Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A post about online dating

This is a post about online dating. It is a post to help those who are considering online dating; and it is a post for those who have been online for ages and are tired of it. For the former group, I'll describe the online dating landscape and evaluate several different dating apps. For the latter group, I will make some lamentable observations about online dating. Because if you've been online for awhile, then I know you are also lamenting, at least on the inside, which means SOLIDARITY. Sometimes solidarity is more consoling than a carton of Ben and Jerry's.

But first, a caveat: I have not online dated in awhile; however, I do occasionally reactivate dating apps to reassess the online dating landscape. And also to psychoanalyze profiles. Does anybody else do this? These profiles are better than reality TV, Jack. The Real Housewives ain't got nothin' on online dating profiles.

Also-also: this is not a post about the "success" I've had with online dating. (And there has been some success). It's also not a post about the remnant of all of the really wonderful, godly men who are online. I have written about them, though; and I think it's probably important for you to know they exist, if you're a Christian considering online dating. (For a post about some online dating success, go HERE.)

So. Here are some of my observations about online dating.

I've used dating apps in both Portland and Los Angeles and have discovered the dating pools are really different. In Portland, the men are rugged and outdoorsy and tend to work as scientists or employees of Nike. They like craft beer (obviously) and are generally pretty hairy.

In Los Angeles the men tend to be metrosexual entrepreneurs, models, actors, and musicians with their shirts off. These men like to spend time on their yachts and drive around in their convertibles, and they post a staggering number of pillow selfies.

According to their profiles, the men of both Portland and Los Angeles are all positive with a sense of adventure, an aversion to drama, and an affinity for wine, yoga, and live music. A significant number of them are always smiling and want someone who is always happy, which, in my estimation, rules out ALL OF THE HUMAN RACE. Many of them are sick and tired of us posting photos of our yoga poses on the beach.

A side note: in general, a good profile picture is a clear close-up of your face.

Things that do not make a good profile picture:
  • Driver's license photos
  • Photos that have been blown so much that your head looks like a constellation of pixels
  • Group photos in which you are in the back row wearing sunglasses
  • Photos featuring your grandma, from which you have been cropped
(And also, it's really nice if you're smiling in your profile picture).
I didn't formally crunch any numbers, but I'm going to guess that for every 250 men online, one of those goes out of his way to profess Christianity. The number of Christians does seem to vary from app to app, though, so I'll talk about that more below when I review dating apps.

I, like most people I know, run across the profiles of friends and exes fairly regularly online. If they are a friend, I shoot them a message to say hello, and haha it's good to see you, and good luck on here.

If they are an acquaintance or an ex, I check out their profile in stealth mode, which ensures they cannot see I have visited their profile. Curiously, many of these men (friends, exes, acquaintances) are Christians, and many of them do not specify they are Christians on their profiles. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it's likely a case of not being super great self-marketers.

A few other bummers:

1. If you dislike texting and emailing, then online dating will be a draaaag.

2. If you are a really busy or tired introvert, then online dating will be a draaaag.

3. If you dislike first dates with people you have never met, then online dating will be a draaag. 

4. Watch out for fake profiles

5. Be careful about the information you provide. All it takes is a first name and the name of your workplace or a school you attended for someone to find you on the web.

5b. All it takes is a first name and the name of a school or workplace to find all sorts of information about someone you're considering meeting. Youtube videos. Family history. Church involvement.

A recommendation: find videos of the potential date before committing to a date. I have discovered that initial attraction is like 95% body language (WHO KNEW!) and a video of a potential date may end up saving you the hassle of going on a date and discovering there is no attraction.

I realize 5b is not a bummer. In fact, I love 5b. There is very little I like about online dating, but I LOVE gathering Intel on potential dates. I chalk this up to a deep value for...research.

And now, for a few encouraging tidbits to balance out the bummers:

Tidbit #1: I once went out with this guy I met at a party. He was selfless, hardworking, and kind, and I knew he would be fiercely loyal to whomever he married. We didn't end up having romantic chemistry, however, so we didn't date. I later saw his profile online, and he eventually met a great gal whom (I think) he found online.

See, you could meet someone just like him online, as long as you're okay with sifting through hundreds of photos of half naked men flexing on their yachts while holding a baby they borrowed.

Tidbit #2: I have had a number of men reach out to me online expressing spiritual hunger. They have been particularly interested to learn about Jesus and the new life that he offers. For this reason, I love online dating.

