Sex & Relationships

The Online Dating Game

There’s a rush that comes along with meeting someone new – getting to know their likes, dislikes, what they geek out on, what pisses them off, and seeing how your feelings evolve. Recently, with an abundance of online dating sites, there seems to be a new rush: a competitive one.

In a city as large as New York, it can be extremely overwhelming as a single female. In fact, I think I’ve sworn off guys, on average, once per week since being here. Manhattan lends you plenty of male attention, with some excellent eye candy, and charming wit. And, most have no shame in taking a shot at asking you out on a date.

However, the 4am last call typically dissolves of any memory they have of exchanging names, phone numbers, and future plans to meet up. So, it’s a bit discouraging to feel like your first encounter is your last – or, that you’re one of a million females, and can easily be swapped out with an alternative in the blink of an eye.

Sue me for turning to the Internet to filter through and browse in a (usually) sober environment.

What I have found on these sites, though, seems to be almost as discouraging as the aforementioned in-person interaction. It’s proving to be a game for the guy on the other side of the screen – where there’s a competition, a challenge, and someone with possession. If you break it down, there are basically two types of online dating sites:

Let Me Put Down All the Attractive Qualities I Have

The first kind of online dating is a longer-form representation, where users are matched up based on profile preferences – think OkCupid, Match, and PlentyofFish. These ones take a more statistical approach, cranking out the numbers to see just how great of a couple you would make – because that’s really just based on mathematical formulas, anyway.

In my experience – which I hate to admit is growing exponentially, to date – this kind of dating site is rewarding those who are in it to win it. Meaning, they want to see if their creative-and-unique-but-also-totally-creepy message will get a response out of you. They saw you in their Matches feed, or filtered out exactly what they don’t want, and something you said in your profile totally caught their attention.

User Tip: If you “Reply [Very] Selectively”, even more of a challenge to get you to write back to them. This may also increase the level of weird that is included in your received messages.

Let Me Use All of My Sexiest Pictures I Have

The second kind of online dating is quick and to the point, requiring only mere seconds of your time and a minimal attention span – think Tinder, Hinge, or Coffee Meets Bagel. It’s more of a narcissistic approach, just browsing through endless pictures of people, only swiping right or giving them a check or heart if they are attractive enough for your liking (you’ll get to the nitty-gritty details of who they actually are later).

See, this is where you ask yourself “are they as good-looking as me?” or “do I think they are hot enough?” before making your decision. You can’t take into consideration their personality, like you could if you met them before last call, so you’re basing it solely on the surface. (Don’t worry, they’re treating you the same way.) Which, is why the level of satisfaction you receive when you get a match is the equivalent of a surprise Christmas bonus – they think you’re hot, too! Now, there’s a solid foundation for a long-lasting relationship.

User tip: If you show less skin and include a full-body image, nearly everyone you swipe right for will be an instant match (I should clarify that this is a female-only user tip).

What completely and utterly blows my mind about all of this, though, is what happens after you’re matched (in any kind of online dating site). They know you’re interested: you responded to their message (with so much wit and charm), you checked out to be mentally stable (mostly), and they got your cell phone number (the real thing). So you text. And text. And text.

It’s the black hole/revolving door/déjà vu – whatever you want to call it – phase. When are we actually going to meet up? Haven’t we been here before? At this rate, retirement sounds a lot more probable. At this point, it’s usually where it dies – they got what they wanted, and you’re left with the remnants of your hopes and dreams of a budding relationship.

Some may say that I’m extremely picky when it comes to finding my next suitor – okay, I’ll admit, I am truly very picky – and it may sound like I’m throwing ‘bows at the idea of online dating – which, okay, I’ll admit, I’m also doing that – but this, my friends, is where society has taken us.

Don’t get me wrong, I know some people who have found success. I’m classifying them as the exception. But, here I am, waving my metaphorical white flag and deciding that this is not the kind of game that gets my competitive nature ready to play.

By Jessica Coleman


3 thoughts on “The Online Dating Game

  1. I completely agree that online dating can lead you down a long, dark path, or into a black hole. Personally, if a guy didn’t set up a date after a few emails or texts, I was already mentally moving on. The point of online dating is to get an introduction (online) then quickly move offline (to see if you even have chemistry). However, during my friend’s experiences online I have noticed the sad trend you mentioned– guys just want to know that you’re interested (competition, ego boost, etc.), but have no intention of pursuing something real. My advice: encourage a meet-up and if they don’t reciprocate, cut ’em loose. We’re not looking for pen pals, we’re looking for a relationship! Great post. 🙂

  2. Yes, online dating is one of the most popular media nowadays to meet the right person for you. But it is just the first step into having real relationships and the best thing to do is to ask the guy to have a meet-up to set things out.

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