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Disintermediating friends: Online dating displaces other ways of meeting (2019) [pdf] (stanford.edu)
108 points by arkj 38 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 152 comments



My main issue with online dating and especially apps that match you like tinder is that you're sort of always "in the game" a little bit. Every time you swipe you get a sort of mini-rejection if you don't match. And since you can match at any time, you're receiving these mini-rejections implicitly all the time. Obviously basically none of them are actual rejections, but the low-level lack of success builds up over time and just becomes depressing. To add to it, you can't actually see what's happening in the system at all. You might never even have been seen by the people you're interested in.

Contrasting this to events occurring in person, you're only ever in the game when you're at a bar actively looking or at some social event. Even better you might mainly be there to see friends and the potential love interests is just an extra. And when you're done at the place you're done. You're not trying to attract some abstract far off person while sitting on the subway. On the subway you're off and thinking about other stuff.

I think the issue is similar to the problem of not being able disconnect. It just feels mentally unhealthy to me.


Interestingly I think I had the opposite experience, in that I found only a small minority of people worth swiping right for and even then still managed a good match ratio.

I'd always rated myself quite low before trying Tinder, but it gave me a much better perspective on my datability. I haven't used it in a while now, thanks to lockdown ending meetups, but I've since partnered with someone who I previously would have considered out of my league.


Same anecdotal experience here. Average looking man, took the time to fill a profile, maybe one right swipe a day, 50% match, two real-life meeting and one turned into a relationship. It's not always the warzone some people make it look to be, at least in my country (Europe) and for my age (early 30s).


Are you a woman? Because dating -espcially online dating- is much more favorable to women. Men usually have the opposite experience.


Though I met my wife offline, I did some online dating before that. I also have some close female friends who were doing it and I think the initial contacts are skewed heavily in favor of women getting initial responses (prompted or unprompted) but from their stories, I’m hard pressed to conclude that the process is overall much more favorable.

I think everyone has something valid to complain about in dating: offline, online, and hybrid.


No, I'm a man, early 30s and not particularly attractive.


What's your profile (images/bio) like?


I also think many people don’t realize, particularly with Tinder, one’s sexual preference (as in an app setting/config) is only used for matching, not preventing your profile from appearing for members whose sexual orientation are not in alignment, it will just never match.

So, one could be matching or rejecting more than realized.


I forget which, but one of the big dating sites has a toggle to be invisible to straight people. I think it's mostly so people in the closet can still use it without being outed to locals, but it could be expanded.


> You might never even have been seen by the people you're interested in.

If I were developing an app like Tinder, I would introduce a small number of totally random shows besides those algorithm-driven.


E-darling has option "see women who don't match your profile".


Your experiences seem to be based on subjective choices. I don’t see how opening an app is less of a temporary experience than being at a bar. If you choose to be always in the app, that’s your choice.


The apps and their incentive systems are designed specifically to make us "choose" to do this as often as possible. But yes of course I'm not a helpless robot and it is something I can avoid. I chose to just stop using the applications because they decreased my quality of life. Besides I never had much trouble meeting people socially and for dating in person so the app approach was basically only negative for me so I think my choice was the right one. This does not apply to everyone (presumably including you), but I know many people who are better served by it.

edit: Actually I'd like to respond to this more closely:

> I don’t see how opening an app is less of a temporary experience than being at a bar.

An app is always available. You have the potential to be in "dating mode" at any moment at all. You can be on the toilet. You can be your kitchen. You can be at work. You can be with friend. If you don't allow yourself that capability, when you are alone, you are alone. When you aren't in the bar or in other social situations, you're not in those situations. This doesn't detract from your previous comment about this being a "choice" (of course that's true), but I don't see how anyone could argue that the effective boundaries in their life of digital app like interaction and in-person social interaction ever could be the same.


There is a very interesting chart at the last page of the pdf showing how heterosexual couples have met over the past years.

Here is a direct link to the chart as an image, https://thebrowser.com/content/images/size/w1000/2021/06/ima...


The apps are exceptionally good for meeting people.

I think the animosity many people have for the apps comes from the idea that using the apps is dating. For a certain generation, the first generation that grew up with the various dating apps now, using the apps is often considered dating. This is, however, a creation of the dating app companies. More people using the apps = more user numbers/engagement/data for $$$$.

Couple that idea of dating as using the apps with the general decline in the use of social institutions like clubs/societies/team sports/ etc. (the decline in social partnerships and friends in general for many), and you get a generation that views dating apps as the sole way of meeting people for dating and that often recoils from the idea of asking someone out in person.


They're excellent for platonic relationships. I met many great people that way.

They are not so great for finding love in my opinion. It's a meat market, and one that's not particularly favourable to all. It magnifies biases about attractiveness and race, for instance.


It took me a bit to see the hiding in plain sight trajectory of "Met in a bar or restaurant". Everything but it and of course the dominate Met Online, are decreasing. Curious.


This surprised me as well. In fact, this line is misleading. From the article.

"Figure 1’s apparent post‐2010 rise in meeting through bars and restaurants for heterosexual couples is due entirely to couples who met online and subsequently had a first in‐person meeting at a bar or restaurant or other establishment where people gather and socialize. If we exclude the couples who first met online from the bar/restaurant category, the bar/restaurant category was significantly declining after 1995 as a venue for heterosexual couples to meet."


There seems to be a second wave of online dating starting with the popularity of mobile apps. That just so happened to coincidence with the huge uptick in "met in a bar/restaurant". My guess is that chatting up random people in bars has been flat to decreasing and that all the people reporting that really met on apps but met "for real" at the bar/restaurant.


The drop of "met in college" is the weirdest one to me. Isn't that where most people meet? Am I living in a weird bubble?


Probably an aspect of people using apps while in college, and ending up in that bucket instead.

A graph of "age when met" for current couples would be interesting, if today's "final" couples meet at a later age than in the past because people don't want to settle down as early, you'll have less school couples.

We also need a graph of "number of relationships still around started by year" - if fewer relationships started in 2018 are still extant compared to ones in 2014, that's gonna skew numbers too.


I went to a commuter campus. Most of my classmates had jobs, some had kids, others lived at home with parents. The stereotypical American university experience of young, single people learning, living and socializing on a college campus can be inaccurate.


