Let me tell you the worst kept secret in the world of dating. The elephant in the room, that’s hiding underneath a tiny flower-printed, dirty napkin: Almost everyone you know is online dating or at least tried it. It’s no longer faux pas; 87% of dating is now done online. I think 10 years ago this would be the equivalent of coming out of the closet. Oh my god! You’re on Lavalife??!  Notice how I didn’t use OMG there. I don’t think it was around back then was it? Anyway, with so many sites and apps available now, it’s impossible not to be connected. Match, Tinder, POF, Eharmony, Jewish Singles, Icelandic Dating, Interracial Dating, Prison Dating, Gluten Free Singles, and the list goes on and on. I wrote last spring that I deleted a bunch of women off my phone because I didn’t remember who they were. What I didn’t tell you was why I didn’t remember them. The reason was simple. It was online dating and the disconnect it creates. You see, last spring, I joined a dating site, and was astounded by the amount of choice, options, and potential there was in networking and meeting women this way. I was bombarded with messages, pictures, and introductions. It became comical. Before I knew it, I had gone on 30 dates in 30 days. I couldn’t believe it. It felt so very scientific, and as if I had been part of a social experiment. Most of these dates were on weekends. I’d have 3 dates on a Saturday sometimes. It was awful. I had one woman ask why I was in a rush to leave. Being the honest man I am, I told her, I had another date. She laughed thinking I was kidding. Awww, she thought I was joking, how cute.  I have two more today I responded. I didn’t hear from her ever again. But hey, here’s what else I learned about online dating, and about myself during that time.

First, online dating is a ladder. And everyone is trying to move up this imaginary ladder that leads to no where. It doesn’t lead anywhere! You think you’re at the top, and you’ve found a catch. But just as fast as you got there, it just slides back down again. Let me explain this metaphor. You connect with someone online, and you start chatting. You text, you talk, sometimes you sext, you instagram stalk. It is superficial laden, and no different than picking someone up from a bar or club. Except, the profiles give you information so you can pick someone up that’s more suitable for you in terms of a connection. It gives you a cheat sheet. It gives everyone cheat sheet.  All seems great, except while you’re talking, and getting to know one person, another connection pops up. Whether you’re the one that pursued another connection or not is irrelevant; it’s bound to happen with so many choices and sites. Now you find yourself with two connections. Ok, we’ve all done that. No problem, get to know them, figure out which one works better for you and decide. But then, just as quick as there are two. There are three, and four, and more. Sooner or later, that first one, is long gone. Then the second disappeared, and third, and so on. But while those connections are lost, more are gained. Everyone is hyper dating. It’s already on a surface level, but now your spreading the paint thin. You think you have something good going on, but you don’t know anything about any of them, and there’s always another profile to click, another wink to send, another swipe right, another favorite to add. While this is happening, the other person is doing the exact same thing. The dating scene is in serious trouble. These websites are in business for a reason, so don’t let the ads fool you. They don’t give a shit if you find love, and in fact, they don’t want you to. The longer it takes you, the more money they get in monthly fees that you stay connected.

Another aspect of online dating I learned was that both men and women have it equally as tough. This was a eye-opener because I thought it was just men who have it pretty rough online. I mean, it’s a woman’s market after all, they’re the commodity. Kind of like how women get in free at the club. Then I realized, it’s difficult for both men and women for different reasons. Guys tend to lie about intentions, women tend to embellish or fabricate looks in some way. You can see how filtering becomes more difficult just with this tendency alone. There’s already that small level of misrepresentation right off the hop. Here’s what else. If you’re a guy, unless you’re David Beckham, Ryan Gosling, or Benedict Thunderpatch or whatever his name his (I’m lying, I know his name. He’s a fine actor and a stud, that Benedict Cumberbatch), it’s extremely difficult to get a woman’s attention online. Remember, they’re the commodity, so they literally have hundreds of emails, alerts, messages, and dick pics coming their way. No pun intended. Imagine getting all those notifications. Every. Single. Day. By the end of the week, 200-300+ emails. How do regular cool guys like myself get noticed? I have some tips, feel free NOT to use them. First, you better have some fun pictures. You know, pictures where you’re wearing plaid, showing you can grow a beard, holding an axe as if you know what to do with it, pretending to have fun while camping. And some pics of you being cool at a new club, that in reality, sucked balls and was dead that night. Or pictures from a concert you really wanted to go to, and had every intention to buy tickets for, but couldn’t afford. So you just hijacked photos from Google images and superimposed your head in the crowd because in your heart, you knew you were there. That night was epic, and went by so quick you can hardly remember it. Like it never even happened. Always make sure your body type selected is ‘athletic’. There’s no other option for you here. Don’t click ‘average’ here guys. Oh, and round up your salary by $20,000 and justify it by saying to yourself you’re going to make that in 10 more years at your place of employment anyway. You definitely need a kick ass profile, that’s equally funny, zen, and adventurous. You know, talking about how your trip to Iceland is going to be so much random fun, a life experience, beautiful, and so exciting because you’re going alone (even though it’s a guided tour and the crime rate in Iceland is zero). And finally, a great opening message that at least shows you skimmed their profile. I like talking about hot yoga. Insert any yoga mantra from Wikipedia. If you do all these, you might have a snowballs chance in hell, which is where I’m going after some women decide to read this. But otherwise, you pretty much have no shot; you’re pretty much junk male. Pun very much intended. What’s fascinating is that women have an equally grueling experience. How so you say? Women get all these guys wanting to chat with them, begging for attention, drooling over them, how is this a problem? Well, they have to literally go through hundreds of messages and try and find a guy that’s genuine about intentions, and one that meshes well with them. You see, guys will just message attractive women regardless of what’s in their profile, because most of the time, they don’t read their profile. And if they do, they simply choose to ignore vital information. Muslim men only? Hmmm….I’m Hindu, close enough. Caucasian men only? Hmmm…I’m Indian, but white on the inside! Let’s give it a shot. Please be within a radius of 35 miles? Hmmm, if I convert that to metric, is that around 100km? Meh, close enough. Let’s try. Women almost need a secretary to go through all the messages. The whole thing becomes a second job for both men and women.

