Dating: I Give Up (part deux)

Sometimes I like to do social experiments on the internet. So yesterday I reactivated my OkCupid account, added a cleavage selfie, and ticked the box for casual sex. Inevitably, a fresh photo leads to an influx of bizarre messages, so I thought I’d share a few I’ve received in the past 24 hours.

Bob, 52, West LA: “How are you today Pretty Woman?” (…not in a Julia Roberts film?)

beanie-wearer, 44, Renton: “Hi”

bald, broody, 36, Lynnwood: “Hi there” (I sense a theme)

self-proclaimed arrogant douche, 42, Bellevue: “I must admit I find your impish grin/lustful gaze intriguing. I think I would like to know more.” (believe me, I am not gazing at you lustfully)

Alex, 37, Iskenderun, Turkey: “you look beautiful” (okay, and?)

guy in backward baseball cap, 31, Seattle: “Hey there :)”

Alex, 26, Seattle: “HEY 🙂 you staying outta trouble so far this weekend? HEHEHE” (Well, I’m not getting into trouble with any 26-yr-old boys…)

another 26-yr-old, Seattle: “are you really 42?” (if I were going to lie about it, I’d go with 32)

man holding baby, 42, Maple Valley: “Good evening how are you” (ask again when you figure out punctuation)

bare torso, 33, Seattle: “Wow, stop being so hot! I have a public job so I am looking a discrete female who is open minded for fun. If that is you get back to me.. dont be shy!” (public job? what?)

another 26-yr-old, Everett: “There’s no better way to savor your 40s then with a 26yo ;)” (yes there is.)

Ty, 23, Lincoln, NE: “Are you into sending pics?” (hahahahaha. you’re 23! sure, send me some pics! ew.)

27-yr-old, Lynnwood: “Good morning good looking :)”  (mmmkay)

25-yr-old, India: “Hello sexy lady how r u” (oh, fine, thanks.)

Scott, 36, Bellingham: “How are you doing” (ask again when you figure out punctuation)

Drew, 22, Seattle: “Wanna cuddle? :)” (you’re 22! I could be your mom!)

Jordan, 37, Romeoville, IL: “Spread your ass hole wet” (Thanks for your suggestion.)

guy skiing, 51, Seattle: “can’t determine from your profile if you are open to the prospect of getting to know a man in an open relationship…” (your profile states that posting your photo on OKC could jeopardize your career… that doesn’t sound very “open”)

engineer, 37, Bellevue: “Coffee????” (in this case, more words and fewer question marks may be in order.)

These are just a sampling of the 50ish messages I’ve received since yesterday. There are also some perfectly reasonable notes, and some too dull to bother mentioning, like, “Have you been enjoying the beautiful weather?” I’m not particularly motivated to actually go on dates, but I might be up for some Coffee????


Dating: I Give Up

Oh, don’t worry, I’m not going to resign myself to a life of celibacy or deny the possibility of a future life partner. But I am going to set reasonable expectations regarding my relationships with men, especially when it comes to online dating.

I’ve started reading Dataclysm  — because I am fascinated by this stuff — and the first chapter illustrates clearly that online dating is a losing game for women over… 23. Yeah, I said 23.

Based on profile ratings alone, men of any age in the 20-50 year old set, only rate women highly up to the age of 23. Women, on the other hand, seem to prefer men in a similar age range to themselves. Women in their twenties like men a little older, while women in their forties like them a little younger, but only ever by a few years. The difference between the genders is striking in this behavior.

Men do tend to search in an age range closer to their own, but these women are not the ones getting their high ratings and clicks. This chart shows the delta between searching and “liking” for men at a given age, and the one below shows how women rate men.



While I’ve met plenty of men who don’t seem particularly interested in dating women in their early twenties, I’ve also known enough men in their thirties or forties who have had cataclysmic (or simply stunted) relationships with very young women, that this data seems likely to hold some truth.

So, as a heterosexual woman of 42, I’m screwed (sadly not literally). I’ve met plenty of decent guys through online dating, and a few indecent ones. I’ve had some second or third dates, some booty calls, and made a couple of friends. But no real sparks. Over the course of a decade. Not that I date all the time — I have had a few months of online dating spurts over those years — I tend to get dating fatigue quickly.

Looking at this data makes me wonder if online dating works at all for a woman of my age. I am more likely to be attractive to a 20 year old boy looking for a cougar hookup than I am to a fifty year old man looking for a partner. Who wants a grumpy old cat when there are all of those frisky kittens available? The illusion of infinite choice may be undermining all of our chances to get serious with one person as we get older.

I’m not giving up, really. I know that I can still make real connections, and I know there are some men over thirty-five out there who are smart enough not to get their faces scratched off by kittens.