119 Comments

I would say that the biggest reason people are single is that they don't really want relationships. They want relationships in the same way they want to be billionaires or top performers, in a vague it-would-be-nice-but-sadly-it-is-impossible kind of way. But then it turns out that a committed or even a casual relationship doesn't really fit into their lives, their routines, their habits, their beliefs about the world and their expectations for the future as they are set up. They live their lives as pronouncements into the void. This is a valid life choice, but often people make it without fully knowing they are making it.

Fortunately, making space for relationships in your life is much easier than becoming a billionaire or a top performer. But since it is not happening by itself, a change somewhere must occur. And the only way to make change happen and not be at the mercy of being changed by chance is to revise fundamental assumptions, which is easy to say and hard to do unless you are a reader. Reading deeply teaches you to overhear yourself talking to yourself and recognize the contingent nature and structure of such speech, and then of your existence.

How would another person fit into your daily life, preferably for the better? Do you want them to fit? And how would you fit into their life, preferably for the better? How can you be good for them and they to you? Galaxy brain next-levelling dating tactics don't stem from this questions. Considerations about Ethics and performing plain level 1 generically solid actions such as acquiring new skills or healthy habits do. When you treat yourself and other people ethically, they tend to treat you better as well, and better relationships become possible. That is what good relationships are.

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Interesting comment but seriously think a “ymmv” is needed after your comment about reading deeply.

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Alternative methods for change may be stuff like a near death experiences, taking hallucinogenic drugs or a religious conversion, but I take them to be specific cases of learning that you can read the same text (yourself, your life, whatever) in different ways to come up with different information. I recommend books because they are safer to experience, more consistent and explicit about the process, and generally less intense to talk about in dates.

However yes, ymmv and some dates may potentially be really interested in talking about near death experiences, taking hallucinogenic drugs or a religious conversion.

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I think this is a good point, especially as people often accidentally pursue strats that are directed to "get a relationship" and not "get a good relationship". Maybe someone simply needs the reps on just getting a relationship/date/coffee, but always should keep at least part of an eye on "not accidentally getting good at only finding terrible relationships".

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I can assure you that huge swathes of single men desperately want a relationship but don't even bother because they feel their chances are far too low to be worth trying - many of them are right (to the extent they're unwilling to settle for some seriously unattractive girls - as in lower percentiles than themselves)

And I mean, the thing is, even what you're describing was less of a problem in the past. So something has to have changed to bring about this situation, and that's where the insight lies (it wasn't men just spontaneously deciding to become undatable nerds overnight).

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"They live their lives as pronouncements into the void. This is a valid life choice, but often people make it without fully knowing they are making it."

This is a great comment. I want to like it twice.

Social media has drastically lowered the price of being a poser. You could be a poser before the internet, but you had to at least have a convincing costume. You had to try to look the part and know something about whatever you were pretending to be, and eventually go find some people to do that thing with. In doing all that work, you eventually hit a point where you had to decide whether to commit to the role or give it up before getting exposed as a poser. Social media has done away with much of that.

Today, you can go online and play the role of angry incel or unapologetic player or angry feminist drinking male tears and you'll find scores, if not legions, of people to cheer you on and support your posing.

The result is that a lot of people spend large portions of their most pivotal years committed to a bit without even knowing it's a bit.

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Many of my friends and acquaintances have been in promising relationships, and then ended them (either explicitly or explicitly) by making professional or education choices that required them to live in a different city than their partner. Examples: applying to/attending the top grad school they can get into in their field, academic jobs, choosing top programs for medical residencies.

Anecdotally, many of these people seem to feel they are "on rails" - obviously, they need to go to top program X in distant city, rather than settling for regional program Y in their current location. This is revealed preference for career over relationship-building. If the default is to favor your career at critical junctures, you may end up "resetting the clock" on relationship building quite frequently, and hitting your goals later than intended (or never).

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 30, 2023

Keeper.ai initially strikes me as a Theranos-style (if not scale) scam, but maybe there's something I'm not getting.

