Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Online dating sites play a numbers game

A recent article details the tricks of the dating game for online sites, and describes how sites can make their numbers look better for advertisers.

(Caution, it’s on the virus and pop-up ad-laden disaster called The Washington Post Web site. Be ready for weird stuff to happen when you go to the site.)

According to the story, sites lie about how many marriages result and more. In fact, it points out that is basically buying traffic by buying other dating sites., for example, is handing over its dating site to

“I mean peak the way people talk about  peak oil. The problem is not that the world runs out of oil or dating partners overnight. The declining quantity of each ingredient threatens the existence of the systems: internal combustion engines and online dating partners. The moment the world can no longer ramp up oil production to meet demand is the moment the market for oil dips into chaos. Likewise, the moment a single guy in New York can no longer find X number of eligible women online after paying his $59.95 monthly fee to eHarmony is the moment he ventures out to the meat-market bars of the Upper East Side or sets up a profile on a free dating site. And that means a woman can no longer pay to find him, either. Repeat that pattern enough times, and paid dating sites collapse.”

It’s pretty much an accepted and known fact that dating sites feature fake profiles designed to draw you in, much as the old video games featured “attract mode” when someone wasn’t playing the game. You’re persuaded to create a free profile on a site, and even allowed to search for matches in your area, but to communicate with anyone, you must pay. It’s after payment that you discover that no one responds to you – maybe because you’re trying to pitch being a nice guy with a job that pays less than $1 million a week – or because you’re just odd, like me.

In any case, they have your money, and invariably you get flooded with messages from women in St. Petersburg, Russia, or Nigerian come-ons. was notorious for the quantity of “Russians” who replied to ads, and they didn’t care as long as the guys paid the fee.

Like so much on the Web, dating sites have lost their innocence. It’s no longer about matching people, but snatching credit card numbers and pitching services of dubious value and skill. Let your paid membership lapse, and suddenly you’re the most interesting guy in the world. I found that out and even got lured into extending, and then the woman who seemed interested in me “vanished.” I bet it was some guy in a call center in the Philippines whose job was to “tickle” paid members so they’d stay paid members.

As for me, I recently withdrew from all dating sites and have decided that maybe it’s my fate to be alone, and so be it. I have a life, the cats and job and more; why ruin something so right?


June 28, 2010 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , , ,

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