Dating Sites Are Not Built for Men

If you’re a man on a dating site, and you’re not immensely photogenic, you should seek romance through other means immediately. It’s really hard to be attractive to women on dating sites, because dating sites are a terrible venue for male attractiveness.

Okay, let’s back up a bit. Lots of men feel like female attraction is similar to male attraction. This is really dumb, and, if our sex were capable of intuitive social understanding, we would immediately figure this out. (Here, I am speaking to my past self as well as you.) However, this is not our strong suit. In general, we’re good at following simple instructions, being obsessive about small particularities of guitar solos, and not caring about things.

Here’s the difference.

Generally, male attraction is appearance-first. We check someone out, and, if they’re cute, they enter into our consideration. Only afterwards do the considerations become more nuanced. We do consider personality and compatibility, obviously, but if you’re not over a certain looks threshold, you’re probably not going to receive further examination. There are exceptions but they’re not too common.

Women understand this. They see it on your face. They know what you’re about. They realize that you’re lying when you say you don’t like it when they wear makeup.

(By the way, you should assume that I understand, writing all of the following, that I’m speaking in generalities, and I understand that there are exceptions to these principles, and subtle nuances outside the scope of this post, because I’m not an absolute fucking moron.)

Female attraction is typically, uh, different. What happens is that women intuitively develop this whole complex story about you, based on a large number of factors. The factors being measured include, but are not limited to: your status within the local group, your confidence, your shoes, your sense of humor, and how likely it is that you’ll maintain equipoise during a natural disaster. And your attractiveness level is based on this whole gestalt. To summarize it in a very male way, what’s important is your overall value, and a lot of things go into that.

And, yes, your looks are a component—a significant one—but they’re not the final say. If you’re average-looking, but you score exceptionally well on the aforementioned dimensions, it kind of changes how you look. It’s like you’re being conveyed by an exceptionally flattering painter. Weird, right?

(This explains how I managed to marry the woman I married.)

Exploring this further—have you ever heard a female friend describe a handsome but unsuitable man as ‘gross’? She actually means it. The narrative factors can take you so far out of the realm of attractiveness that your handsomeness is totally negated. You’ve become ugly in a profound, emotional way. And women really don’t like this kind of ugly man. This is something that most men would never feel. We might really hate Megan Fox movies, but we’d never find her repulsive.

Anyway. This implies that if you want to be more attractive, and date more people, you should address your life as a whole—you should make yourself an interesting, fun person to be with, and figure out your haircut. It also implies that you should also stop using dating sites. On dating sites, you have no way of presenting all of these other dimensions of self that can be attractive. It’s be extremely handsome or take a big hit to your desirability immediately.

Many average-looking men, not understanding this, wander onto dating sites, do terribly, and conclude that they have no chances of dating someone they find attractive. (Again, my past self is being addressed here.) But, instead, if they went to the gym, worked on being less cowardly and emotionally messy, and started doing interesting things with their lives, in some social context that involved at least occasional contact with women, they’d do fine.

This takes us to this OKCupid graph, which is routinely misunderstood. (Source here.)

Lots of men see this graph and get bitter. Understandable! On first glance, it’s highly dispiriting. Over 80% of men are below-average in looks, and a resounding zero score a full ten out of ten. (Compare this to the male graph, where it’s demonstrated that men have an intuitive understanding of the normal distribution even when they’re desperately scrolling through dating sites.)

But what this graph is actually doing is measuring how much women are interested in men based on looks alone. Which is not very much.

And that’s what you’re fighting against if you’re online dating. Sure, you can write a cute profile. But women understand that you can lie on your cute profile. What you say about yourself doesn’t matter, unless you’re remarkably clever. And that could be seen as suspicious too. Writing a super-clever profile can form a counter-narrative: if you’re attractive, why do you need to make such an effort? It can seem desperate.

Now. Okay. Does this mean you can’t date on the internet at all? Absolutely not. It means that every other social networking site is a better dating site than OkCupid. On Facebook, women can see your social interactions, how funny you are, how much other people like you, and so on. Same with Twitter, same with (sort of) Instagram. So if you absolutely must date on the internet, the thing to do is hang out on Twitter and make friends.

But you should probably leave your house and work on improving yourself instead.