Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Goodbye to All That

Now that "Women's History Month" is over and done with, I'd like to announce the conclusion I've reached from my long experiment with online "dating" sites.

It's that women are dumb.

No, that's not entirely fair. Let me rephrase that. It's that women are dumb, crazy, rude, and superficial.

It's a provocative finding, I know. Let me explain.

Why "Dating" Is in Quotation Marks

It's been nearly two years since I posted my first profile on a personals site. In all that time, I've had exactly one date. That lasted about an hour. With someone I wasn't too interested in. There were good reasons for my disinterest (e.g., I don't think I was just being fussy). I don't want to go into them in a public forum because it wouldn't be gentlemanly. You will have to trust me.

Anyway, this sad track record is not due to a lack of trying on my part. I've emailed dozens of women. (Only dozens? Why not more? someone might ask. My response: I tried, quite reasonably, to email only those who sounded interesting to me and whose "requirements" I seemed to meet.) There are probably few people who have put as much effort as I have into being almost totally ignored.

I varied my approach in the emails. I learned early on that taking the time to write really clever or thoughtful letters was a waste. So, too, were funny letters. Also friendly, polite letters. Ditto short and sweet letters. And complimentary letters. In other words, whatever I tried, it was very often the case that the woman in question was too ill mannered to even acknowledge my email. By the time I gave up, I got the feeling that a form letter would have been the most efficient use of my time. How romantic.

And no, it wasn't a matter of the women not being able to respond because they weren't paid subscribers. Maybe in a small number of cases. But on the web site I used most of the time, it was free to respond to someone: It only cost you (i.e., me) to initiate a conversation.

Maybe I'm Just Lame?

For many years, this sort of thing did make me think I must be some kind of loser. And, of course, I do have my faults, like anyone else. But I've come to realize that, on balance, there's really nothing wrong with me. I'm not Brad Pitt, but I'm not ugly either. I have a well developed sense of humor. I'm reasonably bright and have a college education. I'm steadily employed and have been for years. I'm not wealthy, but I'm generally financially responsible. I'm loyal, honest, and affectionate. Female friends express bafflement at my predicament. Ex-girlfriends would testify I made a fine, if not perfect, boyfriend.

So, you ask, if you're so great, why do you have so much trouble even starting an email conversation, much less getting a date?

Aye, there's the rub. All I know now, with certainty, is: It's not me.

What's the Problem?

I've mentally run through the usual list of good reasons a woman might not acknowledge an email from someone on web sites expressly designed for meeting other people. And of course, to be fair, a number of them plausibly have nothing to do with her being dumb, crazy, rude, and/or superficial.

But the sheer number of women who just outright ignored emails made me suspicious. Only so many instances can be explained by "she was out of town and never got around to responding to a low-priority letter from a stranger" or "her parents just died in a train wreck."

Was it something I wrote? Was it how I looked? When I tired of writing letters mostly destined to be ignored, I decided to conduct an experiment. On the last site I still have money invested in, I changed my picture to one of a random handsome dude I stole from another site. For extra kicks, I changed the answers to the questions in my profile such that I sounded like an asshole, or at least a weirdo. I even described myself as a "bitter cynic" in my headline and said I was looking for "friends" only.

Show Me the Data!

The result? In about 20 days, handsome-asshole-me's profile generated more interest than plain-old-me's profile did in the previous 20 months.

All right, so "People -- women as well as men -- are more likely to be interested in physically attractive people" is hardly a groundbreaking or particularly interesting conclusion. But the sheer difference is nevertheless striking. Allow me to illustrate with a poorly coded chart:

Handsome Jerk (Last 20 Days)
Real Me (Last 6 Months)
Real Me (Last 20 Months)
Profile Views
Emails Received
Emails Sent/Answered
14/7 16/7***

* This number is unknown since the site doesn't keep a total. Strict extrapolation would probably put it around 110, but if memory serves, that would be a serious overstatement.
** Handsome Jerk actually has gotten 6 winks, but I'm not counting the one from the 45-year-old dude in Los Angeles.
*** This shows an overall 50% "success" rate, e.g., I received a response to half of the emails I sent out and, hey, two-thirds of emails I sent in the last 6 months. This makes things sound better than they were. Only 2 of those 7 responses resulted in what I might call an "extended exchange" wherein I wasn't rejected offhandedly within a few brief emails, before having a chance to say much about myself. Of those 2, one led to the single date I had and the other, well, that's a funny story detailed below as Anecdote #1.
*** I arrived at this number from looking at the items in my sent and received email folders. In looking them over again, I remembered writing letters to at least two other frostbitten femmes that weren't appearing in the sent folder. I knew a 50% response rate sounded way too high from what I remembered.

These stats are even more remarkable when you consider I was actively trying to meet women as myself, while I've done absolutely nothing with the handsome-me profile except post it.

I didn't attempt this experiment on any of the other sites I was on, but I imagine the results would be depressingly similar.

Reasons for Cynicism

So we can see from the chart that it certainly pays to be handsome, even if you are a jerk or weirdo. Again, not news. But what kind of a jerk or weirdo? Here are some verbatim answers from handsome-me's (remember, self-described as a "bitter cynic") profile:
The best or worst lie I've ever told
"Wow, I'm sorry to hear that." No I'm not; I don't care about your stupid problems.