Here’s what else I found. It’s a fucking tornado of timing. That’s putting a shit storm lightly. Everyone signs up, and you literally have no clue what their intentions are. It’s like these reality shows where they throw a mess of people onto an island, and into a mansion, and say ‘and for your next challenge, run blindfolded with scissors!’  I had no idea what to expect when I joined. I suspect, many others sign up in the same frame of mind. You end up with a pool of people with extremely diverse situations, intentions, histories and backgrounds. I remember going on a date with a woman who had just recently joined. After a mere month of meeting her (there was nothing beyond the first date), she updated her Facebook status as engaged. Engaged?! What??! The same guy you complained about on the first date? I mean, I’m happy for them, but it’s just one example of the situations people are jumping online with. Such is life. Remember, just because they’ve joined, doesn’t mean they’re ready. And just because there’s a monthly fee, doesn’t guarantee people aren’t looking to screw around. I was astounded by the number of women who simply wanted to get laid. I actually couldn’t believe it. I thought this was exclusively a male characteristic of online dating. So now you know, $12.99/month doesn’t put everyone on the same page. Whatever page that is.

I quit the site before the summer, and re-evaluated what I really wanted, and how I would approach online dating again. After 30 dates in 30 days last March, with only 2 as a second date and none beyond that, I had to do some soul searching before I rejoined. I found the problem isn’t online, it isn’t the people online. It’s not situations, or distance or even the ladder itself. The problem can ultimately be solved, by yourself. That’s right. The classic check yourself before you wreck yourself mentality. And let me tell you, it’s working. I’ve been on outstanding dates lately, with attractive, hilarious, and intelligent women. I attribute this better level of dating to stringent filtering, and really trying to connect with that person. I try not to get distracted by the machine of dating. A warning though, to those who attempt this type of online dating; it’s tricky. Since everyone else is hyper dating, you will be the odd man out trying this approach. You’ll probably get pegged for coming on too strong or being too available, when in reality it’s because you’re not trying to spread yourself thin by talking to 4-5 people at the same time. It’s like you’re in the eye of the hurricane. Everyone else seems to be enjoying what they think is a ride, until eventually, they’ll hit the ground running. It does get frustrating as well. Here’s an example. You’re talking to someone you really feel a good connection with. Awesome. You try and give them attention, and learn more. I mean really learn more with in-depth conversation, how they tick, knowing what they like, don’t like, jokes and laughter, etc. You step away from the ladder, so to speak. But who knows, maybe they’re a new user, and haven’t exactly figured it all out yet. Maybe they’re fresh off a break up. So they continue climbing the ladder, while you watch from a far. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of this too. Of course I’ve done it. I’ve played that game before. There’s no point in lying about it. But nothing sucks the soul of my existence more, than really digging someone you meet online, and then seeing them online. They’re browsing, looking, or even adding more recent pictures to spice up their profile, trying to move up the ladder. Looking for something else while you thought you were exploring what seemed to be a good connection. Now I know what you’re thinking. But it’s not what you think. Frankly, I don’t give a shit if you want to climb. Hell, I’ll even hold the ladder for you. Even though I may just give it a little nudge (spin-kick) while you’re up there. But I’m not coming with you. No thanks. Not this time. Not anymore, I’ll wait right here.