Am I living in a weird bubble?

Yes.

Though I would suspect that if you broke each of these meeting methods out and analyzed the failure rates for each, "met in college" would be one of the best 3 methods in terms of success rate. I would suspect "met in church", "met in college", and "met online" to be the methods leading to the most long term success. Further, if you asked about whether there was marital satisfaction as opposed to simply a marriage that didn't end in divorce, I would suspect "met in college" to be the best overall method.

The only better methods of meeting, I would suspect, are not mentioned here. For instance, a lot of successful marriages likely come from people who were in the peace corps together. Shared hardship and passion kind of thing.

Just my intuition though. No data to back any of that up.


The paper disagrees with your intuition:

> Previous research with the longitudinal follow‐ups after HCMST 2009 showed that neither breakup rates nor relationship quality were influenced by how couples met, so the retrospective nature of the HCMST “how did you meet” question should not introduce couple survivor bias (Rosenfeld 2017; Rosenfeld and Thomas 2012). [6] Once couples are in a relationship, how they met does not determine relationship quality or longevity. [7]


Oh wow.

I would not have guessed that.


I was too busy studying to meet girls in college. Of course, it helps that I’m non-white and unattractive too.


Being socially awkward is even worse than being unattractive. Being socially awkward and unattractive means that you end up still virgin after living in student hotel called by locals "spermdump".


Maybe the population of people they surveyed are old enough not to have survived their college relationships?


I suppose large fractions of people in college meet their schoolmates through the dating apps.


I would imagine that's dropping simply because people are getting married later.


It peaked around 10%. And people marry later now.


Most people don't go to college, but if you did, you're likely to have a mostly college-educated bubble


Most Americans have some college education.[1] But not all of them start at 18, move away from home, or finish.

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


Most people do go to college, and the proportion has been increasing for years, in the united states.


I wonder what the data looks like in 2020, it must've been almost exclusively all online, if that. Human behavior has also changed with the lockdown, where everyone was isolated and limited to electronic comms, so I don't think this chart applies to 2021+


I’d love to see this correlated with data on prevalence of “casual” dating, satisfaction with dating, and something like # of dating partners before marriage. I have a strong suspicion that the rise of online dating has had many not-so-great impacts on expectations, satisfaction, and finding a partner in general, but I have very little data to back that suspicion up.


Norah Vincent in Self-made Man describes her experiences dating women (while pretending to be a man). She observes that, in person, they tend to reject her for not being masculine enough.

But she has far more success than most men in translating online contact into dates in person. The women demand extensive correspondence before being willing to meet, and the feminine style of her writing appeals to them in a way that the feminine style of her body and personality doesn't.

You can interpret this as evidence that one thing contributing to problems in the online dating landscape is that women don't know what they want. They have one set of requirements for agreeing to a date, and a different -- to some degree conflicting -- set of requirements for thinking that a date went well.

(Vincent contrasts contemporaneous experience dating men -- she specifically comments on the coherence between what they want online and what they want in person. To agree to a date, men want to see your picture. And in person, they're happy if you look like your picture.)


I'm having trouble following why this would be a contradictory set of requirements from women vs simply a pickier set of requirements compared to men. "Lots of men are shallow" is an olddddd cliche, no surprise there, but a female perspective being reported as "I want someone I can connect to in words that is also physically attractive to me in person" doesn't read as contradictory to me.

(I'm also unclear on what "feminine style of writing" means, but would think for such an experiment to be really useful you'd need to pretend to be a man in your writing as well!)

I had far more success in online dating when I started moving towards "let's meet in person as quickly as possible" because (even for me as a man) I found that the physical connection was harder to predict yet also more important than just a text-based one. The only area where my experience doesn't match hers is that I didn't encounter much resistance to something along the lines of "hey, let's meet up in person and see if we can keep this going" after just a few messages.


> I'm having trouble following why this would be a contradictory set of requirements from women vs simply a pickier set of requirements compared to men.

I think the contradiction is that women over text might want a loving, caring guy - someone that is romantic, replies to messages and is thoughtful.

Most women will rationalise this romantic guy, while time after time will end up with the “bad boys”. Why? Raw attraction kicks in. And raw attraction isn’t something you rationalise, it’s an instinct that sits somewhere in your gut.

And unfortunately, the type of guys they are attracted to might be different to what they logically want to be attracted to.

It’s exactly the same with guys too - I’ve really wanted to be in love with girls in the past that I can rationalise would be great partners, but there is a disconnect between the gut and the head.

(As a side note, I agree on suggesting a meet sooner rather than later - the main reason for me is because I don’t believe the level of attraction over app is a particularly strong indicator of the level of attraction when you meet, or at least not as strong of an indicator as you might expect)


> I had far more success in online dating when I started moving towards "let's meet in person as quickly as possible"

Preach! I made the mistake initially of putting in lots of effort to woo some very introverted women with long text conversations because I fell in love with their detailed profiles. Then we meet in person and they were inevitably, if not autistic ... severely socially challenged.

In the end I married a woman with a very simple dating profile instead. We just clicked really well in person, and she's really smart, just not the kind of person to live on the internet and write really detailed profiles. Which is a good complement to me because I tend towards being that person :-p


In that sense, having the perfect profile, or at least an elaborate or detailed one, may be a red flag.


This seems to be a common opinion in the space. Simpler, more generic is often considered better.


You got a source for this?


That interpretation doesn’t read as a contradiction because its not.

My interpretation is that communicating in a feminine style (more subtext, longer messages, longer + consistent correspondence is how I would interpret it) is what will get you a date, but initial attraction and in presence masculinity (communicated via a different conversational style, appearance, and behavior) is what is preferred.

So the contraction is that there is a difference in communication styles online and in person.


I think there is a difference in online and in-person communication styles for most people - at least for those of any literary bent at all, who get beyond stream of consciousness, unfiltered blathering of words into their keyboard - so that's why I don't see any contradiction in preferences of women who might want a literary written communication style but also want in-person chemistry that a woman pretending to be a man wasn't able to create.


Pretending to be a man to see how its like to court women online? Sounds reasonable.

