Next: “Going to the dentist is so much fun people will stop buying toothpaste”

Of all the many things that allegedly threaten the institution of marriage, I would have to agree that “online dating is so incredibly awesome nobody could ever want to be monogamous” is one of the least credible.

43 comments on this post.
  1. wjts:

    …he presents as evidence quotes from male online dating executives who say stuff like, “I often wonder whether matching you up with great people is getting so efficient, and the process so enjoyable, that marriage will become obsolete.”

    Good glavin!

  2. Matt:

    I’m confused. The author is upset that Slater didn’t interview enough people, but then ends her own piece by making sweeping generalizations of internet dating based on her own, narrow experiences? I’m trying not to read this too cynically, but the final paragraph seems a bit out of place.

  3. DrDick:

    You have to wonder if any of these idiots has ever used one of those sites. I have not but a number of friends have and they all have horror stories.

  4. Jon:

    I think you may have missed the point. Amanda Hess wasn’t criticizing Slater for not interviewing enough people, but rather for the bias introduced by the entire classes of people (like, say, women) missing. She then uses her own experience to illustrate this point. It’s honestly not thar complicated.

  5. laura:

    I endorse the analogy of online dating to going to the dentist, but it seems cynical to imply that marriage is like brushing your teeth. Surely a good marriage is like eating a big piece of cake and *then* brushing your teeth.

  6. STH:

    Yeah, the article didn’t demonstrate a problem with online dating; it demonstrated a problem with people like “Jacob,” who don’t really care about anyone or anything but themselves. He seemed to be looking to fulfill a set of requirements, so he kept looking for the best candidate for the job, but didn’t have any real interest in the people he was dating. I thought the sentence about how he really liked this one woman because she was much younger than he (but his friends found they didn’t have anything in common with her) to be pretty revealing. Proper conclusion to draw is to not get involved with a shallow twit.

  7. STH:

    I have my own horror story (spent way too much time chasing after an unavailable man I met online; I think now he was probably married), but I also met my SO of four years at Match.com. So it can work, and I think it’s fantastic for people like me–can write a decent profile, but shy and have few friends.

  8. Peter Hovde:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/government-to-defend-marriage-from-dashing-reginal,1993/

  9. Matt:

    Then why use her own bias to declare internet dating to be a “horrific den of humanity”? That’s not just pointing out his bias but declaring her own bias to be more important than his.

  10. The prophet Nostradumbass:

    Is that after he redorkulated?

  11. ironic irony:

    My husband’s friend uses online dating sites, and has no success. She also participates in a ton of other activities (hoping to meet her Mr. Right), but that has also turned up nothing. Hopefully, she’ll find somebody one day.

    P.S. You know what “threatens” the institution of marriage? Divorce. Which mostly occurs between straight people. But divorce will never go away. I mean, how will Newt keep “upgrading”?

  12. Fraser:

    But she’s wrong to think including women would have made much difference. If (as the Atlantic piece suggests) they’re less interested in rapid turnover, that just plays into the OMG Men Won’t Commit Marriage Is Doomed! school of pop bullshit.

  13. Sammy:

    To imply that there aren’t female versions of Jacob (Jacoba?) out there is to have never dated women online. This is, in my experience, not a gender issue.

  14. rea:

    You heteros keep ruining marriage for the rest of us . . .

  15. rea:

    You heteros keep ruining marriage for the rest of us . . .

  16. Lurker:

    Here, one should clearly distinguish between three things, which are all awesome:
    * being in a stable, loving relationship (shortly: “loving one’s SO”)
    * falling in love
    * enjoying the thrill of the hunt.

