8 Reasons Why Online Dating is just as Complicated as “Real Life” Dating

Switching your dating game to the internet may seem like it will yield better results, but there are a few beginner's mistakes every guy makes. We've got the inside scoop from one girl looking for online love.

The old theory goes that if you see an ad in the newspaper that reads “Box of Free Cats,” no one will want them. Yet, if you see an ad that reads “Cats: $5 each,” people will be interested.

I've always viewed Online Dating as a box of free cats. Even though many advised that I try Online Dating, I was always put off by match.com and eharmony because these sites take away the mystery behind the opposite sex. Who doesn't love the feeling in the beginning where they wonder if someone notices them? Here, everyone is online for the same reason, and you get their life story in 2,000 characters or less on their home page (plus, a catchy headline).

Yet, I entered into a virtual singles' bar out of curiosity and quiet desperation for change. As it turns out, I've grown more confused about seeking a potential mate as well as disgusted with myself for being judgmental throughout the entire process (even if these sites facilitate judgement).

At its core, Online Dating is designed to exist as a process of natural selection where only the ridiculously hot and wealthy survive. It's almost like a catalog. You get elaborate descriptions of the individuals and a score sheet to see how you'd match up with someone, along with pictures of everything from men and their favorite pet (from my experience, usually cats) and a drunken night with friends. Although you can find yourself feeling critical and even a bit self-righteous, these feelings are encouraged on dating web sites. Without being super selective and over analytical, women and men would be in hundreds of online relationships. Even though Online Dating is supposed to make the entire courtship process easier, I find it just as confusing as dating in person.

Here are Eight Reasons Why Online Dating is just as Complicated as “Real Life” Dating:

1. Pictures of men taking pictures of themselves in the mirror.

While dating web sites are supposed to be a safe and more sophisticated way to meet people online, these types of pictures drag the whole network down to myspace quality. The men or women who take these photos might be really nice and great catches, but I'll never know because of my initial first impression. The same goes for body flex pics (men in the buff in the mirror — a double whammy!). Not only does the guy look vain, but sometimes in the pose, downright goofy.

2. No photo provided.

These kind of photos (or lack thereof) make things socially awkward for interested parties. The people who don't provide photos often write in their profile “If you're really interested in me, a photo won't matter” or “I can provide a photo if you request one.” So if you request a photo and are not initially attracted, you seem shallow.

3. The “winks.”

Let me preface this by saying I've never winked at anyone in my entire life (although the occasional involuntary eye twitch might confuse onlookers). I feel like “winks” (a virtual gesture — meaning someone is winking at you in the vortex of computer space) are the ultimate display of passive aggression. “I won't talk to you in a private forum where the pressure is off, but I can send you 12 kilobytes of nothing to your inbox.” I actually conversed with a guy in a chat and then didn't hear from him for a couple of weeks, until he sent me a “wink.” I thought to myself, “So it's already come to this? Back to strangers, not really winking at each other?”

4. Debbie Downer headlines.

So many of the men's profiles I read seem to be feeling sorry for themselves and selling themselves short. Most often I read, “Nice Guy Who Finishes Last,” or “Giving this a shot after some bad luck.” Already, I feel like I've gotten into some excess baggage before I've even corresponded with this person. I think highlighting the best someone has to offer or maybe even a thoughtful description of one's self would be better. Maybe even a favorite quote. However, there is such a thing as over-boastfulness. “Prince Charming has an address” sounds arrogant, cliche, and frankly, a false advertisement.

5. Emails that talk of “fate” and “destiny.”

In the Bible, Jesus warned of false prophets: “Many will claim to be Me.” While surely the apostles did not intend for their passages to connect to online dating hookups, strangely enough, the same quote applies. Some men have claimed in messages to me that it was “fate” and that they had been looking for someone matching my description their “whole life.” With more than one man making this claim, how am I supposed to know who's serious and who's just another faker like David Koresh (read: not Jesus)? While flattering, it's a bit overwhelming (especially in an introductory email).

6. Predefined rejections.

To me, it makes dating seem like a business or company. We've all received predefined rejection responses from jobs. They're cold and empty. So, is it better to ignore people you aren't interested in or send them a predefined response you put no thought or heart into? Even if I'm not initially interested in someone who emails me, I always feel like I want to email him back because he actually took the time to respond to my profile. In my world, this is being friendly. In the online dating world, this is leading someone on.

