The Reasons Behind the Failure
Why is this the average experience people have with online dating and not the exception? The clue lies in #5 and #6 from the first part to this series, “Did We Hastily Jump to Online Dating? Part One: The 15 Steps in the Flow of an Online Dater’s Experience.” We have a tendency to shave off a few years from our age, alter our weight and height, upload the very best of the best photos we have, beef up our profile with spectacular hobbies we do not enjoy regularly, and add fluff to make ourselves seem exciting and/or well-endowed in one specific quality or that (e.g. avid sports-goer, literary genius, comically witty, super sexy). We craft an image of ourselves that we think is flawless. Why does this model of selling ourselves as a product pose a problem? The simplest explanation is that the product (aka fantasy you) that you are displaying to other online dating users is not the person you are in all your glory in real life, which cannot be captured in a doctored profile.
Who is to Blame?
Is this the user’s fault? A little. Especially with online dating, we have moved towards the superficial, which is a mistake. We are not products to sell. We are human beings with beauty and intrigue that cannot be captured in an online profile. We also shun the few people that are trying to be honest in their profiles. Would I add to my profile, “I frequently shove pieces of cold cuts in my mouth while I’m making a sandwich”? No! Yet, there are token people who are that honest. And what do we do when faced with a user who seems to be trying for frankness? We pick it apart piece-by-piece.
Being superficial about photos and stats and picky about the way a person describes oneself appear to be common traits in the world of online dating — not the best attitude to have when looking for love. Can someone jot down a list of character traits and hobbies, hold it next to their face, and you immediately know how that person behaves in action? Subtle nuances in gait, quirky mannerisms, and amazing smiles that you can watch grow within someone are but a few of the thousands of things that may attract you. Therefore, basing your decisions solely on what the current profiles offer do not help you in your cause to find love for most users.
How about the fault of online dating companies? The structure of the profiles you are filling out isn’t something you can work around and pigeonholes you into a type versus a unique person. This is precisely why traditional models of online dating hold the lion’s share of the responsibility here. These models require you to display yourself as a product and encourage you to judge someone based on a cursory profile. Yet, what are the profiles asking about the real you? Upon profile creation, you are prompted to fill in your stats and hobbies (which we tend to embellish), while others also ask you a plethora of questions that make you feel as if you are being judged on your answers (which leads to less than truthful answers). Then, you are paired with people who more or less seem like you — your online persona, not you. It doesn’t take a social psychologist to breakdown that your social media profiles, which depict a truer portrait of your life than your online dating profile, are a mere slice of who you are day-to-day. So, it stands to reason that your online dating profile will need a stroke of luck to connect you with someone with whom you share chemistry. And, if you are lucky enough to have sparks flying, guess who makes that happen? YOU! You make it happen by going on a date and unveiling the real you face-to-face. The product of you that you created has little to do with whether any of your dates will work out, because suddenly the action figure comes to life with words, personality, accents, and giggles that may or may not strike a chord with your date.
Where Do We Go From Here?
What is the solution: do we do away with online dating or do we begin to tinker around? Stay with us for the last part to this series, “Did We Hastily Jump into Online Dating? Part Three: Toss It or Fix It.” In this upcoming piece, we’ll address whether it’s better to give up on online dating and go back to the way it was when our grandparents and great grandparents met or if there might be a way to fix what’s broken. Join us next Thursday for Peeksi.com’s answer!