Collar and Cuff

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First Posted: 1/19/2015

Ten years ago, if someone were to tell me that internet dating would become a common, socially acceptable way to meet women, I would’ve laughed heartily, shook my head and gone back to my Counter-Strike match. In those days, online dating services were viewed as fringe havens for fetishists, divorcees and the terminally desperate. Like a substantial majority of young, socially awkward men, I saw the internet primarily as a place to find images of anonymous women removing their clothes.

Much has changed, though, over the course of the last decade. Today, websites like OkCupid, and eHarmony have found a thriving user community. Young and old, straight and queer, virginal and promiscuous, these lonely hearts are united above all in search of an alternative to the traditional culture of courtship. Even I, your humble author, have met a number of lovely women on OkCupid, several of whom I went on to date seriously. Believe it or not, gentlemen, there are girls on the internet. Real, live women, some of whom might even like to meet you for a drink. Before lunging for your laptops and Axe body spray, though, take heed; There are a few things every guy should keep in mind before diving headfirst into the digital love marketplace.

One of the most common critiques raised by straight men concerning online dating is a skewed gender ratio among users. “It’s not fair!” they’ll cry from behind popped collars and shirtless mirror selfies. “There are just too many dudes on this site!”

It’s true, male users do tend to outnumber their female counterparts on most sites, but the discrepancy is far smaller than many men believe. In my experience, the difficulty guys face on sites like OkCupid has less to do with numbers and far more to do with the quality and context of the messages they send.

Every time you load up a promising match’s profile, remember that, first and foremost, you’re looking at the digital representation of a living, breathing human being. Read her blurbs, look at her pictures, and take these things into account before you send a crude message about her cup size, or a detailed rendering of the lewd acts you’d like to perform on her. This, dear reader, brings us to the first rule of successful online dating – act like a human being.

This is not a numbers game. These girls aren’t lining up and waiting to be objectified. Just like you, they’re looking to find a meaningful, personal connection, be it romantic, sexual or otherwise. Act accordingly, then.

Be clever, desirable and interesting. More importantly, be honest, heartfelt and interested. This is all you need to do to find a date online. Always, always follow rule one. There is no second rule.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that dating websites are merely a way to skip the awkward, introductory phase of courting. Once you’ve managed to nail down a first date, you’re on your own. You’d best trim your sideburns and press your shirts, though, because standard social conventions will doubtlessly apply. There’s no substitute for face-to-face chemistry in the game of love, but, if you play your cards right and go forth with authenticity, you may just find a flesh-and-blood connection in the depths of the electronic love exchange.