Pretending to be a man, irl, wearing a disguise? I'm not sure that translates to anything. Saying women rejected her for not being masculine enough could easily be a nice way of saying "while I wouldn't dare question whether you are, in fact, a man, here in front of me, something about this feels off putting for me".


One girl she dated revealed afterwards that she had referred to Ned as "my gay boyfriend".

I'm not sure what difference you see between "rejecting someone for not being masculine enough" and "questioning whether they are, in fact, a man".


> I'm not sure what difference you see between "rejecting someone for not being masculine enough" and "questioning whether they are, in fact, a man".

One of those is a personal taste, the other is an alarm bell that you are being deceived, possibly failing to hit a number of subconscious sensors.


> I'm not sure what difference you see between "rejecting someone for not being masculine enough" and "questioning whether they are, in fact, a man".

I wonder what percentage of these women would've guessed right had she straight-up asked "do you think I'm a man or do you think I'm a woman pretending to be a man"?

That's the difference - the idea that someone you're dating is deceiving you on such a huge level isn't something that's going to be at the front of your mind by default.

(Though I have a higher-level question here: why are we simply believing stated reasons for rejection? People lie about that all the time. It's not you, it's me. People try to avoid confrontations. Someone who's blatantly lying to everyone else has to consider the possibility that they're being lied to as well.)

I have no problem accepting two things from this account: high-effort communication helps, and not being in disguise helps. I think anything beyond that is largely speculative and especially don't see any contradictions.


> I wonder what percentage of these women would've guessed right had she straight-up asked "do you think I'm a man or do you think I'm a woman pretending to be a man"?

This is a question that can't be usefully asked -- it would never come up in any normal circumstance, so just the fact that you asked tends to give the answer away.

> not being in disguise helps.

Women don't seem to agree with you. I've seen some pretty dramatic "makeup / no makeup" picture spreads.


Yes, precisely. Hardly anyone is going to guess that organically, so all the little tells that an imperfect pretender would give are just going to read as hard-to-nail-down oddities that will leave many people looking for a polite way of saying "thanks but no thanks." Those sorts of discrepancies are going to be of an entirely different nature than "makeup," it's much more like watching a movie with a performance that you just don't find convincing.


Seems like a serious breach of ethics to lie to those women.


Norah Vincent is also a professional writer, and a lesbian.

Not surprising that she's good at wooing women with the written word.


> You can interpret this as evidence that one thing contributing to problems in the online dating landscape is that women don't know what they want.

I suppose you can! It's intensely bizarre that you would, though.

Another way to interpret it would be to say that there's a certain minimum level of communication skills that some of us aren't quite meeting.


and the feminine style of her writing appeals to them in a way that the feminine style of her body and personality doesn't.

I have trouble imagining how that was determined. Everything I have seen indicates women expect you to emotionally bond and establish a relationship before they can get all hot and bothered and men don't typically need that.

That may have nothing to do with writing style and everything to do with simply being willing to put in the time.


> These women wanted to be wooed by language. They weren't going to meet a strange man without measuring him first, and they weren't going to waste a meal or even a cup of coffee on a suitor who couldn't be bothered to craft a few lines beforehand. I was happy to oblige. The seductive effect of a well-written letter or, better yet, a well-chosen poem, on a strange woman's mind was often strong and sometimes hilariously so, even to the women involved, who were quite aware and ready to laugh about the effect distracting missives could have on them. One date told me, long after she'd dated Ned [the author's male alter ego] and learned his secret, that a coworker, reading one of Ned's e-mails over her shoulder, had said "Shit. He's sending you poems? You'd better fuck this man."

> Ned made an impression not just because he gave these women at least a pale version of the reading material they seemed to crave, but because he did it so willingly. It was rare, most of them told me, for a man to write at such length, much less to write with consideration and investment.


My father and ex husband both wrote poems. There's nothing inherently gendered about writing rhymes.

It was rare, most of them told me, for a man to write at such length, much less to write with consideration and investment.

To me, that boils down to what I tried to say above: women expect commitment and evidence that you will stick around. "Writing at length" is, in part, simply a matter of putting in the time.


> To me, that boils down to what I tried to say above: women expect commitment and evidence that you will stick around.

I think this is a difference in perception. Sending poetry is not commitment or evidence that you will stick around. But women may perceive it as being that anyway. More generally, I see systematic and large differences in how men and women choose to describe exactly the same behavior.

I like Craig Morgan's song That's Why. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEfJ8Q6keRk ) And a primary message that I see in it is that one way to be valuable as a husband and father is by paying the family's expenses.

I expressed this idea to my sister and she was disgusted with my point of view. But when, later, I played the song for her and asked what she thought, what she thought was "that guy sounds really sweet".


I'm somewhat confused. In what way do you mean pay the family expenses? Was you sister disgusted with the idea of a woman/herself paying the family expenses, or a singular individual being in that position at all?


My interpretation of the parent post is that it's a personal anecdote along the lines of... women find it romantic on a date for the man to pay for dinner but also expect equal career opportunities and wages from their employers. I actually support the woman's take on this although I think they should lean in and own the bias, as women are generally taking on a greater risk when dating than men are. Great song btw.


>>women are generally taking on a greater risk when dating than men are.

Can you clarify what you mean by this? I don't see where women are taking a greater risk in dating or why you think women, or anyone at all, should by default receive an implicit payout in the form of a free dinner. No one on a date is a victim or supposed to be treated like one. On a date, both participants have enough agency to decide whether or not a date is not worth one's further time. Ergo both participants should by default be expected to pay for their own food.


I feel like by "writing style" they meant "communication style".


Personality and writing style or communication style tend to be related.

Meeting in person exposes you to many factors more than just looks. Smell is a big thing that people are often not consciously aware of but if you are a heterosexual female and you meet a woman dressed as a man, you may subconsciously react to "This doesn't smell like a man. Something ain't right."

Voice tone is another. It has nothing to do with communication style, but her voice just may not be deep enough for a heterosexual woman to go "Yeah, I would hit that."

People seem to think it boils down to "looks" or something and that doesn't really fit with what I understand about life, the universe and everything.


https://www.amazon.com/Self-Made-Man-Womans-Year-Disguised/d...

Based on this cover, I would have thought it was a very gender neutral looking person, and probably a lot less masculine if she wasn't frowning like that. But yeah, there's a huge difference between not being masculine enough vs. not being obviously a man.


