Online dating sites: Truth and Surmise

I signed up for an online dating site, not to look for a lifetime partner or even a serious relationship, but to see if I could meet people and maybe make friends. Although I am doing well 45 months after the death of my life mate/soul mate, I am still plagued by loneliness, and I thought it would be fun to have someone to go out with. There are so many things I haven’t done. During the early years with my deceased mate, we concentrated on building a business, and during the later years, we had to contend with ill his health and the ensuing financial restraints.

dancingMy wants are minor — maybe go bowling or dancing, play miniature golf, go on a picnic or for a drive to the beach (after we get to know each other! I’m not about to get in a car with someone I recently met online). I’m not looking for a deep thinker, a romantic partner, or someone to pamper me. Nor am I looking for someone whose lifestyle will mesh with mine — after all, I’m still looking after my almost 97-year-old father, and have an early curfew. (He doesn’t mind being alone during the day but is nervous about being alone at night.)

I went into the experience planning to do whatever I could to meet people. To that end, I sent about 50 charming messages to local men around my age who said interesting things on their profiles. I got two monosyllabic responses and one argumentative one. (I didn’t understand that. I only mentioned what was on his profile. How can he argue with what he himself had said?)

Even the men who posted on their profiles that they would respond to anyone who messaged them didn’t respond.

When I mentioned this experience to a friend, she sheepishly admitted that she too had joined a dating site, and even before she posted a photo or filled out any of the information, she was inundated with messages — from women. Turns out that she’d somehow signed up as a male.

This made me wonder about the ratio of women to men on such sites. By my lack of connections and my friend’s great number of messages and flirts (flirts are like “like”s on Facebook, but if you click “send a flirt,” the site sends messages that say you’re interested in that person), I assumed the ratio would be 10:1. Ten women to one man. In fact, the sites are fairly even in their numbers, with men slightly outnumbering women. At least that’s what the various sites profess. According to one comment I found on the article What Is the Ratio of Men to Women on Dating Sites?, the real ratio of men to women is 4:1, which is a closely guarded secret, because if men knew how much the dice is loaded against them they would not bother signing up. To keep the numbers balanced, some sites kept women on the books after their subscription had run out.

Further research indicates that some of the best-looking folks on the site are generated by the site itself, which makes sense, especially on the sites for older people. In their forties and fifties, men tend to look better than women, but after sixty, men seem to age much more quickly. I realize this is an unfair assessment, and might be false, but the truth is, the men who look as if they were around my age turn out to be ten to fifteen years younger. The ones my age look ten to fifteen years older, perhaps because of all that wind in their face because of motorcycle riding. (Almost all of the men whose profiles I checked out had a photo of themselves posed by a motorcycle. Figuring that turn about was fair play, I posted a photo of me and my car.)

Since men tend to be the ones to initiate a contact, supposedly women’s inboxes generally have more messages than men’s do. If this were true, you’d think the men would see my messages. But here’s another kicker: Most of the paid subscription sites let you sign up for free. You can set up a profile and even look at photos, but anything more than that, you have to pay for. Another friend signed up for the free version of the same site I am on to help me look for possible matches, and even with a blank profile (except for my age and location), she has several messages and flirts. We can only figure that these messages are generated by the site to pique her curiosity and get her to sign up.

The truth is, the sites do not indicate whether the people you see even subscribe to the site. I could be sending messages to a) people who don’t exist or b) people who can never see the messages since they didn’t pay.

Online dating is big business. As of June 18, 2013, online dating generates revenues of $1,049,000,000 each year. Yep. All those zeros. More than a billion dollars every year.

There are 54 million singles in the USA, and 40 million who have tried online dating. (40,000,001 if you include me.)

And here’s another truth according to Statistic Brain:

A woman’s desirability online peaks at 21
At 26, Women have more online pursuers than men
By 48, Men have twice as many online pursuers as Women

Which is probably why, on a site geared to people older than 50, you can sign up as young as 18.

To be honest, I don’t know what all this means. Some people do find love online. Most people probably don’t but won’t admit it. Who (besides me) is willing to tell the world that she signed up for a dating site and got not a single date? (I know four women my age who signed up. One went on a date, had fun, but the guy shied away afterward. Another woman got one date after six months, but when she talked to him on the phone, she ended up cancelling their date because she couldn’t stand him. Two others didn’t get any dates at all.)

I still have 158 days left on my paid subscription, so I’ll let you know what if anything happens in the next 5 months.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

12 Responses to “Online dating sites: Truth and Surmise”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Good luck. Hope you don’t meet any serial killers.

  2. Linda Says:

    I appreciate all that you have told about the dating sights. My feeling is there are so many women (older women 60 and up) looking for a date(man) that it makes me wonder why any man would have to sign up on a dating service. So my suspicions get the best of me and wonder how bad can they be since there is such a large number of women searching for a companion. I am scared of meeting someone this way but have looked numerous times at pictures. I just don’t have the nerve then when you tell your experience it is even more humbling to not get many, if any, responses. I think I am doomed to be alone. I think it’s great you are sharing these experiences.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      After I posted the article, I came across another statistic, that when it comes to people over 60, the women outnumber the men 10:1, so my original guess was correct. I’m getting the impression by checking out various sites that older women are looking for a companion that might lead to a relationship, while men are looking for sex that might lead to a relationship.

      Like you, I think I’m doomed to be alone, so I’m doing what I can to be social and make friends. And make friends with my aloneness.

      But still, anything can happen. We might end up finding something or someone to care about.

