Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Online Dating: A Follow Up (2 Minutes in the Cereal Aisle)

.  Everywhere I look there seems to be people talking and writing about online dating (I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad omen for Cupcakes & Cupid. Time will tell.).  Last week questioned whether there was still a stigma attached to online dating. I think there most definitely is not, and wrote about it here.  Then last night, Bonny Albo, About.com’s dating diva asked the same question on Twitter.

This week’s question from Jezebel is not, is there a stigma, but rather does it work? I really liked this article, btw, because it gets at two of the major complaints that people have about online dating.  1) There are two many choices. 2) It’s too time consuming.

They site studies and showing that some users are overwhelmed by the number of choices out there, much the way some people become overwhelmed in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. I can understand, on a theoretical level, how this happens.  But not on a practical one.

I never spend more than 2 minutes in the cereal aisle.  I know what kind of cereal I like.  I don’t always get the exact same kind.  I might try a different brand or a slightly different mixture/grain.  But I’m not going to switch from Golden Flax Flakes (my current favorite) to Frosted Mini Wheats.  Likewise, I know what age range, location range, height range, everything range I’m looking for in a guy and so I don’t feel overwhelmed by my choices online.  Call me picky or close-minded if you want, but I’d like to think I’ve learned through trial and error what I like and what I don’t like (lightly sweetened flakes = good, sugary cereal = bad).

The article also sites a study, from Harvard Business School that “found that online daters spent 12 hours surfing dating sites and e-mailing for every two hours of actual physical dating.”  Seriously?  I spend between 15-30 minutes dealing with my online dating stuff per day.  I’m pretty intentional about it (yes, I will look at the clock and ‘schedule time’ and yes I am a control freak).  Sometimes less as I skip days.  And I go on anywhere from 1-4 first dates per week.  If people are spending 12 hours online for every 2 hours of actual dating then, um, I don’t mean to be all judgy but it sounds like they’re doing it wrong.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, I have a dreadful history of dating the wrong men.  Yep.  I’ll own that.  But they were my choices.  They were “my type”.  And the fact that we met online is irrelevant.   I am now meeting a different type of man.  Or trying to persuade myself to.  It’s a constant struggle, honestly.    But I’m slowly but surely making the switch.   The guy I went out with last Sunday, totally a good guy (I think).  He’s this new type that I’m trying to focus on.

Back to my point.  Online dating.  Lots of people are talking about it.  Maybe it’s because there are so many more people doing it now.  And maybe some of them aren’t having positive experiences.  And so they’re thinking, “online dating sucks”.  And my point is that it can suck.  And it can be really awesome.  You just have to learn to get what you want from it.


Tags: , , ,

13 to “Online Dating: A Follow Up (2 Minutes in the Cereal Aisle)”


  1. Hypatia says:

    I like the cereal aisle analogy. And what I like best about online dating is that I can narrow my queries or expand them. Sometimes I’ll play dating roulette, and go with whatever shows up randomly in my matches, other times I’ll make a very focused search and only end up with 2 people in my matches. It just depends on my mood. But, I like that I have the choice!

  2. browolf says:

    I’m convinced the mechanics of some sites actually work against you or present information in such a way that leads to bad decision making.

  3. StatusSingle says:

    Insightful post. I , too, enjoyed the cereal aisle analogy. I’ve just about given up on online dating, as I have not met even one guy I actually wanted to see for a second time. Maybe it’s where I live, I don’t know. Here’s a question you could also discuss: Is online dating better in different areas of the country? Do you need to live in a big city for it to be successful, I’m wondering that right now.

    I also agree that some people must be spending waaaay too much time and must not have many standards if they’re taking that much time to surf online dating sites. When I go on, which is rarely, I set my parameters, look around for guys I’m attracted to…usually don’t find any, there’s not much of a selection…maybe answer a few e-mails, and I’m done in 15-20 minutes max.

  4. jamyb says:

    I have a lot to say about this but I’ll stick to one point: I think a lot of people doing online dating aren’t actually available for dating or a relationship. They get online, spend a lot of time messing about and less time actually interacting with people. They can then say they are “trying” but, in fact, they don’t have to deal with the challenges of an actual relationship. My only question is, how many online daters fit this profile? Obviously not you!

