Are dating sites done?- My views on the current state of online dating.

Perhaps I should preface this with saying Iíve made several good friends and even found my ex-wife on a dating site but Iíve noticed a decided change in the last few years in the dating sites.

I first became a member on a dating site (Match Maker) back in 1994. Back then you had to dial into the servers direct. What was called a BBS (in grandpa voice), so the people you generally found on there were into computers or had friends that were to set them up. In some ways I guess that kind of narrowed the type of people you came across online but it still seemed at the time a pretty wide range of personalities. We used to have get-togethers at restaurants where you could meet each other with out committing to a date too which help get people to meet. Anyway the point is that you seemed to get know people on your site even if you were not dating them. Now days it seems more like placing an ad. Even the pricing on the sites now seems geared toward people jumping on for a short time. To put it another way people used to get on and make friends while they looked for a mate. Now they seem to just take what is in stock.

As things switched over to the internet and more people came in, Match Maker at least, added features to help keep track of which people you had already looked at and decided that they were not compatible. When you are talking literally hundreds of bios you might me looking at, there is just no way to remember anymore. About a year ago those features disappeared in an ďupgradeĒ. On the surface the search features have improved over the old BBS days to. Back then if you could not do a database query from a command line you probably could not get much helpful data out of the search engine either. Of course there was a simple search like show me all straight women between 35 and 55 but how much help is that really on a site with thousands of members? I finally broke down and wrote a program to down load all the new profiles and then rank them by assigning weights to the various answers to questions. These days some sites go as far as personality tests to see how you will match up. On Match.com and Emode.com for example, the tests are some what daunting but still I found that the women I was most interested in fell near the 80% compatibility rating and the ones in the upper 90s were way off. Some sites like Animal People I donít get at all. Animal People kept sending me matches for black women in Houston. Now while I might well date a black woman, I doubt Iíd attempt to date anyone living over 200 miles away and since I, like the majority of women on the site, are white one has to wonder why no other races appeared in the matches they sent me. Much less why they sent me no matches living in my area. To be fair when I logged onto the site and did a search I did find a more likely group of women to choose from, though most had not visited the site in some time. As a side note I took the personality test on eHarmony.com and they told me I was in the 20% of the population that did not fit into their matching categories. Iím leaning toward taking that as a compliment but it does say something about their matching engine.

That brings up the next point. Reponses, if you are like me and you donít just spam the first dozen cute pictures you see but instead actually read through ALL the bios of the women that come up in your search before sending any emails, you rapidly come to the conclusion you are wasting your time because in most cases you get no response. This did not used to be the case. Even if a woman was not interested you used to get a response. From what I have been able to glean from talking to women on these sites there are 2 main reasons you donít get a response.

1.) Although the site does not tell you, they will have to pay to respond and on some sites even read your email. This tactic comes and goes on the various sites but it obviously wastes everyoneís time to have bios posted for ďpeople that canít respond to your emailĒ but that is just how some of the webmasters think they can build customers. Iím including in here as well the people whoís membership has expired but the site does not tell you much less tell you how many days they have left before expiring like Match Maker USED to do. Match Maker also used to tell you when they joined and if they recently changed their bio. Both now sadly lost. One more quick point on this, Match Maker does not notify you if you have mail which means you have to log into their site to find out if you have mail. So if you are not getting many emails you probably will start to check in less and less often. By the time you respond the person that sent it may no longer be able to read it or given up on the site.

2.) There are so many guys (though some women do this too) on now that are sending out dozens of emails fishing for someone that many of the women feel over whelmed with email. Iíve been told by women (Iím talking friends here not women trying to blow me off in case you are thinking that) that on a site like Match Maker within a couple days a woman can be getting so many emails that she picks a couple guys to correspond with and just ignores the rest. Granted Iíve been told by other friends that they received no emails at all. As I said Iím not the kind of guy to email a bunch of women at the same time so I can not figure out how they pick the ones to send to. It does not seem to be connected to age or appearance though. Anyway it comes down to a crap shoot if you email will even be read. Note this fishing can also jade the women that are not inundated by email because they get emails from guys that only reply to the ďbestĒ of the responses to their fishing emails making these women think there is no reason to bother replying to someone that seems unlikely to respond back.

Then there are always the women that for one reason or another just donít think there is a point in responding because you are just not a good fit. Again there are various reasons for this. Some say they donít send rejections any more because some guys were taking them too personal. Some say once you respond these days itís like responding to spam, they just wonít take no for an answer. Another feature of Match Maker I like, that they have not removed yet, is you can see when someone reads your email and if they deleted it. At least then itís a safe bet if they deleted it without replying that they just were not interested. Unfortunately you can not rely on them deleting your email either. So if you are like me and only email one woman at a time you might be waiting awhile before deciding to start searching through the bios again. Another feature I liked on Match Maker that has gone, was the userís percent responded. You could see right away if you were sending to someone without the time or the inclination to respond. They also used to tell you how many emails the person received and sent up till they had sent 10 emails. This too gave you a bit more insight into their personality.

This leads up back to personalities. From reading bios and talking to people about the kind of people they are meeting on these sites, it seems in the last few years that there are mainly two types of people using dating sites, those looking for sex and those looking for someone to take care of them (or get them in the country). You might be surprised to find that both these types seem to come in both sexes, contrary to the popular stereo type. Of those that are left many of them donít really have them time to date. I can sure understand that but that contributes to the points above that they may not be inclined to answer if your email does not wow them. Personally I assume anyone I email is popular. After all Iím emailing them, so when I send an initial email I keep it to a couple lines. I figure my bio and my web site, if they go to it, will give them more info about me than they probably want to know. And if you have 50 emails in your in box to read and pressed for time like most of us are, you hope most of them are short. Unfortunately this does not seem to play well. But then Iím looking for some one that gets me. A friend to hang out with or some one for the long haul not a fling or a project.


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