7. Stalking.

While you risk being stalked in “real life” dating, with Online Dating your information is out there for hundreds to possibly thousands of people to see. I had someone write to me that they googled my screenname to find my personal blog. When I tried it myself to see how he did it, I was unable to find it, which frightened me. Online Dating gives yourself a bigger venue to work with when it comes to opening yourself up to potential nutbars.

8. Online Dating is a business.

Even though it's nice to think of dating web sites as a magical castle of serendipity and knights in shining armor, it's really just a business. I noticed that once I unsubscribed, the web site started to send me more attractive matches to try to lure me back. Plus, even after I deactivated, I still received emails about people interested in me, with one saying “He chose YOU!”

The way I see it, dating will just continue to get more complicated, whether it's performed online or in “real life.” History has dictated this progression. In Jane Austen's time, women and men's relationships were set up for them (and even that was complicated). Once freewill was applied to dating, all bets were off. Even though modern courting will continue to get more convoluted, we can take vintage dating techniques and apply them into our current love lives. Personally, I'd much rather go the way of stationary and letter-writing of yesteryear, similar to the love letters F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald shared with one another. I wish they had a web site that set up dating through snail mail. After all, fifty years from now, who is going to want to read the book, The Collected Emails between Megan and her BF?

Megan McLachlan currently resides in the Pittsburgh area where she freelance writes, drinks coffee, and obsesses over popular culture. She was an English major, but doesn't think she wasted her life. Yet. Her blog is megoblog.com.

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  • Megan

    Glad my information helped!

  • Rose

    Wow. I enjoyed reading these dating ideas.. Yes sometimes it is best to go back to basic. Vintage gestures are really sweet.. But no matter what kind of dating we practice, the important thing is there’s respect and attraction to one another.. and love in the long run.

    Nice blog!!

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    Wow…this may be the best article I’ve read about online dating vs real dating. It’s funny and informative. Good for you.

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    Good point. In fifty years we’ll have even more complicated dating system but that’s just the way things are whether we like it or not.

  • Marty

    I think that your article is definitely more interesting than the drivel found via match.com’s dating article index, but you too suffer from the same dilemma – that you are looking for the unattainable man. You claim that someone “stalked” you online, yet from a simple Google search I found your LinkedIn page, which held a link to you blog. I also found two different photos than the one posted on your mini profile on THIS WEBSITE, both in the first row. Also some other photo of what may or may not be you drinking something, with an older gentleman in the background that states it was taken from facebook. So, I find it very, very hard to believe that you did a Google search of yourself and didn’t come up with your blog, when you give little tidbits of your life in your column to begin with.
    Guys may seem downers and desperate for somebody because, quite frankly, THEY ARE. They’ve resorted to online dating, the equivalent to posting an ad in the singles’ section of your Friday newspaper in the 1980’s and 90’s. Does a woman want to hear the about the baggage? Probably not. But it does exist, and even the greatest catch has that baggage. Some men are just honest enough to put a lot out there about their character and feelings resulting from their LIFE. And, isn’t that what women want? A guy who can communicate? Apparently not. “Honesty with a twist,” to quote a friend of mine, is what the desire is. Honesty is claimed to be desired, but real honesty essentially means a man digs his own grave. Going on dating websites leaves a person worse off than when they started, for at least there was some sense of hope at the beginning. The dating website experience extinguishes that hope and leaves you with a positive sounding profile, no messages, and hurt in your heart. I’m Marty1203 on okcupid.com by the way, just so you know I have nothing to hide and I’m a real person. The great majority of women on these sites are flakes. They are extremely picky for people resorting to looking for dates on the internet. I also reply to everyone who messages me just like you, only I never have a fear of stalkers. I can write up the nicest response, but, since I have been on these sites for so long, I know that the women will flake out and never respond. So, I can be extremely nice to a full-figured woman and not even have to worry about her responding because she is a female, and will stop responding on her own! I’m seriously tired of women claiming they were too busy to respond, when they finally message you weeks later or say they are very busy when it is time to exchange phone numbers in order to meet up. I’m sorry, I’m just twiddling my thumbs here alone in my apartment letting the world pass me by while you work or go to grad school. I have a full-time job with a wealth of other commitments. Yet I still find time to not wait 15 hours to reply to a text. I do not wait a month and a half to respond to a message. I return phone calls. I am an individual with common decency, however diminishing it may be with each crushing blow.
    Also, this is 2010. there is an option to only view profiles with photos. This isn’t even a problem at this stage. If you even read a profile without a photo, it’s your own fault. I remember thinking that same thought 10 years ago in the winter of 2000 when [email protected] came out. but there has been so much dating profile “evolution and progress” since then that that component doesn’t even resonate as a valid issue these days. and if you’ve never winked at someone in your life, that is a rarity. Winks were all you could send people pretty much back in the day when you had to pay for memberships. People would hide their AIM screennames or yahoo addresses in their profiles, then wink at someone. It didn’t cost anything to send a wink, and then you had an opportunity to communicate without paying a monthly fee while in college with zero money/no credit card. So, now winks are the scourge of society? You want to know what the true new bad guy of online dating messaging is now? Typing “Hello,” or “Hi” in the subject line of an initial message. I read the following line last night in a profile: “I will not respond to people who put ‘Hi’ as the subject heading of their message to me.” It absolutely boggled my mind to read something as stupid as that. This is the first time I’ve ever communicated with you, and HI isn’t a good enough greeting in an initial subject line heading of a message? Come on!
    Also, the interests features play right into the hand of the “fate” card. One woman said one of her favorite books was Moby Dick. That was one of my favorite books too! I didn’t proceed to say that fate meant for me to message her because of our love of a Herman Melville novel, but it gets your mind jumping ahead because of all the ridiculous quirky love beginnings of love stories you’ve heard throughout life. When someone shares an interest of yours, and it’s different from the “I love to bake, eat Somalian food, do the NY Times Crossword puzzle, people watch, travel, be the best friend on earth, spend time with my family and just curl up in my pajamas and pop in a DVD on a Friday night just as easily as I can get all dolled up for a night on the town,” one thinks a connection may possibly be there. But, like you said, this is reality, and in the online dating world, honesty breeds loneliness.
    However cynical this may seem, this post is truly a byproduct on the online dating experience(coupled with dating in general). I too would’ve liked to bring back the old-world charm of letter-writing with someone who means so much to me. But that dream has long since faded.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Marty, What an honest account! Your words speak from experience, and I’m sorry that you’ve been given the runaround. All the best with everything.