Tidbit #3: A couple of years back I had a friend who was going on a first date with a guy she met online. She was dreading it, as most of us tend to, so a group of us decided to join her on her date, unbeknownst to her date. We sat several tables away and took seflies with them in the background, and when she went to the bathroom, we went to the bathroom; and it worked so well we decided to make a habit of showing up at each others' first dates.

It was a great system.

Tidbit #4: Age does seem to be just a number among the singles of Portland and Los Angeles. If you are a female in your 30s, the younger guys will want to date you just as much as the older guys. So if you're open to dating younger guys, your pool is probably not as small as you think. (FACT: at one point, almost all of my Orange County girlfriends in their 30s were dating guys 6-9 years younger).
 
Okay, onto the dating app reviews. But first, a note:

Some women are afraid to try online dating because so many women get inappropriate messages and photos from men. I'm not sure why, but I have never gotten either; so it's very possible to have a mostly clean online dating experience.

TINDER:
Swipe right for people you're interested in; swipe left for people you're not. If you both swipe right, then you'll be connected, and either one of you can begin a conversation. Tinder doesn't require biographical information, so a lot of people's profiles are biography-less, which makes it even easier to swipe left. There are people on this app who are genuinely looking to meet their spouse, but they are feeeeew and far between. Generally, this app is full of people looking for hook-ups.

BUMBLE:
Bumble works like Tinder, except only women are able to open a private chat room once a connection has been made. If you are a woman pooped out on online dating, then I'm guessing you won't love this feature.

If the woman doesn't open a chat room within 24-hours of the initial connection, then the connection will disappear, unless someone uses their daily option to extend the connection by 24 hours.

Like Tinder, participants do not have to fill out a profile, and I'd guess about 1/8 of the guys fill in the profile section. When they do fill out a profile, the men of Bumble seem to be more opinionated than the men in other dating pools, and say things like, "Please do not say 'Hi' or 'Hey' when you reach out; if you can't think of anything more creative then I'm not interested."

I find apps like Bumble to be pretty overwhelming. There's so much dizzying swiping, that you can end up with matches you don't remember investigating, and the work to sift through them just doesn't feel worth it. My tactic, when using Bumble, was to only consider the profiles of men who used their 24-hour extension. That limited the pool considerably and was less overwhelming to me.

COFFEE MEETS BAGEL:
This app works a little differently than Tinder and Bumble. Every day at noon participants are sent a profile that they can either accept or reject. When two people accept each other's profiles, then they are connected and can begin communicating. Private chat rooms expire after seven days.

Profiles on Coffee Meets Bagel are more detailed, so it's a little easier to assess initial interest, and I've found there are more professing Christians on Coffee Meets Bagel than on Bumble and Tinder. I also know more people who have found potential dates on CMB than anywhere else, though admittedly, the dating pool on CMB has shifted in the last year or so. I'm just theorizing here, but I think the best time to try an app is when it's brand spankin' new. After awhile, all the Tinder people catch wind of the app and migrate over. I think this is what has happened to Coffee Meets Bagel.

A note: it turns out, if you delete the app from your phone, your profile is still active. You must deactivate or delete your profile in order for it to be removed from the profile pool. Same with Bumble.

MATCH:
With Match, you pay for the service, get access to a pool of people across the United States (or in your area, if you want to narrow the pool), and you can send messages to whomever you want, whenever you want. Of course this means all the men on Match can reach out to you, whether you want them to or not, which may mean you find yourself sifting through a bunch of unwanted emails.

The profiles on Match are more thorough (you have to write SOMETHING), so it can be easier to assess initial interest. 

OKCUPID:
This service works like Match but is free. There are several Christian guys on this site in my area — that's a literal several — though it mostly feels Tinder-ish. Like Match, the profiles are more detailed, which helps with the sifting process.

Welp, theeeeeeere you have it, folks. 

May your dating efforts be fruitful, or, at the very least, entertaining.

Let me know how it goes.

Happy Wednesday.

I'm cheering for ya, Home Skillets!

 -Sarah



P.S. Thanks to those of you who have been praying for me this week. I've not gotten any bugs and have been able to get a lot of work done, though I'm not in the clear yet. Tomorrow and Friday I need to be ultra productive as I work toward a fast-approaching deadline. Please continue to pray!


