So another not so secret aspect of my life is my dating life. You’d think it was secret, because to be honest, it’s been pretty much non-existent for the last couple of years.
I’ve put in some work to try and correct this, but I haven’t put in the necessary work. It’s like doing anything in life, if you want to be good at something, you have to figure out what works and what doesn’t and learn from your mistakes. Not to paraphrase the most generic and irritating statement in corporate America, but you have to work smarter, not harder. While I completely agree that this is the most ineffective statement you can hear from your boss at a 9-5 job, there’s a little bit of truth to this statement. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a bit counterproductive. If you need comic relief from the 9-5 grind, look here.
When it comes to my dating life, it’s been challenging just getting a foot in the door. Back in 2013 I worked in Northern Alberta doing shift work for a construction company. My shift was 10 days on, 4 days off. This meant that I only got 8 days of every month where I was back in civilization.
Long story short, I tried online dating. I tried the free ones, OKCupid and Plenty of Fish. Delving into online dating is not the easiest thing, I felt incredibly self conscious. I’m effectively trying to sell myself as a potential match for someone over cyberspace. It’s a marketing exercise for romance.
In short, doing the free online dating options churned out very little in terms of actually meeting people. I found the time invested in it didn’t produce the results I was hoping for.
Then my circumstances changed. Lo and behold, I find myself engulfed in civilization 24/7! I’m in a steady job working a 9-5 schedule, new city, a chance to try again. Perfect! Now things will turn around…right?
6 months later, I found myself in more or less the same place. Nothing was happening in terms of dating. So what are my options?
Lets try online dating again! It didn’t work before, but lets try something different. Perhaps there’s too many people who aren’t serious about dating using the free service, maybe a paid service will invite people more intent on finding a relationship.
After researching all possible non-free options to the n-th degree, I decided to give match.com a try. After all, it had a large online presence, it has a layout that allows you to sell yourself effectively and the price wasn’t outrageous compared to the other paid online dating services.
Well, after culminating a lovely profile that detailed myself, my interests, what I was looking for, and some attempts at nice looking photos, I was set. It’s me and my insecurities, but I can’t stand taking photos. I’m never happy with the expression on my face or the pose I’m taking, or some factor of the photo.
Anyways, back on topic. Before I go much further, I’m realistic about what online dating results are usually like. Finding romance online is by no means guaranteed. You don’t just put up a profile and expect the messages to come pouring in from the women. Nor do you expect every woman you message to send you a message back. The inherent nature on online dating turns into a numbers game.
Being an engineer, I naturally want to quantify everything. What’s my returned message ratio? What’s my date percentage of women who messaged me back? What’s my time invested versus date output? How many views do I get based on my photo set? I had actually thought of doing an analytics project that tracked everything, my profile pictures, my message lengths, my compatibility scores, pretty much everything that could be quantified.
Don’t worry, I came to my senses. This is a ridiculous and time consuming way to approach this. The time investment in developing a system for doing this kind of analysis is probably better suited to a master’s student in computer science and data analytics.
My Experience with Match.com
Once I got going and started sending messages, I found it took a lot of sent out messages before I got messages back. I found that the majority of the women I talked to, the response eventually petered out. This was usually to a difference in interests, or communication styles, or even just response times.
I found conversations petered out pretty quickly if all I got back what a short one sentence answer that barely answered the original questions I asked without an additional question to continue the conversation. I don’t need an essay or your life story in the second message I get back from you, but it certainly helps the conversation going if there can be at least questions coming from both sides.
There were the cases where I thought I had some good back and fourth messages with some women, and then out of the blue they just completely stopped responding. Now I get it, I’m not the only person they’re talking to, I’m not going to be completely compatible with every single person I meet, nor am I going to connect with every person I have a conversation with. It just felt a little disheartening to feel like there was the possibility of meeting someone in person, only to get absolutely no response when I asked if they wanted to meet when you think it’s a positive direction in the communication. Also, I get it, it’s really hard for people just to say “no, I’m not interested.” As much as I would love people to be this direct, I know how hard this is. I’m not going to pretend I can do this myself.
Long story short, I tried a lot of different things and basically found that varying the parameters that were within my control on the system didn’t lead to drastically different results. After 6 months, I basically ended up messaging over 200 people, and met 2 people in person. The rate of return on time invested was not to my liking.
One date was actually not too bad, one was a dud, and there was the potential for a 3rd date, however I got a lovely text saying “I’m not ready for a relationship, I got pressured into joining match.com by my friends, but I’m more focused on other things.” This had been after three attempts to try and meet up. While I did appreciate the honesty, it left me disappointed and further cemented my thoughts towards online dating. There are many other possible reasons for this response. I leave you to use your imagination.
After 6 months, there was an option to renew my membership. My decision was a resounding no. I’ve just found online dating in general hasn’t worked for me and for now I’m not prepared to dump more financial resources into online dating.
My choices to not renew are NOT due to Match.com. The services, website layout, and communication systems provided by Match.com worked quite well in terms of functionality.
That being said, I did figure out a few things should I ever choose to throw more money into the system.
- Short messages as intros are the most effective for getting a response. You don’t need to craft an insanely complicated message as an intro, but you do need to say more than just “Hey”.
- Don’t waste time messaging back and fourth after 3-4 messages, try to meet in person. If you’re lucky enough to receive a response and you’ve gotten a dialogue going and things seem good, it’s only more time wasted on cyberspace to continue a long and draw out back and fourth conversation.
- There’s no point in trying to convince yourself that you’d work with someone who has a different lifestyle than you. If you only work out twice a week, like dogs, and live off beer, spaghetti, and pulled pork, then a vegetarian who diets hardcore, works out religiously, and has a cat is not likely going to look at you and say “I really want to meet this person!” (I’m not saying my diet is this bad, I’m saying be honest about your lifestyle)
This is more directed towards women on Match.com, but I’m sorry, you need to vary your intro a bit. (Part of my rant, sorry, I have to go here.)
“I’m adventurous, I like exploring new places and getting out and about. I work really hard, I’m very career oriented and I love what I do! I’m looking for a man who enjoys going out, but also enjoys relaxing on a Friday night eating pizza and binging on Netflix. He has his life together, knows exactly his direction in life, and is funny.” (While not necessarily expressed, he’s also got a 6 pack, is over 6 feet tall, and is uber confident and charismatic.)
In short, online dating has not worked for me. Before I keep going, I recognize there’s a million things I can do differently to improve my experience. I could accept my insecurities about myself and stop caring what other people think. I can accept the fact that online dating is inherently a numbers game. I can accept that online dating is a marketing exercise, and much like marketing, the right resources and tools will generate better results. For example, I could have invested in the “profile makeover” that Match.com offers. I could have invested in the “top spot” options that Match.com offers to increase visibility. I could quit complaining about my woes and meet some people in the real world. The latter seems like the most feasible option.
All and all, this was my experience with online dating. Perhaps my perceptions will change depending on where I’m at with my life, but my current experiences with it have so far not been favorable.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Here’s a funny comic as a reward.
I don’t normally do rant like posts, but I felt like getting this one out. I’ll be honest, if you’re reading this you could probably find a million things to pick apart with the logic I present. I know lots of people have had a lot of success with online dating, leading to marriages and life long happiness, especially using the services I’ve named in this post. This is a personal review of my experience to date purely for entertainment purposes.