Is Online Dating Really Worthwhile?

... featuring an interview with YourTango Expert Joe Amoia.

Is Online Dating Really Worthwhile? [EXPERT]

Welcome to YourTango Experts' Online Dating Bootcamp: Day 2! Today is all about getting to the bottom of the burning question: is online dating really worth all the hard work and headaches it can cause? Our editorial team sat down with YourTango Expert Joe Amoia to find out. (Wanna brush up on  Bootcamp Day 1 ? Start here.)

With thousands of single guys and sites to choose from, the thought of online dating can be pretty daunting. However, if you've reached the conclusion that online dating is more stressful than it's worth, think again. In the interview below, YourTango Expert  Joe Amoia  discusses the many perils of online dating. As it turns out, it isn't so scary after all ... and it's certainly nothing to be ashamed of.


YourTango: Hi, Joe. Let's dive right in. What's the most common complaint women have about online dating?

Joe: Women are discouraged. A lot of them have tried it, had bad experiences, and adopted a been-there, done-that attitude. They're convinced that if it didn't work the first time, it never will.

YourTango: Interesting. Do men feel the same way?

Joe: Well, first you have to differentiate between the men and the boys. The boys are the ones who are out there just looking to prey on women, and they aren't frustrated or discouraged at all because they're taking advantage of women who are vulnerable. The men, on the other hand, are just as frustrated as the women. They ask, "Why can't I meet a good woman? I know they're out there."


The trick for both men and women is to understand how to play this game. Unfortunately, a lot of people waste their time looking for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. Then, as soon as someone better comes along, they lose interest. Then what happens is that they miss out on great opportunities that are right in front of them.

YourTango: Wow, that's interesting. So, here's an important question: how can women distinguish the men from the boys?

Joe: The biggest thing is for women to get clear on what exactly they are looking for. You know, what's the type of guy they want? Once you're clear on that, it makes it easy to identify if the guy you're talking with is even that type of guy. Very often in this online dating world, they're looking for someone just because he's a guy. Okay, well he's a guy, but whether you are really good for each other is a whole other question.

YourTango: So, your advice is for women go into online dating with a clear understanding of what they want?


Joe: Yes. I call it starting with the end in mind. What end results are you trying to get? Are you trying to find a guy who will willfully walk you down the aisle? Are you just here to have some fun and need the guy to bring you to a concert because you have nobody else? Are you here to just date a lot? Really, what's your purpose? What are you here for?

YourTango: Okay, so for those of us who have tried online dating and can't help but feel a little bit like it's a last resort, like, "I'm not meeting guys any other way, so I'm just gonna try online dating." How do we get over that?

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Joe: I think the biggest thing is what you said right there: it was a last resort. You are going into it defeated. Go in it thinking this way: "This is a wonderful opportunity to meet guys. It's not the only way." Where else can you sit in the comfort of your own living room and find a pool of guys and recognize whether these are the type of guys you are looking for? When you're out at a bar or you're out at a club, and you see a guy, the only thing you're basing it on is his looks.

YourTango: You are so right. 

Joe: Of course, looks are important. Anybody who says looks aren't important is either ugly or lying. You have to be attracted to someone on some level. But hopefully looks just open up the door to who the person is. It is the essence of who they are, their qualities and characteristics, that you make you decide whether you should stay or you should run. So, sitting at home on a computer is a great way of finding someone, because if you know how to do online dating right, a profile can tell a tremendous amount about a person.


YourTango: Really?

Joe: I remember when I was doing it, I would read a profile and think "this person is insecure; this person has baggage; this person is a good person and not the person for me; this person is lying; this person is desperate," you know, spotting the red flags. If you know what to look for, the red flags are there and they're usually glaring.

The problem is that dating is so emotional for everyone, that they read a profile and go, "Oh he's male and single, this might be the one!" or, "You know what, he likes Bon Jovi, I love Bon Jovi, so we're destined for each other!" Those things are nice but a relationship takes a lot more than that.

YourTango: So, then, tell me this: when I'm looking at somebody's profile, what should I be looking for to determine that he is actually relationship material?


Joe: That's a great question. This is where starting with the end in mind is really important. When I was first online dating, I knew I was looking for a relationship. I had just come off an engagement. I didn't want to be playing games. I didn't want to date any more people who said they would call you and didn't call you after three days. I was looking for the signs of someone who wanted to get married, who was looking for a relationship.