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  • Kevin

    The problem with online dating is that it is sypmtomatic of our alienated culture that lacks a sense of community and is connected. Years past people knew their neighbors. A great example would be the Frank Capra classic “It’s a Wonderful Life. George bailey’s mother was friends with Mary’s mother and knew Mary had feelings for George even if he didn’t know it. George and Mary get married and raise a family. Believe it or not this is how people fell in love and got married and stayed married. Technology has destroyed the normal and infinitely prefferable courtship process of the past. TV bombards people with constant sexual imagery as does the internet. The Zeitgeist has become neurotic. Internet dating starts out with the most neurotic of people and makes them even worse. It’s all about instant short term gratification and the neuro-peptide rush they get from the next guy or girl they are going to meet. Eventually they become addicted to these chemical stimulants produced by the hypothalimus and truly are unable to form any emotional attachments of any permanence. New neural networks form in the brain and this is who they become. I’ve known this woman for over a year, through normal circumstances. There is and was an attraction between us. When I recently asked her out she said yes. When I called her she informed me that she was going to decline dating me because she was pressured by a girlfriend to create a profile on match.com, and sure enough she did. She is out there on the internet meat market advertising herself. I’m no slouch, I’m 6’1” weigh 190 lbs with only about 9% bodyfat and I live in the gym. I make descent money and I’m a single dad who has raised my 12 year old boy all by himself for 6 years. I don’t drink or womanize and yet she’d rather advertise herself on the internet that give a guy a chance she already knew was a good man and in good shape. She’ll either realize internet dating is hopeless after she meets a few pot bellied weirdos or some players or she’ll go down the internet dating rabbit hole and become a promiscuous serial dater or a proffessional dater. Either way I won’t give her another chance.

  • Kevin

    Then there is also the issue that online dating is exactly the opposite of its claimed purpose. The people in online dating are for the most part emotionally damaged. It is a safe way of being in control. There is just you and your computer looking through the catalog. You email back and forth maybe meet in a public place and then if it’s a woman who is even reasonably attractive you move on to the next letter in your inbox. Sure, big companies like match.com claim statistics like their site has led to more marriages and mor LTRS than any other site. But what percentage is that of all the emails and contacts? A 1/2 of 1 percent? A tenth of one percent? What statistically honest data can we go by other than there own claims? They will say anything to get you paying. The fact is the majority of people on these sites are not at all serious about taking the time to form a relationship and bond with someone despite whatever wonderful sounding claims they make.

  • meow

    I have been into online dating for some time. It was weird,
    but I really felt I was loving for real. xD Well, I don’t know but I think i’ll
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    . You might be interested to check
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