So, various people have expressed interesting in hearing how my experiences with dating (especially on-line dating sites) have been going. I thought I’d do a quick review of my experiences with the three sites I’ve used, and also talk about how I’ve been approaching the whole on-line dating thing more generally.
I like the idea of eHarmony, but as someone mentioned in a comment on one of my previous threads, the reality doesn’t really live up to the ideal. For me, I think a lot of this has to do with being Mormon. eHarmony asks a lot of questions when you sign up, and one is religious background. This doesn’t show up on your profile, but it does affect who you’re matched with. I found that a lot of my matches were people from non-traditional religious backgrounds (Muslim, Hindu, etc.), whether because eHarmony thought we’d match because of our non-traditional backgrounds, or because these members were more open to dating people from other non-traditional backgrounds. Overall, a lot of my matches were people that I didn’t really feel I was compatible with. Also, unless you limit your preferences to people nearby (which means fewer matches), eHarmony will match you up with a lot of people who live a good distance away. While I know this works out for some people, I decided that I’d prefer to find people nearby to date and develop relationships with in person (especially since I’m in a city with a lot of people, and there are quite a lot of people here to date). I am currently not subscribed to eHarmony–for me, the money wasn’t worth it.
Match.com doesn’t really have a good matching algorithm. It doesn’t have the “29 dimensions of compatibility” that eHarmony has, and it doesn’t have the compatibility questions that OKCupid has. This means when looking for potential matches, you have to do all of your own legwork. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve found that a decently-written profile can tell me 1) if there’s no compatibility or 2) there might be compatibility. In cases where I think there might be compatibility, I will message the person (or respond if they’ve messaged me), and take things from there. My dates from Match.com have been all over the map–some great, and some not as great. I would recommend Match.com because there are a lot of users, and while you do have to do some sifting, you can meet some pretty great people. It’s definitely best used as a tool to meet up with people in your area that you might not otherwise run into. I am currently subscribed to Match.com, and currently, for me the money is worth it.
The biggest plus of OKCupid is that it’s free, but it’s also a good site in its own right. On OKCupid, the way they test compatibility is to ask you a lot of questions about you and your ideal match (lifestyle, religion, ethics, views on relationships, sex, etc.). Then they check your answers against the answers of other users and give you a match %. For all you statisticians out there (i.e. Ziff), here’s how they calculate this match %. The more match questions you answer, the more confident they are in their calculations. That being said, I’ve had a similar experience on OKCupid that I’ve had on Match.com—it’s a great way to meet up with other people in the area that you may not meet up with otherwise. And even though they’ve calculated your match %, you still have to do a certain amount of legwork–you have to look through the people with a high match % and see if these people are actually people you are interested in dating. And like with Match.com, I’ve met a variety of people.
My experiences overall
I was a bit slow getting started, partly because it takes some time to find compatible people and set up dates, and partly because my life was busy with school, and I only had a limited amount of time to pursue dating. However, since about May, I’ve been going on at least one date a week, and there have been a couple weeks I’ve had 3-4 dates. My average, however, is 1-2 dates per week.
The frequency of dates is going to vary from person to person. It will depend on how many people contact you, but it also largely depends on how big your filter is. I definitely don’t respond to people and go on dates if their profile indicates we wouldn’t be compatible (they use the words “lady” or “princess,” or if they talk about how they spend all their free time going to dance clubs and sports games). I started with a pretty wide filter—a little picky, but not super picky. If someone’s profile seemed interesting, he didn’t give me weird vibes or wasn’t too out of my age range, and if he wrote me a thoughtful message that showed he read my profile, I’d usually respond and go on a first date. I think this was a great way to start, but recently I have begun to narrow my filter a bit. Mostly because I’ve found myself getting overwhelmed with the number of people I needed to respond to (I wasn’t getting tons of messages, but it was enough that it was too much for me). I’m also finding that my instincts about whether I might be compatible with someone are pretty good.
I also use my profile description to do some filtering for me. While I’ve certainly chosen to present myself in a positive light in my profile (who doesn’t want to do this?), I’ve also made deliberate choices to represent myself 1) honestly, 2) in ways that indicate I’m outside of the norm, which hopefully does some filtering. Some examples:
- I’m specific about things I’m interested in—I mention things I love, some of which people might not recognize, like Allegri’s Miserere, or Richard Powers.
- I use large vocabulary words like “pithy” and “insouciant” (and I’ve had multiple guys mention these words in their responses to me)
- I mention “feminism” and “spirituality,” indicating that I’m interested in religion and I’m liberal. (I don’t mention being Mormon, which I think is currently the right decision—read this post and the responses to hear my reasoning.)
- The first sentence of my profile talks about how my life consists of contradictions and how I don’t take the path of least resistance. I think it describes me well, but a guy who’s just looking for someone cute and fun is probably not going to view my profile or message me after reading this. Which is good.
The point of these choices is that I’m not trying to get the most guys I can to message me. Instead, I’m hoping the guys who do message me are interested in my uniqueness. And I’m finding that the dates that are going the best are with guys who seem to really appreciate the ways I’m outside of the norm.
Right now there are a few things I’m still trying to figure out. While I feel right about not putting my Mormon-ness in my profile, I do think I want to highlight my religiosity a bit more, but I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do this. The other thing I’m trying to figure out (and I have a post coming up on this) is what to do when you move past that first date. When do I go on a second (third, fourth) date? And the bigger question, how will I know when something is right? I’m currently figuring out what works for me through trial and error and trusting my instincts/feelings, but it’s messy. But I know that’s pretty much the norm for dating and relationships.