1) Google and Amazon have tons of data on me, every incentive to want to recommend stuff I would buy, and I find that their book, movie, and music recommendations are less than 50% hits, usually much less. So I assume that predicting my tastes is a hard problem.

2) If Keeper has an effective AI solution, shouldn't that be very low marginal cost? The pricing structure would make sense for a very skilled and effective human matchmaker, but seems weird for an allegedly AI solution.

Edited to add: Sorry, Keeper.ai team, I overstated what I meant to say. I should have said "possibly" a scam, and wish you success.

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Sep 1, 2023·edited Sep 1, 2023

Thanks for responding! I wish you the best and will be interested to see how you use AI!

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What are the age demographics of your users?

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Well just thinking if there is one 83, who do they get matched with?

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(83÷2)+7 = You 😉

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I presume they are using AI to find candidate matches, then having humans evaluate the matches manually, and also collecting data and feedback on each individual. There's likely serious fixed costs here, and you only pay on success. The 1/4 rate of date -> relationship rate doesn't seem so hard? Also the $ helps filter for seriousness.

Predicting your tastes is a hard problem, which in G/A's cases are made harder because you are not actively assisting with that so much - they are trying to use revealed preferences. Netflix recommendations and predictions used to be VERY VERY good for those of us who actively gave thoughtful ratings to everything on the 1-5 scale, and would have been better still if we could reveal component preferences (such as actors, or motifs, or genres or what not) and I still want someone to build a better recommendation engine company, would invest/advise.

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That said, I would be concerned enough about the scam issue that I would 100% choose pay-as-you-go at double the price to guard against this, my main concern would be 'I deposit money and then never get it back.' If I mostly get a human matchmaker instead of an AI, who cares so long as it works?

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Less than 50% hits doesn't seem to be bad. How much is it compared to randomness? How much is it compared to other sources?

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To be fair, the Google song recommendations have turned me on to several artists that I have never heard before and like a lot, but if the matchmaking success is about that good, I can't see paying large amounts for it.

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It only takes one. Or if you are poly, a number higher than one but likely less than a dozen.

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Sure, and I hope Keeper.ai is great. My inner skeptic says:

(1) Unless I'm really unaware of the current status of AI, I would be surprised if AI is a great component of any value they add. And without criticizing Keeper specifically, I'm guessing "AI" is going to be the new "blockchain" - something you say to signify that your project is cutting edge, but maybe doesn't add a ton to its actual value. (Eric Falkenberg used to call this "Batesian mimicry" in finance.)

(2) The pricing seems really weird for AI. Wouldn't you normally want lower prices and more users?

(3) The best case scenario I find likely (from admittedly, my position of more or less ignorance) is that the price provides some kind of beneficial screening effect, and allows them to provide some effective human matchmaking to back up any AI contributions.

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Hi, are you considering leaving a comment on an article about dating?

Are you:

1. Someone who is happily in a relationship and are convinced that if people just did X they would be also?

2. Single, and convinced this is someone else's - possibly an entire gender's - fault?

If so, do us all a favour and don't.

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This, to me, is only wanting advice from people struggling in an open water swim. Certainly avoid advice from people that drowned (#2), but people that got across (and stayed across to stretch the metaphor) are plausibly the best source of advice. I went from incredibly terrible at dating to acceptable at it when I had a few older friends in stable LTRs beat into my head better strategies.

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If you ignore the drowning people, you're at risk of making the same mistakes. And people in successful relationships are probably only useful if they're younger. If older married men were dating today with the same attitude and approach they had as a youth, many would struggle compared to how their actual dating life was.

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The drowning or drowned people are probably the worst resource to consult on why and how they drowned.

As for older longtime-marrieds—even stronger disagreement. They might not be the best resource to consult on getting a first date, but they’re definitely the best and only resource you have on how to develop and keep a relationship going: and I note that your goal is not dating, it’s a relationship, which is a continual process, not a place you arrive and move no farther from. Advice from any other quarter than those who have a proven track record of success is wrong unless you’re not interested in long-term monogamy.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

>2. Single, and convinced this is someone else's - possibly an entire gender's - fault?

