How Online Dating Works for Men

Men's Dating

How Online Dating Works for Men

Sam Stieler Sam Stieler • 6/12/15

If you’re like most men, online dating comes across as something of a mystery, a game whose rules seem arbitrary and often unfair. In fact, you probably feel online dating is just like gambling, nothing more than crossing your fingers, hoping you’ll win it big while anticipating losing every hand you play.

And just as the occasional news story of some lucky sap winning $6 million in a single night at Atlantic City’s blackjack tables may stir you to try your own luck for a weekend, the odd story of a happy couple finding true love on will likely convince you that signing up is a great idea.

But does online dating really provide a better chance at taking home the prize than trying your luck at the slots? Or does online dating offer you nothing more than another expensive diversion that keeps its odds stacked firmly in the house’s favor?

What do dating websites really want?

Let’s extend the gambling comparison a little further and ask a simple question — how do casinos make their money, and is this the same way online dating websites earn their keep?

Casinos don’t make their money from the aforementioned blackjack player who fleeces them in a single night of good luck. Casinos make their money from everyone else, from all those other people in the casino who certainly aren’t winning big.

Casinos make their money from regulars, from individuals who show up time and time again, who play the slots, win just enough to stay hooked and end up on the red end of the balance sheet over the long term.

Unfortunately, this is roughly how online dating websites make their money as well. They earn their profits from those clients who go on dates here and there but who don’t find that one person worth canceling their subscription over. From an economic perspective, online dating websites have a greater incentive to make sure they match up just enough couples to appear appealing but not so many that they pair off their base.


“Online dating is a game, and like all games,

whether you win or whether you lose sits

squarely on your own shoulders.”

So is online dating ever worth it?

Thankfully, this “casino” analogy isn’t entirely fair and it isn’t entirely genuine, so let’s cut through the lazy cynicism for a moment.

Online dating has a lot more in common with a game like blackjack than a money-sucking past time like playing the slots. Like blackjack, there are rules to online dating. Like sidling up to the blackjack table, there is a right and a wrong way to approach an online dating website. And just like blackjack, when you take the time to actually learn what you’re doing in the world of online dating, the odds shift dramatically in your favor.

If you approach online dating like you approach playing the slots, you will waste your time and your money. If you just throw up a half-assed profile and send out a couple lackluster messages, then you have the same odds of meeting a great woman as you have of winning the lottery.

But if you approach online dating as a game with rules, as an endeavor you need to take seriously and that you need to put in time and effort to master, then you can easily be one of those lucky saps who walks away from the game with an armful of chips. By committing to online dating, beating the house isn’t so hard.

The reason online dating seems to be arbitrary and unfair is simply because most men don’t bother to learn the rules and end up confused, frustrated, disappointed, jaded and cynical, left with the impression that online dating is a scam.

But online dating isn’t a scam. It isn’t a random gamble. It’s a game, and like all games, whether you win or whether you lose sits squarely on your own shoulders.