So when I read my now-wife's profile, her headline was "Where are you, Mr. Right?" Right off the bat, her profile told me this was a girl who was looking for a relationship. Then, because I was clear on what I was looking for, the more I read her profile, the more I would go, "This is a girl I would like to get to know better." That's the key to online dating. Is this the kind of person I would like to get to know better?
The more we engaged each other, the more it seemed that there was some compatibility there. I was out there to meet Mrs. Right, but there was no way I could know that in a date or two. The biggest thing I hear from women is something like "We were on the phone for three hours; we have so much in common!" I'm want to tell those women, "don't get all excited. Go on a few dates first."

YourTango: I've been on a bunch of online dates. After reading a guy's profile and in the beginning of our exchange, he seems like everything I'm looking for. I'm definitely looking for a committed relationship and then usually by date three, I start to see his true colors come out and all of a sudden I have a different person sitting in front of me. That's happened to me so many times. By date three, its just fizzled out. Is there anything I can do to avoid that? Why does that happen?

Joe: Well, there is a pattern. Anytime there's a pattern, it means there's something we're doing that we shouldn't be doing or there is something we're not doing that we should be doing. Does that make sense?


YourTango: Yes.

Joe: So what is the pattern? I hear that you go out with these guys and everything seems cool, but on the third date, things start to go different. Why do you think that is?

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YourTango: I don't know. This last guy I went out with was a perfect gentlemen on the first few dates. We were meshing really well and connecting, and then, on the third date, he blew up at my friend. We all met for drinks, and then he got angry at my friend because we couldn't find a cab home. All of a sudden, he just switched and this anger came out and I was like, "Oh my. Who is this guy?" A whole different guy came out.


Joe: Here's the thing: guys know what women want to hear. They know how to put up a front, and they know women are looking for relationships, so they know what to say and what to do. They know how to be on their good behavior. This is what you just reaffirmed. The good news is it only took three dates to figure it out what it sometimes takes women three years to learn.

The one thing I recommend with women is to have a screening process. I always recommend to email a couple of times and then talk on the phone, because very often you'll start to see these red flags. Does he call when he says he's going to call? Does he compliment you? People are who they are. If he is talking about how he was at work today and a co-worker was being an a-hole so they "got into it," that's a red flag. That's a reflection of how he's going to be six years down the road in a relationship.

YourTango: Good point. I remember sitting on my first online date, just looking across the table at this guy, and I could feel him looking at me thinking the same thing, "Aren't we two losers for meeting online?" Recently, I met a guy online and he travelled four hours to see me and he said, "Isn't this weird to you?" How do you shake that?

Joe: There are over a hundred million people looking for love online, so it's not like you are the only one. Just look at it, what is really strange about it?


YourTango: I've only gone on free sites. Would guys be more serious if they are paying for online dating?

Joe: Well, great question. Let me ask you this, do you value things more when you pay for them or when you get them for free?

YourTango: When I pay for them.

Joe: So the answer to your question is yes, absolutely. It's one of the things I recommend. It's one of the things I see consistently. If a guy isn't willing to spend 25 bucks a month to go online, what does that tell you first and foremost about how serious he is about finding love and then what does that say about his financial state? If he can't afford 25 bucks, do you want to be in a relationship with someone who's struggling to fund their bills? I'm not saying that you can't meet someone on a free site, but statistically is going to be that much harder because you have to weed through a lot more profiles.


YourTango: Joe, any other common issues you see women running into?

Joe: The most important thing is understanding the importance of a profile. That's why I favor sites where you actually write the profile. In a lot of these computerized programs, you check a box or write certain words and the computer picks them up. If you read a profile, you not only get a good sense of who a person is but you can also put out who you are. When a guy reads a profile, he decides within 15 seconds. If you don't grab his attention, if you don't show him your what he's looking for, guess where he's going? To the next profile.

YourTango: How do you do that?

Joe: You have to represent who you truly are. Once you're clear on what you're looking for, that's when you start to put it out there: this is who I am; this is how I'm special. We all think we're special but then we all think we're not special. What are your passions, what are your goals? Where do you want to go? Paint a picture of who you are, what you're looking for, and what you're not looking for. If you do that correctly, you're going to grab the guy who is looking for that, too.


Come back tomorrow for Online Dating Bootcamp: Day 3, Which Online Dating Site Is Right For You? featuring pros & cons by YourTango Experts Laurie Davis, Rick Clemons, Larry Cappel.