In my bedroom one will find...
An altar to Great Cthulhu, the blood of sacrificial virgins, and a pretty comfy mattress.

Why You Should Get to Know Me
Well, my mom likes me. Seriously, I had all sorts of perfectly good reasons here If I told you you had a nice body, would you take off your shirt and dance around a little?before and even "I can get you free CDs and books" wasn't compelling enough for you people. So here's the new deal: email me and I'll make something up about my bulging pecs and vast fortune or whatever it is you want to hear.

More About What I Am Looking For
At this point, I'd settle for anyone with better manners than my cats. They shit on the carpet, so you'd think it wouldn't be that difficult to find someone who met this minimum standard. Yet, it turns out that it is.
Sounds like he'd be a fun date, eh? Ladies, you sure know how to pick 'em.

Fun with Anecdotes

So that's as sciency as I'm going to get with numbers and stuff. I want now to supplement the data from the chart with a couple pathetic but amusing anecdotes that illustrate more female lameness. These are just two choice ones from the past six weeks.

Anecdote #1: How Cool That You're a Writer… Not!

The lone actual email (as opposed to "winks") that I received as myself was from a girl who sounded nice and could even spell and express herself articulately. We had an extended exchange over the course of the next several weeks. I told her I was a writer and this seemed to interest her a lot: She asked me about my writing three or four times. We eventually decided to make plans to meet. But before that happened, I went ahead and sent her a link to one of my short stories, figuring she might have an opinion or some criticism. Well, she did. I guess. She abruptly stopped emailing me with no explanation. I finally wrote again and asked what happened and she replied only that she was "busy." I took the hint, wrote back that I was in fact taking the hint, and that was the end of it. To this day, I have no idea what her problem was. She not only turned off on a dime, she didn't see any need to tell me about it or say why. And, you know, my story isn't bad -- it was recently shortlisted in a writing contest.

Anecdote #2: Boo-Hoo, No One Notices Me, Except the Guys I Ignore

This girl on MySpace sounded kind of cool and it looked like we had stuff in common, so I sent her an email seeing if she wanted to add me as a friend. Unsurprisingly, she completely ignored me. I expected that, of course, so whatever. But a few days later I saw she had a link to her blog, so I followed it out of curiosity. Her most recent post, from the day before, contained a rant about how no one ever notices her, she has no way to meet guys, and other stuff along those lines.


So I was compelled to leave a comment pointing out that her whining is not very convincing when she ignores men who do, in fact, notice her and would like to talk to her. She ignored the comment, too, but I guess it's to her credit that she didn't delete it. I guess.

I Am Giving Up

I expect the usual reactions to this post. I'm a loser, I'm a misogynist, I'm a loser misogynist. I whine too much. I have to have more faith or patience. No one wants to date someone with such a shitty attitude (as if my attitude formed my experience and not vice versa). Men are dumb, crazy, rude, and/or superficial, too. I just hate strong, independent women, or whatever. I've heard all of it. Well, actually I've never been called a loser or misogynist, but I can certainly imagine it after this post, even if neither epithet is true. Anyway, I seriously doubt any particular bit of hate mail or encouragement is going to change my mind. None of it seems to apply to either my experience or to what I know about myself.

The bottom line is that there is an absolutely fantastic number of lame women out there, and I'm just so tired of making an effort to engage them because, as far as their ability to relate to normal men goes, 95% of them do in fact seem to be dumb, crazy, rude, and/or superficial. I'm talking about total duds who make themselves wholly unapproachable to anyone but pretty boys or the most aggressive posers, then wonder why all the guys they date turn out to be tools or assholes.

Declaring Independence

So I don't care anymore -- and I mean it. Consider this post my declaration of independence from giving a damn what the typical dumb, crazy, rude, superficial modern woman thinks of me. I think women don't realize, and men don't admit, how much of male behavior is geared toward interesting or impressing women. I'm going to be 35 in June. I don't have the energy or the patience for it anymore, so I'm going to acquire some hobbies instead. With all the effort I normally waste on pointlessly trying to interest dumb, crazy women, I can probably build an Egyptian pyramid. Ironically, this will probably make me more interesting to women.

Standard Disclaimers

This doesn't apply to every woman. I'm sure there are plenty who are smarter, saner, better-mannered, and more complex than me and many other men. My relationship with my mother is fine. I'm not a virgin. I've had and continue to have close female friends, and they are absolutely wonderful and important to me. I've been in love (with a dumb, crazy, rude -- though not superficial -- woman). I don't think women should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen at all times. In my career, I've had female bosses and even worked in a firm owned by women, and I respected and respect them all. I know there is also a fantastic number of stupid, insensitive, and loserrific men out there (because that's who the dumb, crazy women date instead of me). I still believe that cool, smart, and warm single women do exist. Maybe on another planet, but they're somewhere. I don't hate women (though obviously the dumb, crazy, rude, superficial ones irk me). I'm not a stalker. I'm not violent. I'm not "creepy." I'm not anything but an ordinary, average guy in almost every respect. But maybe with slightly better hygiene.

Bitter? Sure. Sexually frustrated? Probably. Feel better now? Definitely.


As I was writing this, my last girlfriend emailed to tell me she was going to get married… to a guy she met on Yahoo! personals. The universe is a strange and funny place, isn't it?