Characteristics of a FODE include most of the following:
- Long hours spent browsing profiles
- Long hours spent composing well thought-out emails
- A response rate of 50% or lower
- Flaky dates and last-minute cancellations
- Failure to improve results even when lowering the standard of target women
- Overall frustration with dating and resentment towards women
Frustration arises from two sources. One is a sensation of wasted time. You may spend a disproportionate amount of time on the computer trying to set your dates up compared to the amount of time you actually spend on the dates themselves and meeting people.
The second source of frustration is unreliable dates that either postpone repeatedly, cancel at the last minute, or in the worst case scenario, stand you up completely.
These problems can be magnified if Online Dating (ODing) is your only channel of meeting women, and especially if it is the only form of social contact that you are using. In that situation, having a FODE can make you feel like your entire social life is not going well, causing significant emotional damage.
These problems can be overcome.
First and foremost, ODing should be used as a supplement to and not a substitute for more ‘natural’ means of meeting people, such as in bars, in the grocery store, at the mall, in sports clubs, and so on. It should certainly not act as a substitute for friendship; if ODs are the only social contact you have outside of work, you need to work on your social circle and get some friends into your life. Fixing this will give you other social outlets so that even if you are having a bit of a FODE, it only affects a relatively small proportion of your social life and limits any emotional damage to an insignificant level.
Dealing with a low response rate requires some understanding of the social dynamics of attraction and the effects of ODing.
As a survival instinct, men have an in-built anxiety about approaching attractive women that they haven’t met before, since in a primitive society approaching a girl from a different tribe could end up getting you killed if you approach one who is taken. Our society has moved on so that we now have rules that stop potential rivals from killing us, but the emotional wiring in our brains might take another million years to catch up, and in the meantime we still have this anxiety. ODing makes it easier to contact people who are looking for the things that you have to offer since it removes approach anxiety. A side effect is that it makes it too easy. Girls, particularly attractive ones, are therefore bombarded by emails from men to the point where they simply cannot answer all that they receive. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a simple logistical reality.
Why aren’t men bombarded with emails to the same extent? Is it because the man is supposed to pursue and the woman is supposed to select out of some social custom about chivalry? Not at all. It is because of the differences in the way men and women are attracted to each other.
Men are initially attracted to women based on survival and replication characteristics. The ability to bear children who are likely to be attractive enough to carry on your genes is neatly conveyed in a few straightforward physical attributes such as breast size, hip-to-weight ratio, overall shape, youthfulness, and general attractiveness. These are attributes that are easy to convey in a photo. The stimulus of a photo is enough to get men on the ODing circuit sending emails.
Women are attracted to men not based on how they look (although that is a factor) but on how they act. Are you good with your hands so that you can build and maintain a nest for the children? Are you reliable enough that you will be around to look after the children? Are you self-sufficient enough that you can provide food and shelter for her and the children? Are you sociable enough that you can summon help from a large group of friends when the going gets tough? Are you the leader of a group and hence more likely to provide a good life for the children? These are attributes that cannot easily be summed up in a photograph, they generally have to be conveyed by other means, and ODing is not an ideal means of doing so.
Furthermore, sex has potentially bigger consequences for women that it has for men, so they have to be very careful about who they select. This is why men seem to be trying to have sex and women seem to be trying to avoid it.
So ODing can be frustrating for both sexes. Men get frustrated from spending so much time and effort sending emails that fail to convey their value as a partner, and women get frustrated from having to spend so much time sifting through a mountain of emails in search of one that conveys value.
If you’re a good writer, you can communicate a certain amount of your value in your written profile. However, it is only through interaction and conversation that you can truly build comfort and attraction on the woman’s part. The job of your online profile is to pique enough of her interest that she will want to meet you and find out more. A photograph of you in the company of other friends at a social event, particularly attractive female friends having a good time and laughing at what you say, will be a lot more effective than one of you sitting alone at your desk posing for your webcam. Text that is funny, witty, relaxed, and probably doesn’t even mention what you’re looking for will be a lot more effective than a desperate and lonely plea for a partner that you badly need. A relationship is made of two whole people, not two half people, so you need to look like you have your act together, are a happy person, have other people (particularly females) in your life, and can function confidently and happily without a girlfriend, but are open to the possibility of one.
The main joy of socializing is finding out what makes someone tick. If you tell all there is to know about you in your profile, you leave nothing left to find out about you once you meet. Don’t give the whole game away before you’ve even met.
Invite the female reader to take up the challenge of meeting you if she thinks she has what it takes. Your value should be high enough that you can talk in terms of her having to convince you that you should meet, rather than vice versa.
Once you get as far as meeting, a common source of FODEs is a high quantity of low quality dates. The standard complaint is about ten dates in one week that in hindsight all seemed the same, it was difficult to recall which person was which, and they all seemed like job interviews in which both parties simply swapped resumes. A question-and-answer session in which each person asks and answers the standard questions of where they live, what they do and where they’re from is going to produce few memorable experiences for either party no matter how much you have in common.
