Jimmy’s Table PodcastCuriously evangelical. Politically homeless. A dreamer of small things. On this podcast, I am having conversations about the intersection of faith, life, and culture.

How “Online Dating” Is Ruining Dating (And Tips For Dating) – Episode #172

Online Dating Apps

After last weeks’ podcast about being single again over 40, I promised this week to talk about dating. So this week’s podcast is all about dating, and sharing some of my stories and insights into dating. Be sure to actually listen to this podcast if you wish to hear the actual dating stories.

I have a theory. Online dating apps are transforming and ruining our dating culture. That’s not to say dating has always been this awesome experience in our society. But, I believe online dating websites and apps are transforming our culture in a way that makes contemporary dating even worse for a lot of people.

Of course, it’s hard to avoid online dating. Unless you meet your significant other in school, at church, or at work, the older you get, you’ll find smaller and smaller circles to find a potential mate. Not only because most people tend to get married in their mid 20’s to mid 30’s, but because society has changed, and we live more isolated lives. Meeting someone “the old fashioned way” becomes more and more challenging since our social circles are smaller and smaller. As a result, people turn to online dating apps to find that special someone, because they just don’t know where they can meet someone otherwise.

Why Online Dating Is Hard

But there’s a problem with online dating apps. Dating apps skew heavily towards women, and make them “spoiled for choice.” There’s significantly more guys than women on these apps.

For example, on dating apps like Tinder, 75% of the users are male, and where men end up liking 61.9% of women’s profiles, women only end up liking a mere 4.5% of men. Other dating apps are less extreme and more balanced, but with Tinder being the most popular dating app, such shows the uphill battle a lot of guys face on the dating apps.

There’s also the infamous 80/20 rule that says 80% of women like primarily the top 20% of guys on any of these apps. So as a man, unless you are judged to be the best of the best, the amount of matches you get will probably be relatively low, as women all try to compete for all the top guys.

Yet in spite of the odds being stacked against the guys, and women having their choice of the best of men, I’ve noticed something: If you use dating apps long enough you’ll see a lot of the same women in an area across multiple apps. But in spite of being spoiled for choice, many remain single and have a hard time finding a guy.

There could be many reasons for this. But I can’t help wonder if many feel so spoiled for choice that they are rejecting a lot of otherwise good men, holding out perpetually for an even better man. A classic case of the perfect being the enemy of the good. And in doing such, they never find Mr. Right.

As a result, women keep hopping from one app to the next, in search of Prince Charming, and seldom feeling happy with anyone. And I don’t think this is the woman’s fault per say, or even the fault of the men they meet up with. I believe it’s how the apps are reprogramming our brains. After all, when there’s a seemingly innumerable amount of fish in the sea, you’ll be tempted to keep going back out for more. Whereas before online dating existed, the average person might only have the opportunity to date a handful of people in their lifetime. But online dating can, for some, make people (especially women) feel like there’s and endless supply of people to date, and if you can just go on a few more, you might meet the right person!

My Conspiracy Theory About Dating Apps

I believe most of these dating apps are doing everything they can to generate repeat customers instead of helping people find meaningful relationships. The more frustration they cause, the more money they’ll make. So the algorithms increasing bring people together who aren’t really great matches, in hopes that they can keep them coming back for more and more.

While it’s still possible to meet someone, have a relationship, and get married as a result of online dating apps (I did once!), these apps are often sucking the humanity out of our possible romantic relationships. They encourage you to make split second decisions about whether or not you possibly like someone. You’ll once and for all make a decision about possible lifelong love based on interacting with a profile for 5 seconds or less, in which you rapidly review half a dozen photos and quickly scan a brief bio to decide if you are interested.

Contrast this to how possible romantic encounters happen in the offline world. Apart from guys trying to pick up random women at bars, a lot of meeting someone “the old fashioned way,” usually involves meeting someone who shares the same social circles as you, and involves meeting at least a handful of times and getting to know someone at a deeper level before we realize we have chemistry with them, and we get the nerve to ask them out on a date.

Traditional dating is usually a slow organic process, where the sizing up of a possible mate isn’t a flippant decision made on a whim as it is with online dating, where you may make dozens of romantic decisions in less than 5 minutes.

Online dating makes us a bit more flippant towards people, treating them as nothing more than a commodity or checklist of ideas instead of an actual real life human being capable of being someone that forever changes our world.

As a result we easily grow bored, and often have a very low interest level with anyone we do happen to match up with. Instead of a possible romantic encounter and date with someone being seen as a rather rare thing, the sea of unlimited opportunities out there that online dating offers us makes us treat others as easily disposable.

Instead of making a complicated series of steps in a dance that we engage with as we select a possible mate, everything is reduced to a transaction that requires no more thought than placing an order for coffee at Starbucks. We’ll quickly decide if we like someone or not, and if we don’t, we know we can always just order something else. As a result of online dating, I don’t believe we bring the full weight of seriousness to our encounters with others that the situation demands.

