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Study: Online Dating Makes People "Picky" and "Unrealistic" 630

New submitter garthsundem writes with this tale of digital love: "A newly published meta-analysis of over 400 studies of online dating (PDF) shows both its popularity (second only to meeting through friends) and its impact. More online daters report seeking a 'soulmate' online, and do so by searching through the wealth of available profiles. Unfortunately soul-searchers focus on faults, both in viewing profiles and then also once dating in person, leading to quick exits when relationships inevitably get complicated."
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Study: Online Dating Makes People "Picky" and "Unrealistic"

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  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bgat ( 123664 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:08AM (#38965987) Homepage

    That online dating has made the average man behave like the average woman.

    ... and both to behave like the typical adolescent.

  • by LikwidCirkel ( 1542097 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:10AM (#38966011)
    The ability to be picky with online dating is the whole point! You can put all of your cards on the table before ever even meeting someone. In this busybody world, people don't want to have to go through traditional dating, only to find out months into a relationship about some strong deal breaker like wanting kids. That's just a disappointing waste of time and people are starting to realize it.

    If you're looking for someone to spend your life with, you damned well should be picky. For the record, I met my partner online many years ago on a niche dating site, so maybe I'm a little biased.
  • Picky (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:12AM (#38966047)

    Why not be picky? Have you seen the stats for divorce lately? Anything is better if it helps people have good relationships instead settling for whatever came along when got fed up.

    True love is unrealistic. That doesn't mean it's a bad goal.

    I'm currently dating a wonderful girl I met online after many years of not finding anyone I would spend my life with. Had I not been 'picky' I could have settled for any number of other women that wouldn't make me happy. Why would I do that to myself?

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:13AM (#38966049)'s television, movies, glamour magazines, and many other forms of "art" and "culture" that are very heavily pushed upon a market.

    It's been my experience that many women that met the physical/appearance standards that are promoted to us were at minimum highly narcissistic, and at worst bat-shit-fucking-crazy. It took me awhile to understand this, and on a techie note, to understand how damaged the former-BBSer women of the early to mid nineties at the tail end of the craze were. Generally damaged, each and every one, and we're not talking scratch-and-dent here either.

    People, the dating pool is the pool of people who like to do the same things that you like to do. If there are no eligible people in your social circles, then you need to expand your social circles somewhat. That doesn't mean doing masculine or effeminate things if you don't want to, but you have to do something that you like to do that those you seek also like to do.

    In my case it was swing and ballroom dance. It worked so well that I married and MIT graduate.

  • Re:Picky (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:15AM (#38966071)

    The problem is that marriage is viewed as a commodity by most people. That's why the divorce rate is so high.

    You should never get married to someone unless you spend the time to get to know them fully and really commit to marriage, which, you know, should be for the rest of your lives (til death do you part and all that).

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:17AM (#38966089)

    I think it has less to do with online dating and more to do with a sense of entitlement, period. People date online either because they're desperate or because they have unrealistic expectations to begin with, not the other way around.

    And, I've said this before, most dating sites are scams. was busted for actually sending their employees on dates with clients, and all online dating sites are are chock-full of fake profiles generated by the staff and/or spammers who will throw a bone every now and then for the sake of realism.

    I am considering performing an experiment - attempting online dating again, but this time inflating my salary. How long can I bullshit being an engineer, wearing my nicest clothes out for dates? Then, when I finally get 'er home to my studio apartment, I can say, "It shouldn't matter how much money I make, you goddamn gold-digger."

    -- Ethanol-fueled

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by one cup of coffee ( 1623645 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:17AM (#38966103)
    This is actually very insightful, female dating behavior was based to a large part on having an abundance of potential mates to choose from, they were essentially buyers, whereas men traditionally acted as sellers trying to impress women ( I know I'm oversimplifying). Now with online dating, the market has basically evened out somewhat for men as women are openly competing for mates, thus they have become more like sellers, allowing men to start behaving somewhat more like buyers.
  • Reality slap... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:17AM (#38966109) Homepage

    Regular dating makes people "picky" and "unrealistic"

    I have friends that ,"I can only date a HOTTIE" and they are too freaking ugly, fat, etc to even get the attention of a normal girl. One friend is nearly 400 pounds and looks like the dough boy and thinks he will get a hot chick.

    The REALITY is that many people are not only unrealistic, but they are shallow and have a twisted sense of the world.

    Also remember, All Hot chicks are insane, but not all insane chicks are hot.