The first photo reads to me as "clearly a woman" and based on that photo I have trouble imagining she actually passed for male. The second photo reads to me as "clearly a loser with no self esteem who is going to cry on my shoulder."

I can imagine the second photo passing as male but not in a good way.

There are subtle body language differences between men and women and that may be a factor.

I'm tall for a woman. I've had very short hair for like fifteen years. It didn't initially get me mistaken for male.

After being homeless for a year, people began calling me "sir" if they initially saw me from the back. (I would turn around and they would apologize for their error.) That was partly due to clothing but probably also my body language changed in ways I was not conscious of.

There are myriad subtle details that help us distinguish male from female. It isn't any one thing.

Edit: I will add her hair is hair that is short for a woman but on the long side for a man. Men with long hair are often bearded. They have hair all over.

The photos are almost an uncanny valley in terms of trying to look like a man. Like she didn't quite get it but thought she did.


> Smell is a big thing that people are often not consciously aware of but if you are a heterosexual female and you meet a woman dressed as a man, you may subconsciously react to "This doesn't smell like a man. Something ain't right."

No comments on smell were noted, but she did get comments about not being hairy.


Commenting on smell tends to not be socially acceptable and people are often not consciously aware of it. Hairiness is definitely a gender difference and helps people sort the boys from the girls, so to speak.


Not only that, but sensing pheromones via the olfactory system is both a very subtle and primal experience.


I thought they meant pheromones.


Thanks - I've just added this to my reading list.


So apparently Norah Vincent disguised herself and lied to women for the sake of writing a book. That seems really creepy and unethical.


I've met my wife on a dating site (mind you, that was 16 years ago). While personal experience does not equal 'data', one of the greatest things about dating apps/sites from the male prospective is actually getting access to women who ARE interested in meeting guys/sex/relationships. That doesn't mean they'll pick you personally, but it's better than approaching a woman who's in a relationship and/or is not interested in dating (and your advances annoy her).


Your suspicion is best hypothesized as “Social media has people thinking they have so many options, but in reality most of them aren’t even worth it.”


The odds are good, but the goods are odd


The market is not clearing due to participants not properly pricing each other.

Or the participants are not desirable enough for the other party.

The former can be helped by letting your network decide your price as they may be able to do it more objectively, so anyone introduced to you by your network is likelier to be in your price range. This, of course, depends on you having access to a good network, but I suspect that is also on the decline.


Well, if marriage is the "purchase", you should also include the case that people are finding the terms of the purchase itself to be not worth it.


Whenever online dating comes up here, it inevitably leads to discussions of imbalances in favor of women and elite men.

This predicament isn’t really unique to online dating though. Lots of society throughout history have had polygamy (elite men get many wives, others are shit out of luck).

I’ve been wondering if war mongers in times past have been driven by this—decimate men to rebalance the scales towards the general male population (and also the elites who don’t fight).

There were baby booms after the two world wars. How much of that was due to a perceived scarcity of men among women? Did that cause them to settle quickly?


You might be interested in the book 'The WEIRDest People in the World" by Joseph Heinrich.

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/51710349-the-weirdest...

It goes into the implications of institutions that were against polygamy and their impact on history among other things. It's a really interesting book.


I have read that recently and it did inspire the comment.


The people waging wars already had enough women for themselves in all likelihood.


But as he said, it wouldn't have been for themselves, but for the rest of the population


The idea that warmongers opted for war out of altruism for lower ranking men rather than personal gain, geopolitics, and power acquisition seems especially unlikely.


If they’re seeing a lot of disaffected young men without wives who commit crime and otherwise cause trouble, it might have led them to say “men these days have lost their way, we need a war to help them mature.”


That's a very silly idea.


serious people have been doing serious research with mitochondrial DNA in the area, e.g. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140924113752.h...


Late to the party. It was not a surplus of men vs women. It was a surplus of men vs jobs. It's just capitalism's credit cycle ending. It doesn't have to end that way but that's just what happened back them.


I found a good match via online dating recently, but only after about half a decade of usage. I honestly cannot stand online dating. In all my years real-life dating, online dating had substantially worse experiences.

Last winter on a 'Zoom date' one match multi-tasked while I was trying to talk with her. She was literally shopping.

Another 'left the chat' after I said I wasn't a property developer, I was a software developer. I hesitate to even mention this because it practically reveals my identity to friends who know that story.

I've met women who chatted for a while, and setup a date, only to finally reveal at the 11th hour that they are seeing someone. Sorry! I've also met women who used very, very misleading photographs in their profiles.

I've had 'matches' who return curt answers to very simple conversational questions, as if how dare you attempt to grace their presence with your messages. I'd take a non-reply over that sort of signal. I would not be texting them in the first place if they hadn't also swiped right on me.

My real life experiences dating someone from Meetup/College/Work had substantially more honesty and humanity. In online dating, I truly feel there's a loss of treating others like human beings instead of a disposable item. And to be fair, I am guilty of that sin as well.

But for all the talk I've heard from my female friends about how guys are awful on online dating (and I believe it), I can assure you that it's not any easier on this side.


Online dating is a skewed game (for M/F), if you're in the top 2% of attractiveness for men it's great - otherwise it's not worth it. This is compounded a bit by region, if your dating market is pretty even or skewed where there are more women than men (NYC/DC) it gets a lot better (I suspect actually for both men and women, but don't know) - in the bay area it's not worth it.

Women get a lot of matches which while a lot better than no matches (can go on dates, get practice, etc.) leads to a filter problem. Many (based on OKC data [0]) tend to pre-select based on attractiveness*, so the top 2% of men get most of the matches, which pre-filters out high quality candidates that would have a chance in real life. It also leads to lower quality interactions (since those men have more options anyway).

If you're a woman with hundreds of matches it's not really a surprise they'd be multi-tasking on a zoom date, the dates are abundant - each one has low value. This shifts as people get older though - if I had to guess that's probably part of why your recent matches improved after 5 yrs, suddenly there are fewer men available and the competition heats up (both because there are fewer available men and because there are more younger women getting more attention).

If you're a man that gets one match at best every other month, they're so scarce the value is high. I think honestly women and men have a poor sense for how extreme the difference in online dating experience is.

