The online dating expectations mismatch

Online dating optimizes for women considering: 1. men’s looks and 2. their ability to engage in mildly witty banter via text. Not too surprisingly, it’s not obvious that either is a great predictor of long-term relationship formation or success, or of true compatibility. Lots of great guys may not be immediately, obviously, photogenically good looking, and many probably don’t do the witty banter women seem to like over text. For particularly good looking guys, online swipe dating is an extreme force multiplier for success. I think I’m just below the looks threshold for online swipe dating to really work… I’ve also not done much online dating since like 2014 or 2015, apart from some stints on Feeld, but Feeld is different. It seems that many women aren’t cognizant of the way online swipe pushes women to judge guys based on metrics that may select against what they’re supposedly seeking. Expecting women to be analytical and self-reflective about their dating actions is futile, though.

The other day I was hanging out with a guy, “Tom,” who’s new to town and, sadly, recently divorced, and he mentioned trying to go to some live, in-person dating events, where he met some really weird chicks. A lot of people (women and men) still want to meet “organically” but lack the skills to facilitate those connections: game and pickup are useful because they can facilitate these nominally “organic” meetings. Tom was trying to meet women more organically, though his opening efforts didn’t work.

To my knowledge, zero romance novels have the “meet cute” be “I was swiping through online dating and…” By now maybe a few romance novels do, but most of them start with real-world meeting, dashing, danger, uncertainty. Look, smell, vibe.  The chick Tom has been sleeping with the last two weeks, Stacy, he met because her friends threw him a White Claw from their balcony. He went up, or they came down (can’t recall which), partied together, Tom and Stacy spent 36 hours together. I told this story to xbtusd, who said that if this happened to him, he’d fall in love immediately. Has anyone, anywhere, ever fallen in love immediately through a swipe-dating match?

Let’s give credit to chicks for taking action by throwing the White Claw to Tom. Or a chick getting a male friend to throw the White Claw, I don’t know the precise details on the mechanics, but I do understand that the initial pass led to lots of f**king, and whatever can facilitate f**king in our spergy society is to be commended. Tom was hungover but he wanted to make new friends and meet new people after his divorce, so he appropriately rallied.[1]

The growing divergence between how chicks want to meet dudes, and how they do is important, because the delta between what they want and what they get = latent rage. That’s what one sees, sometimes, on TikTok, or in social media meltdowns where women complain about the dating market. In my view, the wiser thing is to learn how online dating markets work and then adjust appropriately: the women who do so find a guy and exit the social media universe of anger. The women who think they “deserve” things often don’t get them; the women who think they “earn” things often do.

Just like… guys.

Hypergamy is often damped down in everyday life because women don’t get exposure to dozens, hundreds, or thousands of men at a time. Online dating ramps up hypergamy because there are so many guys available, but women have way too little information about the guy to judge him, and the information they have is often not predictively useful regarding long-term relationships… or even short-term relationships. Five seconds with him in a real-world environment will tell her more than 10 hours of chat on the phone. Many guys have become too p***y to make the move in the real world, and even many women are edging towards autistic behavior due to excess social media. Talk to real people and you’ll find out that a lot of couples form after one person in the couple, usually the woman, initially disliking or feeling neutral towards the man. Lots of normal people warm up to each other through repeated interactions, that’s why regular parties matter, and that is Festivals, parties, etc. and the network’s power.

Tom and Stacy’s dogs like each other, too… the obsession with getting dogs instead of creating bonds with other humans leading to children seems bad to me, but I’m one guy screaming into the void at idiots. On swipe dating, there are too many choices, in many respects, but also too few dimensions: a lot of chicks also get stuck at a pretty low local maximum and lack the initiative to do stuff. When a chick does take some small amount of initiative, that’s to be praised. The “looks” and “mild banter” dimensions are online dating’s only dimensions, which has its own problems. The “looks” thing may be helped by steroids and intensive bodybuilding, which might also not be optimal in a mate, either.