Right, we need to hear only from attractive people who have no effort finding dates, that's how we understand what's happening with the perpetually and unwillingly single in this country. Understand the attitudes of these people specifically, even if you find their attitude repulsive, obviously has no place here.

I wonder if you think discussions of racial inequality shouldn't includes perspectives from poor black people who think it's all another race's fault. Hats off to you if you do think this, but chances are you don't.

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Collecting data from these people (the extremely biased and bitter perpetual single) is fine, but they’re failing badly in a failure mode that guarantees future failure, so yes, their perspective is not useful. The data might be, but you’d pretty much have to reject anything they had to say. I have no problem doing this because self-report that isn’t backed up empirically is worthless.

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Surely you collect data from the 'failures' in order to understand the fail

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This is an extraordinarily old thread, friend. But no, as I take your gist (because the end of your comment is missing), I reiterate my previous comment.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

>A 2022 sample of singles

This is 2022, on the tail end of covid, feels like a pretty big confounder to people's dating habits in normal times.

Also, I couldn't find it but how was this data gathered? It mentions dating websites but does that include apps? Everyone I know uses apps like bumble/hinge, almost no-one uses actual websites like okcupid.

I have a pretty large group of friends/acquaintances who are all dating and having casual sex regularly. Some with multiple new partners a month. They are also very far from being patient enough people to fill out any survey. So either I and most people I know are in the 10% (1%?) of hooking up, or there are some data quality issues here.

Also. regarding the app data thing. This is a more representative diagram for most people I know: https://www.reddit.com/media?url=https%3A%2F%2Fi.redd.it%2Fd1qx3733dnkb1.gif

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Maybe, but it's not like the world is going to return to 2019. Covid has obviously had a semi-permanent change in many areas of life. I would imagine the situation in 2022 much more strongly predicts what will be happening in the dating world of 2032 than 2019 will.

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It has been 18 years, possibly to the day (certainly to the week) since I met my one-day-to-be-wife (although it took 2 years before we started dating). Apparently this makes me a dinosaur, but here goes anyway:

Dating apps seem like an incredible waste. Waste of time, waste of energy and (most cursed of all) waste of rejection tolerance. If you wake up today and think “I want to beat someone up”, do you go to a boxing hall or a gym and pick a fight? Hell no. You go to an old folks home. If you want to find clients you don't go to a convention for your field. You shoehorn your way into the convention your potential clients go to (ideally one that makes it hard for you to get in) and start glad handing people.

Yet, this is exactly what a dating app is. But wait, it is worse! Dating apps (by design) let people filter by what they think. I'm not going to spend too much time on “revealed preference” and “people are idiots who don't know what they want”, but good lord are people JUST TERRIBLE at setting filters in general and more so for dating.

You should maximize for quality shot opportunities. Unless you're a legit six one with decent BMI/face/income/education evidence of twitter/the internet/casual conversations suggests dating apps are going to provide very few quality shot opportunities.

What will provide quality shot opportunities is getting out and meeting people, away from the dating scene, where they are filtering for “do I enjoy spending time with this person, do they make me laugh, are we compatible” first, not “is this person I want my friends to know I am dating” (you can re-phrase the 2nd question a lot of different (and more depressing) ways).

Join a club. Volunteer on a charity (ideally one with monthly/biweekly social-ish meetings). Join a sports league (but NOT a singles sports league). Take a class. Become a regular at a maker space. Do whatever it takes to make a few new, casual, friends/acquaintances each month. Any activity that plausible includes the appropriate target gender is fine, of course some might be better than others, so long as you actually enjoy it.

Then, either casually ask people out to NON date activities 0-2 times or explicitly ask them out on a low-risk date (coffee, hiking in a populated part, golf (frisbee or regular), 1 off cooking class. Anything that's short-ish, allows for social interaction and has enough buffer/other people to not be too intimidating.

