We Just Clicked: Why Internet Dating is a Hit and Miss Afair


KJKJ2 wishes there were more women like me in the world and Makemyday tells me I look amazing and adds, “you defo must be run off your feet here big time”. Having joined the dating site plentyoffish.com a few hours ago, I’m already navigating a swarming inbox of amorous epistles. I am one of 11 million users of the world’s largest free online dating website and as I write there are 101,482 of us online. My details have been cybernetically ordered so that my profile appears primarily to local gentleman. The number of Dubliners that have already contacted me is startling. 

Preconceptions are dispelled when I meet Anthony: a sandy-haired 22 year-old graduate of Business at DIT. He joined two online dating communities in November 2007 after the break-up of a relationship. “Initially, it was a reaction to that”, he tells me, “but now it’s just a way of putting myself out there”. ‘Putting himself out there’ is evidently not something Anthony has difficulty with. We meet on a Friday afternoon and he’s craving a night in after being out socializing every other night of the past week. “I need an evening off”, he says and laughs when I suggest curling up to Ryan Tubbers with a tubbers of Ben&Jerrys best cookie dough.

“It’s not a case of not being able to meet girls” Anthony elaborates, “it’s more the matter of finding it difficult to gauge what they’re looking for”. On a dating site, intentions are selected from a drop-down menu. In person, you need to attend a traffic light ball for the boundaries between stop and go to be established. Anthony refuses all communication from those looking for the euphemistically-described “intimate encounter”. “I’ve no interest in people seeking casual sex… I’m looking for dating that leads to a relationship” he tells me.

Looking for dating was seemingly also Dippy_Duck who contacted Anthony about a year ago. Their first encounter was “a really quick conversation as I had to go out-we swapped numbers quickly so we could keep chatting”. After exchanging texts and phonecalls, Anthony and Dippy_Duck decided to meet in person: “From her pictures, I thought she was cute, but to be honest, her photos were a bit different from what she looked like in reality”. Anthony (nice guy) is quick to qualify “I don’t mean that in a bad way, she just literally looked a bit different in real life!”

So how was Dippy_Duck in real life? “I’m sorry to say it”, Anthony says “but she was an absolute nutjob”. “She only met people online”, he recalls “and she was just looking to hook up casually…she had extraordinarily low self esteem and I was uncomfortable with her calling me seven or eight times a day”. Needless to say, they did not meet again.

The duck’s approach of Anthony is uncharacteristic of the politics of dating sites: “these places very much follow the rules of engagement.. it’s up to the man to make the first move, that is to send the first message”.   In line with expectation therefore, the gentlemen writing to me make their advances with varying degrees of charm and evidence of good character:

hi…

was just wondering around on website search looking for online people. and i saw you online so just wanted to throw hi….

ya can read about me in my profile.. it aint that bad neither am i. so hope you will consider messaging me back and that really would be more than appreciated.

peace to you

cuteypie3

Hello Anna,

My Name is William, and I too enjoy the poetry of Milton. I haven’t been on this site for too long, but I suspect that there aren’t too many others out there that read metaphysical poetry.

I’m also someone who enjoys writing, even if I never fully seem to get the time. So what sort of stuff do you write?

Dreamman14

Just browsin, haven’t been on here in a while but saw your pic and..well just have to say hi. And what’s the bets you’re cuter in person J go on say hi J

Durlangon

It’s never easy to know how to begin. Anthony usually picks up on something that was listed as an interest or hobby (kudos, Dreamman14) and makes a comment on it. It’s also important not to sound too dull: “hello, how are you?” is a bit boring, muses Anthony, “you don’t want to sound like everyone else”.

Flattered as I am by these poetic pursuits, what are the chances that cuteypie3 is in fact pseudosuitor72, creating a fraudulent identity à la ‘Anna’ (who does, incidentally, share many of my interests and personality traits)? According to Anthony, it’s quite easy to identify the scammers: “pictures that are very obviously photo-shopped and very general descriptions are a sure sign that you’re not dealing with a genuine person”.

Regardless of genuine people, there is genuine money to be made. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) reports that cyber dating comes second only to pornography as the largest segment of ‘paid content’ on the internet. In 2005, Americans paid in excess of $500 million to become members of online dating communities. In Ireland, users are split between paid services such as maybefriends.com and match.com and the free global sites financed exclusively by advertising such as okcupid.com and plentyoffish.com. According to a 2002 Wired Magazine article, finding a partner online is akin to a searching a library catalogue for a book rather than hoping the perfect title will fly off the shelves and into your hands: “Serendipity is the hallmark of inefficient markets”, they say and the marketplace of love, like it or not, is becoming more efficient. It’s no wonder that Anthony’s business acumen and openness combine to put him ahead of the crowd. Searching for a soulmate online beats naval gazing and it takes resolve to make your intentions be known. 

With more and more envelopes appearing in my inbox for “Anna”, I begin to feel uneasy. I consider myself a conscientious correspondent and I feel a pang of guilt at each unanswered missive. It’s all about passion though and to Dreamman14, if you are reading, this is the kind of thing I like to write.

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