  • by Tsingi ( 870990 ) <graham.rick@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:22AM (#38966175)

    Well, I'm glad you don't feel like you are entitled to words like "the", "a", or "do". Just think, the arrogance of some people!

    I predict that he's Russian.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:26AM (#38966225) Homepage Journal

    #1) Women don't actually want to go out with you. What they want is a male "pen-pal". They want you to write long emails to them which they can read in Starbucks while sipping their lattes.

    #2) Avoid any woman who's profile claims she isn't seeking anyone who plays games or has baggage. Because she's the one who's playing games and has baggage.

    #3) Yes, yes, yes, we all love wine, good food, long walks on the beach. Tell me what's unique about you, not what makes you the same as everyone else!

    #3) After more than a decade of online dating, I've decided I'm happier by myself anyhow. When I crave "companionship", there are services for that.

  • Re:Reality slap... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:28AM (#38966241)
    Watch just about any sitcom from a few years ago. Fat guy with hot chick. (King of Queens, Family Guy, The Flintstones, The Honeymooners)

    It's actually getting better. Ray Romano and Tim Allen seem to be matched with an actresses of equal "hotness".
  • Re:Picky (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CMYKjunkie ( 1594319 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:30AM (#38966279)

    True love is unrealistic. That doesn't mean it's a bad goal.

    With respect: you, sir, have not then met the proper woman! I'm 33 and have been with that "unrealistic" true love woman since I was 18. It isn't a "bad goal," it's THE goal.

  • by Larryish ( 1215510 ) <<larryish> <at> <>> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:33AM (#38966305)

    Why online dating will never work:

    Jdogg: Hey
    QT-Pie: Hey
    Jdogg: whats goin on
    QT-Pie: Nothing. Who are you?
    Jdogg: Jdogg. Wanna cyber?
    QT-Pie: what does that mean?
    Jdogg: what are you wearing?
    QT-Pie: T-shirt. Jeans.
    Jdogg: Garter belt?
    Jdogg: Are we gonna cyber or not?
    QT-Pie: uh, okay.
    Jdogg: Sweet, I start by rubbing your ass all around. You love this.
    Jdogg: You're wet already. I can smell your p*ssy stink from here.
    QT-Pie: WHAT?!
    Jdogg: I execute standing position 12 from the Kama Sutra. Passion fills the room. Your head is close to the ceiling fan.
    Jdogg: You leave everything to Jdogg.
    Jdogg: I am completely inside of you. You are my dick puppet. I put on a little play.
    QT-Pie: This is weird. I should go.
    Jdogg: I drop you on the ground, and lay a stripe down your back.
    QT-Pie: A stripe?
    Jdogg: I need a sandwich.
    QT-Pie: You're a freak.
    Jdogg: I was great. You loved it.

  • Re:Picky (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flirno ( 945854 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:54AM (#38966617)

    The present culture is not synchronized to our biological realities. I am sure someone will try to fix it with synthetic pheremones when it becomes enough of a problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:56AM (#38966659)

    So you think having sex early is a sign of someone you shouldn't take seriously? Funny, I"m of the exact opposite point of view.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:02AM (#38966733)

    The same old "Nice guys finish last" cop out. If you're older than 30 and still believing that crap, I feel sorry for you.

  • Re:Picky (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brainzach ( 2032950 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:03AM (#38966751)

    True love isn't unrealistic, but the expectation that it will solve all your relationship problems is. Relationships require compromise if they are going to be successful long term.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:14AM (#38966887) Homepage Journal

    With few exceptions, everyone I know has something about that them distinguishes themselves. If you can't name it, then maybe you don't know yourself as well as you should.

    Maybe it's a hobby, maybe it's your compassion, maybe it's your love of a particular bad song from the 70's, maybe it's just the way you hold your fork while eating, but each individual is just that, and recognizing that and making that your own is what places you as the center of your own universe.

    You need to define what makes you, you. Otherwise you're a social security number and that's it. And if you still haven't found out who you are by now, then maybe you're not ready for dating of any sort.

    I know who am I am. Do you?

  • by ShavedOrangutan ( 1930630 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:23AM (#38967001)
    Direct observation: Having sex early is a sign of low self esteem. I wish I knew that before spending 15 years in horrible relationships.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:41AM (#38967261)

    Direct observation. Having sex early is often a sign of liking sex.