  5. Simone Grant says:

    -Hypatia
    I frequently switch up my search parameters, too, just to see who pops up. And I’ll also switch from service to service. Again, for variety. I LOVE choice.
    -browolf
    I’m sure that some of them do. In some ways there are probably some services who see it in there best interest to have members not be successful. But with so many options in the market, I’m all about finding what works and/or making it work for you.
    -StatusSingle
    Thanks sweetie. I think that the experience is going to be different for every demographic group. My experience as a woman in her late 30s is very different than it was in my early 30s. And it would be different if I moved to a different place. And each service is very different for each demographic. I find some of the big providers to be completely useless for me, whereas friends in different demographic groups (diff locations or age groups) have met great people using them. As to your specific question re big cities – I know from listening to people who live in small towns and/or suburbs that if you don’t live in a place that’s densely populated it probably helps if you’re willing to travel a bit (50 miles vs 25 miles).
    -jamyb
    Yes, absolutely. There are people who are just playing the online dating game but have no intention of ever going on a date. I had one person tell me that her roommate used online dating as a way to kill time at work but had no intention of dating any of the guys she was flirting with. That she was fresh out of a LTR and wasn’t ready to date. And yeah, lots of guys fall into that category too. I avoid those guys like the plague and luckily have become really good at recognizing them.

  6. Veka says:

    I tried online dating for two, maybe three weeks. Then I hid my profile. I was not impressed at the quality of guys that were emailing me, or of those that I would stumble upon. Also, my “willing to travel” has varied from person to person.

  7. Simone Grant says:

    -Veka
    You’re a pretty typical user, I think. Which is why the practice tends to have so many unsatisfied customers.
    I think most online dating services are a lot like a store (hang in there, it’s not an eloquent metaphor). I do almost all of my clothes shopping at local boutiques, where I’ve been going for years. I know the merchandise and the people who work there and I know that they’ll take the time to look through the racks and help me find things I might like in my size (I’m a hard to find size). That won’t work for a lot of other people. Some people do most of their shopping in the gap or banana republic or some other chain store. Others like the huge department stores. Some people like outlet stores. Others swear by thrift stores.

    If I was told that I had to get my clothes in any of the other venues (thrift stores, dept stores, chain stores…) I’d look around in disgust and say they had nothing for me. If a dept store shopper was told she had to shop in my favorite boutique her response might be the same.

    My point in that every online service is different for every demographic/location. And so what works for one person might be an utter failure for another. I had to try several services before I found a pool of guys I was happy with. I did it because I was intrigued by the idea/ease of online dating.

    It’s not for everyone. And you are quite young and might have the type of social life that lends itself to lots of opportunities to meet new people, so why bother? But I think it would be premature to write off the whole thing.

  8. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles says:

    My experience with online dating has been much the same as yours, and I think it’s because I also know exactly what I like. And that would be the same whether I was picking him out of an online line-up or out of a crowded room at a party. When I first sign up for a service, I do spend awhile looking at profiles and picking out people to write to, but after the initial search, it’s very easy to keep up with the new members.

    When I hear people complaining about too much choice, it’s usually not in reference to how much choice they have but to how much choice their potential partners have. In other words, they fear that their “matches” won’t give them a chance because those matches perceive their options as limitless. I also think this is one of the hazards of online dating. It does reinforce an illusion of unending choice, which may lead to a grass-is-always-greener mentality for some people.

    Be that as it may, I think online dating has a lot to recommend it for those who know how to make the most of it. Part of knowing how to make the most of it is learning what you want in a partner and how to recognize it in an online profile.

    I know this is off-topic, but you said: “I am now meeting a different type of man. Or trying to persuade myself to. It’s a constant struggle, honestly. But I’m slowly but surely making the switch.” Maybe you’ve blogged about this already, and I just need to dig back through old posts, but I would love to hear more about how you’re persuading yourself to make the switch. I’m curious because so many of us struggle with attraction to the “wrong” type of man, but even though we know it intellectually, it’s a much harder thing to teach our hearts to learn how to be attracted to a different type. It would be really helpful and potentially enlightening to hear about how you’re accomplishing that.

  9. Simone Grant says:

    -Singletude
    I’ve written very little about this, in truth. Probably because it’s something I’m so very insecure about. But I appreciate knowing that I’m not alone. Maybe it will help me open up a bit and explore this topic more.

  10. amanda says:

    click! like a lightbulb! thank you! i do spend hours on there- til i’m bored silly and put off and end up giving up on the idea for a few months but you know what i do the same in the cereal aisle too!! i haven’t got a clue what i want. how do you get to be 35 and still not have a clue? maybe just like cereal i’m not sure i really want it- i just keeping checking it out incase i change my mind. i’m not sure!

  11. Vendetta says:

    I wrote a blog about it this week. I’ve done it 3 times now over the course of 6 years, for no longer than 2 months at a time. This time I ended it for good. http://driven2batshitcrazy.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/moving_cant_build/ feel free to have a look at my thoughts on it. Not trying to plug my blog because it’s new and frankly there isn’t much on it yet. But that is my final take on the online thing in a few paragraphs.

  12. Probably Me says:

    I think it has more in common with an all you can eat buffet rather than the cereal aisle http://itisprobablyme.blogspot.com/2010/08/online-dating-all-you-can-eat-buffet-of.html
    But then again maybe it just says as much about your eating habits as it does about your dating ones.