Does online dating work?
March 10, 2019 7:41 PM   Subscribe

So first things first, it's been a year since I started to go to the therapist. A lot of progress has been made, many of my issues are gone and overall I feel way better as a person. I can finally approach and speak to women without being afraid. Nonetheless, all the women I keep meeting seem to have boyfriends or there is just something that won't work for me. There is a woman who's single but shes 7 years older than me and she has a child. She's a really cool person but I feel I'm way too young for her. Anyway, I usually engage in my interests and this is how I have been meeting these women, however it seems like I'm not really getting all that lucky. I dated someone in December but it went nowhere. So like my question asks, does online dating work? I've never done it because I prefer meeting women face to face. I also need good photos, I'm always drunk in most of my photos and I can't really imagine using those photos.
posted by Braxis to Human Relations (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, yeah. Sometimes, for some people. I know many people who met their spouses on dating sites, and a whole lot more who find various forms of short- and long-term relationships there.

You need good photos, a willingness to be proactive in reaching out, and have something to say besides 'hey' in an introductory message. Once all that is in place, it's a matter of patience and being open to go on a bunch of dates until you find the right person.

Good luck!
posted by ananci at 7:48 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]

It worked for me, so far anyway. There were some bad dates, some ok ones, and then one woman who was butterflies from the start.

I really enjoyed dating. I think if you're not a douche, even dates that don't pan out might present opportunities.

I'll tell you one thing - be yourself on your profile. The one I'm with now liked who I was. The others liked who I might be.

Good photos, well written (concise, clear, interesting) profile, and a willingness to accept that not all dates will pan out, and you'll do fine.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:06 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]

Absolutely it does. Almost everyone I know who's been in a relationship / married less than 10-15 years met online. I'd say it was the default, at least once you're old enough to be busy with houses / jobs / kids and no longer frequently hang out with other singles such as at university.

Photos are the key. You need to find a female friend to do a photo shoot for you - take dozens from close up to full length. Avoid others in the photo, avoid gross ones such as hunting / fishing pics, and make sure you smile.
posted by tillsbury at 8:06 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]

I met my wife on an online dating service, so yes, it can work.

Basically, though, it's no different than meeting people IRL - some people you meet are good, some aren't.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:29 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]

Online dating can work, yes. But along with all the usual advice about having decent pics and presenting your real self in your profile, you have to go into it with a positive to neutral mindset, because if you go into it thinking "this is stupid and useless and it's not going to work and I'm wasting my time", then it definitely won't work for you.
posted by palomar at 8:42 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]

Depends on what you mean by "worked." I know a few people who have gotten married to people they met online, a larger number in monogamous relationships of a year or longer, a few in (by choice) non-monogamous relationships, and a bunch who've gone on not-terrible or entertainingly terrible dates.

Nonetheless, all the women I keep meeting seem to have boyfriends or there is just something that won't work for me.

I would consider true negatives to be successes.

There is a woman who's single but shes 7 years older than me and she has a child. She's a really cool person but I feel I'm way too young for her.

How does she feel about this?
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:49 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]

Yes, it does! Online you get to see many more people than you'd be able to meet in real life. You get to see people who you know from the start are looking for romance (majority of them are). You get to know a little about them as a person, from their profile, before deciding to communicate with them. All this really helps to speed the selection process along.

You must have good photos, preferably looking directly to the camera and smiling, as well as doing your favorite things, whatever they might be. Don't put up dark, blurry, shirtless, drunk ones. Be clear in your profile about yourself and what you are looking for. Be positive and kind.

Get into a mindset of curiosity about each new person you get to meet for coffee or whatnot, and enjoy getting to know them, regardless of the outcome. You'll probably need to go and meet a few/many people before truly clicking with someone. You will probably not get as many messages as you'd like. So what. It's worth the effort in my opinion. I've met some amazing people online, including my current wonderful boyfriend (3 months ago). Even people who didn't work out - I've learned from them, and grew as a person in the process, and I believe made their world a little more interesting as well. No regrets about meeting them and getting to know them.
posted by LakeDream at 9:21 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]

Oh yes, I forgot that part. Feel free to message, but it doesn't matter whether you spend days crafting careful messages or just send a hello. You will almost never get a reply. On many of these sites women can get hundreds of new messages a day and simply don't have time to reply to them or filter out the idiots.

