Anne Rettenberg wrote an article for Psychology Today that is critical of the idea of online dating , she cites one example of a man who visited a prostitute due to being depressed at his lack of success in online dating to support her claim.
The first big problem with her article is that she doesn’t mention the different experiences that male and female customers presumably have on online dating sites. I don’t know what it’s like for women on the dating sites so I can’t comment on that. But I’m sure that someone who works as a counselor could provide some useful insight into this matter. Also she didn’t even give a mention to the issue of gay/lesbian dating sites.
The next issue is that she didn’t offer any good advice for who should use online dating sites and what their aims should be.
In dating in real life (IRL) it’s expected that the man make the first move, and therefore women end up rejecting lots of guys for various reasons. Anne seems to think that rejection online is somehow worse than rejection IRL, it probably is for some people but that certainly isn’t the case for everyone. The way that lots of dating sites seem to work is that women place adverts, men respond to them, and then the women reply to a small subset of the email that they receive. “Rejection” in this case isn’t a matter of telling someone that you aren’t interested, but of merely not replying to their mail.
From my discussions with a few men who’ve used online dating sites the strategy seems to be to send out initial messages to a few dozen women every day and then maybe get a few responses a day. For the messages that get no response you will never know whether the other person found someone else first, wasn’t interested in you for some reason, or just didn’t bother checking their email. The only comparison to IRL rejection is that which happens after phone numbers have been exchanged, which isn’t going to be that common (and has the same issues regardless of how the people met).
Guys, relax about the women who don’t respond to your first message. They probably get 100+ responses to their advert and don’t have time to even read half of them. If you get rejected later in the process then you can look through your email archive at a later date to try and discover what went wrong.
The Aim of Online Dating
The fact that Anne’s client visited a prostitute suggests that maybe he wasn’t really after a relationship. In which case using one of the many online services for finding sex partners might have been a better option.
Generally it seems that a good strategy is to try and have fun. I don’t know any men who have married someone from a dating site, but the general opinion seems to be that they are still worth using. If you meet someone in a bar then you might end up having a drunken conversation that is drowned out by loud music. If you meet someone over the Internet then you can have a quiet conversation over the phone – which seems to be a better way to get to know someone (and generally more pleasant for anyone who’s not an alcoholic). I think that men who have no immediate aim other than finding someone nice to talk to will do better than those who aim to score quickly.
Of the men I know who married women they met over the Internet (but not through online dating sites) I wonder how many of them would have ended up married if they hadn’t used the online dating sites first. It seems that men who regularly communicate with women outside formal situations (work etc) will have a better chance of impressing someone that they like than those who lack such experience.
There are a lot of people who really can’t function in a bar. With the way our society works it seems that anyone who can’t handle the bar scene really should consider online dating.
How Counselors can Help
It seems to me that someone who is seeing a counselor and who is considering a new way of finding a SO should ask their counselor for advice first. It also seems to me that a good option might be to ask their counselor for advice in online dating. Instead of being unsuccessful and depressed a man who was seeing a female counselor could do well to ask her advice for how to impress women on the Internet. This is probably a business opportunity for female counselors who can advise men on such things, among other things it seems that seeing an “online relationship coach” would be perceived in a more positive manner than seeing a counselor or psychologist for the more traditional reasons.