Why Online Dating Response Rates Have Decreased
Big topic today, one many of you have been discussing for a while now.
I’ve mentioned it before…online dating response rates have dropped in a the last few years. They’ve dropped for everyone, across the board, including me.
That’s okay. I still get laid online, and 2013 and 2012 have still been good years for me in terms of bringing new women into my sex life via online dating. Yet I have to admit that my average response rates are not what they were a few years ago. Many of you have reported the same.
Don’t panic. As I just said, online game still works. As a matter of fact, there’s actually a benefit or two to this reduction in response rates I’ll describe in a minute.
Moreover, as I’ve said before, it is a very simple process to get laid online while having very low response rates. I have ALWAYS had reasonably low response rates as compared to better looking guys, or guys who are opening women their own age (which I don’t do), yet I’ve always had a steady flow of women via online dating for many years now regardless. If you’ve followed my stuff for a while you already know all about this. Low response rates do not equal no sex, assuming you’re doing everything else correctly.
Today I’ll explain the reasons why this overall decrease is happening. There are many of them, and I’m probably not going to cover them all, but these are the big ones.
1. There are far less “serious” women on dating sites.
This is definitely reason number one. It’s not that there are more or less women on dating sites. It’s that there are less women on dating sites who are actually there to meet a guy in real life.
Years ago, most women on dating sites (not all, but most) were there for one reason: to find a guy they were interested in, then get in a car or bus and go meet that guy in real life.
This has changed. Today, most women on dating sites have no intention whatsoever of actually meeting a guy in real life. That’s not why they’re there. They’re there for all kinds of other reasons, such as:
- Getting attention and validation from guys.
- Meeting new friends, including female friends.
- Looking to meet other women for bisexual hookups instead of men (she may already have a boyfriend).
- Talking to people online; using the dating site as another Facebook.
- Temporarily pissed at her boyfriend and angrily looking around at other options, until she makes up with him and quickly deletes her profile before anyone finds out. (This is VERY common, more common than people realize.)
- Bored and wants something to do.
With every passing year there is a huge upsurge in the amount of women in the above categories. None of these women, and I mean none of them, have any intention whatsoever of actually going out and meeting you in real life, no matter how good looking you are, how great your photos are, how well-written your profile is, or how strong your online game skills are.
For many women, online dating sites have gone from a mechanism to meet men in real life to a fun way to kill time and get socially validated without ever having to leave the house.
This has become worse over the years, to the point now where women actually get upset with you if you ask them out on a date while conversing with them on a dating site. For the first time ever, this year I’ve actually had one or two women tell me when I date pitch them, “Hey dude. I’m just passing time here.” This was in the middle of an otherwise very pleasant conversation. And that’s why they’re there, to converse, not to go out on dates.
2. Major dating sites across the board are cracking down on men’s ability to communicate with women.
This is another negative trend. It’s happening all over the place. Just a few examples:
- Match.com is purposely blocking women from your “Viewed Me” results to only represent a narrow view of “matches” based on age and “compatible” hobbies.
Those are just three small examples. I could list another ten or fifteen. As more and more major dating sites follow an increasingly female-centric business model, it makes it more difficult for you to find women you like, message women you find attractive, for those messages to actually reach those women, and/or for those women to be able to respond to you.
Back in 2007 there were none of these crazy restrictions. Any guy could message any woman he wanted, she was guaranteed to get your message, and she could easily reply back to you with no limits or restrictions. If a woman didn’t want to receive messages from a certain age or type of guy, she could block them with very easy-to-use filter settings. No longer.
There is light at the end of this tunnel, a big one. New sites and apps, like Tinder, are coming on board and are slowly but surely replacing the bigger, more established sites. This is a very good thing and I’m excited to see what new methods the geeks will come up with in the future. (While I have dabbled with Tinder a little, I have really hit it hard in the last two weeks and the results so far are very promising. I will give you a full report soon.) So while this is a very irritating problem (I’ve pretty much given up on POF altogether), it’s likely a short term one.
This all leads into a much larger issue beyond the scope of this blog post. Culturally speaking, online dating is still a very new phenomenon, and society still does not yet have a 100% grasp on how to “do” it. My prediction is at some point, you’ll have two different types of dating sites/apps. First you’ll have the more fun, casual dating sites/apps where people can just talk and e-hang-out and maybe go out on a date if they feel like it and if all the planets are aligned perfectly (like OKCupid). Then you’ll have the dating sites where people (men and women both) are only there because they really want to meet someone in real life (eHarmony is a good example of this).
