November 24, 2014

The Huge Flaw in Online Dating

One of the tough aspects of being single (apart from, well, the loneliness, the sexual deprivation, the having-no-one-to-go-to-the-movies-with, and the talking to myself at night) is to learn about other people finding partners. It's not that you begrudge anyone else a love interest; it's just that you think, how come they can find someone, and I can't?

Charles Manson, for example. He has found a fiancee and I don't have a date for Saturday night. Do you know what that does to my ego? He is a serial killer with a swastika carved into his forehead and a life sentence for murder! Clearly I am doing this all wrong.

In reality, however, I have decided to take a break from dating for a while. But taking a step back  has given me some valuable perspective, particularly about the online scene. 

It is very difficult to meet people organically if it is not through contacts. I don't meet people through work contacts because I work from home, and there aren't many people here.  (Hang on... I hear something in the kitchen.... No, no, it's just the cat.) And I don't meet many people through friends because very few of my friends know anyone single who is even remotely suitable for me. So if I do want to meet people, I have to either hang out at pubs (and seriously? I'd rather eat my own bedsocks) or go online.

But there is a serious problem with online dating: it is inextricably tied to appearance. Now, here's the irony - I am not someone to whom appearance is particularly important. I have been madly in love with men who are not at all conventionally attractive. But that's because I had time to get to know them, and fell in love with them for their personality, and the attraction followed.

When you are dating online, you simply don't get that opportunity. You cannot possibly date everyone, and so you have to be selective. And how do you select? Most men give only the briefest of bios, so all you know is their age, educational status, suburb, whether or not they have kids, and a short tag line. If there is Bob, who you find physically unappealing on initial look, Phil, who you find physically unappealing on initial look, and John, whose appearance appeals, who are you going to pick? You'll pick John. 

Hello, John! Is it me you're looking for?

Now, it's possible that you would find Bob or Phil attractive if you went out with them several times and got to know them, but that's a huge amout of time to invest on a complete stranger. And most of us just don't have that much time.

There are thousands of Bobs and Phils online. Maybe one of them could be my future partner. But the paradigm of online dating means that I probably won't find him, because I don't have time to spend getting to know thousands of men in the hope that one of them will become attractive to me after several dates. And so I'll stick with the Johns, which a) is incredibly limited, because there aren't that many Johns online, and b) is a ridiculous criteria for meeting people.

But how else do you do it? How would you do it? How do you do it? Is the man in the picture single? Do you think he's financially secure and is comfortable around children?

And has Charles Manson's fiancee ever tried RSVP? Do you think that's what pushed her over the edge??


  1. This has been my life for the past six years. I'm at the point where I am happily single and regularly turn down dates because I truly cannot be bothered. If it happens organically, so be it. If not, I have plenty else in my life to fulfill me. And a toy boy lover for the sex stuff ;)

  2. I met my husband on RSVP in 2004. Whilst his photo appealed to me I found him much more attractive in real life. This can happen. I'd say give the ones whose interests most closely match your own a shot and remember its a numbers game. The more you meet the better the odds of finding a good one. Alternatively you could try groups like Face-time and Meet Up.

  3. When I was living in the US, I spent a long time internet dating. FAAAAAARRRRR OUT. It's kinda like a lottery, I came to realize. You just never know if that next date will be "the One." Many nights were spent removing the makeup and carefully chosen outfit that took longer to apply and put on, than the actual time I spent with the guy!

    I'm also ready to date again, but the lies men (and women) spin on the dating sites puts me off. Plus the 10 year old profile photo...

  4. I did the RSVP thing 10 or so years ago (when I was less fat). I had the same problem. Other than obvious grammatical errors in their profiles (!) there's so little to go on until you meet them and like you I'm big on the 'chemistry' thing.

    Having said that two of my best friends partnered up via RSVP.

    I didn't mind speed dating, though it's a bit of a quagmire as well! (I wrote a post about my experiences!)


  5. Urgh! I hear you! I'm currently dipping my toe in the online dating swamp and it's completely confusing and disheartening. I'm also someone who hasn't dated traditionally good looking men (my ex husband is testament to this ;)) and the online scene is awash with men who are in their late 40s looking for a young whipper snapper to start a family with. I may have to get a face tattoo ala Manson and see how I go ...

  6. Oh god, Fender, I'd barely scrape through as 'Discount Single'.

  7. I'll join you. We can get tatts and sob together over a latte.

  8. Yes, i know a couple of people who've tried speed dating. That sounds better than online dating. CHEMISTRY IS IMPORTANT.

