Daniel Pocock (via planet.debian.org) points out what tracking services online dating services expose you to. This certainly is an issue, and of course to be expected by a free service (you are the product – advertisers are the customer). Oh, and in case you forgot already: some sites employ fake profiles to retain you as long as possible on their site… But I’d like to point out how deeply flawed online dating is. It is surprising that some people meet successfully there; and I am not surprised that so many dates turn out to not work: they earn money if you remain single, and waste time on their site, not if you are successful.

I am clearly not an expert on online dating, because I am happily married. I met my wife in a very classic setting: offline, in my extended social circle. The motivation for this post is that I am concerned about seeing people waste their time. If you want to improve your life, eliminate apps and websites that are just distraction! And these days, we see more online/app distraction than ever. Smartphone zombie apocalpyse.

There are some obvious issues with online dating:

  • you treat people as if they were an object in an online shop. If you want to find a significant other, don’t treat him/her like a shoe.
  • you get too many choices. So if one turns out to be just 99% okay, then you will ignore this in favor of another 100% potential match.
  • you get to choose exactly what you want. No need to tolerate. And of course you know exactly what fits to you, don’t you? No, actually we are pretty bad at that, and a good relationship will require you to be tolerant.
  • inflated expectations: in reality, the 100s turn out to be more like 55% matches, because the image was photoshopped, they are too nervous, and their profile was written by a ghostwriter. Oh, and some of them will simply be chatbots, or employees, or already married, or …. So they don’t even exist.
  • because you are also just 99%, everybody seems to prefer someone else, and you are only the second choice, if chosen at all. You don’t get picked.
  • you will never be comfortable on the actual first date. Because of inflated expectations, it will be disappointing, and you just want to get away.
  • the companies earn money if you are online at their site, not if you are successful.

And yes, there is scientific research backing up these things. For example:

Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science
Eli J. Finkel, Paul W. Eastwick, Benjamin R. Karney, Harry T. Reis, Susan Sprecher, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(1), 3-66.
“the ready access to a large pool of potential partners can elicit an evaluative, assessment-oriented mindset that leads online daters to objectify potential partners and might even undermine their willingness to commit to one of them”


Dating preferences and meeting opportunities in mate choice decisions
Belot, Michèle, and Marco Francesconi, Journal of Human Resources 48.2 (2013): 474-508.
“[in speed dating] suggesting that a highly popular individual is almost 5 times more likely to get a date with another highly popular mate than with a less popular individual”

which means that if you are not in the top most attractive accounts, you probably just get swiped away.

If you want to maximize your chances of meeting someone, you probably have to use this approach (vimeo.com).

And you can find many more reports on “Generation Tinder” and its hard time to find partners because of inflated expectations. It is also because these apps and online services make you unhappy, and that makes you unattractive.

Instead, I suggest you extend your offline social circle.

For example, I used to go dancing a lot. Not the “drunken, and too loud music to talk” kind, but ballroom. Not only this can drastically improve your social and communication skills (in particular, non-verbal communication, but also just being natural rather than nervous), but it also provides great opportunities to meet new people with a shared interest. And quite a lot of my friends in dancing got married to a partner they first met at a dance.

For others, other social sport does this job (although many find chit chat at the gym or yoga annoying). Walk your dog in a new area - you may meet some new faces there. But it is best if you get to talk. Apparently, some people love meeting strangers for cooking (where you’d cook and eat antipasti, main dishes, and dessert in different places). Go to some board game nights, etc. I think anything will do that lets you meet new people with at least some shared interest or social connection, and where you are not just going because of dating (because then you’ll be stressed out), but where you can relax. If you are authentically relaxed and happy, this will make you attractive. And hey, maybe someone will want to meet you a second time.

Spending all that time online chatting or swiping certainly will not improve your social skills when you actually have to face someone face-to-face… it is the worst thing to do, if you aren’t already a very open person that easily chats up strangers (and then you won’t need it).

Forget all that online crap you get pulled into all the time. Don’t let technology hijack your social life, and make you addicted to scrolling through online profiles of people you are not going to meet. Don’t be the product, and nor is your significant other.

They earn money if you spend time on their website, not if you meet your significant other.

So don’t expect them to work. They don’t need to, and they don’t intend to. Dating is something you need to do offline.