    Of the all three, being in a stable, loving relationship is the most stable and, sometimes, boring situation. It is the cosy warmth of the hearth and double bed. The happiness of living with one’s family (be it two or more people). (Archetype: the Rostov family in “War and Peace”)

    Falling in love is the endorphine-filled state of being in the high heavens after finding the love. It is the delirious happiness of understanding that there is a person who defies description, so lovable they are. Even the ground is better after it has been trodden upon by them. If the love is returned, so much better. (Archetype: Romeo and Juliet)

    The thrill of seeking for love is no lesser than the two others. It is the adrenaline rush that comes from any hunting endeavour. The enjoyment of looking for the subtle signals and answering two them in the correct manner. The exciting risk of rejection, and the rewards it carries. And finally, if the endeavour is successful, the physical pleasure, and, perhaps, the happiness of falling in love. (Archetypical figure: Casanova)

    None of these pleasures is, in my opinion, bad in itself, although all can be (and often are) tainted with selfishness, violence and subjugation of other human beings.

    On the internet dating sites, however, you can only experience only two of these three types of pleasure. You can, definitely, enjoy the hunt on-line, and even fall in love on-line. Nonetheless, you cannot share your hearth with another person on-line.

  17. Derelict:

    Dating once you’re over 50 is a freaking nightmare. I’ve been looking for Ms. Right (or even Ms. Right Now) for a year, and have found very few available women, and even fewer who were not trying to load their previous baggage onto their next relationship.

    Gah!

  18. Kurzleg:

    Indeed. I was lucky enough to find someone and get married without having to spend all that long dating. Online or otherwise, I never found dating all that enjoyable. That could certainly be shortcoming on my part, but that was my experience.

  19. JoyfulA:

    The best way to find Ms. Right is doing what you’re doing now. I was widowed and not looking for anyone new; he was divorced and had decided he was not good marriage material. We were commenting on the same blog and, kind of naturally, started commenting to each other. Then we emailed each other, a lot. Then we started talking on the phone. After a $900 cell phone bill, he made the 800-mile trek to meet in person. We were already in love before we ever saw each other, and that was 2004.

    I thought our meeting was the most bizarre happenstance ever, and then I discovered that many people I knew casually online had met their spouses in exactly the same way. It makes sense in that you have interests in common or you wouldn’t be hanging out at the same blog.

    I would never have considered online dating sites. Friends who have did not get good results, by my lights, and anyway I really wasn’t interested in finding a boyfriend, husband, or SO.

    BTW, my off-line friends were horrified, for example, “How do you know he isn’t an ax murderer?”

  20. DrDick:

    I have do my best to do so! ;-)

  21. Hogan:

    “How do you know I’m not an ax murderer?”

  22. Chuchundra:

    My experiences are eight years out of date, but I certainly enjoyed my time internet dating. I met a lot of interesting women, went on a bunch of dates and generally had a good time until I met my wife in December of 2004.

    It was maybe a bit different for me than for a lot of others. I was in my late 30′s, just out of a bad marriage and not looking for anything serious or permanent. I was probably a lot more like Jacob than I’d care to admit.

  23. Malaclypse:

    Anybody that would sell cellular services provided by the Lidless Eye probably is something worse, actually.

  24. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I imagine online dating sites are a godsend for many people, especially people who are shy or busy or maybe just live in a really small or rural area.

    The lesson I take from the piece is not that online dating is awful, but that Jacob is.

  25. LeeEsq:

    This article was really stupid but it does have
    a small grain of truth. I think that online dating
    does lead people to come to judgment quicker
    and less likely to give people a chance. There is
    usually a sense of I could do better

  26. Scott Lemieux:

    Right, I don’t read Hess as saying that online dating is useless or anything, just that the idea that it will make marriage obsolete doesn’t make sense.

  27. Jon:

    1) Saying that Internet dating sites are full of terrible people isn’t saying that everyone on Internet ratings sites is terrible; it’s a simple observation immediately apparent to anyone who’s ever used an online dating service.

    2) Saying that a given perspective provides a counter-example and thus a negation to a broad, generalizing argument isn’t bias and isn’t privileging that perspective over others. To simplify: basing broad argument on one perspective while ignoring others = bias. Demonstrating that other perspectives exist != bias. Again, not that complicated.

