-by Wes Colton, Coach & Founder, Introvert Unbound
Most heterosexual men struggle with online dating but aren’t quite sure what they’re doing wrong (women struggle, too, of course, but mostly in different ways). It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sign up for the sites and apps, but if you’re going to walk through the virtual desert without dying of thirst, you’ve got to understand what you’re up against.
To help make these obstacles clear as possible, I’m going to translate the dynamics of online dating into a theoretical in-person scenario.
Let’s say an online dating pool for a particular swipe app is symbolized by one-hundred people at a venue. As it turns out, seventy out of those one-hundred are men, thirty are women. Also, each person has their own personal spotlight shining on them and is able to stand in such a way that only one or two of their favorite angles can be seen by anyone else. And a giant number—their age (accurate or not)—floats over everyone’s heads.
Looking around, you can see that ten out of those thirty women aren’t real—they’re literal cardboard cut outs of people who once visited that room weeks, months, or even years before. Or, just as often, cut outs of made-up people using stolen photos.
Of those twenty real women, five are married, in relationships, or just bored and looking for attention or a brief mental fantasy—in other words, not available to date.
Five of the fifteen remaining women are standing behind a velvet rope in a VIP section that you need to pay $300 to enter. And five of the ten still milling around the rest of the room aren’t ones you’d ever consider dating.
Of course, all seventy men in the room are going after those five women (even the men who pay their way into the VIP section are still casually interested in the other five, too).
Now, seven of these men are the most photogenic, wealthy, high-status men within a hundred-mile radius. Another fourteen are still extremely photogenic, wealthy, and high-status. An additional seven men are slightly above average, twenty-five hover around average, and the last seventeen below average.
The strictly enforced rules of the venue are that a man can’t speak to any of the women in the room unless that woman looks right at you and smiles. And you’re only allowed to catch the eye of one woman per day.
What’s more, the event planners make sure the most photogenic, wealthy, high-status men are always standing directly in the line of sight of all the women. The men with average scores have to stand halfway across the room, and the men with below average scores are pushed into the corner.
If you’re lucky enough to get a smile from one of these women, and go over to say hi, dozens of other men will also be talking to her at the exact same time.
More than half of the time, the woman who smiled at you won’t say hi back but will completely ignore you. If she does say something to you, at best, it’ll be hours or days later. In the unlikelihood that your conversation goes more than a few superficial back and forths, even if you chat with her for hours and/or plan a date, chances are she’ll cancel on you or will literally vanish into thin air before your eyes.
This, in a nutshell, is why online dating is so hard.
But say you go next door to a second venue where the ratio of men and women is closer to 50/50. Where you have the same opportunity as all guys to walk up to any—or every!—woman in the room. Where you get to say a few words before the woman decides whether or not they want to keep talking to you. And where the vast majority of men aren’t even talking to any of the women because they’re doing all their dating in the first online venue!
This second room actually exists and is called “real life.” And if you’re a heterosexual man looking for dates and/or a long-term relationship, and online isn’t working for you, it’s where you should be investing most of your time and energy.