  3. Sue Says:

    I’ve had better luck meeting people to socialize with using MeetUps are locally organized groups of people who come together around mutual interests. They are not dating sites, but rather a way for people to network socially. If you haven’t tried it, you may find it a more congenial approach to connecting to other people.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s a great suggestion, Sue. I have checked out local MeetUps before and didn’t find anything interesting, but I’ll keep looking. I have done other things — taken classes and joined a walking group. Next month I’ll be going to a tea sponsored by the town. I’ve never had to make an effort to meet people before, so it’s a never-ending challenge.

  4. Ree` Edwards Says:

    Oh my poor, dear ladies…
    Pat, I’m sure you were writing that in all sincerity. However, I haven’t laughed that hard for a long time now! I’ve got tears in my eyes. “Been there done that” After tons of messages to each other and both for lunch at an agreed upon local restaurant (and keeping one eye in the rearview mirror on the way home, which was taken via the drug store among other places.That’s what ya do when you spent your ‘happy years’ with the Chief of Detectives of our local County Sheriffs Dept. incidentally.)
    MEET #1 : I was about 5 minutes late, since I had some things at the bank that came up regarding my son’s death. I even called the place and asked if I could speak to him, told him “I was on my way, he wasn’t being stood up.” As soon as I got there I saw him as he fairly resembled his picture (a little older looking than pic) and I apologized for my delay.
    Then he started the 3rd degree (HUH?) as in: “Well where were you, who were you with, why today, why did it take so long,” et al ad nauseam. That wasn’t gonna fly with this lady for sure. I didn’t even do that with my beloved hubby! Adios.
    MEET #2: I was on time. I came in another door and spotted him sitting on the patio and came up from behind. We chatted for a short time before he pretty much came out and said he was looking for a mistress (in so many words). No, he wasn’t married, his wife had passed away, but he’d had a couple of long time relationships since. He had a condo here, and a beach side condo on the Gulf Coast of FL and was retired from real estate and wanted a ‘friend’ of the female gender to spend time with. Yeah, right. A friend with ‘benefits’. Not my ‘cup of tea’. So it was “thanks but no thanks”. He sent me a message a couple of days later asking me to, “Please call him”. I did. (I always did the calling as my cell phone # is blocked and appears as ‘Restricted’, ‘Unknown’, or whatever depending on the carrier.) Anyway, not sure why he wanted me to call because I wasn’t about to change my mind — even if he was the millionaire he claimed to be. That call got very heated (as in debate) before I wished him well and hung up. (Hope he recovered from his bruised ego.)
    MEET# 3: Didn’t happen after the call.
    Been alone for eleven and a half years now and not sure I want to change that. I love to dance, and bowl too (among other things), but much to my dismay seems like all the men are after now days is… well let’s just say it’s not just for
    ‘companionship’. (Thanks in large part I think to that little blue pill they can take now I’d be willing to bet.)
    Anyway, when I do get out (still remodeling this house) I head to my local lodge and dance my little heart out and feel fairly safe there since they all know me and I them.
    Seriously thinking of joining a local dance club though… Great exercise for we more ‘mature’ ladies. (Ya ain’t ever gonna hear this gal refer to herself as ‘older’.)
    Best wishes,
    (PLEASE don’t edit, it’s 5:30 AM and I haven’t been to bed since… hmm, sometime yesterday I think it was.)

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Actually, the article wasn’t totally serious, so I’m glad you saw the humor. And I’m glad you can see the humor in those “dates” you had. The whole dating this is sort of ridiculous. It seems to me that a lot of men want to live out their fantasies, and those fantasies don’t include normal mature women. I’m filing this experience under the category of “at least I tried.”

      p.s. Good to “see” you! You sound good. I hope you’re doing well.

  5. writecrites Says:

    As far as dating sites go, I can only speak from my friend’s experience. She signed up for and posted sexy photos (even at 60, she was thin, pretty and energetic). She got a ton of dates, but there was something weird about every guy she went out with. A few claimed to have a lot of money but it was “tied up,” and they had elaborate stories about their business dealings. Others were controlling. When I questioned their actions, she made excuses for them (she’s a pleaser), then after the breakups, she’d say she was through with men—until the next one came along. Last year she moved to Arizona where, apparently, there are many more men than women, and met a guy (at a dance club) who shares her interests: dancing and photography. My own experience tells me that if I want to meet people and make new friends, I should follow my interests. After my divorce many years ago, I signed up to be a docent at the local aquarium (I love the ocean, and I love learning and teaching). Through that (and with no intention of finding a romantic relationship), I met one of the employees and we started dating. Seventeen years later (about a year ago), we got married (it took me a long time to get over my fear of marriage). As Sue said, there are a lot of great Meetup groups in which you can meet people who share your interests. I think if I were in the dating game now, I’d run background checks on all the men who asked me out (assuming there were some 🙂 ) especially if they came from a dating site.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      If I were serious about finding someone, I’d do what you did — follow my interests and see where they take me. Well, actually, I am following my interests, and they are taking me interesting places, just not places to meet men for the purpose of dating. Which is really okay. I’m ambivalent about the whole situation.

  6. mickeyhoffman Says:

    Have you gone on bird walks with your local Audubon? I’m not much of a group joiner but of all the various groups I’ve encountered, for some reason the bird watchers (in more than one locality) have been the friendliest and funniest of all.
    Unlike writers’ groups where everyone seems to be only interested in themselves… :)))

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Good suggestion! I think something about being active makes a group more sociable. People keep suggesting I join writers’s groups, but I just don’t want to. I haven’t at all liked the local writers I have met. So full of themselves! As if self-publishing a book on Amazon makes them a luminary.

  7. Online Dating: Diane Lane I am Not | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] photo used for her profile was her high school photo, and that makes a big difference. As I wrote before, a woman’s desirability online peaks at 21. At 26, women have more online pursuers than men. By […]

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