While you're there, if you're interested in the research that social scientists are doing about online dating, check out this article from last week.
My reactions, in order:
- Who puts their weight on their online profile? Why would anyone answer that question? It's so loaded. Just post a (flattering but unaltered) picture and avoid the question entirely.
- "[A]t least 13 percent of online male suitors are thought to be married." Enough said.
- "in one study, only 1 percent of online daters listed their appearance as 'less than average.'" The fact that anyone lists their appearance as "less than average" is pretty shocking to me. Again, why? Why would you say that? Who thinks that about themselves except people who aren't interested in getting dates?
- This is hilarious and sounds about right as an analysis of "scientific," computer-generated matches:
In 2005, using eHarmony's own published statistics, a team of credible authorities--among them Philip Zimbardo, a former president of the American Psychological Association--concluded in an online white paper: "When eHarmony recommends someone as a compatible match, there is a 1 in 500 chance that you'll marry this person.... Given that eHarmony delivers about 1.5 matches a month, if you went on a date with all of them, it would take 346 dates and 19 years to reach [a] 50% chance of getting married." The team also made the sweeping observation that "there is no evidence that ... scientific psychology is able to pair individuals who will enjoy happy, lasting marriages."
- I agree with this paragraph in general, although I haven't found it to be quite this bad:
No matter what Hollywood tells us, long-term relationships take patience, skill and effort. In cyberspace, unfortunately, the bar is so long and the action so quick that few people are willing to put up with even the slightest imperfection in a potential mate. If someone is the wrong height or wears the wrong shoes or makes the wrong kind of joke, he or she is often dismissed instantly. After all, it is a simple matter to go back and click, with tens of thousands of potential mates ready to fill the void.Single observant Jews in New York may reject each other more often for perceived religious differences (such as a woman who wears pants or a man who wears the wrong kind of head covering) than for being the wrong height or wearing the wrong shoes. Although, let it be known that people also reject dates for things like "not being pretty enough." This idea of "tens of thousands of potential mates ready to fill the void" happens in real life on the Upper West Side, not just online. I think the thinking goes that it's hard to invest in something/one that's/who's not perfect when all these people you don't know, who look just perfect (because, duh, you don't know them!), are just hanging around waiting to date you (or so people seem to expect).
- "Members can also rate the politeness of their dates, as well as the accuracy of the profiles." Excellent idea, especially in terms of the accuracy of profiles! I wish all online dating sites had a way to tag profiles in which people had lied, even if the tags were only seen by the site owners who would then verify the accuracy of the profile. This will never happen--to much work for the site owners--but it would be nice if it did, at least for relatively easy to verify things, like university degrees. Politeness may be a more subjective, culturally-determined thing, and I'm not sure I would want people to rate their dates' politeness. Lots of perfectly wonderful men who were raised with eating utensils nonetheless eat using their hands and I wouldn't want to kill their chances because of that. (Maybe some women don't mind!1)
- Virtual dating: "people meeting and chatting in a romantic virtual cafe on the Champs-Élysées in Paris--seeing and hearing each other online as they interact in this beautiful setting." Weird. I can't imagine wanting to do that, although maybe if I was writing to someone online who live very far away it would make sense. I do think that it's easier to meet someone for the first time when you can see them as well as hear them. It's also easier to tell if there's a possibility for a relationship. Phone calls can be awkward even when the subsequent date is good or really fun even when the subsequent date is awkward (say, to bring it full circle, when you find out that your date lied on his online profile).
1. I mind, but not enough to reject someone who is otherwise a good date. Seriously, if that's someone's worst quality, I can live with it. Maybe with the occasional grimace, but I can live with it. Two things I absolutely can't live with: people who lie on their profiles and people who are rude to waiters or anyone else they don't know (or do know, but people are more often rude to people they don't know).