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Thursday, July 6, 2017 12:13 am

Plenty of dead fish

Amy Alkon
My girlfriend and I broke up recently, so I’m back in the dating pool. Do you think online dating is a good way to meet people? If so, which are the best dating sites? – Diving In

Asking “Which dating site is best?” is like asking “Is pro basketball a viable career?” That question can only be answered by asking other questions, such as: “Aren’t you a 47-year-old, 5’2” Ashkenazi Jewish woman with 20/80 vision and bad knees?”

To put this another way, context matters – which isn’t what they tell you in Datingsiteville. Save for specialty sites – like those for farmers, the disabled and people who relish a good flogging – the advertising for these venues tends to be context-free: “Hey, everybody in the entire galaxy, get your lasting love here!”

Annoyingly, though most of us have a sense of what context is, nobody’s done a very good job of defining it – either in the dictionary or in Researchville, where I found a herd of dueling definitions, all so unhelpfully worded that they seem to be in secret code. So here’s my definition: Context is a combo platter of the particular situation at hand – like pro basketball, online dating, being a bad dancer or being sexually attracted to woodchucks – plus the details relevant to it that affect how you understand or experience the situation.

In the context of online dating, the relevant details include age, sex, the quality of the competition and one’s desired situation, as in: Do you just want casual sex, or are you holding out for something a little more, uh, black tie.

There are sex differences in when people are at their most appealing because men and women tend to be at their highest “mate value” at different ages. This comes out of how male sexuality evolved to be visually driven (because the features men find beautiful – youth being the biggie – are associated with fertility). Women, however, evolved to go for “providers” – men with high status and earning power. So, online dating tends to be more fruitful if you’re a hot 23-year-old female espresso jockey or a 43-year-old male VP of a successful startup, but it can have some challenges for the 43-year-old female startup star or the 23-year-old dude who’s the senior vice barista.

So the question is not whether dating sites work, but whether the qualities you have and the situation you’re seeking add up to more than a few tumbleweeds blowing around in your inbox. Because online dating success is shaped more by personal context (and plain old luck) than by the particular site you’re on, you might experiment with two or three. If things go poorly, use online dating as a supplement to meeting women the retro way, like at cocktail parties, where you won’t be competing with the 362 more genetically blessed males within a 35-mile radius. This vastly increases your chances of dazzling the ladies with your personality – distracting them from how Mother Nature zoned out when she was handing out necks to your family.

© 2017, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon


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