As a result, even when we do make a match online, we engage in low level conversations and messages with people. We don’t bring the full weight of our personality out, and often give short disinterested responses to one another. Especially if you are someone who gets a higher number of matches. Why bother diving deep with someone when you are busy having the same conversation with a bunch of other people?

And then if you actually do manage to go out on a date with someone, especially if you go on a lot of them, you will often not put your best foot forward. You’ll show up late, you’ll be dressed poorly, you won’t fully engage, and you’ll end the date just as jaded as when you showed up. My guess is that this probably wouldn’t happen as often for people who engage in more traditional “real world” dating, where meeting someone you are willing to go on a date with takes longer, and your interaction is likely to be more meaningful.

It almost feels like most online dating companies today aren’t deeply invested in making sure you find a long term romantic match. Rather, they are more interested in creating long term customers who come back month after month, and maybe even year after year. It’s a $4.2 billion dollar industry that thrives on repeat customers. And companies like “The Match Group” own 45 different dating companies, including Match.com, Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid, PlentyOFFish, Upward, and others.

Tips For Dating

  1. “Chase excellence not women.” Be the best version of yourself. Better to be alone that with the wrong person. Don’t be desperate. Know your self worth and what you bring to the table. Don’t be cocky, but realize you are a catch. Your dates should get nervous for meeting you, not the other way around.
  2. Date with purpose. Don’t just date to date or to avoid feeling alone.
  3. If you do online dating, avoid sites like Tinder or Plenty of Fish. Hinge, Bumble, Eharmony, Match, and Upward are probably gonna be your best bets. Try to pay as little as possible. Take excellent high quality photos. No bathroom mirror selfies or selfies with your messy bed in the background. Don’t put pictures up of your kids. Don’t be lazy, take time to write excellent introductions to yourself. Be picky about who you match with. Discard people who show low effort in their profiles, or respond with short, vague, three word responses, and people who never ask questions in return. If they aren’t asking questions about you, they aren’t interested. Unmatch and move on.
  4. Get the input of family and friends. We can sometimes make some dumb decisions. Have at least one or two people that are happy to help you screen all the people you match with. Just like you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry, we make bad romantic decisions when we feel lonely or romantically frustrated.
  5. Dare I say it? But looks matter. That’s not to be shallow, but we must keep in mind that if you intend to get married, you are looking at being involved in a committed lifelong sexual relationship. You should find your romantic interest sexually attractive. That’s not to say they have to be a 10 or that you have to be one. And while it’s true that looks will change and fade over time, physically attraction is important.
  6. Looks aren’t everything. There’s an inner beauty that you need to look for as well. I think there’s a difference between sexy and attraction. For example, there are a lot of women that I find physically alluring. But when I’ve gotten to know them on a personal level, the lack of inner beauty repulses me. Outward beauty draws us, inner beauty keeps us around.
  7. Be attracted to those that are attracted to you. Otherwise you are just wasting your time. You deserve to have someone that’s enthusiastically into you. Have some self-respect. Don’t be anyone’s plan B or backup boyfriend.
  8. Make a list of “green flags” and “red flags.” Look for both in a person. Keep in mind these are meant to be guideposts. You are ultimately dating a human being created in the image of God. Be willing to have some slight flexibility on some of these issues. But stick to your guns. Trust your values and trust your instincts.
  9. Always find out about that person’s family history and their past relationships. If they have a very broken and dramatic family life, definitely be aware you might be getting involved with someone with attachment disorders and who brings serious dysfunctional relational skills to the table. If they say nothing but bad things about their ex, and don’t have a history of stable loving relationships that just didn’t work out, then the odds are this person was probably the major source of problems in their prior relationships. If they say all their ex’s were narcissistic jerks, then realize they are telling on themselves.
  10. Don’t suffer from “oneitus“. Remember, without being cocky… you are the prize. Be confident in what you bring to the table. Don’t operate with a scarcity mindset. Don’t be afraid to walk away. But don’t be afraid to go all in.
  11. Don’t tolerate ghosting, being stood up, tardiness, or otherwise rude behavior. Likewise, don’t practice these things. Treat others like you want to be treated, and demand basic levels of respect and manners. While you should be gracious to permit for circumstances beyond someone’s control, someone that’s showing signs of flaking out on you is either not all that interested, or they aren’t a mature adult… or you are their potential side piece.
  12. Guys should pay for the first date, and probably even the second. Beyond that people should split. Make an effort to go out with someone at least 2-3 times. Don’t do expensive dates. If you are interested in someone, always express an interest in seeing them again. If not, simply thank them for a good time, and let them know you aren’t interested.
  13. Keep cash on you so you can dine and dash if necessary.

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