Do dating sites select for unsuitable mates?

From a post about interviewing developers, comes this interesting supposition about dating sites:

We register with a dating or personals site. We use the search facility to perform a fairly simple screen for “qualifications” like age, gender and gender orientation (presuming you care). Now, we contact every single person matching our search. How many are worth a second date? How many are, let’s be honest, completely unready to date?

After a few months of “dating,” people can become very cynical. “Where are all the good men/women/womyn?” They plaintively ask. The answer, we all know, is that good people are rarely looking. They are already in relationships. If they become single, after a reasonable period to recover from their experience, they date very briefly and then get into another relationship. They have a good network of friends and family that introduce them to eligible mates, so they have very little need for dating web sites.

People with “issues,” on the other hand, spend a lot of time dating and searching for mates but relatively less time in relationships. Their friends and family are reluctant to introduce them to potential partners because, deep down, their friends and family know they are not ready.

At face value, this seems plausible to me.  It’s true that often when I hear someone talk about signing up with dating services, deep down I feel like they might be better served by getting out of the “game” entirely and pursuing friendship and spiritual growth instead.  On the other hand, I’ve had decent luck making friends with OKCupid

Any thoughts?

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  1. At first..

    I thought you meant that these dating sites specifically picked people they thought that would be terrible together, so that these people would have to come back and use the site more to go on more dates…

    Of course, over the long term, such a strategy could lose you customers…

    In any case.. I don’t know. I kinda hate dating. I’ve never understood it. I have gone on like 4 “dates” in my life and three out of the four were awful.

    the normal way I ever met someone was to get to know them as a friend and to determine through trial and error of how far the friendship would go.

  2. Well, I broke e-harmony. I think I messed up and answered that I thought girls were cute too. *eh*

    I would like to find someone to have in my life. I don’t see many options for meeting anyone new other than going to a bar (bad, bad choice) and a dating service. I have signed up with OK Cupid but it was a while back. I need to look into that again. Basically, I have zero luck with dating and finding a partner.

    Last relationship was a random pick up that went into a year long fling. Relationship before that crashed and burned with a divorce. Before that… well before that I was 20 and well nothing I did back then should count. 😛 I never really “dated”. I guess I don’t understand that word after my last relationship. I thought when you “dated” someone and you were the only one that you either of you were seeing/screwing that you were then in a “relationship” and exclusive and it was “safe” to call that person your bf/gf. But I was blindsided pretty badly. I love to meet someone who could truely appreciate me for who I am and love me (eventuallY). Not sure that I will ever find it.

    Sorry, didn’t meant to vent/ramble… just a sore subject for me right now. Esp. since I thought when I became “single” again I would have more options. Silly me.

  3. I agree with this. I’ve tried dating sites several times in the past, and nothing good has come of it in the long-term. A couple penpals here and there, but nobody I really cared to integrate into my life.

  4. This is coming from someone who met her husband on a dating site.

    On one hand, there are all kinds of exceptions to that rule. Gregg, for instance, made a profile on a personals site because he traveled so much for work that he had very little time to get out and meet people. At the same time, I made my accounts for social networking, because I had just moved to a new area and didn’t know anyone. Neither Gregg nor I are really one of those “not ready” people, and we’ve both had serious long term relationships in the past.

    There were others I met through OKCupid who I would have liked to date more and get to know better if Gregg and I hadn’t gotten so serious because of the baby. I did start dating this really cool guy named Shota (saltydog on OKCupid) who I really liked. True, I met a few losers, but with one exception, I weeded them out over AIM. (I did end up having lunch with the guy who talked about nothing but warhammer, his mother, and his cats. . .ugh.)

    The contention your author is really making isn’t “There are more losers on dating services than elsewhere” but really “single people must be losers, or else they wouldn’t be single!”

    Put that way, it sounds just about as stupid as it actually is.

  5. In theory, this is plausible.

    In reality, this discounts two categories.

    1)Generally good, but painfully shy mates. I have known several people over the years who go through long stretches without mates. Not because they are insane, unstable, financially leachlike, or abusive. Simply because they are so incredibly shy that if they aren’t outright asked, they are not going to be the first to bring it up. For them dating sites take away the first major hurdle of intimidation.

    2) Very buisy people with little time for social lives. My father and stepmother met through personal adds (the once upon a time snail mail equivalent of ok cupid). My dad was working full time, and trying to raise me on his own after my mother died. This did not leave a lot of free time to pursue traditinal relationship avenues. My mother was working full time as a college proffessor and working on a second degree as well. Again, not much time to pursue traditional dating fields. All things considered though, they have been pretty happy for the past 25 years.

    1. I also would add that there is a good chance that I would peruse a dating site if I were ever single again and none of the acceptable choices in my personal network of friends were available.

      This is largely because I am unsure where I would look for compatable interests. The punk and industrial scenes that spawned me have long since lost most of the features that drew me to them, so that leaves out clubs and shows. I have always been painfully shy in regular bar contexts, and don’t really have a scene I associate with anymore that is idealized for dating and meeting people.

      Resultantly, I am unsure where I would turn to meet eligible women if I were single again. My interests are far enough from the social mainstream that I would likely have a better chance via a dating site than any other context that I can think of.

  6. hmm…

    well…there are also those of us that had major issues…spent an extended period of time receiving treatment and learning to overcome those issues, and are now ready to date, but generally out of sync with most of the people our age

    i don’t really wanna date a 20 year old, but i’m also not looking to get married and start having kids, or start taking care of a potential partner’s kids

    i did eharmony once, i met someone the first day who i liked a lot and dated for a couple months, but he waent through a lot of changes right when we met and wound up heading in a different direction than i was heading…

    but see, what i like is shy, nerdy guys…and where better to meet them than on the internet?

  7. The one real benefit to dating sites is if you happen to be part of, and therefore be seeking people who also are part of, any number of subcultures. It’s a lot easier to put on your profile that you’re bi/poly/pagan/kinky/goth/gamer/whatever and seek out people with similar language in theirs, than it is to meet cute people in a vanilla setting, hit it off, and then try to figure out how to have the “so here’s all the weird shit you need to know about me” conversation that runs the risk of them running screaming into the night.

    Admittedly you can usually socialize locally with people in subculture settings, but 1) those are always *real* small worlds where within a year you can either have eliminated everyone as dating material or have dated all your possibles already, and 2) socializing in those settings often means having to go to YET ANOTHER meeting where everyone sits in hard folding chairs in a poorly-lit rented classroom and talks about their experience being in that subculture. It’s great for the first two months when you’re all heady and thrilled that there are other people like you, but there quickly comes a point where you want to stab yourself in the eye before you want to circle up and talk about your FEEE-lings yet again.

    Also, my observation has been that people who are *always* in a relationship often tend to care less about the quality of the relationship itself and more about the fact of not being alone– being in a relationship for its own sake, as it were, not because you’re so overwhelmingly in love. Which is not to say that the guy’s entirely wrong, but I don’t think his theories apply to everyone who uses dating sites.

  8. I’ve found a lot of times people who are actively looking for relationships are not really ready for a relationship. Often they’re looking for something they’re missing that they need to figure out for themselves. Not that this is always the case, but a lot of times it seems that the people I know that are really happy weren’t looking when they met, they were quite happy being single.

    I tried to sign up for a dating site once but it told me I was to unusual and I didn’t fit their profiles. Oh well, lol.

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