Do not become a creeper or serial asker-outer. How do you avoid this? First, simply avoid it. If your instincts are so bad (and they might be) that you cannot figure this out I would suggest:

1: No more than 1 ask per monthish per activity group.

2: Do not ask out more than 1 in 5? 6? 10? eligible partners per activity. Eligible partner = plausible singles of target gender +/- a big age range.

3: Do not do too many activity groups per month. 3? 4? Anything over this suggests you're over-applying this advice and using them to look for dates and are therefore risking being a creeper.

If (assuming you're a guy seeking a gal) there are 5 single gals in the approx. age range in some activity, and you ask 2 of them out (unless separated by at least half a year), you're a creeper. If you ask out every other girl that joins the activity, creeper.

The touchstone is that you must be seen by the girls as there for the activity first, social life second, dating third. Even if this is a lie, it is how it should come across. If it becomes activity first, dating second you're on suspect creeper thin ice, and if it becomes dating first you're a creeper.

I suggest this will give you an active social life which on its own will help you (social proof of non-creeper/OK person status). It will also give you many more quality shot opportunities than endlessly scrolling and chatting up people in the highest competition zone possible. This strat also allows network effects to work in your favor b/c if you have social proof of non-creeper status you might get hooked up/set up on dates by people you know. Also, if it fails you have an active social life doing things you enjoy (vs having spent hours scrolling through pictures of people that will reject you).

Post-Conclusion Notes:

1. The sad reality is that a lot of nerd-adjacent guys seem to have both under and over corrected on the dangers of being a creeper. Don't assume you can't ask someone out after you've casually met them 1-10 times and seemed to hit it off, but do carefully gauge the (ahem) market differential and use it to set the ask up appropriately. i.e. the hotter/better the other person is compared against you the more you're limited to “hey, there's a new third wave coffee place opened up, do you want to go some time?”

2. Do assume that if someone says no or fobs it off (without asking you to do something in the next few weeks) they aren't interested at that time and hold off on future asks for 6 months. If they refuse/fob a second time, idk you're either done or need to wait years.

3. Work on your conversation skills. Listen to the other person, then respond. Don't plan your response while they're talking. Do not be the topper. Do not talk over people. It's better to let a moment of silence occur than rush to fill it with something stupid. Pauses while you think seem long (eternal) to you, but to other people are just brief moments. Talk about yourself an appropriate amount. Ask more questions than you answer, but don't be prying. ABOVE ALL ELSE THE SPICE/CONVERSATION MUST FLOW. Do what it takes to let it flow fairly naturally.

4. Self deprecating humor should be deployed with extreme care. It's like when people ask you in an interview (on a television show) “what's your 3 greatest weaknesses” and you have to respond with strengths. It is better to avoid self deprecating humor than mess it up, but in general it can't be stuff you're actually afraid of/that is actually a problem. Humor is hard to explain. If you need a detailed explanation of how to use self deprecating humor, you should simply not use it for a while.

5. Your body odor should be soap, with a reasonable amount of deodorant. I will admit to concerns about the wisdom of anti-antiperspirants, but dates/asks are not the place for those concerns. It is OK to have a non-scented anti-antiperspirant and apply the everloving heck out of it, then do 1 small swipe of original Old Spice per pit (SMALL I SAID). Do not smell bad. Clean clothing, reasonably acceptable shoes and no body/breath odor. If you have chronic allergies you should strongly consider asking a friend the honest/brutal question about your breath odor during allergy season. Allergies/post-nasal drip/deviated septum can cause odor that brushing doesn't fix, and if this is true, you should try and fix it as much as possible (and/or mints).

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I can also suggest run clubs as a great venue for meeting people. Best case scenario you meet a fit person. Worst case scenario you get more fit yourself. You basically cannot lose. From my experience the gender ratio is quite balanced in run clubs and you don't have to run faster than 10 minutes/mile in non-competitive clubs.

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Yup. Although I would personally suggest fencing or some other gender balanced sport over running, since I swore off running. I thought about including a section specifically on the gym, the desirability of going and how to not be a creeper at the gym/sports club. If inspiration strikes later will add it.