We're not that different from other apes in a lot ways, if you're not really good looking and you're in a skewed market online dating is a bad approach for you (imo).

[0]: https://www.amazon.com/Dataclysm-Identity-What-Online-Offlin...

* Men do too obviously, but not to the same winner-takes-all extreme (based on the OKC data).


I've been riding the dating app carousel for a few years now. I've had some good experiences and met some really great women, so I can't complain too much, but I do agree that it's a pretty rough numbers game for men. It can be depressing at times.

I kind of wonder if the app makers just viciously slashed the number of likes men can give out, if things would get better. You often see men just blasting swipes to the right through hundreds of women just trying for any scrap of match they can get. I think that really messes with things. As a result of this, women get inundated with literally hundreds of matches, and then proceed to ignore the vast majority of those matches because there's so many they're all virtually meaningless. And then men swipe more and more and more because they've realized it's really just sending out the dating app equivalent of a Nigerian prince spam email looking for any sign of life at all.

If you only give men say 5 swipes a day, maybe women would value the matches they get, conversations would actually happen, and people would actually meet. Just a theory.


The no #1 complaint I've seen among women online is that they get routinely used and ghosted. This suggests that when they try to sort through their hundreds of matches they tend to select for men with a lot of options who treat them as disposable.

Interestingly a lot of them also complain that physical attractiveness of the man isn't necessarily a good predictor of getting used and ghosted.

This sounds to some like a better problem to have but I don't think it necessarily is.

The best fix might be an objective feedback mechanism on dates that future swipers can see. The women who filter these men out will consequently pay more attention to the other men.

Of course, people will try to game it like nothing else so it would need to be a good mechanism that had inbuilt protections against this.


Then, they sell packages/boosts that remove the like limit, making tons of money :)


This is essentially what the dating app bumble does. It only allows women to match with men, not the other way around, ending the spam.


Actually that's not really what I mean. Bumble's system doesn't cut down on the "women have too many options" problem because men still have tons of likes/right-swipes to distribute. Women have to message first, but they still end up inundated with countless matches they won't talk to.

I think Bumble does cut down on the amount of grief women deal with though--less disgruntled men are even able to send angry "why aren't you talking to me" messages since women have to message first.


I don't think limiting swipes will fix it - the issue is more on the selection side (who women choose to swipe) than on the seeking side.

The reason men swipe a lot is because even with that most get few matches (~0). If you limit their swipes then most will never get matches and they'll stop using the service.

Bumble solves little, many 'initial' messages from women are ".", "hi", or ":)". It's basically equivalent to a match where the men have to initiate contact. The pre-selection winner-take-all issue is still there.

I think you can't fix it via apps - because the issue is upstream sexual selection that's been in place for thousands of years. It's good to have an honest view of it though because it lets people navigate it rather than becoming bitter and miserable.

Even if you had an app where men make profiles and don't swipe at all, one where women just select people and then men get notified - you still end up with only the top 2% of men getting selected and women would have to notify someone they're interested who may not have mutual interest or message them back (a rejection of the type mutual swipe matches are supposed to avoid).

Also, I think at least some women like having hundreds of matches because it's a nice self-confidence ego boost (I think complaining about this is 'high-status' humble bragging). If you took that away I suspect they'd also use the service less. Most women don't want to actually be the pursuers (a lot of men don't want to be either probably, but don't have a choice) - sexual selection doesn't work that way among most other mammals, humans are probably not an exception. If you try to force it with an app I'd doubt it would work.

So this doesn't solve the underlying issue, and economically wouldn't work because men that drive income for dating sites wouldn't have much of a role to play beyond creating an account and waiting (even though functionally this is basically the action they're doing anyway for the most part on the other services).

Men need to play to their strengths - online dating turns you into a commodity competing entirely on looks. If you're not going to win in that arena (and 98% won't), get out.


> I don't think limiting swipes will fix it - the issue is more on the selection side (who women choose to swipe) than on the seeking side.

Right, but I think women are extra choosy on the apps (going only for that top X percent of men) because they can be, because literally every swipe is a match, because men just fire off the right swipes by the hundreds. Just thinking about this logically, if every girl I swiped on Tinder was a match for me, I'd probably be more choosy too.

If men didn't have as many swipes, women wouldn't have such an extreme amount of matches. Maybe they'd widen their net and invest more time with the smaller number of matches they do get.

Again, hypothetical. Maybe not.

> Even if you had an app where men make profiles and don't swipe at all, one where women just select people and then men get notified - you still end up with only the top 2% of men getting selected and women would have to notify someone they're interested who may not have mutual interest or message them back (a rejection of the type mutual swipe matches are supposed to avoid).

Where do you get the 2% number? Just curious.

> I think at least some women like having hundreds of matches because it's a nice self-confidence ego boost (I think complaining about this is 'high-status' humble bragging). If you took that away I suspect they'd also use the service less.

So the cynical part of me does kind of agree with this. I do think there's some percentage of women who aren't even on the apps for meeting people. In that sense, the overwhelming number of matches is an ego-boosting feature, not a bug they would like to see fixed. I'd like to think this is a small percentage, but I'd be curious to see data on this.


> Where do you get the 2% number? Just curious.

It's an imperfect number, but it comes from one of the graphs in dataclysm. It was a graph that paired attractiveness vs. amount of incoming messages.

For men messaging women it's mostly linear (more attractive women get more messages, but the high end gets maybe twice as many as the low end).

For women messaging men, it's a flat line at zero until the top 2% of male attractiveness at which it ticks up (a bit, still pretty unusual even then).

This is an imperfect metric because a lot of that skew is around who initiates at all which mostly falls to men, but it's tricky to get perfect data. Swipe data would be better, but dataclysm was written before the move to swiping mutual matching started (and now the sites don't publish anything interesting).

I'd predict the swipe data would match the initial message data similarly, it'd be interesting to see it.

> Maybe they'd widen their net and invest more time with the smaller number of matches they do get.

I'd suspect they'd go to other apps where they have more power (and the men would follow).


I doubt it would be that challenging for the apps to rebalance things. All they have to do is say if a user has X number of likes per Y period, stop showing them so much.