When you get a message, even if it's just a smiley face, then you're on and it's time to start messaging. All the dates and relationships (and the marriage) I had online were from women initiating contact. That's why it's so important to get your pictures and profile on there properly.
posted by tillsbury at 10:38 PM on March 10

Ask a friend or a professional to take a picture of you when you’re sober. You don’t need to wait for someone to happen to take a good picture of you!
posted by sacchan at 3:28 AM on March 11

I've enjoyed online dating in the past and it has "worked" in that I have had enjoyable dates, met people I liked, and had a few short-term relationships. I can't blame online dating for the fact that they were short-term because I haven't had better luck meeting people IRL.

I'd say apps work better if you put some effort into it - good pics, thoughtful profile, trying a few different apps, consistently sending messages to potential matches without getting hung up on the rate of response, and if you have an idea of what you want (serious long term commitment, short term fling?). I think it helps to be younger, too. And it helps if you can just enjoy being on a date without worrying too much about whether or not it will go somewhere.

I've never gotten hundreds of messages a day, but I don't photograph well and am a little quirky. I used to be very picky about the messages I would respond to, now I'll respond if the profile seems to be in line with what I'm looking for as long as the message isn't downright offensive.
posted by bunderful at 5:41 AM on March 11

Online dating works but not for everybody - I have decided that, for now, it's not a platform that's going to work for me and so I am not on it. But I don't think that means anything's wrong with me. Just that it's not a good fit for me.

Judging from observation, for online dating to work you have to commit to it to some extent. Spend time on it, send messages to people proactively, don't get hung up on one or two possibilities, be prepared for 90% of your approaches to be met with radio silence. Similarly invest the time in building your profile with good photos and a good informative description of who you are. Having a clear idea of what exactly you want will also help. Do communicate this clearly from the outset.

The girl who's older than you... Are you sure she isn't interested?
posted by unicorn chaser at 5:56 AM on March 11

This is going to sound glib at first, but bear with me a minute.

If you don't want to date older women, then don't match up with them (don't click like, don't message them, etc.).

If you don't want to date women who have boyfriends, then weed out these people before going out with them (make it clear in your profile, or when you're first messaging with women, that you looking for single and monogamous women only).

Here comes the non-glib part. It sounds like you're torn between being open to trying to make a go with everyone who wants to go out with you, and being more selective about who you want to date based on your comfort/preferences. There is nothing wrong with either approach - there's a lot to be said for treating your first forays into dating as low-stakes practice to get you comfortable with meeting people and making conversation, and similarly there's tremendous value in honoring your own preferences and only dating people who meet your criteria. And there are many ways to do something inbetween as well, where you might go on some dates just to see what it's like to hang out with someone who seems wildly outside your "type" and other dates are about seeing how well people who fit your criteria match up to your vision of them in person.

Whichever approach you pick, you have to be intentional about it. You can't say yes to a date in a spirit of YESS I WILL EXPLORE ALL OPPORTUNITIES and then beat yourself up later for going out with someone who doesn't match your basic dating criteria. You're giving yourself emotional whiplash from changing your intentions and expectations before the date vs. after the date.
posted by MiraK at 6:40 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

It works for men who are reasonably photogenic; have respectable careers; can draft concise, articulate, spell-checked and non-creepy emails; and can deal cheerful with a 90%-99% rejection rate despite the aforesaid qualities.

I haven't been single for a long time, but from what my single women friends tell me, straight men really can't skip out, if only because a high percentage of attractive women have such high regard for the pre-screening qualities of online dating that it's become close to the sole way they will prospect for dates.
posted by MattD at 8:44 AM on March 11

Online dating works in the sense that, assuming you participate in a basically acceptable way, you will be able to message with/meet women and go on dates. It will probably take time for you to meet someone you want to date long term. Where I live it's pretty much the only way single people above age 25 meet (as far as I can tell). To some degree your looks will determine how much activity you have in online dating, but effort can mitigate if you're not in the top tier looks-wise (most of us aren't). Mostly it's just a way to identify other people who also want to to date in some form. It's just a pool of people, not necessarily people you want to date or are compatible with, and not necessarily a narrowed pool of women who want to date you.

It doesn't always feel particularly fun and you might need to take breaks at times, but it definitely works; people do meet & get into relationships from online dating. Also, you can continue to talk to women in the real world while you maintain an online dating profile. They aren't mutually exclusive dating strategies.

If you decide to try it (my vote is you should), the basic rule is to make some effort, which may include:
-pictures as good as you can get them (don't use drunk photos unless that's how you want to represent yourself). If you don't have many photos of yourself, have a trusted friend help you. Don't use a ton of selfies, especially if they're all posed the same way and in the car or bathroom. You can use slightly old photos as long as it still looks like you now (age, weight, overall appearance).