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The gym seems like a great place to meet potential partners. You already have at least one thing in common, and someone with the self discipline to maintain a workout routine has at least one positive characteristic.

The creeper thing is a huge minefield. When I was single, "don't be a creep" was a cardinal rule, and it is really hard to judge.

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My old roommate had amazing success on apps precisely because he meets the criteria women think they want in men. He’s very much a fuckboy however - maybe because so many women want him and he has low impulse control - so some women got what they really wanted and many didn’t.

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One potential advice for both men and women is to switch cities (or even countries), if at all feasible. If you're a man, move to NYC. If you're a woman, move to Silicon Valley. If you're gay, move to SF. If you're Mormon, move to Salt Lake City.

Here's a breakdown of US counties by the % of women aged 18-34, as well as the median 1-bedroom rent in each location: https://dpaste.com/7X6S3ART3. 54% of Manhattan (New York county) residents are women vs. only 47.3% of San Jose (Santa Clara county). This might seem like a small difference but if we assume that 70% of women are in a relationship, this means that Manhattan has 2 women for every single man while San Jose has 1.4 men for every single woman. In other words, dating in Manhattan should be **3** times easier than in San Jose.

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(Noting that this was very much in my longer draft list of advice and likely should have made the cut - it is a highly under-appreciated point, and I presume things went much easier for me here in Manhattan then they would have elsewhere due to the imbalances.)

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+1 to this matching my lived experience (I had more sexual partners in my first year two in New York than the ten before that, in which I was in the bay area and math grad school). And better LTRs too (though for obvious reasons, not more numerically).

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Very true. Partly ratio and partly what’s attractive there.

Nerdy white guys of average height aren’t what’s hot in Silicon Valley. If that’s what you’re into as a woman then you will SLAY there. If that describes you as a man then virtually everywhere else in the world is an improvement.

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This is a little bit simplistic of an approach. Aside from all the obvious logistical issues, friends family, career etc, I don't think a single man from e.g. Ohio with a regular job is going to have huge success with Manhattan women even if he can somehow afford to move to and live in NYC. I don't think there's any big US city where the women are so desperate that they're looking for any average man - they would rather stay single (and sleep around) than date somebody average.

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I could not agree more. But average men living in Ohio are exceedingly unlikely to read this blog :-)

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True. Nerdy SV types probably aren't what Manhattan women are after either for different reasons though. I think Manhattan is fundamentally a bad example - whatever boost you would expect from the ratio advantage is, I think, going to be more than offset by the particular qualities of manhattan women. It would only help if you're already somebody who doesn't especially struggle dating already.

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Lol, I just moved from Ohio to the West Coast. It was a good decision.

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I would guess DC area also fits the bill with more single women than men. Not sure about stats but it seems that way from friends' dating experiences.

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This. I’m a nerdy woman who adores nerds, so I deliberately picked up and moved to Silicon Valley. As a result, I managed to date easily, including some guys who definitely seemed out of my league.

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The average rent in Manhattan is now $4,000/month. I know because I live in the NYC metro area. Not realistic for people who don't work in white-collar jobs. College educated men still have marriage rates equivalent to the average American in the 1970s, but this problem of permanent singleness seems to be concentrated among working class men(the majority of the population), who for whatever reason(autism, depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, opioid addiction, unemployed, anger problems, low income) are viewed as less desirable, and don't have the countervailing forces of higher income and the prestige of a lawyer, doctor, engineer to make up for having some of these problems. A caveat being that some of these jobs may function as a proxy for not having problems, and women implicitly know this. We've basically traded the economic coercion of women having to get married(couldn't open a bank account, ) for men being told they're "undesirable" and nobody wants to be with them. I guess these men were always "undesirable", but women didn't have other options. Men have much lower standards than women do, but in a way it was oddly democratic, in that it was open to almost all women to varying degrees. Nobody's grappled with the fact that this means 20-30% of men will probably never meet anyone or have kids, but this is the path society seems to be heading down.