I guess they’re all working on the Yahoo! model though—don’t work too good or else people would quit before you make money off of them. But I bet someone could come up with a business model that makes money off of finding good matches for people and incentivizes good behavior.


I think they're fighting an uphill battle because these incentives are sexual selection incentives. There's not much you can do to 'fix' them.

I think what happens is that both sexes go through it and come out the other side. If they were lucky enough not to pair off with a bad mate early they can then choose more wisely.

For a lot of men this means being unhappy and lonely in their 20s, for women it means being unhappy while sleeping around a lot in their 20s. Eventually people figure out what they want.

I'm not sure an app can do much to fix that.

Sexual selection's affect on behavior is a powerful thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7QZnwKqopo


I place most of the blame of the terrible state of online dating squarely on Match Group.

OKCupid was a serviceable platform until they took step after step to monetize it, on top of making everything a series of 'swipes'. It reinforces the idea that people are able to be just discarded, which is a real shame.

Frankly, I would love if somebody could get a hold of the old OKCupid codebase, back when matches were based on hashtag type matching, Didn't allow photos in chat (eliminates certain types of harassment,) and perhaps added a 'one-time-verify' fee. i.e. Pay 10$ to get yourself verified with a photo-ID, and perhaps have some sort of 'review fee' for reporting; if you report someone and it was found fradulent, -you- have to pay 10$. If the report was valid, the other person gets banhammered.

So simple, but it doesn't make money.


> I honestly cannot stand online dating. In all my years real-life dating, online dating had substantially worse experiences.

I’ve talked about this recently, but I feel like the culture around dating apps has a way of stripping everyone down the the most generic, basic image of themselves. I really can’t imagine connecting with someone based off a few pictures and text snippets and developing any sort of mutual attraction via a brief period of text messaging.

Unfortunately it’s the only way it seems for me to meet people. I go out and all, but I’m often the youngest person in any place I’m at by at least a decade. I’m also very boring when sober, at least superficially and stupid while drunk (although the latter can at least lead to a fun night). I can’t see anyone being remotely interested in or attracted to me without at least months of getting to know me.

Most of my peers I know in a relationship, got it from being in an institution where they were forcibly around their peer group. Think high school, college, military, or even casual groups where shared interests were common (unfortunately I’ve failed to find one of these myself). I really haven’t had any of these. Was kinda a loser through most of school, around high school really put my focus in other things that totally failed, never went to college and ended up directly in the workforce. I’m still kinda a loser, not anything you can see explicitly, but a few important facts can reveal that. I don’t think I’m terribly unattractive, well besides being underweight and not photogenic (for some reasons 90% of photographs taken of me don’t look right, particularly but other people), but I’ve seen much worse make it.


If you don't like your pictures it's easy enough to hire a professional photographer to take some candid shots with a proper camera and good lighting.


I found my partner through a common interest and I'd suggest it as a preferable route for most folks looking. Do the things you enjoy and be open to friendships and other relationships with the people you enjoy doing it with.

I would admit that I'm rather introverted and never really felt the need to seek a relationship specifically - I was pretty happy existing on my own until I found a good partner.


And if you’re interested are too niche, force yourself to press tone interested in things you don’t really care about right?


Can't really do this, when it's incredible boring or bad.


Agreed. In my experience with yoga and book clubs the females tend to outnumber - sometimes significantly - the males.

I'm sure there are others.


Even in hobbies that are usually seen as male dominated like comic books and video games - you'll find a significant number of women that are interested, though they may be quite defensive due to constantly being pursued.


Then your back where you started with the ratio issue.


I think if you're thinking about a "ratio", you're kind of missing the point of these past few comments, which is to explicitly _not compete_, but instead just pursue happiness and attempt to make connections on the way.

If you're saying "But the ratio is off", your motives are probably incorrect about whatever "thing" you're thinking about doing.


I followed the comments. I just don't see how not explicitly competing is consistent with pursuing happiness (polygamous relationships excluded). Even if one is not in a real or hypothetical competition with others for the exclusive reciprocation of one's interest and feelings, one is always competing with time and the opportunity costs that come with naive and fruitless decisions. The ratio is a major factor in that calculus. The massive amounts of time sifting through chaff is time taken from obtaining wheat. There's little gain to go any further. Happiness depends on an achievable end, not having hope strung out before you like a carrot on a stick. If you have no expectations then there's no point in doing anything. In these proposed meetup scenarios of common hobbies, we are assuming the best case that:

*one derives joy out of the endeavor itself

*one just so happens to find camaraderie with a group of strangers

*at least one of these strangers is of the sex that appeals to oneself

*this particular stranger is single

*this particular stranger is open to dating in this group

*this particular stranger finds one, among others, to be worth dating

*this particular stranger is receptive to one's advances

*this particular stranger chooses one ,out of a bevy of potential suitors, to be the one and only S.O. (for the time being)

Any of these circumstances can and do go wrong more often than not. Pretending that one can just wait and see and everything might turn out well is leaving everything to a self-deceiving lottery. In which case, why bother? What's the point? After all, someone could just as well fall out of the sky. The chances are about the same.


Your assertion is that "one derives joy out of the endeavor itself", in reference to the cultivation of a hobby, "can and does go wrong more often than not"?

I kinda stopped reading after this part. Best of luck in your search I guess.


What assertion? One can cultivate a liking in a mutual hobby in a way that puts the other person off. For example, in political activism (which has been responsible for the creation and dissolution of many relationships) even if two people agree on same basic premises, that does not mean they share complementary motivations or standards in such a way that is conducive for one to want a relationship with the other person. And yes, as every human being has led a distinct life there will, more often than not, be differences in expectations and desires between two people and that likely will lead to something going wrong. That disproves the point that simply being in proximity to someone of the same hobby is necessarily an advantage.


You're again still focused about ratios and optimization and I'm again pointing out the original prompt was to cultivate hobbies without regard to ratios and optimization.

I'll butt out (as I unsuccessfully tried to do before). Enjoy your day!


you're missing the point. no matter how pure everyone's motives are, it's a mathematical fact that 7 men and 3 women aren't going to end up in heterosexual pairs.


