My new client Mark was a decent-looking, if not average, twenty-something. Like most guys his age, he wanted a girlfriend, but was going through a “dry spell.” He was on Tinder, and after months of use, he matched with five girls.
I had him open the app, and his body language went from bubbly and hopeful to dejected, as he was reminded that he hadn’t had a match in weeks.
His Tinder conversations were even sadder. If a girl even responded to his initial message, which they usually didn’t, it went stale within a few lines. His eyes lit up a little as he mentioned he was going to try Bumble and OK Cupid soon as alternatives. I was much less enthusiastic that things would be different on those apps.
Online dating has led to most people feeling like Mark: dejected and confused. How can it be possible that among the hundreds of profiles, pretty photos, and advanced algorithms, so few people like online dating or find it easy?
Well, it is possible. A recent analysis of all online dating users found that 33% of people have never actually gone on a date with someone they met online! All the profile work, swiping, messaging, etc., and 1 in 3 people who try online can’t even get a date…very sad. And, it’s worse for Tinder users specifically: 71% of Tinder users have not gone on a single date from the app.
That study linked above also showed that most younger Tinder users aren’t even on the app for a relationship. Most are just on there to waste time and feel validated. No wonder most don’t even go on dates.
So how can online dating create such horrible real-world results? The answer is simple: online dating creates unrealistically high expectations, and then fails to deliver.
Most people believe that since they can easily fill out a profile and upload a few photos, they are winning the game. It is easy to swipe through pretty photos of girls on Tinder, but it’s more difficult to get a woman to swipe back, and getting her to respond, engage, and meet out on a date is even more of a challenge.
That’s why online dating is less of a video game and more like a very fancy slot machine. It gives the impression of ease at the front end, but ends up being very hard to get a payout (a date or relationship).
Let’s start with some reality for guys. They find that they get few matches to start, and even the best looking men struggle to get responses. Some guys have told stories of being on OK Cupid for two years and never getting a message back. Data reveals this is true: average guys who use online dating only get a few matches, and very little engagement.
Like my client Mark, many dudes only match on Tinder occasionally, and often with women they don’t really want that much anyway. Then, these guys can get desperate and possibly bitter, which makes meeting future women even harder.
“Hey?” Tried that.
A funny opener? Tried that.
A blunt opener? Tried that.
A sweet opener? Tried that.
Nothing works for most guys. While she is joking with her friends how many “creeps” are messaging her weird openers, guys are simply trying to find something that works.
Women have the opposite problem, but nonetheless they still have difficulties. A pretty woman isn’t going to have problems getting likes, matches, and messages; her issue will be meaningfully sorting through hundreds, if not thousands, of them.
In real life, she would likely be attracted to many of the guys sending her messages, even though some are “too old,” “too short,” or “not career oriented enough” when she shifts into “online dating mode.”
Online she has to judge an entire future relationship based on a few photos, profile, and possibly some opening lines. Then, if she does go out with a guy, she usually finds that “good on paper” and “good in reality” are two very different things. Then, it’s back to the same failed sorting game based on limited information.
And this brings us to the real problem: Online dating isn’t easy, and it isn’t fun.
It is no easier than “offline” dating. In fact, I believe offline dating is probably easier in the end. It may require more risk upfront (like having the guts to approach a girl, being able to hold a conversation, etc.), but the potential reward odds are so much higher.
Going from profile creation to getting a date to being in some sort of relationship requires resilience, effort, and perfect timing. If you expect anything less than this, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Mark made some improvements to his Tinder profile, took down those god-awful photos of him in an outdated polo shirt, and he started improving his skills related to talking to women in real life and online. Overall, this broad shift helped him tremendously.
Perhaps the biggest help was putting online dating in its proper perspective: it’s difficult. Accepting this will go father than complaining about it. Instead, accept that “it is what it is” and lower your expectations.