There is no question that online dating is changing the human experience. Daters evaluate photos, read a few facts, and decide whether to pursue the person in the profile. Dating apps give so many options, and, of course, it can give analysis paralysis. There is such a thing as having too many options. But the people I have talked to about their experience on dating apps all seem to say the same thing: They hate the apps. They’ve told me the apps can be a good way to meet people, but in general, they are having a pretty miserable experience. Yet they are still engaging in them. The reasons people don’t like the apps are different, depending on whether they are male or female.
I’m fascinated by the online dating world. I have never actually engaged in online dating, only because when I was of the age when online dating apps came on the scene, I was in a long-term relationship with my boyfriend, and I had longer relationships thereafter. I just never had a need to date online, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have. I understand why people do it. Times are changing, culture is changing, and people find dating online to be more convenient. I think this is especially the case as you get older because your lifestyle changes. Maybe you’re not hitting the bar every Friday and Saturday and brunching all day on Sunday. Maybe you want to stay home more. Maybe you’re cooking more. So, you’re not meeting as many people. All of that makes sense to me. But people overwhelmingly say they don’t love the app experience.
I asked a few men about the online dating world, and their number one complaint was that women lie about how they look. Apparently, women are heavily editing their pictures and posting them on these dating apps. Then, when a man shows up to a date, maybe the woman looked like that 20 years ago — or 20 pounds ago. But the woman in the photo looks nothing like the one sitting in front of him. This seems like a bizarre concept. What is the purpose? She thinks she was going to dupe him or that once he sees her, he’ll stay for her personality? The idea is, the guy is going to see you. In fact, if I had an online dating profile, I would use a picture in which I looked slightly less attractive than I do in real life because I would want the guy to be pleasantly surprised when he meets me. So why are women lying about how they look? Why are they pretending they have a different smile, body, skin tone?
When I talked to women about using dating apps, their number one complaint was that men will reach out to them, say hello, and start a conversation. But when they respond, the guys go cold. With the guys, they are reaching out to women, making an effort, and then never responding to them. That’s also strange.
To try to understand the motivation behind this, I asked women why they heavily edit their photos. One responded saying that cameras add a few extra pounds. (I could go along with that if we were still in the ‘90s before technology was really figured out. But I don’t think that holds true in 2023.) Another woman said she edits the lighting or background but not anything of herself. That seems fair. A third woman said she is not photogenic, and other women agreed with this because sometimes when you see someone in person, they look more attractive than in a photo.
But it is the next person who I believe gave the honest answer. She said she edits herself to impress and because of her own insecurities. I think this is the answer that really gets to the heart of the issue. It seems a lot of women are editing photos because they do not anticipate meeting in real life. Often, when people are feeling insecure or lonely, the apps give them something to do while also boosting these ladies’ self-confidence as men send messages commenting on their beauty or desire to date. If the date never materializes, at least they feel they were picked first; at least they feel like men were looking at them. That’s why, if they’re honest, women are essentially lying and advertising something that isn’t real.
On the male side, the issue seems to be different. The way their mind processes these apps seems to be a numbers game. If a man reaches out to 40 girls, all with varying looks, he might receive a message from four A-plus girls. So, he decides he’ll focus his time on just those four; if no A-plus girls return a message, he will move down the line. The men are thinking that eventually they will catch a big enough fish.
This is one of the ways in which the world has promoted an advancement that has actually become a regression. People don’t know how to speak to each other, lack confidence to have face-to-face conversations, and hide behind apps. People don’t have the confidence to address their own insecurities, so they linger behind apps. They are comfortable behind apps. As our confidence is shrinking, we are telling the world more lies, and perhaps, even worse, we are telling ourselves lies.