Yet women who say they want to meet dudes organically often aren’t receptive to dudes who try. Paradox! There’s something going on where both men and women want that thing and don’t, some kind of unresolved tension. The West Elm Caleb thing is an example of this tension, and something is happening beneath the surface. We’re getting into murky, Freudian territory, ambivalence, tension, uncertainty: there is also the random element I’ve talked about at length. I’ve had situations where I’ve approached some girl, been blown out, some other similar-seeming guy approaches her later, next week, whatever, she goes for him. And the reverse, some girl is blowing guys out of the water, then I come along and she likes me for whatever reason. Seems to vary by mood, lots of other factors.

I want to blame the smartphone and Internet here, but it’s not like pre-smartphone dating was great, and everyone loved it. Everyone seems to have had lots of complaints about dating since the practice of dating took off in the 1920s, with the advent of the automobile. I don’t think we’re going to solve a century of mismatched preferences between men and women. But I do think chicks were more likely to give a random dude a chance, because they didn’t have dozens, or maybe hundreds, of other possibilities a swipe away. Even heavy chicks have hundreds of guys lining up for them, which promotes weak ties and disposability. Online dating makes the extremes much more extreme.

The hottest, most photogenic guys can rack up those 100s of lays much more easily than they could pre-online dating. Chicks can get easier access to the physically hottest guys. A chick who might be too scared to talk to your 8 chad player guy in real life will swipe “yes” on him. Conversely the guy the chick might realize she really loves for his calming, masculine presence will never get a shot with her because the calming, masculine presence doesn’t come through via the phone. If a lot of women are optimizing for the same two dimensions, looks and mild witty banter, that’s going to create the supply-demand mismatch that results in higher “prices.”

I don’t see a great way out of this. Maybe dating will shift into some kind of VR presence thing, where everyone dons VR headsets and interacts “live” in a virtual “bar” before going to meet in a real bar? The swipe social dating dynamics have been common for what, 8 or 9 years now? One sees graphs of swipe dating that go relentlessly up and to the right. Swipe dating seems to be this iteration of the market, for better or worse…. the equilibrium has been here for a while, it seems, and I’m merely describing it.

That women say they want to meet a guy in real life, and that they hate dating apps, and yet keep using dating apps obsessively, is underexplored. It would be like if I said I hate carrots, and love broccoli and only ate carrots every day. You’d wonder.

Could also be that the women who are effective in resisting their worst impulses (e.g. only swiping on captain hot guy, etc.), find a guy, and stop online dating, and they don’t get on TikTok or podcasts to complain about it, cause they’re in a relationship. The ones who swiping on West Elm Caleb or whomever, are routinely finding themselves ghosted, etc. It’s like addict behavior. Seemingly all the “women can’t find boyfriends” stuff comes from NYC, the most lopsided dating market in the country. Men looking to live in high-cost cities should choose NYC.

These are themes I’ve touched before. Media people are also missing perspective. Almost no one talks about the millions of men effectively shut out of online dating cause they’re too short or ugly, except for Jordan B. Peterson, and pretty much anyone who mentions these men gets accused of being a misogynist who thinks women should be Handmaid’s-Tale-style sex slaves. Complaining about stupidity in the media is like complaining about the weather, yet I do it anyway cause I’m a fool (in this dimension). Most people are complacent. Complacency leads to sub-optimal outcomes, but I can’t fix that tendency. Swipe dating is compatible with complacency and so it rules the cultural landscape, because it appeals to the laziest and most fearful, while improving yourself and understanding things isn’t compatible with complacency… and so, self-improvement and understanding is rare. Exceptional returns demand exceptional knowledge and ability, and Red Quest is all about being exceptional, not average.

[1]I think he was trying some of the OLD usual suspects… Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, etc., but in-person worked better for him.

Author: The Red Quest

How can we live and be in society?

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