The dating feedback loop — Part 2

After my first post about the dating feedback loop, I wanted to include a male perspective to make a more balanced conversation. While it may piss some women off, it is meant to shed light on another perspective — not to criticize. I spoke to men who are super aware of themselves and the people around them.

What do men think about the dating scene in San Francisco? Is it hard for them as well? What do men want, and what is their experience of dating us?

It often begins with the most trivial of gestures: a swipe to the right. Let’s face it, online dating is the primary means to meet people here in S.F. Men have a different selection strategy: volume. They are selective about who they want to be in a relationship with, but in order to find that person, they need to have a number of “prospects” in order to find that special someone. According to one guy, online dating could be a red flag. “Once I do see a match I have made offline, there are times where I see something off socially,” he said. There is a reason why some people are online instead of out there meeting real people, and it can be troubling. “Online dating is doing the same thing over and over again,” he said. “As time goes forward, you wake up and realize there are just less and less new people.”

Online dating and the swiping model takes what could be a collaborative process of “let’s figure out together if we’re a fit” into a mobile game where we’re objectified into a profile that someone can accept or reject in an instant. It sets us up to not take a date seriously when we do ultimately meet in person because no serious vetting has happened beforehand.

Another aspect of online dating that rarely gets addressed is how just a few lines give you very little room to be different. It isn’t a coincidence that many girls sound the same. They are just trying to highlight what they think is relevant even though there is a lot more there than meets the description and the picture. In a way, dating software forces us to sell ourselves short by its own limitation. Even more so, part of the problem with online dating is that many guys have made mistakes they aren’t over or don’t trust their judgment, so tend to be less sure of themselves.

So how do men go about meeting women offline? They go out and do things they like. This of course takes a man who isn’t shy and who doesn’t live off of the on-demand economy that keeps you inside your house. Men who actually interact with society by going to the gym, charity events or even the grocery store have a better chance of meeting someone. But this of course favors the friendly and outgoing. If men haven’t begun to think about really putting themselves out there and investing in an offline life, they will be alone more often, causing more women to be alone as a result. “It doesn’t matter if you are rich and your company is cool, you can definitely mess this up,” he said. “An easy way is by being too introverted.”

So what about age? This subject was most definitely the hardest to write about because it can seriously make women feel like shit — but I must represent for men. Age is an issue. Even for me at 30, I know part of my allure is gone. I am not in my 20s, not thinking about a serious relationship. “Being older is challenging,” according to a friend. “A girl’s outlook and prospects are diminished by being older.” According to the book, “Defining Decade” this age thing is also about challenging society to do what works for you but focusing more on what you build over your 20s. It contends that your 20s are a time to work hard professionally but also learn how to develop relationships.

Women want a ton of stuff and most of the time it is different. For women, there is nowhere in the conversation of dating that states what they want and how they are going to invest to get it. “Some guys strategize to meet women, but women don’t strategize to meet guys or strategize for guys to invest,” according to another friend. But according to the feedback loop, most women will have to let men come to them to be able to communicate their value.

There are tradeoffs to be made in the lives of men and women. If we focus solely on our careers, we may be sacrificing quality and lasting relationships, and this is something we should be very honest with ourselves about. How we invest our time will determine our results. We are also told not to settle.

But something here has to give. If we don’t put ourselves out there, figure out what we want, focus on building relationships and invest in ourselves, will we forever remain single?

With a background in journalism, Melissa Eisenberg has been working in the tech industry for eight years, currently leading the SF FashTech community.

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