and see how your results differ

You'll be able to come to your own conclusions


Maybe the HN crowd should just make a dating app that doesn't suck? Pretty much all the existing ones have some really bad biases behind them and run on appearance. Message boards and video games still beat them in that department for the more specialized types, which is silly.


Every new dating app that comes out is an attempt to make dating apps not suck. No one has succeeded so far. There are a small number of people with a ton of success who know how to market themselves, and there are a lot of good people who don't have that skill that find themselves shouting into the void.


Which dating apps are these? All the dating apps I've seen come out are either ways to scam people ("no connecting unless you pay with lots of fake profiles") or are just more of the same ("can only connect on superficial criteria. Don't enforce/encourage detailed profiles. Don't kick off men just asking for sex that basically poison the pot as so many women leave disgusted").


Err, most of these apps are managed by the same company and a lot of them seem to have been created with the entire purpose of making dating worse (Tinder).

If all these apps are coming out with an attempt to make dating apps not suck, they're doing an excellent job of falling into all the same pitfalls over and over again.

Oh, hey, you homogenized the entire population of a city and made everything about pictures again!


Agreed. However, it is far more effective to get professional pictures - high quality, one in a suit, one with a Pet, one with some friends / somewhere exotic.

You can go on Craigslist and get a 'professional' photographer to do a session with you for $100 or so (relative to COL). You will still need to put in effort with getting some fitting clothes, asking friends for help, etc. Professional, in this case, usually means someone that has a high-end camera and knows enough to use it.


I'm into polyamory, I'm also rather alternative looking (mowhawk, piercings).

These things filter >99% of the people out, but most of them aren't of my interest in the first place.

Globally I have lesser choice, locally it works out pretty good for me, at least at the moment.


I'm nominally polyamorous as well. I haven't tried to maintain multiple relationships at a time (one is already so hard!) but I prefer to date people with polyamorous tendencies. It makes dating and commitment so much easier and all of my romantic relationships have translated into intimate friendships when they ended. I find that polyamory is a good proxy for flexibility and a more deliberate attitude towards cultivating relationships.


My longest relationships were poly. I have to go to specific places (offline meetups and online communities) but in my experience it's a viable way to structure ones love life :)


I like polyamory, but I'm not attracted to any of the people into polyamory

My perception is that the people I find attractive, are considered attractive by wide consensus, and are holding out for more traditional options


can't relate to that, there are as much attractive people as anywhere else, the only thing I encountered that much more hippies and feminist are around.


I don't think "too much choice" is really a problem. I think having no idea how to find a good match plus too much choice is problematic. If you have no idea what you are looking for, it is incredibly time consuming to sort through your choices. But more options are good -- IF you know what you want/need. Many people just don't.


I think it's fair to say that an inability to effectively evaluate the choices is implicit in "too much choice". It becomes too much when it becomes too difficult to evaluate.


I have spent plenty of time on a forum where people routinely ask relationship questions and many people seem to have plenty of trouble evaluating even just the current relationship they are in right now and whether or not it is worth staying.

These are perfectly intelligent people.

I don't think the world really has established good rubrics for how to sort out who to marry. The high divorce rate also suggests we have trouble with this.

So, I posit that not knowing what you want/need in a romantic partner is a problem no matter how many people you are considering -- even if it is just one.


I think most men have opposite experience. Only a celebrity can choose from hundreds of potential mates.

It is almost impossible to find a good partner for starting a family (healthy, bellow 26, no debt, family values).


Below 26 is your killer. Statistically, people marry later than before, and women are more educated (both 'than before' and 'than men'). Women have more career opportunities than before, so why would they want to marry at 26 (or sub-26, as you put it). That kills their opportunities for careers and post-collegiate education. Family values? That's one specific to your region of the country (I'm in a less pious part of the U.S., thankfully). No debt? That's a hard one given how much more 'the critical things' (health care, education, housing, not talking about computers) cost to millenials.