  9. I know. I KNOW! Those ridiculous old photos!!!! Why do they do that? Do you think we won't notice????

  10. I'm heartened that you found your hubby, but I'm not sure it's a numbers game. I think it's a waste of time to date someone you don't find attractive (because of the reasons outlined above).... but I'm not sure what the alternative is..... Maybe will check out Meet Up... Have never heard of that....

  11. Lana (Sharpest Pencil)November 24, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    I've obviously never tried online dating given that I have been married for 679 years but I do wonder if all dating is not based on the same thing. IF you went to a bar would you engage with everyone or just the people you found attractive? If a friend was to set you up would you google an image of the person before you met them?

    Sadly dating and attraction is very much based on looks. To me the online dating idea is great in that you work out if you have things in common and whether you can talk - before you actually lay eyes on the real thing. It allows an attraction much more important than the physical.

    But I think I may have mentioned this once or twice before xxx

  12. Well, I met my husband online and I didn't think he was hot at all! (He contacted me.) But you know, we had a good online dialogue and a few phone chats, which didn't take a huge amount of time, but was enough time to realise he might be worth a face to face investment. I recently posted how I scoffed at his baldness, skinnyness and his hairy chest (none of which I found attractive at first) but then fell head over heels for him, personality, hairy chest and all. Online dating is just like real life or a Disney movie, you have to date a fair few frogs before you find your prince but man, that was the best 35 quid I ever spent! We've just celebrated our 10 year meetaversary. Besides where else can you find a man in your PJs?!

  13. Interesting Kerri and I completely concur. While I haven't tried online dating I think as you say, it's SO much more than a pic and a profile. It's chemistry and nuance, it's humour and a jen e sais quoi that is utterly absent via a screen. It sounds really arrogant and snobby but I'm too picky...

    However, if, as Mumabs suggests, you do it often enough, perhaps you'll strike gold...but oh, the process! (the jaded cynicism!)

    Having said all this, I know people blissfully happy as a result of RSVP. So what would I know?!

    PS: If I were going to try it, I'd go for quirky (but that's probably because I'm a bit weird!)

  14. I met the love of my life on RSVP but no, he wasn't the handsomest one. He contacted me and I read his email and before I checked out his photo. He looked nice so we spoke on the phone and when we met there was chemistry.

    My approach was always that I wasn't looking for the 'one'. I was looking for a way to practice being myself around a guy as I had spent so many years trying to be the perfect woman for my husband. I saw it as an opportunity to explore new friendships, to spend some time in conversation, to enjoy differences rather than similarities, and to give a little love to the world without expecting it back -- and as such, I didn't find any of it a waste of time.

  15. I had a lot of fun online dating a few years ago. I didn't actually go on very many dates but I did make several friends who I'm still in touch with now. I found that it was pretty easy to pick out the ones I might be interested in by their profile (generic age, height, income etc wasn't enough, they had to say something that caught my eye). There was also a diary facility on the website I was on (Plenty of Fish) that I found really useful. Anyone that used it just to moan and bitch about all the women on the site was ruled out and some were really entertaining. I also put myself forward if I liked the sound of someone, men hardly ever get messages and you'd be surprised how pleased they were to be contacted. Funnily enough I've actually ended up with someone I've known for over 20 years but had never properly got together with until a few years ago but I'd still recommend online dating as a good way to get yourself out there again.

  16. I've never even heard of Plenty of Fish. You can tell what a newbie I am.

  17. Well, it worked out very well for you!

  18. 20 months ago I met TLOML on RSVP.
    Our brutally honest, humerous self deprecating profiles were the initial attraction (because that's who we are) and after a few days emailing and chatting, we decided to just do it and met for a spur of the moment coffee at Fast Eddies (the only public place that was open), at 4.30am one morning. The rest as they say, is history.
    We've spent a collective 50 years with other people, missing out on so much and now we feel like we're 'home'.
    Be yourself, don't fuck around, be honest (with yourself especially) and up front with what you want and need!
    Just do it! 👍
    Life is too short .

  19. Bronnie - MaidInAustraliaJanuary 4, 2015 at 10:15 PM

    Everyone keeps telling me I need to try online dating - because I'm quite sad really, and don't get out much ...) - but one look, and I cannot bear it. It's so scary. And I've heard so many nightmare stories (given, I have also heard and witnessed a handful of wonderful lifelong relationships begin), but I just can't seem to put myself out there like that. Plus, who has the time to build profiles and skim through others every day/night? To wait for a heart or a kiss, or even a message? How do you know they are who they say they are? I do love hearing others' tales of success - or otherwise - but for now, it's just not me. Now, pass me the nearest cat.


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