That is a _rough_ way to live life, breaking down potential hobbies into “mathematical” ideas around probability to find a mate. I mean no disrespect, but that also sounds like a huge red flag in potential partners. “My only interests are optimizing the odds of finding a mate” is obviously not going to lead to an interesting and fulfilling life, both of which are usually important in and outside of relationships…


Perhaps that's why this is not always s good idea:

> I found my partner through a common interest and I'd suggest it as a preferable route for most folks looking.

(which then turned into a discussion of interest groups)

If you want to enjoy a hobby, enjoy it without the expectation of finding a mate. If you go in with that particular expectation, it might consume your enjoyment of the hobby. Plus, your odds aren't necessarily that much better, because of the reasons a poster above mentioned.

If you want to join a book club because you like books, do so. If you want to date someone, also do so (through apps or otherwise). If, however, you find someone who likes you at said book club, good for you! But please don't make everyone In the book club feel uncomfortable by making it obvious you're there to also look for a mate.


In the world there exist more women then men - I think it's reasonable to assume that homosexuality and asexuality are pretty gender independent factors, so there are more women looking for a relationship than men. It isn't a ratio issue - with apps it's my opinion that the experiences they provide are inherently toxic and drive away a lot of the potential customers - but this isn't an issue with society at large.


Most of the, for lack of a better term, "extra" women of the world are widowers who outlived their husbands between their 60s and their 80s. Few of them are going be as springy as Madonna. I doubt the ones among them that are looking for a stable relationship are going to be compatible with 20-40 year olds looking for an energetic partner.

Areas where there are a surplus of contemporary women have language barriers and cultural differences that make a relationship more prone to dissolve. It's not impossible, but there are more problems than gains unless there's some quality that offsets those disadvantages (i.e. desperation to be married, partner has money or is of a favorable nationality, desire for a certain temperament in a partner, etc.). And this is on top of the usual issues and tradeoffs of a relationship. All things being equal, it's much easier to have a partner of a similar nationality or cultural understanding than going international.

While none of this changes your point about how "toxic" online dating is, let me remind you that the source of that "toxicity" is the people themselves. People are willing to take others for granted unless or until there's something in it for them not to so. This is also the case IRL in diplomacy, friendships, families, and all sorts of interpersonal relationships. The difference is that online dating brings a more brutally honest version of this dynamic into full view. No couching in euphemisms, no friendly facades and handshakes, and no "I regret to inform you...". Just an unspoken "show me what you've got". If you think this isn't practiced in society at large in some form or fashion, then it suggests you haven't looked closely enough.


> I think it's reasonable to assume that homosexuality and asexuality are pretty gender independent factors

Um, no. You should check these things rather than assume. Male homosexuality is much more common than female.


Where are the women interested in purchasing and restoring 30 year old VAXstations ;)


I would find it pretty difficult to find a man interested in purchasing and restoring 30 year old VAXstations - that's just an extremely niche interest.


Yeah I was just joking.


Met my wife while volunteering (running a fundraising quiz night) for a youth breast cancer charity. Ratio there was pretty favourable.


> I'd take a non-reply over that sort of signal.

My understanding is that women get so many messages that they're overloaded and invest most of their time replying to top candidates while folks lower on the totem pole get dismissed curtly or ghosted.

And it makes sense, we all treat non-scarce resources pretty wastefully.

The question is are dating apps still worth it even though it makes you feel like a commodity?


It's no different from job hunting or college admissions. We're all commodities. The more important question is whether the commodity is worth the effort. In online dating, the reasonable answer for all but a few people, certain special considerations notwithstanding, would be "No". Instead the average American male is either better off leveraging his under-appreciated qualities internationally in some from of sexual arbitrage or waiting until sexbots arrive.


You should get into C#, that lets you declare as many properties as you like.


(2019) particularly relevant considering the online nature of much our social lives since then.


And online dating is massively biased towards women, so more and more men are being left out.


Yea somewhat of course, since they are swamped with requests, but i would say that probably it is more biased towards people of both genders who look good on photos and who can sell themselves. “The top 10% get all the matches” so to speak.

Anyway its an interesting time we are in. One company (Match) owns like 90% of the dating apps and gets to “dictate” the future procreation of our species, if we put it in extreme terms.


And why are women swamped with requests do you think?


Because there are more men than women using the service:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/975925/us-tinder-user-ra...

But if there are proportionally less women than men, why would men look for them there ?


Ok, so why are there less women on dating apps? There’s a roughly equal number of men and women in the general population.


Just a hunch, I think a solid proportion of women can have a reasonable dating life sort of just by going about their lives regularly. Women have dating opportunities present themselves pretty organically on a regular basis (for better or worse).

Most men don't have this. If a man wants a woman, he's gotta go pursue one. Dating apps present a lower-threat/easier way for men to pursue.


That really doesn't have to be true at all. There are places where women are going to be happy to talk to you, and even share their number with you, if you seem nice. Even in the west -- which is probably the worst for dating, I'll admit -- you can just join clubs or go to house parties or dinner parties, or events, and meet people that way. Most of my girlfriends I met "organically" just by being myself in normal social situations and having a group of friends.


No of course there are places in the real world where women will talk to you. I too have been to parties. Lol

But even in a social setting where there is opportunity for co-mingling, men generally still have to be the ones who "make the move" right? At least in my experience. Start the conversation, feel out the situation, ask for the phone number if things seem to be going well. That's a male-driven process that takes some calibrated effort (be charming without overdoing it, try without appearing to try, etc). At any party I've been to, I've never had success with women by just waiting in the corner for them to find me.

What I'm saying is the apps provide a much easier, more available way for men to do the pursuit work. That's why I think men swarm to them in greater numbers than women.

Now, if you're the kind of guy that sorta just shows up and suddenly women are handing you their phone number, congrats. You do not have the challenges the rest of us plebs have to deal with.


"At any party I've been to, I've never had success with women by just waiting in the corner for them to find me."

You're missing my point here. I'm saying hang out with groups of people and you will eventually talk with a girl and get to know one that you like. You may have to talk to 100 girls, but just be natural about it-- girls sense when you are faking it with some PUA stuff.

"What I'm saying is the apps provide a much easier, more available way for men to do the pursuit work. That's why I think men swarm to them in greater numbers than women."