  • by holmedog ( 1130941 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:17PM (#38967793)

    Easy sex != good sex. Believe it or not, there are a lot of women (and I assume men, though I wasn't searching for those) on dating sites who really are just looking for someone to hook up with. They aren't the ones with fake pictures. I'll go ahead and explain my methodology for online dating since so many people responded with "wtf I wish that's how it worked".

    1) Contact everyone within 100 miles that you think might actually be worth talking to. You don't have to "love at first sight". Women on these sites get solicited *ALL THE TIME* so remember that you aren't unique and saying "Sup" isn't enough.
    2) Talk to the girls with "real" pictures and profiles.
    3) Be real to yourself. Stats say you aren't the top 5%. Don't expect the top 5% of females to find you attractive.
    4) Text message. Don't keep that crap on the site. Them having to come to the site to read your emails means they are reading all those other solicitations as well.
    5) Talk to single moms. These sites bread-and-butter is single parents who don't have time to go out. Deal with it. If you want to go to a free site you should at least entertain the idea that the people on it will have children.
    6) Ask questions. Most people can't stand to leave a question unanswered. "Sup, you look pretty" won't get a reply. "Is that a doberman in that picture?" will.
    7) Deal with the fact that these are real people. You aren't shopping in a magazine. Expect the average person on these sites to look like the average person in real life. The ones that are super hot in pictures are getting 500 emails a day.

  • It's true... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:27PM (#38967937) Homepage

    ...but not just in the original meaning.

    We're ALL trained to find a mate of ultimate attractiveness/power. All the boys lust after the hot girls in high school, and all the girls like the adventurous/athletic/popular guys (all is an overstatement, but you get the idea). Somewhere in their 20's MOST girls re-arrange their expectations to marry someone who is good to them. The trick is being the first nice guy to come along after those expectations have been re-arranged. So, nice guys DO finish last... and when they finish that's one more girl off the market.

    This creates the illusion that girls are not interested in nice guys, as they may date 20 assholes and one or two nice guys, but it's the one or two nice guys that they marry (and don't divorce a couple years later.... there are girls who marry the assholes and then become the single-divorced-30's women with baggage.)

    That said, guys can be their own problem: There is NO shortage of women out there who would be more than happy to be with you. You probably just don't think they're attractive enough, so your own expectations are 50% of the problem.

    You can't expect the girl who exercises, eats right, and puts resources into looking attractive to be interested in you if you're not doing the same things. So if you're not peak attractiveness, and you're not revamping your diet and popping in the P90X to bring up your physical appearance, time to dial down your own expectations to "normal looking people".

    (As a handy side effect, getting rid of your rampant desire to associate with attractive women will also make you less creepy to attractive women.)

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:37PM (#38968045) Journal

    Or find someone who's also avoided the long term relationship pitfalls during their 20's as well. Both the wife and I had never lived with a partner or dated anyone long term (6+ months) before we met; no kids (except for our daughter, born a year after we got married), no ex's, no money problems, etc. Biggest problem; she had a dog and I had a cat.

  • If you're over 30? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @01:09PM (#38968495) Journal

    As someone well over 30, I think I'm somewhat qualified to comment here.

    The "nice guys finish last" thing is alive and well, and there's nothing about it that's a "cop out". Where you're correct is that as we get older, our priorities change (largely due to having more life experiences).

    Most men AND women I know are working on "climbing that ladder" throughout their 20's and into their early 30's. They score that first "career job" after finishing school (or dropping out with it partially finished, as the case may be?) and start obtaining things such as their first new car or truck, perhaps a home of their own (or even stepping up from a small apartment unit to a rental house or townhouse apartment counts).... and sooner or later, they're considering obtaining a life partner too. Still working from the angle of "I've got nowhere to go from here but up!", they're concerned with their appearance to their peers, and with selecting a partner who has the best possible combination of looks, intelligence and personality/character.

    When you're still in THAT stage of life? Yeah, dating is very competitive and you really can finish last in that area if you bring integrity and "character" to the table, but not much else. Without money and/or looks, you're short a couple of key items that help "sell" yourself vs. your competition.

    Where things change, IMO, is somewhere between the mid 30's and 40's. By that time, many people already TRIED a marriage that ended badly. Others just matured a bit (or even simply let life wear them down a bit, to where they quit trying to impress -- and resigned themselves to just getting up each day, going to their 9-5 job, and keeping busy with whatever chores and tasks life demanded of them). All of a sudden, they're no longer focusing time and energy on searching for someone. They're just being themselves, and are actually in a better position to stumble across someone else like-minded who likes them for them.