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How many people reading Zvi don't have a white-collar job? :-)

That aside, if you check the link I've posted you'll see a very affordable option of living in Greensboro, NC, where some nice flats can be rented for $1000/month and the gender ratio is almost as good as in Manhattan.

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It's been a while since I've used any of the dating apps. But 10 years ago they were a great way to meet people and find dates, at least in Chicago. Hinge was definitely the best. It's sad to read that it's deteriorated since then. Tinder was always borderline useless.

The way I stood out to my future spouse was by opening the app-conversation with a customized limerick based on what was in her profile. It's a little cringe, and a little try-hard, but it showed a sense of humor, intelligence, and was complimentary to her. A normal "what's up?" message might get a response rate of 5-10% or less. I'd say that writing them a poem multiplied that number by 5 or so.

I understand the hate on the PUA community. But I was a Magic-playing loner for much of college. When I decided I wanted to have relationships, I had nothing to work with. I dove down into that PUA rabbit hole, and didn't find much that worked. But their emphasis on "inner game" was a game-changer. It turns out I just had to be social, confident, and interesting. I joined a bunch of activities and stopped worrying so much about rejection. That probably took me from the bottom 20% of date-ability to the top 30%. That's a huge change! All that I'm saying is the "inner game pick-up artist" stuff works, and it's mostly fairly obvious stuff. It's actually essentially what much of this article was about.

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PUA was supposed to be an external defibrillator for people that flat lined on dating, but then internet weirdness drift took place. 95% of it (as an outside observer who hasn't been single since before the PUA community was a thing) seems to be repackaging standard self-help books as advice for guys, with 5% pure insanity thrown in.

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Note that Kenny was off by a factor of 2: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/highlights-from-the-comments-on-dating/comment/39004910 . Democrat-Republican marriages still happen -- I'm in one -- but 4% vs. "18% expected by chance" is significant.

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My guessy model re: 1-date-per-year = horror for about a year is something like what I experience applying for jobs: I’ll have a productive applying period where I’ll apply to several dozen jobs, then over the course of the next few months I’ll get random interviews for some of them which are always unpleasant and involve not-insubstantial investments in uncomfortable scheduling and travel, then if I don’t hear back from any of them I’ll be pretty discouraged for a month or two until the urgency kicks in again. (Or also yeah this maybe suggests more that people are going on first dates that land them a relationship that lasts at least a year.)

Ditto re: bars as increasing hookup hotspots is that it’s a dominant cultural meme that that’s what bars are for, like I suspect that people are using bars less for the food and socialization in the traditional sense; that it almost switched places with “through friends” suggests to me a scenario where singles are possibly almost exclusively using bars to troll for dates vs hangout spots/socializing/food/alcohol.

Bella Rudd is a national treasure.

Can endorse eHarmony at least as late as 2008. Subscription wasn't cheap and they'll actually full on reject you if you fail the initial screening (which piqued my curiosity after a friend complained about this) but easily the best money I've ever spent; wife got the better deal since we met on one of their free weekends. Your description of Reader matches pretty close to what I remember of their process, it matches you up with a barebones (optional) picture & profile and then goes back and forth revealing more in stages. I remember one round lets you pick out a couple open-ended questions to send to the other person. Either person can opt out at any time, ends with letting you directly message each other if you’ve both signed off on everything. Pretty sure they still exist but no idea if/how much they’ve changed given I haven’t needed them since, would start there again in the worst possible scenario.

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In the chart showing sources of first dates (through a friend, work, school, etc) any ideas what "Other" would include to make it the second highest source of dates? Everything I can think of is covered in other categories.

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>It is as if people are capable of getting a date, then they go on one and recoil in ‘oh no not that again’ horror for about a year, then repeat the cycle?

Actually, this makes perfect sense if we assume the market is efficient. Anyone who can get someone who meets their standards is going to be quickly removed from the dating pool. The only ones who are left will thus be people who can’t get someone who meets their standards. Hence the going on one date a year to kick the tires, thinking “oh no this person sucks”, and then swearing off it for another year.

