Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: The Up Front Guide to Internet Dating

22 Responses

  • Chopper,

    Two of my family members have met their wife through internet dating and given how happy they now are, it seems to be a great way to meet a life partner who is well suited. I've never tried internet dating (Not because I think it's bad, but being happily married for 15 years means that I don't need or want to date anyone else).

    Having heard some horror stories and read the ones from above, I apologise on behalf of all males everywhere. I hate saying hello to a woman and having her look at me like I am a potential rapist/stalker/..., but given her likely experience of the general male population's attitude towards her, I can completely understand her response. Unfortunately I don't see that changing any time soon.

    Since Jul 2008 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Chopper,

    it seems to be a great way to meet a life partner who is well suited

    One of the reasons I prefer to use OKCupid as opposed to, say, FindSomeone, is that it gives you so much more information about someone before you decide whether or not to engage with them. Guys have messaged me, and I look at their questions and they've said, yes, women are obliged to shave their legs, men should be the heads of their households, gay people are yucky, etc. Saves me a lot of time. (Also, OKC is the only site I've used whose algorithms cope with bisexual people.)

    It certainly seems safer than the traditional "go to a party get wasted hook up" method of meeting people. Though that has also worked for me.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I actually don't think it's appropriate to apologise on behalf of all the other males, there's no excusing it, better to call them out for the slime they are.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Lynn Yum,

    I don't want to be cynical (and then I will go on to be extremely cynical...) but dating sites NEVER state the probability of success. They have success stories and so on, but never ALL the hard facts! Data! Data! As Sherlock Holmes would say (or Picard). These sites don't earn money based on success rate, only access to other members of their sites. Incentive-wise it is all wrong. So it is no surprise a lot of stories I heard are like yours. (I never ever seriously use any of those websites.)

    I reckon good old fashion matchmakers have more incentive and success rate than dating websites. Bad matchmaker never ever goes far (think Austen's Emma...). But the good ones do. They build their reputation and personal name on matching the right people, using their sophisticated algorithm called Human Reasoning (TM). Whereas dating websites use a lot of brutal force (i.e. dubious algorithm with no verifiable proof of success) and the laws of probability to make it work.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2016 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lynn Yum,

    These sites don’t earn money based on success rate, only access to other members of their sites.

    There is a fantastic episode of the Allusionist podcast about this. Basically, dating sites don't want you to find your Forever Person, because then you leave the site.

    They want to match you well enough, so that you’ve got dates to go on; but again, the business model incentivises them not to match you perfectly, every single time. If they had a magical algorithm that really worked, that would obviate the need for a monthly subscription, or a six-month-long package, or a year-long package.

    It honestly doesn't bother me, though, and not just because I never give a dating site money. Also... just after I joined OKC, it gave me a 96% match with someone I had already been in a relationship with, and they were Not Wrong.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I went on my first internet date about 14 years ago, it was a great experience and so I continued using the medium until I met my spouse. I’ve met some good people and some not so good. I’ve been sexually assaulted a couple of times by people I met online. Another person I met called to cancel our second date and inform me they’d just downed a bunch of sleeping pills, fear of a repeat kept me on the leash until I found out that I was one of a harem. One person I met was biter, another called me up a couple of months after our brief dating period had ended to ask to borrow money. Generally speaking most people were decent individuals.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    It is not just the men you need to worry about. I met one woman who waited until it was almost too late to not have sex with her, before informing me that she had recently got herpes and was infectious... would that be a problem? I got the impression she'd lost a moral battle with herself and that meant telling me, but it was a very close thing (for her, not just for me).

    I think a lot depends on how many matches you can find on the site. which requires an awful lot of information about people. As MayMay points out via the arsehole-filter, OKCupid is actually very good because they have questions like "when is it ok to rape someone" and "when should you use intimate partner violence" etc, but words them so that arseholes are more likely to answer honestly. But when you have 100 rough matches to start with you have room to filter for things that aren't so easy to discover. Starting with 5 means you really need to date even the "maybe probably not" ones, or give up. In my case, filtering on "rides a bicycle" wasn't possible, but it's also important to me.