The afternoon coffee date is perhaps the worst cliché of all. Meeting in a coffee shop to verbally swap resumes over coffee before she leaves to fulfill her evening plans is a sure fire way to have an unsuccessful date. A more interesting date will involve the following characteristics:
- You in charge. If you canvas her opinion on where you should meet, what you should do, and where you want to go next, she will lose respect for you. Be a man and lead – she will respect you more. If she says that she can’t go where you say for whatever reason, then don’t force the issue, but you should at least put it out there that you’re calling the shots initially and are starting the discussion about what you two are doing.
- At least one fun activity in which the other person can participate, since it helps her to relax rather than having to work to keep a conversation going out of thin air. An activity can be a stimulus for further conversation, and may give you a chance to demonstrate your value depending on the activity.
- Multiple locations. Move the girl to another location in the venue for a change of scene, and if you can, bounce to another venue where a slightly different scene may be on offer. It gives her more memories of you and makes time go faster.
- Social proof. Go somewhere where someone knows your name, perhaps having the initial meeting in your own local bar where she can come in and see other people (preferably other females) speaking to you. This telegraphs to her that you are a socially active person with a network of friends that you can count on, and not some loser who hides in his home. For the privacy necessary to carry on the date, you can then bounce to another location.
- As late a time in the evening as possible. This will discourage her from making backup plans with her friends whom she can say are waiting to meet her afterwards.
- Some touching. If a girl telegraphs interest in you, it is okay to do a little bit of touching, such as a gentle nudge on the elbow, a touch here and there on the arm, and so on. Do not just put your hand there and leave it though, touch and then withdraw so that she gets comfortable with it. As comfort builds, you’ll be able to touch a little more and she will reciprocate. If you put her hand on your knee, remove your hand, and hers stays there, it’s a good sign.
- Cocky teasing talk. On first meeting, your job is to throw in little teasing, funny, backhanded compliments with some cold water poured on them so that the girl will laugh, but will subconsciously reassure her that you’re not hitting on her by fawning all over her. Never compliment a girl unless she has earned it, especially an attractive one. Telling a hot girl that she is hot is to sound desperate and to sound like every other guy that she has brushed off. You can only do this after she has said something nice to you and given other indicators of interest, such as touching her hair, fixing her gaze on you, laughing at your every joke, and so on. If she does compliment you, accept it and thank her.
- Stories that convey your value. Have stories lined up about how your friends are loyal to you, how you are successful in your career, and how you are a deep thinker, but by way of anecdotes rather than outright bragging. Tell a story where the main focus is not how great you are, the value-added stuff should be conveyed in little throwaway remarks.
- Sincerity. Don’t lie and make things up about yourself, unless it’s part of some comedy routine where you convince her that you’re a Concorde pilot only to let her down to earth with your real job.
- A firm arrangement to meet again at an event that you already plan to go to, as opposed to an obscure question of whether or not she wants to hang out again ‘sometime,’ whenever that is. If you have built enough comfort and attraction with her, she will be inclined to see you again if you put an image in her head of a meeting at a specific time and location. If you leave it too open, it could remain open for evermore.
On the issue of looks, genetic looks in a man are not as important as you may think. This is evidenced by the number of incredibly attractive women who you may have noticed hanging out with guys who you probably don’t consider to be all that attractive. What is more important is that you’re in reasonable shape, well groomed, and well dressed. These are all things over which you have considerable control.
In all, you need to be an already well-rounded person before you can get the most out of ODing. You should be confident in groups, have a network of friends, be a leader, be assertive, not be needy, and above all you should be using ODing as one of many weapons in your arsenal. Getting frustrated and blaming all women for a FODE is not going to help you to meet a partner, and it is certainly not going to make you look attractive if you let women see that you are having a FODE, for that is lowering your value in their estimation by branding yourself a loser.
Lowering the standard of women you try to meet is unlikely to help you, and will only sell yourself short. You do not have to settle for less, you can keep your standards high if you work to raise your own value and to improve your ability to communicate your value. Remember the hot girl you saw who looked like the most beautiful woman in the world? Someone has to settle down with her and have children with her. Why shouldn’t it be you?
You may need to compile a self-improvement to-do list and work your way through it before you notice any difference in your results. That requires initiative, determination, a willingness to learn, and the ability to take personal responsibility for your own wellbeing.
In all of this, think of the men who are hooking up with attractive women and remember this one important mantra: What one man can do, another can do.
The Game, Penetrating the secret society of pickup artists, by Neil Strauss
The Mystery Method, How to get beautiful women into bed, by Mystery
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Joanna founded Love Engineer Dating and Relationship Advice blog in 2004 after she saw her friends struggling to date in Silicon Valley. Over the years she has introduced 11 couples who got married and still remain married years later.