    BTW, I really think wealth serves as a huge barrier to one's self-awareness. Why do so many Hollywood celebs and pro sports athletes have relationship problems? Why do big-shot CEOs constantly get involved in sex scandals? When you have enough money, you're able to spend your way out of looking in the mirror and getting a true sense of who you are. Someone's always happy to stroke your ego, hoping for some sort of payoff. Doctors and surgeons will do all sorts of procedures to you, to make sure you physically appear younger than you really are. You can afford all the best/trendiest clothing items, vehicles, and everything else that distracts people from seeing who YOU are when they look at you. Every time you screw up in public, you can pay off someone to bail you back out of the situation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @01:22PM (#38968631)

    Normal people don't need dating sites? Maybe I'm just not "normal", but I have no idea where I'm going to meet somebody to date. I don't go to bars (and I certainly wouldn't want to date somebody who regularly does). Ditto with church or sporting events. The workplace is off-limits. I think dating sites are the perfect place to find somebody.


  • by nolife ( 233813 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @01:45PM (#38969027) Homepage Journal

    Why do so many Hollywood celebs and pro sports athletes have relationship problems?

    My guess is they fail and cheat not much more often then the average relationship, you just hear about them more often. Your neighbor getting a divorce is not worthy of the national news.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @02:10PM (#38969435)

    It is true after all, normal people don't need dating sites.

    Why is this accepted blindly as a fact, when there's in fact no basis for it?

    Where do "normal people" go to find people to date anyway? Maybe "normal people" just isn't supposed to include men who are in male-dominated professions like engineering. When I was in college, there were frequently zero women in my classes. After college, it was worse: not only were most of my coworkers male, but almost everyone (male and female) were already married. So where are you supposed to meet single women in that situation? Stumble across them at the grocery store? Meet friends of friends? That's not so easy when all your coworkers are married (married people don't socialize with single people as a general rule), and all your friends live 1000+ miles away because you moved to a new city for a job.

    Every time I've brought this up, it seems like the standard answer is that you're supposed to meet your life partner at a bar or club while you're both completely drunk. No thanks.

  • Re:It's true... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by misexistentialist ( 1537887 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @02:14PM (#38969517)

    The trick is being the first nice guy to come along after those expectations have been re-arranged.

    Some trick: you get a woman whose looks are fading at an exponential rate, and who frolicked in her prime with sexier men, so you'll be entering into a disadvantageous contract with someone with no real loyalty or passion for you.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gknoy ( 899301 ) <> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:36PM (#38970861)

    And, the people who do find you are probably likely to share similar interests with you (history, drama, general nerdiness) or at least appreciate that side of you. Win-win all around, it sounds like.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AdamWill ( 604569 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @04:13PM (#38971363) Homepage

    Note: good-looking and charismatic are, mostly, both qualities you can cultivate, not god-given attributes you must bemoan your lack of.

    One thing in particular: go to any mid-range restaurant and look around at the straight dating couples. There's quite a lot who follow the same, depressing pattern: woman in a clearly carefully-selected and maintained outfit, good hair, nice shoes, decent perfume, matched accessories etc, guy in cargo pants two sizes too large, unironed $20 shirt and sneakers, with 5 o' clock shadow.

    For Pete's sake, if you're going to go on a date, make a freaking effort. Buy a good suit, that fits, and wear it. If you're not going to do that, at least get some decent pants and a shirt that fits. And iron it. Shave. Get your hair cut more than once a year (and pay more than $10 for it). You know that stereotype that men look at appearance and women look at character? I wouldn't rely on it if I were you. If women go for good-looking, charismatic guys then maybe you could take a shot at being good-looking and charismatic, rather than wondering why no-one seems to see your wonderful personality past your mysteriously-stained sweatpants...

  • Re:It's true... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gorzek ( 647352 ) <gorzek AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @04:56PM (#38972053) Homepage Journal

    A lot of guys who claim to be "nice guys" are in fact timid doormats who secretly crush on their female friends then get upset when they finally try to act upon their feelings, only to get "friend-zoned." Guys like that think they're owed something for all the time and energy they put into the friendship, which makes them pretty fucking sleazy when you get right down to it.

    If you're interested in someone, be up front about it, be confident, and don't take rejection personally. Yes, I know it's easy to say that, but that's really all there is to it. Women aren't going to fall all over you just because you're there, you have to go out and do the work yourself.

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