>Sarah Constantin: If you’re unhappily single *and* don’t have a good group of friends and an active social life that includes people of romantically relevant gender, then “socialize more and make friends” is probably the answer.

This is true, but it’s also not very helpful. Of course being well-liked and sociable will help you get dates. The question is how to do that?

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I have an alternative explanation for "meeting at bars and restaurants" being the only category going up other than on-line. That is the story people adopt when they met on-line but don't want to admit it for whatever reason. It is the only other option on that list that isn't falsifiable to other people you know (the other options would require that you both be at the same school, work the same employer etc.), while anybody can plausibly meet anybody at bar. Also most first dates are at bars so people can reinterpret the question for themselves to make it an "honest" answer 'we were only introduced on Tinder, but we MET for the first time at a bar/restaurant.'

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People often go out to bars and restaurants with their friends, but if they meet someone, they probably credit the bar or restaurant.

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I have a cousin who (at one point at least) had as the official story that she met her husband at a "Jewish singles event" (both Jewish); the actual answer was "at a [college] bar". This was long enough ago that lying about meeting online wasn't a thing.

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To hit on a small point: I'm in a happy, committed, 10-year monogamous marriage. 6 months after proposal we were deep in the process of wedding planning, fighting with both our families (my wife's mother was very upset we weren't married in a church, my parents felt that I hadn't let all six of my aunts participate enough in the wedding planning), trying to plan a life together, and attempting to lock down various services we'd need before our wedding date.

Also the idea that the first year of marriage should be especially blissful is...suspect. There's an idea of a "Honeymoon period" but I'd be interested to see literature on how long it lasts and whether the end of the "Honeymoon period" is a return to baseline or actually a drop. No matter how much you love your partner, sharing a space with them for the first time (as many married people in the U.S. do) can be *extremely* trying. Navigating the transition from dating to married life is a new challenge, one that I'd expect to lead to a temporary drop in happiness. The bliss came after - once we'd figured out which things were important to us as individuals and which were important to us as a couple.

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Hearing these stories makes me VERY happy that we decided to get married while already living together, and did the entire planning and execution in a month. Not only did we not overspend, we saved on sanity.

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At least we were price conscious, I think the whole ceremony ran us about $500. But both coming from religious backgrounds we couldn't quite make "living together for a while before marriage" work though it was discussed. To be honest I think it would have changed very little - there still would have been a short adjustment period followed by figuring it out, it would have just happened before instead of after marriage.

On the one hand we got lucky - We'd dated for years, but imagine if we'd just been wrong about fundamental compatibility somehow.

On the other, while I don't think we were ever in danger of a split, I can see how having a high exit cost might make you more likely to find the happiness instead of giving up at the first sign of trouble.

All in all I would absolutely recommend living together before marriage with some small caveats, and would uncritically recommend having a small cheap ceremony, preferably that you pay for yourself, and giving the other people in your life close to zero say over its planning.

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Interesting overview of the current dating market.

My date-me doc: https://jacquesthibodeau.com/lets-go-on-a-date/

About me:

- 31-year-old (in a few days!) French Canadian currently working to reduce risks from superintelligent AI as an AI alignment researcher.

- I'm 5'9", masculine, straight, and monogamous.

- Hobbies include: playing guitar and singing for fun, martial arts, mentoring people, making friends and talking about AI on Twitter, and experiencing and learning new things.

- Currently in Montreal, but I just applied for a visa to move to the London. I should be moving to London by October-November.

- I want to have children, so I'm looking for someone who is also excited about becoming a parent. I can't wait to form a little garage band and do martial arts with my future kids!

- I hosted a radio show during university, so I can make some sick playlists!

- Looking to effectively contribute to helping create a world where everyone has a chance to flourish!

- Striving for greatness. Living as my ideal self.

- I'm someone who loves fiercely, helps my partner grow, and will go to bat for them.

