"Yet here I was, husband hunting and armed with only a handful of half-assed bullet points."Online dating is now the third most common way couples meet, with 30 to 40 percent of singletons logging in to some 1,500 services.
In the marvelously titled (Current), writer Dan Slater tracks a phenomenon that started in 1965 with "computer dating"—essentially a digital compatibility test, dreamed up by two lovelorn Harvard undergrads desperate to meet Radcliffe girls—and mushroomed into an estimated billion a year industry.
At 30, after a breakup that involved spotting her boyfriend draped around another woman, digital strategist Amy Webb decided to try meeting men online.
And she did: On JDate, Match.com, and e Harmony, she met guys who were six inches shorter or 30 pounds heavier than advertised; who picked expensive restaurants and passed the check to her; and who told her, mid drink, that they were married.
" Webb found that the most successful profiles were purposefully casual, under 500 words, and just detailed enough—specific, but not to the point of alienating someone ("like" HBO dramas, but don't zero in on ). Davis cites psychological studies that say the mind can easily grasp groups of three: "So stick to three interests, three words to describe your ideal match, or three favorite movies." Webb advises against mentioning your job, using foreign words, or referring to yourself in the third person.
One night, after another bad match and a solo bottle of wine, Webb rejoined JDate—this time posing as a man, to check out her competition. Webb crafted 10 male profiles so perfect they had to be fake (sample code name: Jewish Doc1000) to gather data: what the site's most popular women looked like, which keywords they used, how they timed their messages.
According to Slater, it's one of the few business models in which clients' failures are the company's win—the longer we seek, the more money they make.Aiming to short-circuit this cycle, "e-flirt expert" Laurie Davis' hyperprescriptive (Atria) instructs us in a level of detail that is by turns grating and illuminating on how we should be "marketing our singledom." Here, the authors' best advice on joining—and enjoying—the mixer:1.