[ This guest post was submitted by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. It’s a response to Masc #50 on the truth about online dating – Ed. ]
I am from a smaller town in Texas (a little less than pop. 100,000). There’s a lot I’d need to tell in order to give you a good idea of what kind of person I am and what my dating and marriage prospects ought to be. But in the interest of brevity let me say that, despite my own personal lack of confidence with girls and goofiness, I did fairly well in terms of attracting women growing up and on into high school and my college days.
I was funny enough, smart enough, tall enough and physically attractive enough that I was reasonably happy with the prospects I was able to attract. I always managed to screw it up ONCE THERE WAS INTEREST (which is something the Masculinist has talked about before in terms of treating women like a male-feminist, or being absurdly chivalric in a weak way), but that is beside the point and refers to my relationships and not marketplace position.
Fast forward 7 years out of college, and I found myself in a situation I had NOT planned for – I was an entrepreneur who had started my own business in that same small town, and at age 29 I suddenly realized I was living in a place in which there was MAJOR brain drain… all of the young, intelligent, vivacious women had left for the big city. I was also working 80 hour weeks, which meant I had very little social presence. All of the girls I had known and was used to meeting through church and school in my late teens and early 20s growing up in that town were GONE, and I was no longer in the funnel to meet any of the few new ones that were coming along.
Not having any IN PERSON prospects for meeting a woman, I decided that ONLINE dating was going to be what I put significant effort into in order to meet a woman. So, since late 2018 have been on various online platforms searching for a suitable woman to marry.
For starters, I would like to give an idea purely of TIME – the amount of time I have spent on online dating and the first person experience of what it is really like to do so. For those that don’t know, the vast majority of online dating platforms are “swiping” based, which, in practice, means YOU MUST LOOK AT PROFILES ONE AT A TIME. Even with the use of certain filters, for anyone that has any experience in business or manufacturing, you know that this means a totally inordinate amount of time spent actually shuffling through things one by one by one by one by one. You simply CANNOT get any type of bandwidth going to process more than one profile at a time; the app structure prevents this. The monotony of it can be absolutely EXCRUCIATING. I would estimate that the average swipe rate I hit when I actually sit down to send out “likes” is around 5 per minute, so 12 seconds per profile, which includes the load time for the new one and my ability to accept or reject it and move on to the next.
To put some numbers on it, I have recorded my total time spent on these apps. 28 months total time elapsed, 15 months actively engaged, 13 months not using or only passively. 15 months x 30 days is 450 days on the apps. Around 30 minutes a day spent swiping means around 225 hours spent swiping total. 5 per minute, 300 per hour, 225 hours… Around 68,000 profiles viewed, one by one? Sounds about right. Probably higher honestly. (I also adjusted my location to allow me to look at profiles in the nearest bigger cities of Little Rock and Dallas-Ft. Worth, which is why I was able to look at so many profiles despite the size of my home city. I also would indicate that I lived in those areas. So when girls saw me, they saw me as someone close by, not several hours away. Only a small white lie, haha! I was working in those cities consistently so I was in both places several times per week. And halfway through this experience I ended up truly moving to a larger city.)
I will get quickly on to discussing whether or not I have had any SUCCESS for all my trouble, but I need to talk about one thing that is really important to discuss before we move on: your online dating “ranking.”
Yes, it’s like a videogame – you have a hidden, internal score (ALL APPS USE THIS SYSTEM) which assigns your personal profile a rating which in terms determines WHICH WOMEN YOU EVEN HAVE ACCESS TO.
The short and quick of it is this: All of the apps realize that people want to talk to people who are similar to their own marketplace rating in terms of attractiveness. Of course we want to talk to people who are ABOVE THAT as well, but the experience of only seeing/meeting/having profiles to like of people that you view as WELL BENEATH you is very disheartening.
So, in order to fix this, the apps are actually constantly evaluating how you are doing on the marketplace in terms of a few factors. The MOST important factor is incoming likes received. The logic here is that more attractive people get more likes. What is interesting is that they are also watching WHO YOU LIKE. If you are liking on less attractive people (and by “less attractive people”, they mean “people who haven’t received many likes themselves”) then they assume that YOU, in turn, are less attractive yourself.
The overall effect is almost identical to something like the NCAA March Madness selection committee. If you win a lot of games, that’s good. If you win a lot of games against other teams that also win a lot of games, that’s even better. What if you lose? Really bad. What if you lose to teams that also lost a lot. REALLY, REALLY BAD.
You may be asking why I am spending so much precious text space on this concept. The reason is simple – unless you are personally committed to creating a profile that will receive a reasonable number of incoming likes, and receive those likes from women who are themselves attractive enough to receive incoming likes, then that means you will never even have the opportunity to SEE the kinds of higher quality women you are searching for to begin with.
There are two final things to mention on this topic before I move on to my results.