  28. Jon:

    The problem with Slater’s article was not that he didn’t interview women like Jacob (who do exist, of course) but that he didn’t interview the women dating Jacob who might have different attitudes regarding the awesomeness of his lifestyle and the threat it poses to marriage as a result of that awesomeness.

  29. Richard:

    I haven’t used those services but my son met his current girlfriend who he just moved in with through a service (She’s great – I’m hoping for a marriage soon), my best friend has had generally good experiences with them (although no love of his life yet) and my stepdaughter has started seeing someone she met through one site and which looks promising. In this day and age when people don’t go to bars and other such places as much as they used to, they seem like a good option.

  30. Lee:

    A lot of the married couples that I know, who are about my age, met either in college or in graduate school. In two cases they met in high school. They didn’t necessarily start dating in high school or college but their personal conncection was established fairly early. It seems that most of the people I know, including myself, who didn’t meet their partner during college or graduate school are having a very hard time finding somebody to even date consistently let alone marry.

    Part of it is because people are very busy. Another part is because a lot of people wonder if they wait a little bit longer than something better, Mr. or Ms. Right, would come along rather than settling for Mr. or Ms. Good Enough.

  31. Anna in PDX:

    My experience was in 2009 and closely mirrored yours. I really enjoyed the whole thing. It was a bit weird but it was also very interesting to read all the profiles and I found the whole ability to screen people in some detail to be reassuring and helpful. I had been in a terrible marriage for 17 years and had been married very early with next to no dating experience – and am naturally pretty shy. I was around 40 and found a wonderful man, who I am still with now, in fairly short order (about a month or so after setting up the profile and after only one other date).

  32. Linnaeus:

    I met a woman online with whom I had a five-year relationship, and when it ended, it ended amicably with no lasting resentments or hard feelings (there was a bit of sadness, of course, as you might expect when any relationship ends). I’ve met other women online for dates and while they didn’t pan out into anything long term, I wouldn’t say that the experiences were any better or worse, on the whole, than dating experiences I had with women I met through more traditional avenues.

  33. Hob:

    The existence of jerks with an amazing sense of entitlement isn’t a gender issue; their prevalence and pushiness on dating sites is. Anyone of any gender who’s ever checked the “interested in men” box on their profile is aware of this.

  34. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Yeah. Especially because I think most people who are actively searching for “that someone” probably is at least somewhat marriage-minded. And not an asshole like Jacob.

  35. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I understand how that works in the beginning. But once you’ve met someone? If that’s your way of thinking, you probably have a severe personality disorder.

  36. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    BTW, I mean “you” in the collective sense, not as in you, LeeEsq.

  37. herr doktor bimler:

    This new “romantic attachment” life-style is ruining arranged marriages.

  38. Hogan:

    Hey, all the graverobbing jobs were filled.

  39. Richard:

    Thats my take. Seem like they aren’t worse than “regular” dating – meeting at bars or other places where single people congregate, blind dates- and they have considerable advantages which could make them better.

  40. STH:

    Yeah, I love the prescreening aspect of it, too. I live in a pretty religious, conservative area and I’m neither of those things. So I could specify that I was an atheist lefty who didn’t want kids and I was “matched” to the same kind of person. I think I had my profile up for a weekend when I got an e-mail from a new member whose profile wasn’t even up yet, but he’d gotten a message from the site with potential “matches,” including me. That was in July 2008 and we’re still going strong.

  41. STH:

    When you’re in college, it’s easier because it’s a whole lot of single people thrown together. But where are you going to meet singles if you’re in your 30s or 40s? Everybody that I worked with when I was single was paired up, and my hobbies were solitary ones. I wasn’t about to hang out in bars and I’m way too shy to approach people I don’t know, so that left online dating.

  42. JoyfulA:

    True. After all, I was the widow.

  43. Crackity Jones:

    A friend met her husband through one of these sites. Good match up. They can work, although this was in Corning so I think it very much depends on locale.

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