    I found OKCupid the least awful site, the worst ones were the pay-to-message ones, because as Emma says, men are expected to send hundreds of messages to get a single response. At typically $5-$10 a time that gets expensive fast. And, in my experience, women on those sites don't respond with "so obviously I'll pay for our first date" but with "You pay. Of course, the man always pays". I could easily be persuaded that almost none of those apparently-women were genuinely looking for a partner on the site.

    But the commercial sites work to conceal that, and most other, information, presumably so their paid "dating bait" doesn't have to work too hard. I mean, imagine having to know all 300 answers to the random questions someone has answered on OKCupid when chatting with a victim... you'd get it wrong *so* often it'd be impossible. Much better to be "Stella, 29, slim, marketing assistant" with a generic photo... much easier to work with.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1195 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    I don't quite understand, was he pretending to be Scottish or pretending to not be Scottish? Either way would pose acting difficulties and risk scorn ( try saying 'risk scorn' like Miss Jean Brody ).

    I suppose the point being made is the pathos of dishonesty in the lonely.

    Since Mar 2010 • 378 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to william blake,

    I don’t quite understand, was he pretending to be Scottish or pretending to not be Scottish?

    He was pretending to be Scottish. (Not my story, someone else's.) When called on it, he said it made him more interesting and he didn't think she would mind. The woman involved said he must have been sitting there at his keyboard furiously googling Scottish stuff while they messaged.

    OKCupid is actually very good because they have questions like “when is it ok to rape someone” and “when should you use intimate partner violence” etc, but words them so that arseholes are more likely to answer honestly

    QFT. Things like, "Would you let your identical twin pretend to be you so they could have sex with your partner?" And people will answer yes.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Rebecca Gray, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Wow, it would be fascinating/horrifying to see any analysis of how people answer those OKCupid filter questions.

    And also to know how OKC decide on the statement wording (I'm saying this from a social research geek perspective, but also from a human who has to deal with other humans perspective...)

    Wellington • Since May 2016 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rebecca Gray,

    https://blog.okcupid.com/ has some interesting stuff, but it's not been updated for a while. The "blind date" post second to last is both amusing and somewhat disturbing. That blog does not, however, touch on any of the scary questions but more on the weird stuff they get from the data.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1195 posts Report Reply

  • Lynn Yum, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Hm, interesting experience from Amy Webb. She does sound quite manipulative and dishonest though, because in order to be "popular", the "real" her probably isn't featured on her profile. But to her credit at least she eventually fronted up.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2016 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    These sites are like Grindr for straight people?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Katita,

    Met someone I was completely infatuated with on Lavalife when I lived in Canada, unfortunately his quirky Quebecois didn't translate downunder.
    Undeterred I finally met my now husband on a NZ site. Just celebrated our 9th anniversary.
    When I was first using these sites there was still a bit of stigma involved. To be honest, when I was overseas no one knew me so it didn't matter as much.
    For me the key was being clear on what I was looking for in a relationship - and what I wasn't. But even with judicious filtering I still got sent unsolicited dick pics, stood up, lied to, taken out to dinner to be dumped (annoying because I could have both of us the effort, dumped him by phone and stayed home to watch TV), told on my first F2F date that he had incurable cancer (which was true, no hair or eyebrows - after weeks of online chatting and phone calls), made to pay 'my share' of a $12.50 bill, cyber-stalked. I also went out with a stand-up comic who was so painfully shy he couldn't make eye contact with me - only then to be told I wasn't as funny in person as I was online etc.
    But hey - makes for some interesting stories.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 65 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    http://www.theallusionist.org/transcripts/wltm-ii?rq=dating link from Emma above has a transcript, for those who prefer to spend 2 minutes reading rather than half an hour listening.

