Sunlit Water

February 27, 2007

The Little Things

Filed under: Dating — by teofilo @ 12:59 am

The Lion of Switzerland has a post about online dating and why he’s just not that into it:

The big problem as I see it is that I find it difficult to become attracted enough to someone to ask her out without already getting to know her first, and I’m wary of my ability to do so purely in an online dating context. Maybe I’d be more confident this could work if the total number of women I’ve really felt attracted to over my lifetime was larger, but the fact is it’s not all that often that I feel a strong attraction for someone. And besides, that kind of attraction has always grown out of numerous everyday ordinary interactions; it’s difficult for me to see, having read through some ads – though not so much on the pay services, which I guess are more detailed, for what that’s worth – where the initial sense of attraction on my part would come from.

I feel the same way, which is why I’m still a bit hesitant to turn to online personals even though I realize they’re probably my best option in the long run.  The importance of small, everyday things in contributing to attraction is generally underestimated, I think.  Personally, I don’t feel the same kind of attraction to strangers, even very attractive ones, that I do to people I’ve known for a while and spent a significant amount of time with.  This has been something of a problem, since I’m not very social by nature and have generally had a fairly small circle of people I know well enough to develop serious attractions to, which makes me reluctant to ask any of those people out because of the very real damage a rejection could do to my fragile social support network.  Asking out strangers, which is practically risk-free, is the obvious alternative, but aside from my general shyness and inhibition I never seem to feel strongly enough about any particular person to put forth the effort.

I have actually been asked out by strangers a couple of times, and I wish it would happen more often (a desire eb also shares and mentions in his post), but it never went anywhere; one date was plenty to show I wasn’t really compatible with those people.  Or maybe I just hadn’t had enough time to develop a sufficiently strong attraction to anything about them.

I think I still will give online dating a shot when I move to a place with an active online dating scene (a prospect that has recently receded a bit further into the future).  The risk is low enough that I might as well try, and there’s always the chance that it would work out.  Something to consider, anyway.



  1. Lion?

    Comment by eb — February 27, 2007 @ 1:33 am |Reply

  2. Lion.

    Comment by teofilo — February 27, 2007 @ 1:48 am |Reply

  3. I feel the same way — all of my successful relationships have started with a friendship. You’re right that the risk is higher, but so is the reward.

    On the other hand, there’s something to be said for broadening the ol’ social circle. I suppose either is worth a shot. I’m surprised by how many of the successful relationships my friends were brokered by an online dating service.

    Comment by mrh — February 27, 2007 @ 8:35 am |Reply

  4. Shivbunny and I met online. Not through a personals ad, but the similar sorts of worries apply: can you develop an attraction, do you really know the person, &c.

    One way to think of a personals ad is not as “am I attracted to so and so by her profile” but “does it seem like it would be worth a meetup”? So many things go into attraction that makes online dating challenging. But the dating isn’t online, just the meeting. After that, it’s all meatspace.

    And the online thing helps with the shyness. The person might still reject your request, of course, but they certainly won’t be already seeing someone, not in the mood right now to date, etc, etc., so it narrows the field a lot.

    Comment by Cala — February 27, 2007 @ 5:45 pm |Reply

  5. Have you read eb’s post, Cala? He talks a bit about online interactions other than strict dating.

    And yes, you mention many of the advantages of internet dating, which are among the reasons I’ll still give it a shot.

    Comment by teofilo — February 27, 2007 @ 5:49 pm |Reply

  6. I starting to wonder at a selection bias for people who are dating online, which is that they don’t *want* to do the hard parts of dating (like, you know, meeting and talking to people). I think they may want to be online dating forever, ’cause they like it there behind their computers. More and more I want to use online dating the way Cala suggest: does the writer of this ad cross my threshold for meeting someone for coffee? That’s a much lower threshold (although many don’t meet it) and helps me focus on people whose real goal is to date someone in the real world.

    Comment by Megan — February 27, 2007 @ 7:58 pm |Reply

  7. Yeah, I was just addressing the worries peculiar to online personals.

    With other formats, it depends on what you mean by selection bias; sometimes it’s lonely geeks who never really want to meet but like the safe companionship. Sometimes people fall for a persona. Sometimes it’s just a matter of having a girlfriend who also plays WoW. I get the sense with online personals, though, that this sort of thing is much easier to screen out, especially since you can set parameters on distance from your residence, and there’s no real forum for just chatting. There’s a bigger expectation, I think, with personals, that it will go to meatspace faster.

    Comment by Cala — February 27, 2007 @ 8:38 pm |Reply

  8. I hear you teo. No good advice, just . .that seems to be life. Some of us just have a bad habit of falling in love with friends, despite that being deeply problematic.

    Comment by Ile — February 27, 2007 @ 8:57 pm |Reply

  9. Hey, it seems to me that in today’s world it is easy to get so intimate on the internet that it is more intimate that most of your close, in person, relationships.

    I have been speaking with a lot of people through skype, and though it is not dating per se, I am in love with some of them. So online dating is actually an excellent medium to form friendships, whether you’ll fall in love or not, it is another question.

    Just my 2 cents worth


    Comment by Sophie — June 29, 2007 @ 6:20 pm |Reply

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