Currently, neither type of these sites work optimally in that they don’t really serve the needs of the customer base. It’s clear to me that we’re in a temporary transitional phase while the free market figures out exactly how to cater to both types of people. And they’ll have to, because more people will use online means of dating in the future, not less.
I’m very interested to see what the future holds.
3. Dating sites are re-vamping themselves into social media sites.
OKCupid is the biggest offender here, but other sites are also guilty. Many dating sites are trying to became more Facebook-like or MySpace-like. Instead of a site where you go find someone to date, these sites are trying to become places where you just “hang out” and talk to people when you’re bored or want attention. This strongly contributes to the increase in non-serious women I described above.
This problem grows noticeably worse every year. OKCupid now has “photo albums” just like Facebook, and ways for women to link their Instagram feeds into their profiles. Oh, that’s just great.
4. More men are on more dating sites, so women are getting more picky.
There’s a lot more men on the sites and women are aware of this. Following the usual rules of supply and demand, women are getting more picky. Add this to problem number one above, and that means reduced response rates for all of us.
5. The newness and “magic” of online dating is gone.
Some recent stats:
- 11% of all American adults have been on a dating site or used a dating app. 11% doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is, especially when you consider about half the adult population is already married. That 11% is about 30 million people(!).
- 66% of those people have gone out on a real-life date with someone they met on a dating site at least once.
- 23% of those people met their current spouse or significant other that way.
These are surprising stats, even to me. The 66% figure blows me away. Compare this to 2006, when online dating was this strange, exciting new thing, and just putting your picture on a dating site was considered an extremely adventurous thing to do.
This all means that online dating is no longer new or exciting. Online dating has become “normal”.
Back in the day, if you started conversing with a person over an online dating site, and there was clearly some mutual interest, it was a very exciting event. I still remember the very first messaging conversation I ever had with a woman on a dating site. It was back in early 2007 on Match.com, and she was a very cute 23 year-old, way hotter than any other woman I had access to as the 35 year-old AFC business geek I was back then. I was excited, she was excited, and the whole online dating was, if not exciting, at least interesting.
Nowadays, if a woman gets a message from yet another guy, even if it’s a guy she finds interesting or attractive, it’s a ho-hum experience she barely registers. I bet it’s the same with you when a girl sends you a message. You barely care, even if she’s cute. It’s become a normal, almost boring thing. This means reduced response rates.
The (Very) Good News
I don’t want to depress you, so let me throw some strong silver linings your way. And I’m not doing this just to defend online dating. I’m going to tell you some amazingly wonderful, real things that I’ve personally experienced and observed over the last few years during this response rate decline.
I think 2011 was the turning point year when response rates slowly started to become noticeably weaker. In 2012 and 2013 it got a little worse. (Likely it will get a little worse again in 2014.) However, during that exact same time frame, I noticed that the women who ARE serious about actually wanting to meet a man in real life actually became a little more serious. It’s as if serious women can sense the extra bullshit online and are making an extra effort to cut the crap and get down to business. This is a very, very good thing, as I’m about to demonstrate.
Why do I think this? Because in the last two years, while response rates have decreased, there have been two very good improvements:
1. The time it takes to schedule a date with a woman online who actually wants to meet you has decreased, at least in my experience. I have noticed that with the serious women, there’s much less screwing around online, and they want to get that date scheduled as fast as I do (which if you’ve read my stuff you know is pretty damn fast).
2. Even better, the rate of first-date-lays has gone way, way up. As most of you know, I don’t go for sex on the first date. It’s just not something I do. (I push for it on the second date). Almost all of my lays happen on the second date, a few on the third. So my average number first-date-lay per year is zero.
However, in the least 12 months, I’ve had three of them. That’s right. Three of them. Without even trying (because like I said, I still don’t try to have sex with women on the first date). My first one was last December. She was 19 years old, and she’s still a regular FB of mine to this day. My third one was about a month ago…29 years old, blonde, cute, big boobs, just like I like ’em.
Look me in the eye and tell me that’s just some bizarre coincidence. I don’t think so. Based on the clear evidence I’m seeing, my theory is that while most women have become non-serious time-wasters online, the serious women online, the ones who actually do want to meet a man in real life (and have sex in real life), have become more serious about getting that done.
It’s like there’s much more hay in the haystack, but the needles you’re looking for have become the size of broomsticks.
So as I said at the start of this article, while response rates have definitely gone down, I’m not exactly complaining too much about it. 🙂