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Rigged game

Vladimír Záhradník
September 13th, 2021 · 10 min read

I’ve already written why I don’t consider dating sites a good way of dating. On dating sites, all you can do is to take a look at the profile picture and read a few sentences about the person. That’s all it takes to make up your mind about him or her. But remember that we, humans, are so much more than just a photo and a text. How am I supposed to stand out in a crowd? How do I show what’s in me, what kind of personality I have?

I’ve talked about dating sites and my experiences with them with my friends, mostly men. They all had negative experiences. Nevertheless, I decided to reconsider my attitude and make up my own mind. Nowadays it is very difficult to make friends just on the street, covid didn’t help that either. I know that there are many single women my age, but many of them are locked up in their apartments somewhere and I couldn’t think of a better way to meet them than through a dating site. If I didn’t go on a dating site, the chances of me dating anytime soon are almost zero. With a dating site, that chance is also small, but it’s definitely greater. So it’s worth a shot.

I haven’t given up on other ways to meet people. I’ve started making a list with ideas of where I could meet. A ballroom dancing class, or any other dancing class, seems like a very good idea to me. For some reason there are always a lot more women than men. However, my current job requires me to still be available at 6 PM. So how am I supposed to attend a class that starts at half past seven? I haven’t found a solution yet, but if I see that dating is a dead end and that I still won’t get anywhere after a few months, I’ll definitely figure something out. Life must always take precedence over work. I won’t let work rob me of my happiness.

Pokec

I started my journey on Pokec. It’s like a social network and a dating site at the same time. It’s been with us for a long time and its greatest glory is long gone. But I liked the idea of logging on there, talking to people and getting to know women in casual conversation.

I only lasted about a week on Pokec. Even though I had filled out a detailed profile, I found almost no women there that interested me. I imagine a pot of stew that’s almost empty, and I’m trying to scrape the last scraps of food from the bottom of it. That’s about it. Most of the women had a poorly completed profile. Quite often they were missing a photo, which is a complete essential. Out of the 50 or so women I found there, maybe one caught my eye. And even she was older. I decided to try elsewhere.

Getting acquainted in the shop

Before I got to my current dating life, I asked a saleswoman at a church supply store out on a date. I was there on business, I brought in the receipts. However, I try to grab every opportunity, so when I saw that we were having a pretty interesting conversation, I asked if she wanted to continue it some day.

I have to say that I stepped on the wrong foot on this one. The “date” lasted about an hour. I felt we were having a pleasant conversation and was mildly optimistic that something might come of it. However, I got a cold shower right after the hour: “Vlad, this part is tearing my heart out. You’re a great guy and I’m sure you’ll find one, but all I can offer you is friendship.” I admit, I was a little taken aback by her answer. If I were standing there today, I’d flat out ask her what all on her list of an ideal mate I didn’t meet.

That lady told me she’d be sure to look me up and even read something from me, but I didn’t believe her words at all. And I was right… I never heard from her again. So much for her honesty.

In retrospect, I’m glad it didn’t work out. I don’t want people like her by my side, and if I heard from her today, I wouldn’t accept her friendship. After all, why would I? She’s not one in a million, though she might think that of herself. However, I also take a date like this as an experience for which I am grateful.

EliteSingles

Although I didn’t expect to succeed the first time, the fact that the lady wrote me off after an hour naturally shook with me. The very next day, however, I told myself to keep going. This attempt didn’t work out, I’ll give dating a chance after all.

I did some research on the Internet and out of all the dating sites, EliteSingles came up the best. They specialize in finding long-term relationships, so I assume that those who are there are really serious about a relationship.

There is a free account, but that is very limited. So most of the members pay for membership, and even that tells me that they are serious about it. You pay about 130 euros a year. Each of us takes a personality test. I see this as the biggest advantage over other dating sites. The partners that the system recommends to me have quite a lot in common with me, and I don’t try to approach women completely at random. If you’re going to be on a dating site, it’s definitely nice to use all the available data and filter out only the relevant ones. Because what are we going to tell ourselves, on a dating site we are just dates in a database. The romance and everything else will come in time.

EliteSingles prides itself on having a balanced ratio of men and women (although I don’t know how they know how to ensure that…), verified profiles and support should we need anything. I’ve long considered whether I want to give so much personal data to a dating site, but I’ve studied their policy on GDPR in detail and they seem reputable. I told myself that the potential advantages outweighed the disadvantages, and went for it. Taking the test was the easy part. You fill out a few dozen questions, such as what picture you like best, and a personality profile is created based on that. Then you fill in questions about yourself like “What do you like best?” or “How do you spend your free time?” and ideally upload at least one photo.

I needed to start with something, so I created a current photo and filled out the questions as honestly as I could. I didn’t spend too much time on the profile though. You’d think that even a profile like that might be of interest on a serious dating site. Obviously I was wrong…

Rigged game

At its core, every dating site works the same way. The conclusions I have come to are no different from other men. In short, we’re playing a rigged game.

I wrote to about ten women initially, one of whom got back to me after a few days. The others either didn’t even read my message or ignored me. How do I know? I can see on the dating site straight away if the woman has read the message or if she has visited my profile. If I see that she visited and didn’t even write me back, then I know I’m “beneath her.”

Despite the fact that dating sites are supposed to be equal for men and women, they are not. Women probably still subconsciously expect to be approached by men. So far, none have written to me of their own accord. But it’s true that one at least sent me a “smile.” I’ve already had to initiate the dialogue with her, though.

