Musings on Internet dating.

Having tried Internet dating for some time and getting absolutely nowhere it was interesting to read about some research done in the USA into how this technology is being used and seen by those using it. The results definitely resonated with my experience and those I’ve talked to who have also tried it.

From my own experience and that of those of the opposite sex I’ve talked to (except for a couple of notable exceptions) it seems that the great majority of both men and women who frequent the sites treat it more or less like an on-line shopping experience, with all the consumer ideas of the perfect product which this entails.

There does seem, however, to be a marked difference between what the two genders seem to be looking for in this retail experience.

As for the women, there seem to be two types on the sites, those looking in the most part for a perfect, boxed, shrink-wrapped “bFriend 2” with money-back guarantee and those with children who seem to be looking for an emotional crutch and child minder. Those who are the most picky seem to be the ones who have been through a divorce. This is understandable in a way as they don’t want to submit themselves to the same hurt and pain as they’ve experienced in the past.

The majority of the men are looking for something very different. They seem to see dating sites as seedy singles bars with needy women ready to do anything for “love” and this, from the shocking stories I’ve heard, mostly seem to involve kinky sex.

So, what about these sites which purport to offer a “scientific” matching system. Well, as the report mentioned above put it, they’re not exactly scientific. I’ve filled out the whole slew of personality profile questionnaires and very often the “matches” it gives (from the very small selection available) are very often laughable.

In my experience, the sites which have put the most emphasis upon complex matching have been the least able to supply any meaningful connections. Indeed, in my experience, the site which makes the most of its matching ability and advertises so on the TV never once gave me any matches who would respond to a simple “Hello”, let alone actually meet someone.

In addition, the advertising intimates that there are thousands of members of the opposite sex just waiting to get in touch with you when you join. Well, there are thousands of members, possibly thousands which match your criteria globally. However, if you trim it down to those who are actually within a realistic distance to make the logistics work and then filter out the vast majority of the members who are inactive (or merely spam-bots) you get down to a very, very small number, in the low hundreds, more likely in the tens. New member seem to appear in quite small numbers too, probably no more than five a week, on a good week, and most of those become disillusioned so quickly that they can be thought of as inactive members.

What’s even more problematic is that all these sites charge an exorbitant amount of money per month for this “service”. I have no gripe with paying for a service but some of these sites charge nearly £20. There is no way that a simple web interface to a database and some simple data extraction logic should cost this much to run. It’s close to being a scam.

So, in these days of isolated, static social circles what is the possible alternative for those who wish to find a partner? Actually, I’m not sure these is one. Internet dating seems to be the only game in town, even if it it is close to useless.