© by scj

11 comments:

  1. Eharmony: It has been a few years but might still be relevant. They pride themselves on their details character profiles and amazing matching systems, which one would hope reaps what they sow. The particularly useful thing is the ability to weigh different characteristics of importance. These characteristics range from education and income level down to denominational affiliation. I was on it for a year (they also have auto-renew membership that needs to be deactivated). Of the hundreds of matches very few actually fell within the criteria, there were frequent frustrations particularly of distance that one might wonder, why would they match someone in Sacramento with someone in Alberta, Michigan, or Los Angeles. Like other systems, when one views a profile they can show interest. There are multiple steps one must go through before a chat option is finally available. The best of those steps is a test for initial deal breakers which can get real serious early on. This was fitting as the vibe of Eharmony was not for casual dates.

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    1. Uriah, thank you for this helpful overview! I did a trial on Eharmony for two days or so, but I wasn't on long enough to figure out the ins and outs of the system. Did you find that the pool of profiles was more hopeful than other free sites? I ultimately didn't subscribe because its pool didn't seem any better than others, and it didn't seem worth the hefty subscription fee. And like you, I wasn't a fan of being matched with people thousands of miles away.

      Auto-renew MUST GO! Match has the same dealio, and it's a pain.

      Also, I feel I should add that a friend (my age) recently married a gal he met on eHarmony, so its pool definitely has some winners. ;)

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    2. I haven't used other sites for the comparison of profiles. The majority go through the legwork to fill out the profile in decent detail, which I think is most indicative of faith practice. Eharmony seemed great for casual to nominal people of faith. My major takeaway from this experience was realizing the probability of finding a person of similar active faith who shared my distinctive but non-essential doctrines was too minimal to continue with the subscription.

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    3. That makes sense. EHarmony's subscription can seem like a lot of money if there's no return. It is nice, however, to have a pool of people who all took time to thoroughly fill out a profile! You won't find that many other places.

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    4. P.S. A friend messaged me yesterday and said she met her husband via eHarmony, so there's more good news!

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  2. eHARM is AWFUL. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY.

    They make promises they can't fulfill, they have free weekends to tease you into giving them your credit card number, and you might end up in contact with someone you didn't know was a former convict who was in prison for TOUCHING LITTLE GIRLS...

    The don't screen their members. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.


    A good friend of mine found true love on ForFarmersOnly.

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    1. Oh boy. This sounds like a nightmare, Snapdragon. I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience. Do you know of services that screen their members? That is a fantastic idea...

      ForFarmersOnly?! Is this real?! It sounds delightful. I'm off to google it.

      -SJ

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  3. Well, back in the day (before apps), some dating sites would screen their prospective members for criminal records, etc. eHARM claimed that their lengthy questionnaire was designed to send up red flags when a candidate for membership wasn't being entirely truthful, so they didn't need to do background checks. They also claimed that about 20% of the people who filled out the questionnaire were denied membership. Whatever.

    I was matched with a guy who had been engaged to 3 different girls and broke it off each time (red flag!), a guy who was just looking for someone who had a steady job and good health insurance (red flag!), the former youth leader from my church who had just gotten divorced and never had my respect anyway (red flag!), and the aforementioned pedophile (red FLAG!!!).

    Maybe I am just too picky.
    Ahem.

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    1. Snapdragon,

      Oh my. You have certainly had some doozy online dating experiences. It sounds like your red flag detector is on point — now you just need a pool with a white flag or two. For this reason, I'm going to advise you to avoid Tinder. ;) ForFarmersOnly is sounding more and more promising...

      -SJ

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  4. Your instagram lead me to your blog which I have been reading through (accompanied by a cup of tea) this evening.
    I thought it might be worth sharing that I met my husband on Match. I rationalized the cost by assuming a dinner or two would be purchased on my behalf... not the best reason, but hey...
    Matt's profile was not overly "Christian", he just mentioned something about A Case for Faith being one of his favorite books. It's what sparked our conversation and things progressed from there.
    Online dating was not my favorite, but in the end, Matt and I both agreed that we would have never met had it not been for this platform.
    Loved your insight on what's out there now and best of luck in the online dating adventure (if you still are)

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    1. Carina,

      Thank you for sharing this! Success stories are like buoys in the choppy waters of online dating. ;) I have another friend who met her husband on Match, and a number of my stellar male friends are on Match, so though the pool isn't teeming with Christian fish, there are SOME!

      Thank you for your well wishes. I think the key to navigating the dating journey well is to work toward contentment with singleness and all the opportunities it affords. Corrie Ten Boom put it nicely: "I have learned to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them out of my hands."

      I'm glad to hear of your happiness with Matt, Carina, and I hope you two have had a lovely transition into the New Year.

      -Sarah

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