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I’m done with swipe dating—and you should be too (especially if you’re a dude)

The TL;DR

  1. Everyone is too picky–especially guys, but especially girls (yes, I did that on purpose–Simpsons fans get it).
  2. Because there are so many options, people have a hard time committing to any one person–after all, they might match with someone who’s more attractive/makes more money/has more time, etc. at any moment!
  3. There’s no penalty for being a fuckboi, a flake, a gold-digger, a catfish, a fucking weirdo, or someone on there for attention who doesn’t really have time to date and/or isn’t serious. In other words, the nature of swipe/online dating (SOD) means there are a lot of lemons–people who aren’t worth your time–and if you want to find someone worthwhile, you have to weed through a lot of them.
  4. SOD will make you more shallow, anxious, flaky, and reticent to commit to a relationship. FACT.
  5. SOD replaces your social life–you know, the things people used to do to meet people, like: going to church, volunteering, joining a softball league, going out on Friday night or cool concerts or other events.

The Diatribe

Three months after my wife and I separated, I downloaded Tinder and Bumble on my phone, beginning my journey into the world of Swipe/Online Dating (SOD). During that time I’ve gone on perhaps 30 to 40 dates, had a few short relationships, some hookups, etc.—and I’ve learned a lot about myself and the type of woman I’m looking for, although the overall process is both expensive and exhausting.

However, after a year and a half of my SOD experiment, I’ve come to a pretty firm position: I’m out. Not because of the expense or exhaustion, but because the market is flooded.

With lemons.

This isn’t an original observation, but something I read on the blog of a guy who’s a dating coach (go ahead and laugh–but he’s got some pretty solid advice for dudes). In the blog he references an oft-cited economics paper, The Market for Lemons by George Akerloff (which actually won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001), offering this summary: “What his paper proved was that—when customers have a hard time evaluating the quality of a product—eventually a flood of poor quality products (lemons) will make customers cautious and defensive, and eventually they will drive the good producers out of the market.”

And this is precisely what’s happened with SOD. Reasonably attractive women match with so many men it’s basically impossible for them to distinguish between men who are actually high quality people and guys who are fuckboi’s, jerks, weirdo’s, and so on.

I should have had this epiphany when I met my cousin for drinks a few months ago and she showed me her dating apps—she must have had more than 50 matches with different dudes between the few she was using.

And hey great for her (sort of—I’ll explain why it actually might not be in just a bit), but for a guy like myself, what it means is I have very little chance of matching with a woman I find attractive, and even if I do, it’s going to be damn hard to get her attention or differentiate myself from other suitors.

This is further compounded by a phenomenon known at hypergamy, or what incentivizes people to choose one mate over another.

For example, women tend to date/mate/marry the highest status male they can trust who’s available, because in terms of evolution, this gives their offspring the greatest chance at survival and success. Conversely, men will seek to date/mate/marry the youngest, most beautiful female who’s interested, because likewise, this gives their offspring the best chance of survival and success.

Multiple studies have found that women tend to be more hypergamous than men, likely because from an evolutionary standpoint, pregnancy and raising children represents a much larger investment of time and energy than a one time sexual encounter.

Understand this isn’t a judgment of good or bad. It just is the way things are and have always been. And it’s true that as sentient beings we don’t have to make hypergamous choices–but from what I’ve seen most people do.

For anyone who’s spent time in the SOD world, hypergamy is plainly obvious: people are extremely picky, with men prioritizing outward appearance and women prioritizing a combination of appearance, socioeconomic status, and educational attainment. IT’S FUCKING OBVIOUS.

So basically any woman who’s reasonably attractive by conventional standards is inundated with more matches than she could possibly sort through–and this will lead her to choose men who appear to be the best looking/most successful as a default. Something similar probably happens to super high status men—think good looking doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc—although my guess is to a lesser extent, because the overabundance of possible mates increases selectivity from the female perspective.

When you couple this with huge numbers of lemons (low quality prospects, people who don’t really have the time to date, catfish, or those who simply want attention and nothing more, etc.) in the dating market, at some point it becomes counter productive.

The other thing—and I can only speak to my experience here—was that I found myself lowering my standards to the point where I’d match with women I wasn’t honestly excited about meeting, and that’s not good for anyone.

Let’s stop for a second to make a few things perfectly clear:

  1. Attraction matters in sexual relationships. Does being attractive make someone a better or worse person than someone else? Of course not, and in some cases there’s an inverse relationship—in my experience, people who are really, really good looking can sometimes be awful humans because they haven’t encountered much adversity in their lives. That said: attraction matters in sexual relationships. It’s OK to have standards as long as they’re realistic (if not, prepare to spend a lot of your life alone).
  2. Women and men have key biological differences that cause them to respond to the same situations in different ways. Yes, we are more similar that we are different, and yes, there’s huge variety within each gender, but in general, most humans are cisgender people attracted to the opposite sex. That’s just a fact, backed by science, statistics, logic, and common sense—something anyone can pretty quickly observe in society at large. The fact some people are saying otherwise is fucking insane and irresponsible. We can’t cite science to argue action on Climate Change and then turn around and ignore it when it comes to biology. If we truly believe in science and the scientific method then that means paying attention to scientific truth even if it doesn’t align with our personal beliefs.
  3. I’m observing things from my own male perspective. Women surely have a different take on SOD, and I’m sure there’s problems I don’t even realize. Ladies, fill me in or write a guest blog and I’m happy to publish it.

End mini-rant…

Suffice it to say in the world of SOD, I wasn’t meeting the kind of women I wanted to meet. More problematic was the fact that the few times I did meet women I was genuinely interested in, there was no follow through on their part—no excitement—and almost zero willingness to invest in a second or third date. This was despite the fact that 95% of the dates I’ve been on were amicable experiences, many that ended with a kiss, or at the very least a mutual commitment to hang out again. And yet so often that didn’t happen.

I didn’t understand why until I read the blog about lemons and heard about hypergamy, and then it all made sense: these women were likely interacting with dozens of men, all at the upper end of their potential match quotient (her attractiveness compared to the relative attractiveness of men she’s matching with).

So if she doesn’t hear from me, who gives a fuck? She’s got Todd and Brian and Frank and Jerome who are all begging to go on a date with her too, and this is where the hypergamy sets in, because even if she had a good time with me, thought I was cute, etc., well, maybe there’s someone slightly better looking, or a guy who makes slightly more money, or whatever, who can offer her “more.”

Well, as Akerloff’s paper points out, when the market’s flooded with bad products, it forces the good producers out, because it’s become impossible to differentiate your superior product with the flood of those cheaply available.

So yeah, I’m out.

I’m tired of the waffling, tired of the games, tired of the bullshit, tired of the pickiness, but most of all, I’m tired of the unwillingness to invest in a relationship. I wasn’t on SOD to fuck a bunch of women—I was looking for a relationship. But the attitude that swipe dating engenders for high quality women is garbage—an apathetic wasteland of paralysis by analysis, the constant search for the apex of alpha, the kind of thinking that says good is the enemy of great.

Obviously, however, meeting people in real life can be quite difficult for both sexes, so that’s what I’ll be looking into next: how do we cultivate communities or opportunities where we can develop relationships with the kind of people we want to meet?

For the answer to that question, stay tuned…

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