-say true & interesting things about yourself in your bio, but be brief. Don't be too negative about yourself, the world, or others.

-it can be helpful to leave "bait" in your profile, which are pictures of you doing interesting things/your hobbies or something in the bio people can react to or use as the basis of conversation.

-if you're on an app/site where you message first, say something more than "hey" if you want a response. You don't need a lot, just a sentence or 2, but everyone is getting a lot of "hey" messages and it is a conversation nonstarter. Not all conversations will lead to dates (just like real life).
posted by kochenta at 11:01 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

it works, but you really want to go into it with the idea that you're going to do online dating because you want to, and you're going to have fun, and if it works out then awesome, and bad dates are still beneficial experiences to have, etc

lots of guys seem to be all "this is stupid and I hate it but I guess this is what I need to do to find a WOMAN" and like please don't be that guy

take properly lit photos where you are smiling and well-dressed and not even a little bit drunk

to an extent you kinda have to treat maintaining your profile and messaging people like a job but the actual going out part needs to be light and easy and fun. meeting people is fun. dating is fun. have fun with it and try to create a fun experience for whoever you end up going out with, whether they seem like future life partner material or not. gl
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:04 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]

Yes, online dating works. It can take a fair amount of time, just so you know. You should get some good photos, but don't feel like they have be amazing, incredible photos. Which is to say, don't wait until you have excellent photos to set up a profile. At the minimum, I'd suggest a decent shot of just your face (the kind of thing someone might use as a good Facebook profile photo) and another photo that shows all of you (because if you only show your face, people wonder if you are hiding something about your body). A friend could take these during a lunch break. A good photo of your face will have you without sunglasses (glasses are okay, of course, if you wear them) and smiling. You can also use a good selfie with a neutral background. If you don't know how to take a good selfie, ask a woman friend.

I'm emphasizing all of this because plenty of men on dating apps don't have great photos (common mistakes: they're wearing sunglasses; they're not smiling; the photo is more than a few years old) and still do just fine.

If you have any women friends who using dating apps, you might ask them to show a few profiles of men just to get an idea of what's common.

It's also good to have an upbeat, positive profile. Be sincere and genuine and share a bit about yourself that gives women an opportunity to find things of mutual interest.

Try not to get cynical or talk too much to people who are cynical about online dating. My approach is to go into every date with pretty low expectations, with my hope that I'll enjoy meeting the person and have a good conversation. If there's chemistry and we click, that's excellent -- but I don't expect it to happen each time.

There is a woman who's single but shes 7 years older than me and she has a child. She's a really cool person but I feel I'm way too young for her.

I'm going to echo what others have said and suggest that this isn't maybe such a big deal. If you're over, say, 22, then this isn't a huge age gap. Yes, you would have to think carefully about getting involved seriously with someone who is a single parens, but asking someone out on a date isn't the same as getting involved seriously.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:50 PM on March 11

As someone who made online dating work for me, I say put the drunk photos up if that's the real you, unless you want to get into a cycle of first dates, letdowns and restarts.

Letting people self-select as potential matches based on true information instead of your cultivated-but-temporary ideal self doesn't sync up with most online dating advice, but IMO it saves everyone a lot of time, money and hassle.
posted by headnsouth at 11:24 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]

My admittedly pessimistic advice is if you are young, reasonably decent looking and NOT SHORT you probably have a chance. If you are the opposite of those three things then well good luck....
posted by Justin Case at 11:35 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]

It can work, but it also IS work. The downfall of online dating is you can't assess chemistry from afar. It's simply impossible. You can talk for weeks and feel a connection and then have it fall apart in real life. There are also some real, uh, characters online, and I don't mean that as a compliment. You can't tell who someone is from a profile. I'd imagine you gather as much if not more information about a person within minutes of interacting with them than you ever could talking through a screen.

So it's work. It's a time commitment. You need to always be talking to people and always be setting up dates because the absolute vast majority of those dates will fail. You will not feel a thing for the girl you were sure was your soulmate a couple days ago. She will have no social skills or set off alarm bells you didn't know you had. It's a commitment. It's exhausting and discouraging and it's full of rejection. If you find yourself getting jaded, leave. It's something I can only take in small doses.

With that said, every relationship I've ever been in has started online, including my current one. Yes, it's work. It took a deep toll on me mentally and physically this past fall because everyone I met was just awful to me. But it's work that can pay off if you put in the time.

Good luck.
posted by Amy93 at 2:59 PM on March 12

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