As a matchmaker living in Los Angeles, I have met with thousands of singles. The dating data that I have gathered from these interviews is overwhelming and exciting all at once. What does it all boil down to? Everyone is looking for love. Now more than ever, people are having a harder time finding love, and ultimately, meeting the person they want to marry. In 1970, The Census Bureau reported that the average age of marriage for women was 21 and the average age for men was 23. In 2015, those ages increased to 27 and 29 respectively. This is a huge jump!
While there are many contributing factors to these statistics, I believe that accessibility to a larger pool of dating prospects is one of the strongest influences. Dating apps and online sites are amazing resources because they give us many options to choose from, but more options do not result in more marriages. I blame human error. Thanks to dating sites and apps, we now have millions more candidates to choose from, yet we're getting further and further away from our ultimate goal of finding a life-long partner. Why is that? The answer to this question is two-fold: we're overwhelmed and we're getting pickier every day.
OkCupid reports that the "average looking" woman receives about 100 messages online per month. These women are reading each of these messages, seeing who they do and don't want to respond to, conducting their own searches, and messaging new potential suitors as well. Now you can see why it's easy to believe the statistic that the average person spends 12 hours a week engaged in online dating. This is essentially like having a part-time job.
With so many options to choose from, most people are becoming increasingly pickier with their selections. Because you see how many options are being presented to you, you start believing that you are a hot commodity. This may or may not be true, but you could potentially eliminate someone that is an excellent match for you because you have multiple "better offers" in your queue. Keep in mind, pictures are the driving force behind most online dating interactions, so you could potentially miss out on meeting Mr. Right with the quick swipe of a finger because of one bad picture.
These startling facts about the online dating world are not meant to scare you; they're meant to motivate you. They are meant to remind you that online dating is not, and should not, be your only means of dating. Meeting someone IRL ("in real life") is still more likely to happen, so don't neglect this avenue! Here is a prime example of why:
This weekend, I went to a sports bar with a group of friends to watch a football game. There were twelve of us (6 males; 6 females), and we sat outside on the back patio surrounded by peers in their late 20s to early 40s. It was a beautiful California day, the sun was out, and it was a festive atmosphere with everyone rooting for his or her favorite sports teams. If this were the backdrop of a romantic comedy, it would be the ideal setting for two people to have a meet-cute while waiting at the bar to order their drinks. Despite how many females wish they were living in their own personal rom-coms, this meet-cute never happened. In fact, in the five hours that my group of single friends was there, no one spoke to anyone that they didn't already know. This is the same group of friends that will frequently regale me with their dating woes and will all equally express their distaste for their current dating app flavor of the month. Yet here they were presented with a huge sample population of the dating pool that they were just hours before swiping through on their apps and no one wanted to make the move to engage them in conversation. This was fascinating to me.
I asked my single girlfriends if they thought any of the guys at the bar were attractive. They all responded "yes" and proceeded to point out the guys that caught their eye. I then asked each of them if they wanted to go and talk to them. My question was met with a resounding "no." Each of them said that they would prefer the guy to make the first move and if he wasn't coming to talk to them then he must not be interested. This seemed like a huge missed opportunity to me!
My single guy friends weren't much better because none of them talked to anyone outside of our friend group either. They were content to just socialize with us even though they each saw several girls that they considered attractive and would have been thrilled if they had come to talk to them.
Let me clarify here that I do not believe single people should constantly be on the hunt and always preoccupied with scoping out potential dating candidates when out in public. This too would get overwhelming and your friends would get pretty frustrated with you. But if you see someone that peaks your interest, don't miss your chance to talk to them. You'll never regret talking to someone even if it doesn't turn out to be a match. However, you should regret not talking to someone that really caught your attention and could have been your perfect match.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that just because you're "putting yourself out there" by online dating that it means you should neglect the potential for meeting someone in person the "old-fashioned way." Stop putting all your eggs in the online dating basket and dust off your flirting skills to strike up conversation with potential love interests. You never know who you could meet just in time for Valentine's Day!