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There She Is, The Woman of My Dreams: Online Dating in the Matrix

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First of all, let’s get a few things straight. Online dating IS the matrix. Most of what you are clicking and swiping on is not real. Sure, there are real people on Bumble, BUT… most of them are not interested in dating. Nope. Many of them are playing around, pseudo-cheating, entertaining themselves, and torturing others. Some of them (approximately 30%) are fake accounts set up by the company to woo you into paying for their premium services.

Can You Find a Lover Online?

The short answer is yes.

The more accurate answer is yes and it’s a lot of work. Is it worth it? Perhaps. Are there other alternatives? Sure. But they take even more work.

Online dating is lazy. Sure, from the comfort of our own couches we can browse, swipe, and pretend to be whoever we want to be. Have you ever set up a profile for someone of the other sex, just to see what *that* experience is like? Well, you should. It is eye-opening. And a bit depressing. Here’s the deal, relationships and courtship are work. Online dating is the junk food of seeking a new partner. You can do it, it might feel good for a minute, but you’re wasting most of your time.

How To Get Real About Online Dating

Two big reveals about online dating.

  1. It’s a numbers game (increase your numbers, increase your odds of winning)
  2. It requires a strategy and a bit of luck

Here’s how to win on Bumble, Tinder,, and OK Cupid: get on all of them at once. If you’re going to spend your time swiping, then get on with it. Increase your numbers, increase your odds. Swipe right on 1,000 people as quickly as you can. Well, more likely to be 50, but let’s go with the fantasy even as we get real. Swiping right gives you more options, more potentials, more REAL people rather than posers and bots.

There’s a great book about this idea called Data, A Love Story: How I Cracked the Online Dating Code to Meet My Match. And that’s exactly what she does. Use math to find her match. We don’t have to be quite so scientific. (I do recommend you read the book if you want to get on with it.) We can learn from her experience and mine. Up your numbers. Up your engagement. Then refine your criteria for a “hello date.” Most of the wasted time in my early online dating journey was spent sitting across from complete NOPES for a quick glass of wine. Yuck. I don’t recall the last one, but I wrote about it here: Flight 7, Bound for Destinations Unknown: Grounded over on The Off Parent.)

The Numbers and Math of Online Dating

I’ve done these imaginary calculations in my head hundreds of times.

1000 potential women (15% spark my imagination)
150 profiles of interest (swipe or ping 10% of the best ones)
15 outreaches (10% response)
1.5 actual opportunities for me.

Today. The market (dating pool) is changing moment by moment. But let’s be clear about a couple of things about the Bumble/Match/Tinder complex: they want to sell you their upgrades, boosts, premium listings. The dating industry is huge and profitable. And yet, it is a valid option for finding a partner. By widening your net to all four biggies (maybe add Hinge, or ChristiansDating, or whatever your niche is) you are increasing the number at the top of the equation.

Which Online Dating App Is the Best?

Well, there are a few distinct differences.

Bumble – women go first
Tinder – has a reputation for hookups, but I’ve never seen that from my side
OK Cupid – a bit edgy, their core used to be in the questions, they are less cool now – the big daddy, plenty of scammers and fake accounts along with the largest dating pool of all.

Honorable mentions:
eHarmony – cool if you want them to pick who you can see
Hinge – another “we will pick for you” platform that uses LinkedIn for seeding

And there are plenty of edge-related sites, kink sites, sugar daddy sites, fetish sites, whatever you’re looking for, there’s probably a dating site for it. But, I’d stay with the big 4 plus either of the honorables. Even starting there, you’re going to have a lot of swiping and clicking todo. I’d say, get on them, pay for the shortest term possible that allows you to IM each other, and then take the time writing your profile.

Building Your Dating Profile is 90% of the Fun

In my coaching business, I use online dating sites and profile building as a powerful exercise for new clients. If you don’t know what you’re looking for it’s going to be harder to find. AND, if you don’t know what magic you bring to the experience, it’s also going to be harder to dial in a real fit. Finally, pictures. You don’t need glamour shots. (My reaction to those is gross! Swipe left.) But you need fun shots. Selfies are fine if they express your joy and hopefulness.

A few of my pet peeves:

  1. No bathroom mirror shots
  2. No bar, with drinks and the crew shots (what’s your priority)
  3. No guns, flags, or cigars (my preference only)
  4. No private jets or Ferraris
  5. No exotic beaches
  6. No shots with your friend who is super hot
  7. No shots with your kids

An interesting photo, in my book, would contain:

  1. a sport you play
  2. a musical instrument in your hand
  3. a concert or theater venue
  4. a local hotspot selfie
  5. a full-body shot taken by a friend (it’s easy, but selfies don’t work)

The photos are all about telling a story. Your best life. Your best date. Your happy self. But it’s not about lying. Make sure the photos are all within 6-months of the actual date. Look for little sparks of magic in the photos. We’re looking for something extra when we’re browsing. Not amazingly beautiful models, but happiness. We’re looking for something fun you create in our imagination.

And beware of that ONE photo that really shows how you look. Sometimes, I’m browsing a profile and I’m grooving with the pictures and SNAP one jumps out and says, “Hold Up! Is this the same person, or is something fishy going on?” If your photos are all of the younger/hotter you, um, well, at least leave this one “monkey’s paw” in the mix so we can avoid an embarrassing first date.

Many of us have walked up to a table and thought, “Oh my god, is this the same person?” It’s a terrible feeling for both of you. Don’t do it. Make your photos recent. Make them real. And be cute, happy, and funny if you can. And I guess, if drinking is your thing, show it, but only if you’re shopping for a drinking buddy. And if you’re into it, I can understand how that would be a requirement. Just, not mine.

Take That Leap of Faith

Let’s say you’ve built an honest and happy profile with recent pictures and a reasonable outline of what you are looking for and what you’re bringing to the party… Now what? How do you cut through the chaff that’s bound to flood your inbox? (That’s for another post.)

But here’s the deal. Be real in your online profile. Be even more real on the “hello” date. If there’s ZERO interest, don’t pretend you’re going to call them. If there’s heightened interest on both sides you will both know. In my current relationship (YAY) we met on Match. We exchanged a few messages, then a phone number, then a phone call, then a “hello” date. And here was the cool part.

30-minutes into the conversation she asked, “So… What are you thinking?” Bold. Honest. To the point. All things I love about her still. I responded, “Wow. Awesome. You’re going to have to answer the same question too.”

Game on. Relationship, here we go.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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Disclaimer: This article was not influenced, inspired, or paid for by any online dating service.

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Dating 2.0

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