Sure, but all the men in this thread are complaining that it's super focused on the pictures -- swipe left / swipe right -- and some are claiming only 2% of the men get a benefit from actually using the apps. So using the app is like a delusion. Just a more efficient way to not get a date.

So I am saying go talk to girls you want to meet in real life. Cut out the swiping.

"Now, if you're the kind of guy that sorta just shows up and suddenly women are handing you their phone number, congrats. You do not have the challenges the rest of us plebs have to deal with."

You know, they say that to get what you want, you have to know what is available first. I do well with women, but with women that would go for me. I'm not going to get the number from that 9/10 who has a beach bod and wants a guy with a muscle car. But what I have learned is that if a girl is single and might be into you, its worth saying hello in real life, or making a joke about how long the lineup is at the grocery, or it doesn't even matter what.

Just creating an opportunity. 100 times ot won't work. But 101th is what you're looking for.

Or move to another country. An American will be considered exotic and new in France, Germany, Asia, etc...on that basis alone you can meet girls.


I’m not disagreeing with anything you’re saying.

The apps are just in theory easier and that’s why men use them.


Yeah, I get that.


I'd argue most men don't share your experience, which is why online dating services have much more men than they have women.


Most men...in this thread? Because I know alot who are very successful with women, have gotten married and had families...by just going out and being social.

You should try socializing or dating in another country then. If you are not having luck "here" (where ever that is), why keep repeating the pattern?


Dating has always been based toward women. Online dating is just a reflection of that reality


You need to be very good looking (in pictures) to have success. I am a womanizer but not big in Tinder.

I once used the Tinder of an ex girl friend (with her permission) and told her, I find one for you. She was okay looking but not super attractive. Match rate of the guys I chose for her was 100%. Basically most guys use the App like : yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes...


Have you ever talked to any women about their experience with online dating? 100% of the women I have discussed it with would not agree with your claim that it is “massively biased” towards them; they find it just as miserable as we do.


No, they don't. Most women have no idea how bad it is for most men. An average woman is offered sex all the time. An average man - pretty much never.

https://youtu.be/RCsiNSA7sgs

When women try Tinder as men, they see how much harder it is


I wouldn't say it's 'harder', it's 'different' is many respects. It's true that women are way more frequently propositioned for sex than men (talking heterosexual relationships here) and it's basically up to women if sex is going to happen or not. However, after sex happens, it's up to a man if he is going to have sex again with this woman or not and if he's going to have exclusively this this woman or not. Obviously, women too make these choices as they may or may not want to have something more than a one-night stand and keep relationship open or exclusive. Most common complaint that women make about online dating experience is that men have sex once or several times, but refuse to commit and may entirely 'ghost' them. So in this respect it doesn't seem to be accurate to describe online dating as 'easy' for women and 'difficult' for men. Instead there are different issue for opposite genders, but you can still use online dating to achieve whatever goals you have, regardless of your gender. Just don't blame men, women or dating apps - relationships can be hard work for many of us, especially if you have disadvantages, like appearances, income level, personal issues, past history, criminal record, substance abuse, etc.


So you basically agreed that most women have unlimited access to sex, while most men don't.

Ghosting happens on both sides. Most men can't even get to that stage.


I wouldn't say unlimited but 'better' or 'much better' - sure. But why does it make a difference? Men and women are different in many respects, and sex is one of them. For example if you tell a woman that getting on a dating site is great, because it will give them 'easy access to sex with multiple partners' - most/many women won't see it as some great benefit, because 'unlimited access to sex' isn't something that women see as priority. As a guy I understand why easy access to sex is great, but that's not how many/most women see it. They go to dating sites for other reasons. And when they don't get what they want - it's just as frustrating for them as it is for guys. Having said that I still believe that dating apps are great for meeting new people.

Try to run your argument about 'unlimited access to sex' outside the dating app world. Let's take bars. A woman may (theoretically) find a new sexual partner in a bar much easier and more frequently than a man (with a notable exception of gay bars). True? True. Does that make her life easy and mens miserable? No. If finding a new sexual partner in a bar every week was the most important thing in the world, gay dudes would be happiest people around. Finding sexual partners in school and universities and workplace is also easier for women than men. Also true. So what? Does it make women happy and men miserable? Not in my experience. I've seen happy men and unhappy women (and the other way around) in and outside relationships. That's life. And 'easy' or 'difficult' are also something to think about. Is starting a business easy? No, it's HARD. Is becoming a doctor easy? No, it's HARD. What's easy is pumping gas at a gas station, but not very satisfying. Again, coming from a personal angle here - but I've struggled with women in my late teens/early twenties. However I became fairly successful in many niches, including interpersonal communications. And I know 100% that should I find a new sexual partner, I will be able to do so and dating sites is the first place I will to go, because that's where women that look form men are. And I've also learned by observing that the most miserable people out there are women who blame 'men' for things and men who blame 'women'. In my 40+ years I've seen INDIVIDUAL people going bad things (both male and female), but despite what's being told do us every day - I've never seen bad gender behavior. Toxic masculinity or toxic femininity, 'men are terrible' or 'feminism has ruined women' - that's simply not true in my opinion. Great people are out there. You can find them. Just don't expect relationships to be easy - they aren't.


> because 'unlimited access to sex' isn't something that women see as priority

Because they get unlimited sex in the regular life too. It's thrown at them every day by random strangers.

> Men and women are different in many respects, and sex is one of them.

But we're discussing sex, read the thread again. You're trying to move the goal posts.

> Does that make her life easy and mens miserable? No.

Yes, it makes her life easier. She gets sex whenever she wants. Most men don't have that.

> If finding a new sexual partner in a bar every week was the most important thing in the world

Straw man. Nobody claimed it was.

You're jumping from one logical error to another. I think you're either arguing in bad faith or simply not thinking through what you type.


Is it good for society that dating is being monetised?

Does this shift to online partly explain the recent declines in birth rates in the West?

Should we ban online dating, or regulate it?


Haven't communication channels always been monetized? Singles' speed dating events will have an admission fee and people seem to be fine with that.


Is anyone working on DNA-based dating?


I think eugenics mostly went out of fashion when the Nazis took hold of the global fad and went way too far with it.


For me it would be a big step if I could filter out all the people with incompatible pheromones/body smell. This type of thing you can't do with regular online dating.




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