I hate fishing. I sit on the boat, cast my line, and wonder why I even bother. I can never tell how many fish are even in that murky water, but, judging by my lack of success, I’m thinking not that many. I’ve tried mixing up my bait, putting out multiple lines in multiple spots, and telling myself it’s only a matter of time. Nothing. In my entire life of failed fishing trips, I’ve never hooked anything but a tree branch.
Online dating is a lot like fishing. It can be frustrating, and you don’t always know what (if anything) you’re doing wrong. People act like it’s a matter of tactics and timing, but often it’s a matter of luck and patience. For single men, in particular, dating sites can seem like just another way to face daily rejection from a sea of indifferent women.
We’ve put together 11 reasons online dating just plain sucks for men — and five things you can do to make it better. In dating, attitude is everything, so wallow a little with us and then get back out there. If, at first, you don’t succeed, right?
Reasons Online Dating Can Suck If You’re a Guy
Let’s be real, guys can have it tough on dating websites. A single woman can set up her profile, sit back, and wait for the messages to pour in, but guys don’t have that luxury. If single guys want a date, they have to wade into the online dating pool and get it. Often this means sending out dozens of messages only to get a paltry number of responses.
You put in your all, think this girl could be “The One,” click send… and never hear from her. No explanation. Just an empty inbox. There’s no way around it — that sucks. Dating sucks. Online dating sucks. If you ask me, we should bring back betrothals at birth. Until then, however, we modern daters have to deal with the following 11 sucky things.
1. What Works for One Person Might Not Work for Another
There’s always that one friend who seems to have special dating powers. Their dating profiles are like catnip, for whatever reason, and they complain about having too many dates — like that’s a real problem. If you ask your friend to clue you in on their secret sauce, however, you might not find it all that useful.
Like, maybe you don’t have any pictures of you rescuing a kitten from a tree. Or maybe your soulmate is a dog person, what then?
There’s no silver bullet. The moves that work for one online dater don’t guarantee success for another. Some guys find success in short chats, others do better in long convos — it’s almost like girls are individuals who like different things!
2. People Often Rely on Algorithms to Do All the Work
I’m going to say this once: Algorithms aren’t magic. You can’t sign up for a dating site and expect some fairy-godmother-like matching game to bring your soulmate to your inbox. Dating websites are a platform designed to make it easier to find a date — but you still have to, you know, do stuff and be good at it.
Sometimes “Online dating sucks” is just code for “I suck at online dating.” The good news is you don’t have to suck. The fact that you’re here means you’re on your way to sucking less. Our dating experts can help you with things like writing a good online dating profile and sending a fantastic first message to up your odds of getting a date online.
3. You Might Be Too Picky & Specific About Your Wants
Advanced search features can trick singles into believing they can order whatever they want and find their perfect match with a click. It’s not that easy. If you’re hoping for a 22-year-old dog owner with blond hair living within 10 miles of you — maybe you’ll find one or two lucky ladies in the search results.
Dating websites have a wide range of singles, but some online daters limit themselves to only a particular section and hurt their chances. According to OkCupid’s blog, “Site-wide, two-thirds of male messages go to the best-looking third of women.” That means high competition and less chance of success. Reaching for the stars is great, but, sometimes you have to understand when you’re setting your sights too high.
4. There Can Be Too Many Options
It’s overwhelming how many choices you have in the online dating world. Do you want a site for cat lovers? For nerds? For hookups? There’s a niche dating network for everything these days.
Then, once you pick your dating site of choice, you have to browse through an ever-growing crowd of profiles to find the one for you. Some online daters find it hard to focus on just one person because they know there’s always another one out there. Having literally thousands of dating options isn’t always good for relationship satisfaction.
“And even if you do get to the point of being committed,” said author Aditi Paul in an academic study on the effectiveness of online dating, “you can cop out easily, without too many mental scars, because you know you can reactivate your profile and there will be a bunch of others waiting for you.”