The first is a possible objection that might be raised, along the lines of, “But I signed up for Bumble once and there were TONS of hot girls on there, and I got a few likes as well pretty quickly! What do you mean by “never having the opportunity to see higher quality women”?”
The answer is simple – the apps get you hooked early on by giving NEW profiles a high ranking and a boost to visibility for the first 2-3 days you are on. They show you the best of what it COULD be like if you were highly ranked. But, obviously, they don’t do it forever. You CAN pay for some extra features, but, ultimately, if you plan on having an account LONG TERM (and if you are using it to find a real person to date/marry, you’ll need to be on long term), then what matters is your internal ranking. I had a situation where I opened a new account during a 5-day vacation to Houston, TX. 25 likes received in 1 hour. After that first day? A dribble of a few per day. After 3 days? Crickets.
The second thing to mention is that, since you are constantly being judged and (hopefully) spending time “ranking up”, does this mean that the actual quality of the profiles you’re seeing are changing over time? The answer is a big ol’ YES, with the corollary that you must go through ALL OF THE WORST profiles first in order to then get to the higher ones.
Remember how I said that the way to get ranking is to both receive likes from women, OR to like women who are themselves attractive. Well… How are you going to receive likes from good women if your ranking is so low that the app won’t show YOU to THEM? You can’t. Your only plan forward is actually to CONTINUALLY swipe no to THOUSANDS of unattractive profiles, and then VERY RARELY they might show you a better girl, and you can swipe yes on her. This very slowly raises your average account ranking as it indicates to the app that, at a minimum, you view YOURSELF as high quality enough to reach out to attractive women and also refuse less attractive women. In practice, I would estimate that 60,000 of my near 70,000 profile views have been spent swiping no very rapidly to THOUSANDS OF WOMEN IN A ROW. I mean literal days spent (sometimes you binge swipe for 4 hours straight), where you swipe no for 2,399 in a row in order to find 1 girl to swipe yes on. If this sounds crazy to you, it is. But I did it nonetheless. Eventually, after weeks, the average profile you can view goes up and becomes somewhat worth spending the time even looking at.
On to actual results. In my time (28 months in length) I have gone on 6 dates from girls I met online.
Here is a rough breakdown of the numbers – 70,000 profile views, 800 likes sent out (remember, the first 60,000 women I had to get through were UNATTRACTIVE PROFILES as I ranked up with only a FEW reasonable women sprinkled in. So my actual “Like” rate is more like 8% (800 out of 10,000 reasonable profiles)), 75 “matches” from these 800 likes (so yes, of the women that I liked, I only received a reciprocal like back less than 10% of the time), of those 75 matches, around ½ never actually talked to me. Either one line like, “Hey, how are you?” back to me or NOTHING. So around 33-34 conversations started with women online. Of those conversations, I have gone on 6 real life, in person dates. The rest fizzled out in some way or another when the girl lost interest. I will admit I occasionally was the source of the fizzling out on my end when I didn’t like what the girl had to say.
We can go back up to the paragraphs above and take the 225 hours I have spent on swiping to get 6 dates… around 38 hours spent on the app per date. What do you think about that? I am genuinely honest to get other men’s opinions about this.
I want to end this with an interesting story that I believe brings back in the main point of the Masculinist issue about online dating: “In the real world, it’s also possible to operate in situations that put your best foot forward with women.”
A few months ago I was swiping along and noticed a great looking girl. Young, happy, and she indicated on her profile that she was a Christian. I sent out a “like” and commented on one of her prompts (I use Hinge, where you get to actually send a message to the girl as an opening line. On Tinder/Bumble, you can’t talk unless they like you back first). Of course, like so often, I heard nothing back. Part of the game.
Well, wouldn’t you know it but the very next week I was at a friend’s birthday party. This isn’t extraordinarily common for me to be out and about since I am still rebuilding my social circle from working so much earlier in my life, but it was a nice time out with some friends. Who walked through the door? Yep, Hinge girl. It was one of those friend of a friend of a friend deals where I had no knowledge of her existence, nor her of mine, but people she was close with knew me and people that I was close with knew her. You may think that I couldn’t recognize a face from 70,000 swipes in real life but I assure you I have a good memory for women that catch my eye.
So, what happened? Exactly what you think happened. She saw me there, comfortable, laughing loudly, in many ways the life of the party. All of a sudden, oops!, she’s bumping in to me “accidentally” when I am turning around to go places, giving me hugs to say goodbye, that sort of thing. Only reason it didn’t work out was because I was able to do a little research on her and I felt like it was a little more of a “cultural Christian” situation than the real thing.
The point, however, stands. Online, I am just another like. She certainly didn’t remember ME from Hinge. But in person, one of a few single guys at a party with quite a few married people (I was no question the highest quality single man there), I had the power. It is exactly the scenario that was described – in a global marketplace you need to be the top of the very, very top. In a local marketplace you just need to be the top of WHOEVER ELSE IS AROUND.