The search for Mister Perfect

Who are women actually looking for? Are their fantasies close to reality or are they just dreaming of someone who doesn’t exist and then crying that they can’t find anyone on a dating site?

Let me give you an example. I wrote to a teacher from Vranov (eastern Slovakia). She was 34 years old, so she was still acceptable to me, but she was close to my hard limit. As I write in my post Age is not just a number, if I want to have a family, age matters. This teacher had one amateur photo (selfie) in her profile and her profile was also filled out miserably. And not just hers… I went through dozens of profiles and they were almost like identical copies. “I like hiking, family, friends. I like to swim. I hate when people are fake and lie.” Some didn’t even use full sentences, just bullet points. For others, I found whole sections blank: Hobbies? None.

This lady from Vranov looked at my profile and I didn’t even get a response like “Sorry, but I’m looking for someone else. Bye.”

For others, it was very similar. Many gave even less information about themselves in their profiles, didn’t put any photo, and yet I think more men wrote to them than women wrote to me. Sad but true.

Poorly filled profiles
Poorly filled profiles

Looking through the women’s profiles, I see that most of them put little to no work into it and had it done in a few minutes. Why would I write to one who didn’t put any work into her profile? Well, because otherwise I might as well call it quits on dating sites.

Let’s look at it the other way around: a woman looks at a man’s profile and says to herself: “I’m not interested in this one, I’ll keep looking.”

When two women out of 20 or so write you off, your ego plummets. The first week I needed to process this. I set myself up so that dating site was just another possibility how to meet girls alongside other ways of getting to know each other and I’m going to go play the game. I paid for it for a year, so I’ll be active there for that year. Unless, of course, I find the One in that time. And I can’t take the fact that she won’t write me back personally.

What do coaches advise?

I’ve come across a few videos lately that relate to dating sites.

In the first one, a lady registered on Tinder as a man and had a taste of what it’s like trying to make new acquaintances. She was very surprised at how difficult it was. Similarly to me, almost no ladies wrote back to her. And she was asking: “How am I supposed to get a date if she won’t even write me back?” Well, welcome to a man’s world.

Alexander Grace: Tinder experiment, An 18-year-old woman pretends being on a dating site as a man

In the next video, a dating coach discusses the 5 most common reasons why ladies on dating sites don’t write back.

Michal Kopecký: 5 reasons why she didn't write you back (in Slovak)

His findings are very similar to mine. In short: The profile picture matters. He recommends the best one, even from the studio. It also depends on the quality of the completed profile. I should write about myself in such a way that I attract attention and that my profile looks different from the profiles of other men, my competitors.

It doesn’t hurt to add a CTA (call-to-action), for example, “Do you like to salsa dance? Then write to me.” Also, impeccable grammar matters. Apparently we’re supposed to check the text with some online tool.

When I reach out to a woman with a message, I’m supposed to focus on something specific in her profile and write a personalized message. Like, “Hi, can you describe yourself?” straight back to me. The other two reasons are out of my control. A lady could be texted by 10-15 men at a time and she might not even see my message. Well then there’s the situation that she saw the message, saw the profile, and doesn’t even write me back to get to know me.

The third video from Charisma University shows how to tweak a dating profile to make it intriguing.

Charisma University: 5 Beginner Tinder Mistakes To Avoid

Many of the tips are similar to those in the video above, but I found other, specific tips in there as well.

Consider how much a man has to accomplish to get a girl to even start talking to him. And vice versa? All a woman has to do is sign up on a dating site, and a man is sure to write to her. At the same time, the discussion below the videos showed that men are routinely ignored by women, but it has never happened to a woman that a man hasn’t replied to her message.

Profile optimization

Probably by being the analytical type, I figured out the tips in those videos myself. I didn’t learn anything new in them that I didn’t already know.

I put my first version of the profile together relatively quickly, I needed to get started. However, when I saw after a week that it wasn’t working well enough, I started tweaking it. I may be playing a rigged game, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to improve my chances. For example, by doing things differently than others.

The video from Charisma University mentioned above helped me the most. I spent maybe four hours on the profile. I tried to improve all my answers about myself. I wanted to showcase my fun side and wit on a limited scale. To present who I really am. In addition to my profile picture, I added others that show what I do for a living. This way, women will hopefully get a better idea of who I am… And that I’m not just some boring, dry guy.

When I was tweaking the profile, I thought of a parallel to computer science and the optimization problem. I compare dating site to a human pipeline and by optimizing the input data, I can provide better results. It may sound strange, but that’s exactly how it works.

At this point, I’m going to take a couple of weeks to evaluate if the new profile is performing better. And later, maybe I’ll make some more changes. I’m archiving all my answers so I can go back in time, and edit, and edit…

Conclusion

I’ve only been dating for a short time. Admittedly I feel a little disappointed, but it’s nothing I didn’t expect. However, I’m glad that I have first hand experience and didn’t just rely on the vicarious experiences of others.

Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I’ll definitely continue dating in this way. But there are definitely other ways to try, like those dance classes. I’m also trying out for myself what works and doesn’t work, and putting the advice into practice. So I hope that in my own way I can help other men who decide to try to seek happiness through dating sites as well.

Is it possible to get acquainted on a dating site? I believe so. But I’m a realist. I’ll be happy if I can arrange one date a month and maybe in six months I’ll find the one I’m looking for. I like to be surprised, though.

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