What you described are pre-1980 criteria in a post-2010 world.


Not really true. There are many women out there who marry below 26, even with career opportunities. Debt tends to be low, though not zero. And family values are high. However, they do tend to be from a set of ethnicities that are not extreme Western or American.

The women you may be referring to are unbounded, liberal, and non-restrictive. The set of men they tend to attract are less serious, less guided, are more short-termed. Marriage for them before 30 is a situation of rarity.

> Statistically, people marry later than before.

True when you include certain cultural demographics.


FWIW the groups of people that marry before 26 may not be attractive to the average HN reader as they tend to be moderately to very religious (at least that's my experience) or "conservative" e.g. a good amount of my suburban/semi-rural Texan high school acquaintances already got married (I'm 22) yet no one I know from my NYC college class is anywhere close to that.


My stats are 'overall average' and 'United States'. My point was more that 'sub-26, family values, no debt' is bucking a serious demographic trend. I don't expect that trend to taper any time soon, either, as economic pressures are connected to it.


People have wacky expectations and want to wait to have more money, more experience, more whatever.

Most of my primary circle of friends married between 23-26, which was awesome for us because we met people we knew better.

People who marry later struggle more, both with finding the right person who wants to be married, but still isn't and other issues. Whatever gains you make in working go away quickly with a few IVF cycles.


I mean, it's great if you had that kind of network of friends at 23-26 and you found the right person, but what if you didn't? I doubt people are purposefully rejecting perfectly good mates because they're arbitrarily waiting longer. Meeting new people is just not that easy for many of us.


> I'm in a less pious part of the U.S., thankfully

Tongue-in-cheek, or hilariously self-unaware? You decide!


There is no mention about kids or who would be making the sacrifice if a kid pops out.


Biology is still the same even in post 2010 world.


How old are you that you're setting a ceiling of 26?


> healthy, bellow 26, no debt, family values

That is me. But I also have pretty much no money to fund the "family values" :P


Italy is a bit too far :(


How is above 26 not a good partner

Enjoy your statistical divorce, at least you can tell your family you tried


At the moment, this post has 4 upvotes and yet it is in the #7 place on the front page of Hacker News. How is that possible? 4 upvotes gets a post that high on the front page?


It's Saturday afternoon in the US. Not exactly the busiest time for news. I don't know how Hacker News' ranking algorithm works, but I'd imagine it's possible to incorporate information like number of clicks in addition to upvotes and comments.


There's probably an age-of-post component as well so new content has a chance to be seen.


The main part of the order is base approximately in: votes/age^2

Some of the details are part of the secret sauce, but kens did a blackbox analysis to try to guess more details. It's an old post, so many details may have changed since it was published, but I guess the main ideas remain.

http://www.righto.com/2009/06/how-does-newsyc-ranking-work.h...

http://www.righto.com/2013/11/how-hacker-news-ranking-really...


If it's like the comment algo, it seems to take time into account. Brand new stuff has a short boost.


submitters karma is 25637, that probably has something to do with it.


Quite impressive karma count for only having 10 comments. A zillion story submissions of which almost all are from nautil.us though. What's going on here?


It's not as nefarious at it seems. The guy/girl just submits three or four stories a day from nautil.us / new york times/ phys.org mostly.

And over time just built up some points. Probably just shot up because of 4 upvotes at the same time.


Probably written a bot to submit all stories from a few top sites.

As others submit the same stories, the first poster has their story upvoted.

Result is that this user is credited nearly all of the upvotes from a few core sites that have content of interest to the HN audience.


Accounts with good reputation used specifically for posting links are not uncommon on any popular forum.


Thanks for posting this, a very thought-provoking article.

This sentence: "He thinks too much choice overwhelms us and makes us unhappy—a phenomenon he calls the paradox of choice" reminded me of this humorous clip: https://youtu.be/UtwKFZHY5o4?t=252

Preparing for downvotes for posting something overtly Christian....




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