Internet dating is big on disappointment
Some excerpts below from a long article about internet dating that discusses "scientific" dating. A scientific approach ought to be helpful but the prevalence of sad stories about failures of internet dating casts doubt on that. The existing matching strategies seem not up to expectations. Why?
I don't have a magic answer to that but since I have been using dating advertisements of one sort or another for around 60 years, maybe my experience could have some lessons. Before the internet there were of course newspapers and they have always carried advertisements seeking relationships. I started using such advertisements when I was around 20 and I am now just months away from 80.
I must add that I have not used advertisements exclusively. I have been married 4 times and I met the first 3 ladies concerned the "old fashioned" way -- through personal social contacts. Sadly, none of the marriages proved permanent so I have had plenty of use for advertisements before, after and in between the marriages.
I like women and get on well with them so I hope to have one in my life at all times. And I have managed that with not much in the way of gaps. I have had long relationships of seven years, ten years and 14 years but in between those long arrangements there have been many shorter relationships. And advertisements have given me both long and short relationships.
And I have in fact found that looking for matching characteristics between myself and a woman has always been a good way to start a relationship. The approach outlined in the excerpts below is correct in my experience. I have met many fine women that way. Matching ideas, ideals, values, opinions and experiences with a woman works as a preliminary to meeting.
But appearance also comes into it. I have only ever had average looks so I have had to have other advantageous qualities. Fortunately many women have liked some of my other qualities. I had to have looks good enough to get a pass and after that other factors came into play
And that worked very well up to and during my 60s. But it has been more difficult in my 70s. I had a significant breakup around 3 years ago and that was not easily remedied. Through internet advertisements I did meet up with about a dozen women but most of them did not wish to continue seeing me. There were also a couple of "near misses" -- women with whom I had a short friendship that did not last.
But finally, almost a year ago, I met my present partner -- via Match.com. And it's a good relationship which looks hopeful for the long term. She looks good too! So advertisements offer hope even to old guys like me. I have met women the old way and the modern way and think both are worthwhile.
So what do I have to say to people who have undergone an inferno of disappointment from internet dating? Mainly some very old-fashioned advice: Persistance pays and it also pays to keep a positive attitude. Don't rush to judgment about another person. Don't go by first impressions. Good qualities can take a while to become evident.
Some less usual advice could help too. As Oscar Wilde may have said: "Life is too important to be taken seriously". And the Hagakure had that idea too: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly". So relax! Approaching a prospective partner in a cheerful, relaxed way is usually best.
There is a recent picture of me below. If someone as rough-looking as I am these days can get a girl, there is hope for everyone
This is how Helen Fisher, the 77-year-old chief scientific adviser for Match.com and one of the best-known, most-often-quoted experts on romance and “mate choice,” understands life: Personality is a cocktail of hormones; love comes from the buzz of mixing them just right. The human sex drive hasn’t changed for millions of years, she argues, nor has the human capacity for long-term attachment. If, as a cautious, conventional technology journalist, I’m preoccupied with the question of how we live now, Fisher has spent her career exploring the story of how we’ve lived (and loved) always.
Her confidence in this reality—in the static nature of our coupling behaviors—makes Fisher a notable source of comfort in an era of constant worry about the state of romance. Dating on the internet, writers and therapists and mothers and comedians say, is both too easy and too hard. Our social skills are eroding; we are having far too much sex (or maybe far too little); we are suffering from a profound and modern alienation. Fisher is the woman to calm us with the news that actually, we’re fine. Dating apps can’t possibly kill romance, she argues, even if they do make us feel a bit uncomfortable by showing us so many options. “It’s the same old brain,” she told me, as she’s told many other journalists looking to reassure their readers (or themselves) that smartphones haven’t ruined us forever. “The brain hasn’t changed in 300,000 years.” ....
She’s famous for her science books: five volumes, published from 1982 to 2009 (plus a 2016 reissue of her most famous book, Anatomy of Love), that together lay out a theory of how partnership evolved and which parts of human biology are responsible for its particulars. “In short, romantic love is deeply embedded in the architecture and chemistry of the human brain,” she wrote in 2004’s Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. That book may have been the one that brought her to the attention of Match.com, which had launched about a decade earlier as one of the first online-dating sites. (The Match Group, with its dozens of subsidiary dating apps, would develop later.) A representative of the company called Fisher two days before Christmas in 2004 and asked her to come in for a meeting, which turned out to be an audience with “everyone from the CEO on down.” They were looking for insight, they told her. Why does anybody fall in love with one person and not another? Well, people tend to pair up based on where they live, and on having similar education levels and socioeconomic backgrounds, she explained. And as she was sitting there, it hit her that this was not very insightful. You can walk into a room where everyone is of your background and you don’t fall in love with all of them, she thought. “It dawned on me in that moment,” she told me: “Could we have evolved biological patterns so that we’re naturally drawn to some people rather than others?”
Other dating sites already said they were using science to calculate a couple’s compatibility. One of Match’s rivals, eHarmony, was offering a new and allegedly better way of finding people dates: Instead of pairing users according to, say, shared favorite foods or times of year, eHarmony promised to apply a “proprietary matching model” to make “scientifically proven” assessments of compatibility based on a personality test with hundreds of questions. The site even had its own relationship expert: Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist and the author of a book called Date or Soul Mate?
Fisher thought she could come up with a better system, using what she knew about evolution and the human mind. (Match would market her system as being more inviting than the one offered by eHarmony, which was specifically built by its Christian evangelical founder to facilitate heterosexual relationships.) In Why We Love, she’d argued for the existence of “three primordial brain networks that evolved to direct mating and reproduction.” The first was responsible for lust, the second for romantic love, and the third for a specific “male-female attachment” defined by “the feeling of calm, peace, and security one often has for a long term mate.” But this wouldn’t help with suggesting matches. She would have to look elsewhere in the brain.
Her first task, she told me, was to sit down with four sheets of paper, one each for the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Then she listed personality traits that she thought were associated with each one, according to what she described to me as research from “hundreds of academic articles,” thereby creating four personality styles. “Builders,” high in serotonin, would be logical and traditional. “Explorers,” high in dopamine, would be spontaneous and daring. “Negotiators,” high in estrogen, would be empathetic and imaginative, and “directors,” high in testosterone, would be decisive and competitive. Those categories soon became the basis for Chemistry.com, which was Match’s first entry in the race to build an objective and empirical dating app. Users filled out a questionnaire written by Fisher and were assigned primary and secondary personality styles. These, in turn, were provided to users to help them sift through their matches and find the ones they were more likely to click with. According to Fisher’s system, builders match well with other builders, explorers with explorers, and negotiators with directors.