Tuthmosis is a Columnist-at-Large at Return of Kings. His work has been covered by major media outlets such as The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Vice Magazine, The Daily Mail, and Yahoo Shine. He’s also been profiled by BuzzFeed and The New Statesman. You can follow him on Twitter.
Like it or not, online dating has emerged as a legit player in the dating market in recent years. What was once the repository for the dregs of female creation has become—for better and worse—a go-to dating option for a growing segment of (even top-shelf) girls.
The whole process is really the product of a perfect storm in the American dating market.
Reasonably attractive girls, increasingly suspicious of—and awkward around—strangers don’t go “out” as much as they used to, less amenable to the prospect of being approached by “creepy guys,” even as men approach girls less and less. Economic realities and cultural shifts have also made going out less appealing. With fewer men able, or willing, to fall for the old drink scam—voluntarily paying for drinks in exchange for face-time—girls are having to loosen their tightfisted grips on their wallets for a night on the town. When they do go out, they go out in a defensive posture that’s not conducive to meeting a guy. Then, naturally, when they don’t meet the man of their dreams, they confirm their bias against bars and clubs.
What’s more, an increasing reliance on social networking to engage the world has rendered today’s Western woman a social retard—who wouldn’t know how to talk to Prince Charming if he was standing next to her with an engagement ring in his hand—and for whom dating electronically is not a far stretch from their normal, cell-phone-addicted habits. Like Facebook, online dating sites allow them to field countless sausage offers “safely,” without the inconvenience and challenges of having to gracefully reject a prospect to his face, or the minutes-long feeling of discomfort while she watches a guy crash-and-burn his presentation. Girls, as I have written elsewhere, have hair-trigger tolerances for awkwardness and discomfort. They’ll do anything to avoid situations that cause them the faintest amount of either.
Then there’s today’s man, who is more emasculated and clueless about how to properly approach and charm a girl than even a scant generation ago. They’re buying into obsolete conventions and long-discredited myths that render them friendzoned before they even get out of the gate. A growing number of the quality guys—disillusioned by crushing male-to-female ratios, high drink costs, cockblocking, the fatty epidemic, and other night-life realities—have largely checked out of the club-and-bar scene. And, like their female counterparts, many of today’s guys use electronic crutches like Facebook to fawn over girls from the safety of their room—feeding the vicious attention-whoring-from-a-distance cycle.
After dismissing online dating, for years, as little more than a crutch for approach anxiety, a time-suck with little real yield, and dumpster diving, I slowly recognized these forces converging. Over the course of the past two years, I have spent, literally, thousands of hours pouring over online profiles, unwittingly learning more about online dating (and, frankly, the female psyche) than I thought possible in that time. These hours have yielded countless dates and, more importantly, a deep well of knowledge.
These are some immutable laws that I’ve uncovered:
1. Her Worst Picture Is What She Will Actually Look Like.
Today’s girl has her picture taken dozens of times—if nothing else, by her iPhone-wielding friends—every time she goes out. She gets constant input on Facebook, and elsewhere, about how she looks and when she looks best. Add to that, that from an even younger age, she has learned how to pose for the camera (or hold the camera herself) to maximize how flattering a picture turns out. I’m no longer surprised when I see average 13-year-olds striking competent step-and-repeat postures, undoubtedly learned from Kim Kardashian and her ilk.
When a girl chooses pictures for her online profile, she brings that deep knowledge of her physiology and, quite plainly, photography, to bear. In this respect, she’s leaps and bounds ahead of the average dude. That means that when you’re looking at a girls’ profile pictures, you’re likely seeing the best two or three shots—among thousands—sitting in her Apple-brand laptop. This almost ensures that they aren’t representative, and explains why she will more closely resemble the worst of the selection. In my experience, there was one exception, but that is statistically insignificant.
2. Learn to Smoke Out the Secret Internet Fatties
One of the plagues of the online revolution has been the Secret Internet Fatty (SIF). Cynically manipulating the aforementioned knowledge of photography, fat girls will often use subterfuge to minimize or conceal her liability. This goes beyond the infamous—and now well-understood— Myspace-Angles technique of taking pictures from an oblique angle above her head to minimize size. Fatties use a panoply of other, subtler tricks that emphasize her best traits and distract an unsuspecting, or ill-trained, online-dater from her worst. These are often simple crimes of omission. A girl with a cute face, but a dumpy body, often fills her profile with nothing but head shots, tightly and strictly cropped at the neck.
Here’s the bottom line: a girl knows when her body is nice, and will invariably show it off—often by crassly dangling it in your face. If she’s concealing it, it’s because it’s not worthwhile. Period. If a girl only looks fat in one of her pictures, but look seemingly normal in the rest, remember Commandment No. 1. She will be fat.
Some other likely giveaways of a SIF (or other bad optics):
- Includes fewer than three pictures in her profile.
- Has anything other than “thin” or “skinny” (or similar) in her body description field. “Athletic” and “average” can, and do, often correspond to a fat girl.
- Displays the tell-tale fat arms, invisible collar bone, or sausage-finger hands.
- Broadcasts clear over-emphasis of one part of the body (breasts, ass, legs), to the exclusion of the other parts.
- Pictured with ugly or fat friends only (cute girls have cute friends, always).
- Pictured with food or at a restaurant. A girl has abundant pictures with food because she’s often eating, and that’s the only social activity she knows.
3. Know the Realities of Online-Dating and Adjust Accordingly
Girls on online-dating sites are like Wall Street traders on the New York Stock Exchange floor, at closing. Total sausage chaos. They’re getting non-stop offers, and they’re doing their best to field all of the best ones. People are jumping and throwing stuff. The bell is ringing. The ticker is flying. Even if she’s not a big-time trader, all of this attention and activity is making her feel like she is one.
Know that if your girl is available, she’s going to be available for a short while, and dudes are putting in proposals non-stop. Not all of those offers are going to be good, so on-point messaging and logistical planning will help you stand out from the noise.
4. Constantly Screen for Tire Kickers, Prudes, Job-Interviewers, and Other Pests
SIFs aren’t your only problem in the online universe. There are other time- and resource-wasting landmines lurking in the shadows. You can never insulate yourself 100 percent, but learn to read profiles, messages, and “match questions” intelligently to spot signals of a problem.
Problem : Tire Kickers
Description : Time-wasting shoppers who are indecisive about going on actual dates, “just checking things out,” and simply folding online dating into their daily 10 hours of online activity.
Symptoms : Responds too quickly, and elaborately (there’s a balance between a thought-out message and an overly elaborate message); balks at the idea of going on a date, but keeps messaging with you; explicitly mentions inexperience or apprehension in her profile.
Symptoms : Mentions things like wanting to “be friends first then [seeing] what happens”; resolute anti-sexual stance in sex-related questions; non-drinkers; religious types.
Description : Sport daters who go out on tons of online dates, treating each batch of dudes as an evaluative round of elimination.
Symptoms : Careerist chicks; mentions of having tried online dating before; unsolicited mentions of prior dates in discussion or profile.
Not only is your prospect getting offers on a daily basis, but online conversations go stale pretty quickly. There’s no magic number, but I find that if I send more than four of five messages, with the last one being an offer to meet up and a phone-number request, I’ve gone too long. You eventually get a knack for it, but better to rush setting up a date a little bit than wait too long.
Online dating is here to stay. Whatever that means about “society,” realize it’s not any better or any worse than anything else out there. Like any source for mating prospects—probably from the moment that first amphibian walked onto dry land—online dating is filled with its own set of annoyances, perils, and, more importantly, hacks.
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