It’s Sunday, September 13, 2009. I’m 25 years old. Yesterday was my best friend’s annual tailgate – typically my favorite day of the year. But instead of reminiscing on how much fun I had with my friends, I’m thinking about how I didn’t meet a single guy at the tailgate. Not one. Yes, I know that things “happen when you least expect it”, and that I “should” focus on all my great friendships. But the fact is, I’m tired of being single. More accurately, I’m tired of not meeting anyone. Of going out to the bars, weekend after weekend, hoping to meet a cute guy and coming home numberless.
But then, while on my bike on the Olentangy Trail, I have an epiphany. Instead of expecting to meet someone organically, why not take matters into my own hands and step into the 21st century? Why not try online dating?! And so I hurriedly bike home, hop on my computer, and sign up for match.com. I instantly feel better. After all, I’m very Type-A, and being “in control” of my situation is paramount to my well-being. The fact that I am taking my fate into my own hands is more powerful and uplifting than any guy asking for my number at the tailgate would have been.
Fast-forward five years later, and I’m still that same girl, trying to meet “that guy”. But this time, I’m an seasoned online dater (what every girl dreams of being at age 30). I’ve had an off-again, on-again relationship with match.com, as well as JDate, OKCupid, and Tinder. And while I have yet to meet my husband on any of these sites, I’ve had a lot of adventures. Some good, some not-so-good, all making life my life more colorful. Nora Ephron once famously said, “everything is copy”, and I couldn’t agree more. By looking at my online dating experiences through this lens, I can avoid taking myself too seriously, in favor of finding the humor and richness these experiences bring to my life.
With that, I bring you my multi-post series on online dating. Part I: Quantity vs. Quality. I should preface this by saying that my understanding of the online marketplace is limited by my experiences on the four aforementioned dating sites. There are many more out there, but at this point in my life I’ve been an active participant in *just* these four. Who knows how much my perspective will widen with more years of dating ahead of me!
The online dating marketplace can be summed up in one simple relationship: Quantity vs. Quality. The quantity of the men on a dating site (or mobile app, in the case of Tinder) is inversely related to the quality of those men, as shown in the graph below:
For example, match.com, my introduction to online dating, is at the origin. The quantity of men is average, as is the quality of those men. JDate, a site designed exclusively for “The Chosen People”, has very few men (shockingly) – but I found those men to be relatively high-caliber. On the other extreme, OKCupid and Tinder are both teeming with men, but very few of those men are worth a reply, let alone a date.
Note that the top right quadrant of the graph is empty. There are no sites that are full of high-quality men just waiting to find their perfect woman and vice-versa. But the good news is, we (both women and men) are not restricted to dating online only. We are still allowed to meet people at coffee shops and through friends and at tailgates. But when those traditional methods fall short, striking up an email conversation with a cute guy and then meeting him for a drink can remind you that you’re still out there. And even if Mr. Online doesn’t turn out to be Mr. Right or even Mr. Right Now, those adventures make life more colorful – and even serve as copy for your blog.
Stay tuned for Part II of my online dating series!