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If you're looking for notes, most people would tell you to workshop it, and to be a little funnier to advertise your writing skills and humor.

The best advice I ever got on my dating profiles was to move from "nice guy looking for relationship" towards "funny guy with quirky interests looking to have fun and open to relationship."

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Thanks! I planning to make an effort to make it funnier.

I will note that I don’t really have an issue getting dates. And I find that the “being fun/funny” thing is useful for getting dates, but given that I’m looking for a life partner, I’m trying to be more explicit about my goals and what would lead to long-term compatibility. I’ve been on too many incompatible dates at this point. Hah

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Fair enough - Scott Alexander just did an essay on dating docs, and the comments basically split along "I like dating and dating docs turn away people I might like" and "I don't want to do more dating than I have to, so some early screening is fine," which are both obviously reasonable perspectives.

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Oh yeah, I read the post but not the comments. In my case, I use whichever option I have to get dates (apps, social media, in-person activities or generally in public, dating docs). Dating docs just bring in other people that I wouldn’t connect with through other means anyways. I don’t think it’s turning away people I would like and would have met through other means. I’ve had women reach out after reading the doc, but don’t have the expectation that it’s the main place I will get dates.

And I still want to go on many dates because that’s how I’ll find someone who is most compatible. But it’s like a full-time job sometimes so I’d rather work harder to filter for stronger compatibility!

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I've been out of the dating market for a decade or so now, but I would have been in your target demographic, only a few years older.

Small things: consider expanding your age range up 1-2 years (up to 32 or so), and specifying if you'd be willing to move for a relationship/ where you're looking geographically.

I'd rework your "desired qualities". For one thing, you don't state your own intrinsic values; how would a woman know if hers match?

Also, what's "values grace"? Like, religious/spiritual grace, or not bumping into things while walking?

What is "strong character" - assertive, outgoing, loud personality, vocal in defense of what is right, strong in her opinions?

Also, some of your requirements might be mutually opposing - e.g. work ethic vs. fun to be around, strong character vs. compassionate to everyone. Maybe try to express your interests in terms of the 5 personality traits (neuroticism, agreeableness, etc.)?

Finally, nobody will own up to being a wet blanket, boring, emotionally unstable, or of bad character. If I don't care about minor law-breaking, like driving above the speed limit or cutting through the grass, is my character poor? What about if I'm messy and I don't really care about certain household chores you do - am I lazy, or just diligent in other areas? Etc.

Sorry I don't have more concrete advice on how to rework it, but I think it needs some work. Maybe if your target is English-speakers and your native language is French, consider having someone bilingual review the wording?

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Thanks for the suggestions! I haven’t made updates to in a little while since I was pursuing a relationship that recently ended.

There are some things I just expect I won’t be able to tell until I potential partners them and spend time with them. So I’m not really expecting whoever reaches out and says they are x, y, z and don’t communicate negative traits to be a perfect match. My focus is to narrow things down enough so that I can figure out the compatibility on the dates.

I also felt the things you listed were vague, but I was at the point where I didn’t want to spend more time reworking it. I’ll definitely keep in mind your advice on my next rewriting session. :)

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Some interesting points of contrast with Orthodox Jewish "shidduch dating":

* That price given by Keeper is outrageous, upwards of twenty times what a matchmaker gets.

* Regard a group chat for exes: The idea sounds more problematic than the system where the matchmaker knows the relevant info and can dispense it appropriately. The matchmaker has had conversations with the exes during and after their relationships, has discussed why it didn't work out, knows where the person has issues (or had them previously), keeps track of things, and can communicate it to the other party.

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author

The Shidduch charges only a few thousand all-in? What a deal. Truly a mench.

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The only thing that worked for me was moving. Partly because I’m not what Berkeley women are looking for. Partly because I had so much baggage there... the bit about “gaslighting” is accurate. Leaving let me reset.

Even a similar city like Portland was a massive improvement for me. Other countries were a bigger bump, as you’d expect, but even another heavily liberal city in the US was 5-10 times better for me.

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