5. You Have to Compete With More Guys
It’s rough out there, guys. On dating sites, you’re competing against single guys all across the internet, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
At bars and clubs, you can see your competition; you can count how many other guys are in the room and weigh your odds of success. Online, you don’t know who you’re up against, but you can bet some of them will be hotter, smoother, smarter, or funnier than you are. Women can take their pick, and some guys struggle to make themselves stand out.
6. People Start to Look Like the Same Person
I know we were taught as kids that everyone is special and all, but after a dozen or so profiles declare themselves “addicted to Netflix” or “looking for something real,” you begin to wonder just how original people are. Maybe we should all just agree that “Game of Thrones” is great and take it as a given that random dating profile #394 has watched and loved the show (but probably not read the books).
After reading through similar likes, dislikes, and bios, people start to blend together. When you can’t remember if you’ve already messaged that cute sushi-loving gal, online dating kind of sucks.
7. Sometimes It’s Hard to Tell Chemistry Online
I’ve definitely experienced this. You’re connecting on every major topic, the banter is stimulating, and you think this might be it — and then you meet in person and everything you liked about him or her evaporates before your eyes.
Maybe your date doesn’t look like his or her profile pic. Maybe the conversation feels strained. You can’t anticipate what will go wrong until it does. That’s the gamble you take when meeting people online.
Sometimes you meet up and the chemistry isn’t there, and you can’t do anything but count the minutes until the date is over.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been chatting online; you never really know if you’re going to hit it off with someone until you meet in person.
8. If You’re Not a Natural Communicator, Messaging Seems Intimidating
Not everyone does words very goodly. Maybe exposition was never your strong suit, and you’re more a physical being. If that’s the case, online dating is probably a challenge for you. Your eyes can’t do the talking; you have to up your chatting game before someone will agree to go out with you. Unless your profile pic is extremely hot. Then you might have some leeway.
9. It’s Easier for People to Reject You
On a dating site, you don’t have to look someone in the eye and tell them to take a hike. You can just not respond. The silence gets your message across without the guilt-ridden task of telling the person why you aren’t interested. They simply won’t hear from you. That’s the harsh reality of online dating, and the rejection can feel soul-crushing when it happens to you. Just remember, it’s only easy to reject you because they don’t know you.
10. It’s Often Time-Consuming
Sending out message after message each day can get exhausting — even more so if you’re not getting responses. You take all this time to find the right person, craft a personal message, and then you wait. And wait. And wait some more.
Sending more messages gives you more chances to get a response, but that takes more time. Your dating profile can begin to feel like a part-time job — except you’re not getting paid.
11. There Have Been Scams, Which Makes People Wary
Last of all, some dating sites attract scammers looking to target emotionally vulnerable singles online. More than 5,800 romance scam complaints were filed with the FBI in 2014. As if getting rejected wasn’t bad enough!
I know it’s shocking, but some people can lie on the internet. According to the Huffington Post, over 53% of single Americans lie on their dating profiles about their jobs, ages, weight, and physique. There are some truly great people on dating websites, but there are trolls and creeps, too.
Ways to Make Online Dating Better
If you’re one unresponsive match away from banging your head into your computer and quitting the virtual dating world forever, I totally sympathize — but online dating can work. Approximately 66% of online daters have gone on a date with someone they met online.
Yeah, online dating sucks for the 33% of daters who don’t know what they’re doing, but you’re going to get a leg up on those guys. There are practical things you can do to become more appealing online and up your success rate on dating websites. We’ve outlined five sure-fire ways to improve your online dating experience.
1. Choose the Right Dating Site
Some dating websites suck. They barrage singles with paid features, fake profiles, and false hopes just to make a buck. So you’ve got to do your research before signing up to make sure you’re joining a legit dating site with proven successes. You can find three of our favorite dating websites — none of which suck — below. These sites provide reliable spaces to meet millions of singles and make a match.
Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships
Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more
Our Experts Say: “Match has facilitated the most dates and relationships of any dating site, and its large audience and high success rate make it our top review...” Full Review »
Browse Free: View Photos Now
|Gender Ratio||M: 49% | F: 51%*|
It’s Match.com, is there much more to say that hasn’t already been said? Not only is this the longest-running dating site (founded in 1995), but it’s the trusted (more romantic connections of any of its competitors). I’d bet you know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who’s tried Match and/or found a great date or even a lifelong partner.
|Gender Ratio||M: 48% | F: 52%*|
Zoosk has the app experience down pat — thanks to its integration with Google+ and Facebook and its Carousel matching system (click the check for yes, the X for no, or maybe if you’re unsure). With Zoosk, where and how you online date is unlimited.
Relationships: Serious Relationships
Match System: Search, Receive Partner Suggestions
Our Experts Say: “Elite Singles is a leading dating site just for busy, single professionals. More than 80% of members have earned a college degree, and most are looking for a serious commitment...” Full Review »
Browse Free: View Photos Now
|Gender Ratio||M: 43% | F: 57%*|
Somewhat of a new face to the online dating scene, EliteSingles places heavy emphasis on providing you with quality, not quantity. More than 80% of its members have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree from a higher education institution, and over 90% of them are 30 and older.
Online dating is a numbers game, so you’re best served by going where the most singles are and give yourself the highest probability of success. These popular dating websites can help you escape the suckage and actually find someone worth talking to.
2. Take Advantage of Free Features to See If You Like It
To avoid sucky situations, online daters should look before they leap into a dating site full of unknowns. A lot of dating websites offer free trial periods to give singles a taste of what the interface is like before they subscribe. Some let you browse profiles for free, others give you a set number of messages to send — whatever it is, you should explore the dating network for free before making a commitment to a monthly subscription.
3. Be Open-Minded About Your “Type”
Extreme pickiness can hinder your dating life — no matter what portal you use. We all have an idea of what our dream girl or dream guy looks like (mine’s a well-paid doctor with a Great Dane), but realistically everyone has to compromise a little — and in doing so, you can find someone right for you in ways you never anticipated.
Dating isn’t about closing yourself off to people — it’s about being open to the possibility of romance, wherever that may lead you. Sometimes the best thing you can do to jump-start your dating life is rid yourself of the bias of “your type” and start a conversation with all sorts of different singles online. After all, sometimes opposites attract!
4. Just Focus on Having Fun
Online dating should be fun. If it feels like work, you aren’t doing it right. Focusing on the end goal of getting a date can put a lot of pressure on your conversations and sap you of the will to go on messaging person after person. Instead, think of it more like a game or an exploration. You’re learning as you go, and every experience makes you better at it the next time.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Don’t be too squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about online dating when he said this, but it’s still good advice for singles on the web. Just go for it and have fun!
5. Keep Some Safety Precautions in Mind
Online dating still has a sketchy I’m-talking-to-a-stranger quality to it, so proceed with caution. Don’t give out too much personal information and be on the lookout for Nigerian princes.
Conversely, your objective should be to make your date feel comfortable with you online and in person. Give creepy overtures a wide berth because a single slip-up could kill the conversation. For example, one of my friends deleted her account after a guy asked her if she lived alone. Maybe he thought he was being playful. Maybe he’s a burglar. The person on the other end of the screen doesn’t know you and won’t be inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt in matters of personal safety. Just be respectful and take it slow.
How Can You Make Online Dating Suck Less? Do It Right!
I’m a bad fisher because I lose patience with it and start looking for a quick fix — a way to snap my fingers and make a fish jump right in my boat. Life doesn’t work like that, though. You have to put in the effort to research the terrain, choose the right bait, and wait through the failures until you find success.
If you ask me, fishing sucks, but there are plenty of people in my family who love it and are really good at it (because they’re weird fish whisperers). For some men, dating online sucks because they want it to be something it’s not. Dating websites are not miracle workers. They’re not eligible-women-delivery systems. They are certainly not dating coaches. They are merely a place where you can cast out your line and hope to land a great catch.
If you stick with it, and learn from our expert advice, you can make your online dating experience better one message at a time. Good luck!
Photos Credits: Pixaby.com, WeKnowMemes.com, and CNN.com.