    Her approach does seem to be the correct one, in the sense of getting a partner pout of the deal. The trick is to tweak what you put in to have useful keywords. for the commercial sites I used an obvious neologism that was also a googlewhack, on the theory that smarter women might do the thing and save me spending money to contact them. One did, but sadly we did not hit it off other than agreeing that it was a smart thing to do.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1195 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Moz,

    Her approach does seem to be the correct one, in the sense of getting a partner pout of the deal. The trick is to tweak what you put in to have useful keywords. for the commercial sites I used an obvious neologism that was also a googlewhack, on the theory that smarter women might do the thing and save me spending money to contact them. One did, but sadly we did not hit it off other than agreeing that it was a smart thing to do.

    What you might call smart, I would say, is knowledgeable about internet algorithms. That’s one way to trick a comercial dating service into helping you find a potential partner. Another smart thing, is to sign up to do a paper at the local university. Or just attend the lectures, in order to informally dissertate with the lady’s. Although, the age demographic might be more limited than online dating.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4310 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I find the whole thing fascinating, in a 'far too old for this, but kinda wish it had been around 20 years ago' sort of a way. Although I'm also extremely happy that I had the opportunity to work through my idiocy without every single moment of it being immortalised for posterity.

    It appears to be a truth universally acknowledged that many single men, in possession of good internet connections, are probably going to be hassling women and generally making idiots of themselves on dating sites. Dick pics. Just....whut?

    Anyway, by way of some comic relief, it's been scientifically proven that it is impossible for a women to make a profile so repulsive that a man won't come sniffing around.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to steven crawford,

    the age demographic might be more limited than online dating.

    Hmm... Emma is noticeably younger than I am. Her daughter is at uni, IIRC. The general idea, though, works for me. Go out, do something I find interesting, meet new people, hopefully notice if they're flirting with me.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1195 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Curnow,

    I had a rush of blood to the head 6 months ago and signed up to a dating site after being single for 4 years. I have been on one date in that time with a nice woman who, after said date messaged me to say that I had only dated her because I had felt sorry for her, needless to say we haven’t been in touch since. I have sent out a number of messages to women ( in my age group) on the site, always trying to sound and being genuinely interested in ‘them’ but the responses have ranged from “haha, not me mate” , “I suppose I could give you a trial” to “you sound sweet, good luck”. Needless to say, I haven’t renewed my subscription.

    Since Nov 2006 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    OKC has been around way way way longer than Grindr et al. My impression was that Tinder is the equivalent for straights, naturally with somewhat less emphasis on the immediate hookup thing.

    Those questionnaire things on OKC are very revealing, and also make you wonder how desperate you must be to try and make contact with someone whose life is basically the antithesis of your own. I made one of those fun quizzes a number of years ago - must log on (if I can find the creds) and see how it's going.

    As for Fetlife, I get a few messages from time to time (excepting those of the "I want to be your slave, master" ilk, and those are always from purported women who haven't noticed I'm also one), which is in stark contrast to the complete lack of responses I got on OKC - being a butch dyke is more acceptable in kink land.

    Also, I have a fair amount of privilege due to my presentation in that I have not once been addressed as "honey" or similar, nor received a dick pic.

    My hint (after hearing about it at length, ahem, from friends) for anyone tempted to send a dick pic: assess if there's interest FIRST, ask, and check out Critique My Dick Pic for dos and don'ts before sending it.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Oh, and I wouldn't bother with paid sites. Modern apps are cheaper if OKC isn't good enough.

    As for old-fashioned live dating services, I had an ex (of dubious ethics, thus the "ex") who ran one of those many years ago.

    If a male punter wasn't getting any dates, and was starting to arc up about paying the subscription fees, she simply hired a pro to go on a "date" with the guy. Naturally the fees he'd already paid more than offset the expense. And he'd pay more, since obviously he was getting some "success".

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Harvey,

    XKCD adds some humour to the situation...
    http://xkcd.com/314/

    Westmere • Since Nov 2006 • 57 posts Report Reply

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