I am so glad I’m out of the dating scene…

And now for something outside my usual range…

As I talk to more and more single people who are roughly my age, it becomes apparent to me that the Internet dating scene has become both gigantic and socially acceptable in the time I’ve been off the market–whatever stigma there once was to dating services has apparently completely vanished in the Internet age. This is cool: certainly I know a lot of people who started out that way and have ended up happy, and almost every rational case makes the idea a good one–but I apparently have been off the dating scene, and not thinking about dating at all, for long enough that I haven’t internalized that social change1. It’s just one of the signs that the world of dating has changed significantly since I was last in it.

There are some things about the change that would, I guess, work in my favour, had I not luckily found Dr. Wife. I mean, did you see that article about how women–despite what they may say–actually want stubbly geeks with chest hair? I have that locked down.

Or that study of online daters that “found that women put a premium on income and height when deciding which men to contact”–I run 6′ 2″ and I do pretty OK in the finance department. Apparently a shorter person would have to make a lot more money to get the same attention as me–according to the study, someone 5′ 9″ would have to make $150,000 more than I do in order to be seen as equally desirable. (This makes me wonder about my friend Jeff, who’s like 6′ 8″ or something, and a successful engineer/manager at a big telecom–he should have online dating women following him around town!)

Men, of course, are just as shallow, if not moreso. Partly this is because certain kinds of women actually affect us like a drug–we actually get stoned on the hourglass figure. I don’t know why, but I find that result more hilarious than almost any science I’ve read this year.

There’s also some research that says that the “sweet young thing” paranoia certain women feel is justified–men who are looking for dates think dating way young is OK, and will actually try to date even younger than they admit is OK.

Take a long at OKCupid’s blog about what men and women indicate as their acceptable age range. Men basically treat their own age (more-or-less) as their stated top acceptable range, and the bottom end of their acceptable range gets further from their age as they get older. That by itself is enough to confirm the “sweet young thing” idea. But then if you look at who the men actually contact on the site, things get interesting–they do follow their own stated maximum, but they actually contact women including many significantly lower than their stated acceptable minimum. In the chart it looks like 50-year old dudes have an average minimum around 30, but actually contact just as many women between 22 and 30 as in their stated range. Yikes.

Women also have a range that gets bigger as they age, but only slightly–nothing like the cone of the men’s data–and they tend to set the minimum close to their own age, and have an acceptable range that extends a few (6-8) years above their age. Quite a different pattern from the men. Who they contact is also much close to what they say is acceptable–they have some spillover on the older side, which men don’t have, and some on the younger side, but to a markedly smaller degree than men (and that’s spillover from a tighter range to start with.)

That’s all very interesting, and revealing, but you know what is depressing? When you read down far enough to see the How A Person’s Desirability Changes With Time chart. Yes, men have it better than women there, but still I’m well over the hill on that graph. Indeed, I’m actually at the “average” point–if I were single, from now on my age would cause me to be less desirable than the average man in the dating pool, and that would get worse every year.

(The counter for that depression, of course, is to remember that I may be getting older, but I have already locked down fortunately managed to marry a smart, funny, hot wife. This is the real meaning of the post title.)

You should read the rest of the post where they make a pretty impassioned case for single guys to date older women. There’s lots of interesting stuff in there.

Thinking about all of that makes me glad I’m out, not just from the “I found a great person to get out with” perspective but also from the “man, it’s just all too much” perspective–I want a story about how we met2, not an explanation of how I used the statistics at my service to find someone who was likely to be interested in me.

And it will only get more different from what I remember. I mean I still haven’t really internalized net-dating, so how am I supposed to deal with a world where people are seriously test dating on private holodecks?

Say it with me: we’re living in science fiction.

  1. This is probably just because I haven’t spent the same amount of time thinking about it. I know lots of people in from various online communities who started relationships there, etc, so “we met on the Internet” seems normal to me, but I haven’t actually spent a lot of time talking to people about dating services, etc. I’ll get past it–it’s just a matter of spending the effort to have reason beat down the social programming from my youth.(back)
  2. Good meeting story may not always mean good relationships, but you can’t dine out on “dating service” as the answer. Trish and I, incidentally, have a really good, if long, one that covers a lot of territory, including something like three years where we couldn’t stand each other.(back)

  2 comments for “I am so glad I’m out of the dating scene…

  1. Trish
    March 1, 2010 at 9:56 am

    You’ve locked me down? Seriously?

  2. March 1, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I think you may be confusing the phrase “lock down”, which like the similar one “lock in” can mean “to commit unalterably” with “lockdown” meaning “to further restrict the already constrained freedoms of prison inmates”. Although both probably apply.

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This work by Chris McLaren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada.