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If you like meeting new people, if you find first dates fun, etc., trial and error is really fun! I wouldn't want to optimize it away. :) Spontaneity is also romantic! There's something lovely about how a chance encounter can change a lifetime.

I feel like a lot of people don't like meeting new people and basically want to optimize the path from single -> married. I think that mindset makes it hard to find a partner because it makes everything too high stakes. If you're not having fun, she's not having fun.

I also think that most people don't actually know what they want. I buy that dating docs work as a "vibe check" (you're into Russian history? I know nothing about that but that sounds groovy! let's try out a date!) but I'm skeptical about reading too far into these things.

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I think you've hit on something important here that a lot of people in this thread are missing, which is the value of *drama*. Dating someone unsuitable/crazy may not be a good long-term strategy for maximizing your zzzzzzzzz (sorry I fell asleep typing this sentence) - but it's absolutely fantastic for generating drama, learning about yourself & creating memories.

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Right. Nerds don't want relationship drama, dating itself is drama enough. But for people with more skill, it becomes like any other game, with challenge and variety becoming important and a part of the enjoyment.

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Boy, I'd love a link to the Indian marriage ads-that sounds like a window a world I know nothing about.

And Scott's line about being surprised that the Unitarian minister was straight was hysterical!

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Here's the first site that came up that wasn't specifically selected for hilarity: https://www.deshvidesh.com/matrimonial-classified/

And here's one page that was selected for hilarity, though some of the humor is lost on someone like me who never lived within Indian cultures: https://www.shaadidukaan.com/blog/hilarioul-matrimonial-ads-that-will-give-you-laughing-riot.html

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That first site really makes me want to run a study on response rates based on whether the ad was in red or blue.

Hopefully they randomize the order pinned by each cookie, but somehow that seems unlikely to me.

Hypothesis: the blue is so much easier to read that response rates are statistically significantly better, but the absolute magnitude is still pretty small.

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When people say "respond with biodata", what are they looking for?

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I was not familiar with the term myself, but I googled "matrimonial biodata" and found lots of sites offering templates: https://createmybiodata.com/

I think the big things that might be unexpected are the detailed astrological charts - they care about birth time and place in addition to date, and calculate several different factors, that depend on the actual current position of stars and planets at the time and place of your birth, rather than using the place that the stars and planets would have been at that date 2000 years ago, the way European astrology works.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_astrology#R%C4%81%C5%9Bi_%E2%80%93_zodiacal_signs

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakshatra

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Looking more closely at those biodata templates, I'm interested if anyone knows more about the icon you can put at the top. The default image seems to be a stylized image of Ganesh with a swastika on his forehead. Looking at the options when I click "change", many of the options seem to indicate something about religion, but there are a larger number of options than I would have expected. (I think "shaivite" vs "vaishnavite" is the finest level of detail I've heard from my relatives.)

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Darn, much less cyberpunk than I was hoping.

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Bio as in biography, not biology

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From my viewing of historical/mythological dramas, one important factor in seeing the charts is because of the influence of Mars in the natal chart (particularly for the bride). Mars is a malefic planet and someone with it prominent in their chart will have an adverse affect on their spouse (maybe even the groom will die early leaving the bride a widow, a most unlucky and undesirable state of affairs):

https://astrotalk.com/astrology-blog/can-someone-who-is-manglik-marry-a-non-manglik-person-insideastro/

You get it in Western astrology too with websites offering "love compatibility" horoscopes, but nowhere near the same extent. Indian astrology does take account of the precession of the equinoxes, unlike Western, and the way the charts are constructed (the square shaped ones) is the traditional way mediaeval and Renaissance Western astrology used to do it, before the circular charts were adopted (see diagrams in posts below):

https://www.sebfalk.com/post/masculine-mars-planetary-degrees-in-medieval-astrology

https://homegrown.co.in/homegrown-explore/how-astrology-played-a-major-role-in-choosing-the-date-of-indias-independence

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Those were super interesting! Besides "caste no bar," the phrase that stood out to me was how often skin tone (namely "fair," which I assume means "more white") was mentioned. My impression was that it's more of a selling point for women than for men to be fair.

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Pale skin is a feminine sex characteristic. It is desirable in women, and undesirable in men, in every culture.

Compare Greek black-figure pottery, in which female figures are as obvious as can be since they are white rather than black.

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Solely from a pun-based standpoint, I was hoping that the opposite of "caste no bar" would be "caste iron bar".

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Aug 25, 2023·edited Aug 25, 2023

I'm wondering about the "divorced after three months" guy, I assume he means "it's been three months since the divorce" and not "my first marriage only lasted three months" because that latter would be worrying.

There used to be similar sorts of ads in old magazines like "Ireland's Own", be that unabashed "looking for marriage partner" or "wanting a penfriend":

https://www.irelandsown.ie/they-met-through-irelands-owns-pen-pals-page/

Indeed, such things engendered the wits of my nation to spoof "Lonely Hearts columns":

https://www.boards.ie/discussion/71214/irelands-own-magazine-lonely-hearts-column

And seemingly the column was still going up to 2017, possibly to the present day:

https://twitter.com/etienneshrdlu/status/873270072483119105?lang=en

The 70s version in the Irish Farmers' Journal was as blunt about requirements as the Indian matrimonials:

https://www.boards.ie/discussion/2056724329/lonely-hearts-ads-from-1970s-thankfully-things-have-changed

"GETTING IN TOUCH

The charge for this column is 25p per notice in the adult section and 121/2p in the teenage section. All proceeds for 1974 will be donated to charity.

Adults

LONELY HEARTH: Is the owner of a large and well stocked dairy and tillage farm in West Waterford. He is aged 30 years and is a T/T and non smoker and is from a very respectable farming family. He is of average height and built and is good humoured, kindly disposed and considered good looking. Having decided to marry in the near future he desires to meet a young lady of 25 years or so who has decided to marry a farmer. She must be of respectable farming background, good humoured and good looking. Average height and build, have some farming experience. A dowry considered an asset but not a necessity. Replies with photo exchanged from only local counties. Strictly confidential.

MAN: 35 years old would like to meet a girl with view to marriage. He has his own home shop and land and is interested in cattle and shows. He shows films and likes nature study, herbs etc. He likes a quiet type of life with good cooking. R.C. He is easy to get on with. Snap please

NORTH WEST MOUNTIES: Farmer, north West Sligo 40 years, 6”tall, good family background, no commitments, non drinker and light smoker. Has about 30 acres of land, new bungalow with hot and cold running water, stock. Would like to get in touch with sincere girls aged 30 to 40 with view to marriage. Strictest confidence given and expected. Interests are listening to radio, reading, current affairs etc. Replies especially welcome from counties Sligo, Leitrim and Mayo or girls from those counties living in Dublin.

BEARD: Would like to meet a girl aged 20 to 30 with own large farm in need of managing or building up. He has a flair for horses and keeps and breeds some, also a large herd of cattle. Likes travel and showing horses. He is simple and honest and would like to meet likeable girl with view to early marriage. He is in his mid 30’s and would like to meet girls aged 25 to 35. Photo with first letter please, will be returned. Confidential.

PART TIME FARMER: and dealer, is a man with his own car, lorry and house. Would like to hear from farmers daughter or business girl view to marriage. Aged 18 to 28. He is self made in dealing with shop and farming people. He would be interested in any business that would make a living from selling. He has a sense of humour and would like to hear from girls that are attractive with own business or farm. Photo please.

ON HIS OWN: Deserted husband, returned from England some years ago. Is sincere, honest, hardworker, respectable, 28 years old 6 foot tall, dark haired, well built and is considered good looking. He has his own large modern farm, self feed silo and cattle cubicle house, tractor and machinery and a part time job. His interests include hunting and fishing, dogs and horses, and country and western music, and all outdoor sport. He is a great lover of the Irish red setter dog and keeps a lot of them. Has a separation and is waiting for an annulment in the near future. Would like to hear from girls of own age or from deserted wives or young widows with view to friendship and marriage. Please send snap in first letter. All letters answered. Replies welcome from any part of Ireland but especially from Leitrim, Sligo or Roscommon.

EASY GOING MAN: Over 30, with own home. Would like to be married. He has £25,000 tied up in livestock and land. He is quiet and lazy to a point of rushing at time as life passes by. He like to meet girls aged 20 to 32, wishing for a home and a happy life. He is not interested in anyone’s background as the future is all that matters. No objections to a girl with child. Snap please

HIGH NOON: Is aged 30, 5’10” good appearance. Has own house, good farm and own car. He is anxious to settle down and wishes to meet nice country girl aged 20 to 30 with same ambition. Farmers daughter, nurse or professional girl. Hobbies are dancing, CW music and Gaelic games. Snaps appreciated and all letters answered. Only those genuinely interested in marriage should apply.

HAPPY GO LUCKY: Is a 44 year old girl. She is tall and has a good figure and is very nice looking. She loves farming and would like to hear from C of I gentleman. Photo please. All letters answered.

HOME LOVER: is sincere, respectable lady, late forties, good education, own home, small farm, good family background, and having no ties, wishes to meet sincere respectable farmer, business or professional gentleman in 50 to 60 age group. Photo appreciated and returned. Strictest confidence will be given and expected.

CO. LIMERICK: Is a farmer aged 34 years, 5’10” in height. T.T. with a medium sized farm, well stocked, car, machinery, wishes to meet a respectable farmers daughter, teacher, nurse etc with farming background with good sense of humour, T.T. and non smoker with capital farm or otherwise with view to early marriage. Genuine replies. Photo first letter. Strictest confidence given and expected. Usual interests."

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There is an old joke about country newspaper personals ads:

"Single man seeks single woman with own boat and motor. Send picture of boat and motor. "

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holy shit i kind of love all these people

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This site looks legit and matches what I remember from 20 years ago when I was in India and saw these in a local newspaper.

https://www.deshvidesh.com/matrimonial-classified/

"Caste no bar" was the phrase I noticed in the ones I saw back in the day.

The *other* thing to maybe look for in this "world I know nothing about" is the Indian focus on maintaining lane discipline and encouraging others to do so. This was a thing 20 years ago and seems to still be a thing. The 'problem' is that at low speeds and with a mix of bicycles, mopeds, cows, buses, cars, etc maintaining lane discipline substantially cuts down the capacity of the road.

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https://www.shaadi.com/ is an incredibly popular website that you might find interesting to browse!

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Dating docs feel weird because they are not "honest signaling." That is, it's possible to lie or mislead on them. Meeting someone in person has lots of honest signals though--how the react with body language, their mannerisms, how they speak, what words they use, etc.

It's the same as if someone directly tells you "I'm your friend' it feels weird and awkward, even if it's true. This is why friends say things like "what's up dumbass?" when they meet up. That's an honest signal, because if someone who wasn't your friend said that, it would actually be an insult. And it's why you typically respond in-kind with another insult.

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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023Author

I wouldn't exactly trust someone on a dating doc saying "I am very pretty". But I would learn that they were someone who prioritized being pretty, or someone who felt like it wouldn't get them in trouble to say that they were pretty.

I would trust someone who said "I am a Shia Muslim and only looking to date other Shia Muslims." There's not much reason to lie about this, it just helps you find your type. I think many of the values I care about are in this category.

This might be saying more about me than about other people, but I think I learn more about someone from reading their writing than watching their body language. Writing style is a good sign of intelligence, education level, class, sense of humor, and the internal structure of someone's thought. The exact way they choose to signal vs. countersignal traits can tell you a lot about which traits they value and expect from others. Meanwhile, whether they, I don't know, fidget their hands a bit when they talk to you might tell you that they're anxious. But everyone's anxious on first dates!

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I don't disagree, I just think that it explains the strong intuitive "this feels weird" response people have. Though I think a lot of people definitely weight things like body language very highly compared to more analytical signals, and you're probably on the more extreme end there.

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I definitely *don't* think that I learn more about someone from reading a piece of writing than I do meeting them.

Take your example profiles. Almost entirely, what I learn from reading those pieces of writing is *how they want a potential date to perceive them*, which is not the interesting question to me. I don't know my own most attractive traits; why would they know theirs? If anything, it has the opposite effect: a piece of writing in which someone is consciously, desperately trying to get you to perceive them as smart and successful (which several of your examples are doing) feels gauche, embarrassing, ungenuine to me.

The signalling problem is kind of inherent to dating; you can't just wish it away, hope for a world in which social interaction was more aboveboard.

For instance, I have a preference for dating people who are intelligent, and I *don't* want to date people who are desperate to signal their intelligence. The same applies, to many people, to things like financial success, among others.

In a world where having this kind of "dating document" was de rigeur, I would probably be going on dates with the people who rebelled against the entire idea of the system by sending a page of something completely unrelated, or possibly even whose bios were "." if I thought they fit the bill otherwise.

I just find it ... again, gauche. I don't trust the kind of person who would write this kind of document. If Hana were actually as intelligent as her profile clearly wants to convince me she is, or Larisa as successful, and they were reasonably pretty, they would have no need to write so much as one sentence on a dating site to convince people to be interested. The sheer fact that they're writing this at all is proof they're not.

Appearance and mannerisms, on the other hand, are *much* harder to fake. Almost impossible, for everything but a really small, talented slice of the population.

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Yeah the problem for me is dating docs as an idea seem to have the same kind of smarmy, kinda desperate and high-risk of bullshitting as LinkedIn does.

What’s odd about dating docs is that just like with job referrals, most people including me wouldn’t bat an eye if a close friend recommended you date someone or set you up.

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The thing it's most useful for me for was "I want someone who wants kids and a home life" (and, if I'm being honest, the implied "and is also comfortable with slightly weird and explicit communication").

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What would not having a home life be like? I.e. eating in restaurants every day?

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I'm guessing probably someone who doesn't want to live with their partner.

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Basically. I assume it means "I want to spend most nights in with my partner/family rather than going out all the time."

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I arguably don’t have a home life at the moment. It means working all day on weekdays and spending weekends at friends’ houses or on trips. At my apartment I have a housemate I barely know. I eat almost all of my meals at work. I mostly spend time in my apartment watching movies.

Reading that sounds a bit depressing (I actually think my life is fun!) but just want to highlight that it’s pretty easy to just not have a home life.

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> "is also comfortable with slightly weird and explicit communication"

This is key

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Wouldn't you expect 18%, not 9%, of marriages to be Republican and Democrat, given these numbers? 9% Republican to Democrat and 9% Democrat to Republican?

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In other words, if this was a population of 100 people, you would expect 9 mixed marriages out of 50 marriages, which is 18%. (re: Kenny's comment)

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I agree and was about to write the same thing. I think Kenny Easwaran’s math is wrong. Assuming heterosexual for simplicity, there’s 30% chance the woman is D × 30% chance the man is R = 9%, AND there’s a 30% chance the woman is R × 30% chance the man is D = 9%. Add them up to get 18%.

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Yup, I rushed to this comments section intending to post the same thing.

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+1, came here to post this too

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Yep, with a 40-30-30 breakdown and random pairings, you'd expect:

48% an Independent and a partisan

18% a Republican and a Democrat

16% two Independents

9% two Republicans

9% two Democrats

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Additionally, I suspect that partisan registration is somewhat higher in the same segments of the population where marriage is more common, although I don't have any ideas for validating that in the amount of time I'm going to spend on this comment.

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Yes, I definitely forgot to count both directions! But even with an extra factor of 2, it appears not to be as much of a 100% filter as people assume it would be.

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Came here to say the same :-)

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Aug 25, 2023·edited Aug 25, 2023

All of these calculations seem to be making the unrealistic simplifying assumption that party affiliation doesn't vary with sex. E.g. if we assume a symmetric 20% gender gap, we get 20% (20% * 20% + 40% * 40%) mixed D/R marriages with random mating.

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I think Kayla’s take is the most sensible. The breakdown of whether dating docs are good vs shorter form apps like Tinder overlooks the main function of dating platforms: they try to make the “meeting potential romantic partner” market more efficient. It’s a cold market efficiency game. Also, dating docs assume that people can self-reflect well...a tall order to say the least -- looks at the mirror critically.

I also think people complain unduly about the “modernization” of dating. Yeah, chances are you’ll have to use an app to meet someone but after that you’re talking in person just how grandma Mathilda did.

Anyway, just some rambling thoughts. New to this Substack and have been enjoying your work, Scott!

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I think the comments from the Indian and Orthodox Jewish communities, where family-arranged marriages are standard, suggests that this isn't even that much of a "modernization" - the main difference is that the partners themselves are doing it, rather than their families, and the people involved are writing and reading, rather than telling it to some third party who remembers it all.

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Hmmm that’s a good point

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There seems to be a difference of opinion between people who generally like going on dates and people who generally find it unpleasant. Interesting distinction.

I don't think it lines up with introversion/extraversion either. I'm an introvert but I like the idea of doing something fun with an attractive person who is attracted to me. Others...maybe have a higher level of social anxiety? Or they pick activities they don't like but feel obligated to do because they seem like typical date things? Like, if you don't enjoy restaurant dining, maybe pick a different type of date.

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Yep, I think this is exactly the main issue and the reason the two camps seem to be talking past each other. The people who don't like dating don't understand why you wouldn't want to pre-filter the candidates for compatibility, and the people who like dating don't understand why you'd want to use a document to filter people out when you could just do it in person during a (mostly/probably) enjoyable date.

And I agree it's not introversion/extraversion. I'm also an introvert and mostly enjoyed all the dating I did on the way to finding my wife, even though many of the dates were with women who would have made a very bad long-term match for me.

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I wonder if there’s a sociosexuality component here? If the “I would enjoy fucking/kissing/receiving attraction-inflected attention from this person” set is a lot bigger than the “I would consider this person as a long-term partner” set, the dating/filtering process will be fun. If it’s not, the process is probably dicier. (Scott, being ace, is presumably on the low end of this spectrum.)

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Exactly this; well put. It explains the individual variance, aside from the obvious confounders like social anxiety.

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I have a very low libido and I enjoy dating a lot!

I'd add that I see "made new (platonic) friend" as a really good outcome from a date. The mindset takes a huge amount of pressure out of the process. It makes dating a "let's hang out! if there's a spark, great! if we just like each other, also great!" thing.

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As someone who isn't asexual or the least bit anxious, here's my perspective. I went on a number of dates from various people on dating sites who looked like they were good fits. About 10% of them were interesting. The other 90% were so tedious as to make the entire process unbearable. ANYTHING that would help me cut down on the number of dates, just to avoid that 90%, would be welcome.

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Max I second that motion!

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Very good point.

I'm an introvert. I did not enjoy dating at all in my 20s, I think because I was worried about convincing the woman to like me and couldn't find time to enjoy myself until we were already practically a couple.

By the time of my 30s, when I knew I was ready to get married, I had come to enjoy dating. I think because I had developed genuine confidence, didn't feel I had anything to prove, and was happy just to hear the stories and perspectives of the sort of women that met my basic criteria, even if we didn't end up sharing much attraction. I normally just made the first dates a cup of coffee or a drink, one hour max. I cycled through a lot of these first dates, often 3+ women per week, and I can only think of one that I really disliked, where talking to her was like pulling teeth. Naturally, this pace meant not much screening beyond basic questions before we met up.

I met my wife less than 2 months into this process. Funny how that goes.

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I think this is the way to do it!

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How were you were meeting enough women to do 3+ first dates a week? Were you just very successful on the apps or were you constantly going out to meet new women and asking them out?

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I relied on a combination of the apps and reaching out to my network. I didn't cold-approach -- not that it's a bad idea. Also it might be boom or bust week to week but I never stopped looking, and I would schedule dates over a week in advance at times. And keep in mind that this only lasted for 6-7 weeks until I met my wife, I'm sure the dating pool would have dried up before much longer.

What I had going for me doesn't really scale to the ACX audience. I'm a conservative Christian with passable social skills/grooming/looks, who was respectful without being obsequious, and I signaled that I was ready to start a family. While far from rich, I owned my own home and had a good enough career to support a family on one income in the low-cost place I lived.

And while I would say I married and started having kids later than I wish I had, I was also probably the perfect age to have as many options as possible, as my dating pool consisted of women in their late 20s and early 30s, also very ready to start families, many of them in the "always a bridesmaid, never the bride" camp.

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As I commented further down, what is the point of a dating doc? To optimize the journey from single -> married? Or just to suggest fun people to date?

IMO dating docs probably work very well if you're using them as a source of cool people that you might want to hang out with. If you're using them to identify your one true partner, this probably works much less well since most ppl don't have a perfect sense of their preferences.

(I'd also add that "enjoying meeting new ppl" is probably _the_ key dating skill. If dating is a horrible grind, things won't go well.)

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Yes, for sure. I believe this is the crux for whether you will like dating docs or not.

People who don't enjoy first dates want to optimize them away as efficiently as possible, people who do enjoy first dates want to save a little mystery for later.

Former ones want to read an exhaustive summary, latter ones want a book cover blurb with no spoilers.

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I've been on like 5 dates in my whole life, but I've had 5 or so honeys, 3 pretty serious long term relationships and maybe 10 causal hookups (I don't really like casual hookups). I have always met people at work, at school, at a setting for some activity, or through friends. That has always felt much more comfortable to me than freakin *dates*, and also like a more valid way to get a sense of what someone is like. I loathe the date feeling of smile and chat, while there's a sign hanging over each of our heads saying "We're here to decide if we're drawn to each other." You have no common experience to talk about, except for Wanting a Partner. I don't see how people *stand* dates!~

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>You have no common experience to talk about, except for Wanting a Partner.

You discover common experiences. That's some of the fun of it. The delight of discovery and of making a connection with someone new. Getting past the usual social boundaries to create new and exciting intimacy. I agree that it can take a bit more work than "we're both in the same class/office so of course we have things to talk about."

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Yeah, I grasp the concept, I just don’t like the way it feels, like auditioning for each other. I dislike the feeling so much that I’m not in a mode where I can delight in discovery, whereas it happens easily schmoozing with another climber while belaying.

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That's not it. I like going on (some) dates, and I think dating docs are a great idea. (I don't have a dating doc only because it seems to be useless in my country.) It's just that I like going on dates with people who are *interesting*. The 90% of profiles on dating apps which have 0 information or are extremely superficial do absolutely nothing for me. Nor do I care that much about how a person looks like. In dating apps, I tend to read the profile first and only if I like it (which is rare) I would glance at the picture to check it's not, like, actively repulsive, before I click "like".

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I don't think this is THE division line (but maybe one of the few).

I liked going on dates, but I have strong preference for long-form profiles, because I didn't like going on dates with people I have nothing to talk about. For example, a lot of people care a lot about celebrities, star gossip etc. I have zero interest in this area, and I would find conversation on this topic to be extremely boring. A well-filled dating profile let me filter out such people with almost 100% success rate - I've never been on a date with star-obsessed woman, and only met one that was too much into "successful businessmen" (like, she sent me some articles about "10 most successful young businessmen of the decade" or something like that).

I still think THE line lies where physical attractiveness matters a lot, or not much. I can't understand how you can get excited about a woman just by looking at her photos, and other people can't understand how can I get excited about a woman just by knowing she likes HPMOR.

As a side-note, it would be interesting to see if preference for dating docs/long form profiles correlates with face blindness. I have some degree of it, to the point where I don't recognize people I know very well if I meet them in a place where I don't expect to meet them. Maybe the reason I don't care about photos/physical appearance too much is because most people look to me like variations on a few base models anyway.

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>I'm an introvert but I like the idea of doing something fun with an attractive person who is attracted to me.

Well that’s the key distinction isn’t it? All of the normal things you would say you like or don’t like to do are entirely contingent on attractiveness and sexuality. That’s why focusing on “describable dating preferences” is a dead end.

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The comment about the Unitarian minister made me laugh out loud at the coffee shop where I am reading this.

(My wife and I attended a Unitarian church for 10 years. It rang true)

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Whatever happened to charming people in a bar?

Anyway I actually don’t believe in compatibility much at all in terms of minor life choices. Very few women like sports in the way that men do, and yet sport obsessed men marry women who leave the room when the sports are on. There are a few deal breakers, except relating to the desire for children or marriage itself. Even religious people can marry atheists happily enough if they agree on how the children are raised, political differences shouldn’t matter at all, and opposites often attract.

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Pick-up artists happened.

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GPS-enabled apps replaced charming people in a bar the same way that GPS-enabled ride hail replaced sticking your thumb out along the side of a street. The IRL version only identifies possible matches within line-of-sight, while the app versions enable matches within GPS radius.

And once singles bars lose their status as the most effective way to meet people, they suddenly lose a lot of their clientele, and stop being as effective even for the people who are still there.

(The standard story of the decline of gay bars is a one-two punch of apps replacing their role for finding hookups/dates, and general social acceptance enabling general bars to replace their role as the safe place to get a drink with your friends.)

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Not that I go to a lot of bars, but when I have in recent years they all seem so packed as to feel massively overcrowded. How does that line up with bars losing status? Or is it that singles bars are gone and there are now only generic bars?

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I don't know the general trend. I know that the number of gay bars has decreased in most cities. I have no idea what has happened to the number of "singles bars" for straight people (though I did read this amazing (long!) article a few years ago about the life and death of one particular type of singles bar: https://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/the-death-of-flair/ ).

I would expect the general crowdedness of bars to be determined by the number of customers needed to sustain the operating expenses, and then the total number of bars to be determined by the number of people who want to go to bars divided by the crowdedness of each bar. The effect I'm talking about is going to affect the total number of people who want to go to bars, but crowdedness will still need to be determined by rent (which of course is going to vary from neighborhood to neighborhood).

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“I would expect the general crowdedness of bars to be determined by the number of customers needed to sustain the operating expenses, and then the total number of bars to be determined by the number of people who want to go to bars divided by the crowdedness of each bar.”

Bars can’t really control the number of people who go in, and the viability of pubs and bars depends on the costs and revenues, like everything else. There are plenty of owner occupied pubs even in big cities like New York where the clientele will all get seats even in weekends. Those places are viable because the costs are relatively low - no rent, no debt etc. they don’t need the big crowds.

When I was a kid (ie 14-15) I worked on a relatives pub (illegally and largely unpaid) where the clients were about 3 an hour until 6 pm when it increased to 4-5 people. This was week days in the summer holidays. I didn’t work weekends but the place could only seat 15 people so I don’t think it ever rocked. Anyway, just tipping over was good enough, although those places are dying out now.

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I believe the expectation is not that bars can control the number of people who can come in, but that bars will go out of business until the remaining number is small enough that they are getting enough customers to balance expenses.

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Collector's Weekly has some incredible long-form articles. I'd read this one before, learning about TGI Friday's improbable origin as a "fern bar" for mingling singles.

I got there from an in-depth article on Tiki culture, which I had thought must be appropriating something specific; but it turns out to be a totally superficial aesthetic, no more authentic than steampunk.

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People go on dates to bars with people they met on Tinder, would be my guess.

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One more step down into hell and possible partners on dating apps are going to have star ratings & reviews, like Amazon products.

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Nothing at all. Bars and restaurants are now the second most common way couples meet. (https://www.pnas.org/cms/10.1073/pnas.1908630116/asset/4090305d-036e-4c5a-8f36-cc007248d45a/assets/graphic/pnas.1908630116fig01.jpeg)

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Thanks. It’s interesting that “through friends” is the one that’s affected by the rise in apps. It’s hard to see the cause there, you would expect that apps would replace bars and pubs.

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The "met online" category includes social media and other online exchanges, not just dating apps. People are probably increasingly meeting their friends-of-friends through algorithms rather than direct recommendations.

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Makes sense.

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Maybe shy people switched from friends to apps while non-shy people stuck with bars.

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Finding dates spontaneously IRL is totally something that you can still do - I've had a lot of luck with that. That being said, you have to know your scene. I'm terrible at bars/parties but I've gotten random dates from ppl that I've met hiking, sailing, etc. Basically you need to find spaces (a) where you're comfortable and happy that also (b) have a good gender ratio. If you only like doing male dominated activities, maybe you should try exploring new facets of your personality.

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Well this isn’t about me. Although I assume you are using the you as neutral (one should) . From my days of being single I found bars to be a bad bet, best bet was a house party. Why? Approaching a woman in a bar is a clear attempt at a hookup and can be rejected, at a house party it’s just mingling.

Mixed gender activities are a good idea as well.

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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023

Ya - that's the neutral you.

Just registering the observation "you still can meet girls IRL and that still works great (although only a specific type of person will do well a bar)" which is what I assume what you were getting at with your "bar" question.

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To be honest my main point was that people don’t have to be as compatible as the dating documents seem to suggest. Men and women have different interests anyway. In the bar situation (or any situation where people can meet informally in a largely inebriated state) there’s no real discussion about compatibility. I met my partner in work but I remember many a friend meeting their now wives or partners through cheesy pickup lines in a sweaty pub. Getting the sex (or a makeout session) out of the way first makes the subsequent dates more relaxed. Time to get to know each other later.

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Um.. nothing? You can still do that if you want.

However you need a thick skin because you will experience rejection. That being a painful thing for most people, they tend to avoid it when alternatives exist

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What happened is that people who don't like bars or any other social gatherings finally found a way to meet other people without leaving their zone of comfort. It's a wonderful thing.

> Very few women like sports in the way that men do, and yet sport obsessed men marry

> women who leave the room when the sports are on.

That reeeeeally strikes me as an example of why preferences matter, and especially anti-preferences. That "leaves the room" part sounds like divorce waiting to happen. Partners shouldn't share every single activity and hobby, of course, but a good overlap, or at least tolerance is just more healthy.

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I think they meant “leaves the room” because they are bored and are going off to do their own hobby, not because they are upset.

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That still sounds a bit strange to me, maybe because I've grown up in a very small flat where there was almost no way to "leave the room and do your own hobby" (well, for my parents - I had a room to myself, if a tiny one). Unless wife's hobby is incompatible with a turned on TV (e.g. she wants to watch something else, or needs peace and quiet), I'd imagine the partners would remain in the same room. My wife watches shows and knits while I play video games in the same room (I use headphones, or turn off sound at all - I don't much like sound in games), and we often trade snide remarks about what's on TV. As long as it is possible, I would prefer to remain by my wife's side, but I agree that some hobbies might require one to wander off.

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My point was less that dating docs are too long (though often they are) and more that dating docs are a tool only for one half of the purpose of dating - finding a person who meets criteria you're absolutely certain about. They're a bad tool for exploring your preferences to see if those preferences are correct, something most people have to do.

"Well," a reasonable person might say. "Good. We've knocked out half the problem."

Except that people have a complicated relationship with their own romantic preferences. Nobody I know who is in a happy relationship is in a relationship with someone who met all of their "dealbreaker preferences" when they were single. The people got to know each other, realized that this person brought something to their lives they didn't even know they should be looking for, and that it was worth giving up one or more of the preferences they thought of as inviolate to be with their partner.

So if you go on dates only with people who violate none of your dealbreakers, either 1) you happened to get all your preferences right on first pass, or 2 and more likely) You're overscreening and siloing yourself into preferences the you of yesterday thought were mandatory, that the you of today might feel differently about if you just explored a bit further afield.

Again want to clarify that dating docs *can in principle* be used to both screen for your preferences and explore those preferences. In reality you're likely to fall in love with a person you're wishing into being and be continually disappointed when they never materialize, instead of interacting with actual human beings and discovering the unexpected value they could bring to your lives.

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I think I'd disrecommend them for anyone under 26 or so, it does take some experience to not fall into this trap. Otoh my only criteria there are "wants kids" and "isn't offput by a short description of my interests", and it has worked fairly well overall.

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Yeah for sure there are some things you should filter for. "Older than 18," "wants/doesn't want kids." "Looking to get married/not looking to get married." But those are just regular dating profiles. A "dating doc" strikes me as something that includes smaller details and preferences - that's where I see this concept getting into trouble.

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> The people got to know each other, realized that this person brought something to their lives they didn't even know they should be looking for... You're overscreening and siloing yourself into preferences the you of yesterday thought were mandatory, that the you of today might feel differently about if you just explored a bit further afield.

Strong +1 to this, and not just for dating. It's pretty common to see a person who is struggling in life, often by their own admission, and are missing extremely subtle ways their behavior is causing those outcomes. It sucks because you need someone with the right knowledge to be in the right place at the right time to notice it, otherwise the person goes to the grave always wondering, for example, why women never talk to him or why he's always late to appointments or what-have-you.

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...guilty on non-romance grounds tbh. Maybe I should take my own advice beter.

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This is pretty close to my thought as well, although I would go even a bit stronger. A highly detailed dating doc with a lot of self-description and a checklist of dealbreakers (as opposed to a reasonably well-thought-out online profile, so length and detail matter) suggests to me self-absorption and rigidity. That is even putting aside the question of whether the person has sufficient self-awareness and honesty to know and state their own true preferences (they might not). Even if they are self-aware and honest, much of a relationship is about creating a new unit where each party bends or adds to their preferences to make a new "relationship unit." A long, detailed dating doc communicates that you over-prioritize your current preferences and thus may not be flexible enough to make a relationship work. True deal-breakers should be only a few major categories - religion, kids, basic values, decent attraction. The rest you work out in a gradual process of "this person annoys me in person" or "we haven't had much fun in four dates" (at which point it presumably ends) or "hey, turns out I don't hate doing this" or "they've got their thing, I've got mine, but we've also got our own things together" at which point maybe you get serious. Making mountains out of molehills signals a fussy, inflexible, self-absorbed person. That's why I think they are actively not helpful, as opposed to merely cumbersome.

Nobody is saying you need literally no information. But the big deal-breaker categories (e.g. religion) can be pretty easily summarized in a short profile or, better, a date or two. Even kids, which contra Scott I think most people find off-putting to discuss super early, but saying "I love kids" in your profile as opposed to three paragraphs about your future kid plan. Once you've passed those, you need to figure out what "Relationship You" would want, rather than "Currently Single You." They're not necessarily exactly the same person, and if you are adamant that they have to be, you'll come off looking worse.

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I totally agree, and I think people overscreen other major decisions too, like colleges/careers/friends/cities, when they should be exploring with an open mind.

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> Nobody I know who is in a happy relationship is in a relationship with someone who met all of their "dealbreaker preferences" when they were single

Then the people you know are on one end of the self awareness spectrum. I am in a happy relationship with someone who met all my deal breaker preferences and 85% of my nice to haves list.

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Re: the zinger directed at Unitarians:

A good reminder that while "religious" versus "not religious" is a valid categorization in some contexts, "religious" is a hugely broad and diverse category.

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This is a good point. The Roman Catholic and neo-Pagan are going to have extremely different views and experiences, but we'd classify them both as "religious". And that's without taking into account variations in how salient their religious views are to other aspects of their life.

Personally, I find the trend of assuming "religious" means "Christian" deeply irritating. But that's probably a me issue.

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I asked in the other thread, but bumping here in case anyone has more good suggestions - what would a (straight) male version of Hana's profile look like?

(That is, something designed to be appealing to a mass majority-female niche group who would be all over it even though it's not obviously high status in normie society)

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You should watch anime that speaks to your heart, not because it (the anime) is high status in some sub-culture.

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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023

If you’re targeting the same IQ bracket, probably something like “guy who reads literary fiction” or “guy who genuinely appreciates/has insight about contemporary art.” Straight male English lit grad students are pretty low status relative to other guys in similar barrier-to-entry professions, but they have a pretty easy time finding willing partners.

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I think that's right, but curious how you'd express it in terms of vibes. Like Hana doesn't just work because she's into economics, she works because she's fun and energetic about it in an appealing way.

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Musicians and other artists have always been much more successful with women than their economic value and physical attributes would indicate.

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I think it's impossible. Anything that hits all the right buttons would come off as fake. Men are much more willing to fake personalities to find women to sleep with than the opposite so women will be much more suspicious

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Hm, that's a good point (Hana comes off kinda sketchy even to me for this reason, would probably be worse if you genderflipped).

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I think it would be well written and quirky and show some kind of intellectual interest. Hana is appealing because it shows she's interested in economics, puns, and that she's a little bit funny and weird, and a male Hana would have a similar vibe.

Back in the Match/OK Cupid days, I did much better once a friend suggested that I rewrite my blurb so instead of coming across as "nice guy looking for a relationship," it read "funny guy with some specific weird interests looking for someone interesting."

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Some truth to that (I put up a silly photo that at least one person advised against, and it got me a whole bunch of swipes). Maybe it shows self-confidence in some weird way?

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my tinder bio is like this; it has a list of things i like talking about (including but not limited to 'housing policy', 'local politics', and 'why oxford comments are superior') and i've gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. it worked really well in Oxford, where it was a great conversation starter; it works less well in London, but still serves as a pretty good filter. it's also why i prefer tinder to hinge unlike anyone else I know

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"Why would you inflict this on yourself"

"plus you’ve wasted lots of your own time"

"Again, why do you want to know less about the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life"

This is the disconnect. Dates are supposed to be fun. If you've gone on three dates and they tell you something that's a dealbreaker, surely the first two were still fun? If you think the date is an ordeal, what are you pressing on for?

It's not the most important decision of your life. It's a date, where you have fun. Movies are popular date activities because they're fun even if the date sucks.

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I think he is imagining a context where the number of dates one goes on is not limited by the number of people who are willing to go on a date, but by the number of nights you are able to spend out on dates. If I've decided I can go on dates up to three nights a week, but I've only found people to fill one or two of those nights, then your analysis seems right. But if I've decided I can only go on dates one night a week, and I have a few possible candidates, then spending three dates on the same person only to find out they aren't compatible was a possible waste of that time.

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Doubtful. "Inflict" implies the experience itself is unpleasant, and he opens with saying you could theoretically date everyone.

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Saying anything is "supposed to be fun" indicates it may not be fun for everyone. Dating was the only show in town, there has been a technological change and now it isn't. "Why would you want to sit at home reading the Bible in your own language? Hearing it read in Latin is supposed to be fun..." (I actually believe this but it is what it is)

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...IS church supposed to be fun? Even in English I've heard people badmouth other books by saying they read like Genesis. I've always thought it was supposed to be "Good For You", akin to making kids eat brussel sprouts. Can't have dessert until you finish your brussel sprouts. But with dating, the dessert is More Brussel Sprouts.

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At best I find church "bigger picture fun" - museum fun or hike fun. Trying to make church fun fun is usually cringe (clown masses etc.).

I suppose what tech does generally is streamline experiences, enabling people who don't care especially about the experience to cut to the chase, but for people who are really invested in the experience itself, it's the inefficiencies that are part of the package: steam trains, narrow boats, vinyl...

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> If you think the date is an ordeal, what are you pressing on for?

Clearly you don't know how social anxiety works. If I didn't force myself to go through dates which I knew would be uncomfortable I would just be alone forever

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If dating is an ordeal, why do you NOT want to be alone? A relationship is just an unending series of dates with the same person. What are you pressing on for?

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Not necessarily. Dates have an element of uncertainty and fear of rejection that an ongoing relationship mostly doesn't. Also, they are usually not at-home, which may be more of an ordeal than "we live together".

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The anxiety fades the better I know the person I'm socializing with. First meetings (and dates in particular because of the high possibility of rejection) are always difficult but that doesn't mean I prefer being alone, it's just the initial stage that's hard.

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I see what you're saying, but I think there's a difference in weighting of outcomes here. If I go on a date with someone and they're not interested, I'm more upset than if we didn't date at all - no date could be explained by just not clicking superficially, or timing, or whatever. Dating and ceasing feels more like a rejection of me personally, by someone who had the opportunity to get to know me a bit better.

As a result, on a date, I'm more concerned about getting to know the person and giving a good impression. Yes, it is fun - I'm not dating this person unless I at least sort of enjoy their company - but to claim that there is no stress involved is simply not true in at least my case.

In addition, I think your view is coming from a position of low dating scarcity (please do not read this as an attack, it is in no way intended as such). Without going into detail, I have had periods where I put a lot of work into finding dates only to have absolutely no success. If you're in that situation, then a date not working out is more costly than if you find it easier to find dates.

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> Dates are supposed to be fun....It's a date, where you have fun. Movies are popular date activities because they're fun even if the date sucks.

But very often, they aren't!

If I suss out in the first few minutes of a first date that we're not going to be a fit even as casual friends (as often happens), the date transforms into an unpleasant test of my endurance at being performatively engaging, while dreading potentially having to explicitly reject the person at the end of the date if it turns out they're into me.

Plus, who's willing to make the investment of a movie on a first date? These days most people are unwilling to commit to more than a cup of coffee as a first date activity, and that's not especially fun by itself.

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"being performatively engaging"

Why, if you already know the date's a bust? Cut loose. The more annoying you become the less likely you'll have to explicitly reject them at the end.

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Most people consider it impossibly rude and cruel to reject someone 5-10 minutes into meeting them on a first date. I suspect a lot of women might even be afraid of the reaction it might provoke from a man.

Implicitly stating, "I find you so unattractive I'm not even going to stay an hour or two to see if your personality redeems your ugliness" just isn't an option.

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I posit the problem is treating a date like a 2-hour ordeal you aren't allowed to walk away from. Especially if they're only buying a cup of coffee. That's, what, ten dollars for a fancy one? That's a five-dollar-an-hour customer service job you're inflicting on yourself. Make shorter dates. Drink a cup of coffee and any time past is at parties' discretion.

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I'm arguing two things here:

1. Many/most daters (but perhaps especially men anticipating paying for the date) don't want to do an activity that costs more than a fancy coffee, so the "activity" part of a date is unlikely to be fun in and of itself unless someone is wildly excited about coffee and,

2. Even a "coffee" date has a required duration to avoid insult - and that duration is considerably longer than it takes to swallow a beverage.

For both reasons, I personally don't ever want to meet in person unless I feel reasonably confident the conversation will be enjoyable for me.

I've experimented with going on dates before sussing out conversational ability/chemistry and it has never gone well. I come home very much feeling like the effort and time was totally wasted.

Other people's experience may vary.

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I don't think 2 is real. You can set whatever minimum you want, and the people who object to it are most likely the ones who would drain you on a date already. If you're worried about looking like you're just in it for free coffee you can pay for the coffee yourself when you leave.

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I haven't been in the dating market for an age. Is meeting for a few minutes for coffee common? I preferred inviting people to do an activity that I wanted to do anyway, like going to see a band or something, but it's true that I've been on some excruciating dates where it was apparent that one of us wasn't interested.

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It's very common, although I think most people do it for longer than a literal "few minutes."

The straight male friends I've discussed it with prefer coffee dates because they don't want to be expected to buy cocktails/dinner/event tickets/etc., and they argue that coffee can morph into lunch (or whatever) if the date is going well.

If the date doesn't go well, they can get out after 45 minutes to an hour.

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Another point here: since the biggest thing dating docs filter for are people who want to date someone who likes weird and explicit forms of communication, they can only ever work for those kinds of people (unless they become mainstream).

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lol. Is the reason I can't heart this that are not a paid subscriber, or is that just how it's set up? Anyway, that would describe me and my husband!

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How it's set up. If I remember the history correctly, Scott ran a survey at some point, people mostly wanted to not have "likes", and he pressured Substack into making it happen. The fact that some hearts still show up in some places (like email) is generally regarded as a bug.

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Oh, okay. I'm new here. I like being able to acknowledge comments that I like, but I don't suppose a <3 would be particularly appreciated!

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I believe the objection was to sort-by-popular rather than to the hearts themselves, so I don't think <3 will get frowned upon too hard, though obviously there's a failure mode where it would get spammy.

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Hearts themselves are a problem, because people inevitably start optimising their comments to generate maximum likes.

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Oh, ok, that's weird but 🤷🏼

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A good point.

More on "implicit filters": I met a lot of good dates on OKCupid, in part, because it required one to know English to register (and write a profile), and I'm not from English-speaking country. Therefore, just by looking for dates on OKC I filtered out a lot of less educated people (compared to a dating site in my own language). It might not have been such a big deal for me (a man), but my wife also says OKC was better than native language dating sites, because there women got spammed by stupid idiots.

Aside: I actually think that making men jump through more hoops to message a woman on a dating site is a good idea, or at least one worth trying. It's a well-known fact, I think, that women get too much messages, and so if you had at least to prove you have read her profile, that would be good. Maybe just answer a few questions based on info available in profile, like "what's my favourite book" or "what university I went to".

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This makes total sense as a way to limit the dating pool to people more like you.

That was my read on why some people are opting for dating docs instead of Tinder, to filter the pool.

For the people that find dating docs unappealing, i think this means the filter is working. I don’t mean in terms of intelligence the your way of filtering works but more in terms of disposition and subculture.

I also agree with you that having ways to limit the overall dating pool may be more important for heterosexual women who seem to have a higher proportion of bad experiences on Tinder.

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Oh my goodness - I would trade a LOT of my preferences to end up in a relationship with someone willing to write contracts or goal setting documents about the relationship and to do periodic reviews measuring the performance of each of us on key metrics.

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Yes! Hilarious!

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>Really, why do you expect me to read an entire paragraph to establish some boring point about dating docs, but not to spend more than three seconds evaluating whether or not someone is the love of my life?

This response to the physical attraction section really seems like Scott making a typical mind error. It may seem bizarre to him, but yeah a ton of people actually do function like that, and prefer to sort by instant physical chemistry.

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This seems plausible enough, but extrapolating from that to "people like Scott shouldn't have dating docs" seems like a typical mind fallacy going the other way?

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Sure! I'm pretty live-and-let-live and would never tell anyone not to date in their preferred way.

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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023

For what it's worth, here's the ad I put in the personals (a thing they used to have in the free newspapers; or as my husband called them the "want ads") that brought me my husband 30 years ago:

Skinny, funny, smart woman, 30s, seeks very intelligent yet down-to-earth man for fun and possible seriousness.

Succinct yet somewhat revealing. I had to add the "very" because a surprising number of men have a too-high opinion of their intelligence. Or maybe that's not surprising!

I liked him pretty well on our first date, fell in love with his self-deprecating sense of humor on the second date, and, because I really liked him and was tired of one night stands, we didn't have sex until like the fifth date. If he'd pushed me to do so before that, it would have been a dealbreaker. I read that some people have sex before the first date just to see if they're compatible. Really?

For many people, it's the sense of humor that keeps them together more than any other factor. (Certainly true for us!) Seems like a dating doc is a better place to convey that.

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That's the kind of length of dating doc I could get on with.

Question: 30 years later, how much of the description of you, of him, and of the intention of the relationship is still true?

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I would say almost all of it! I don't think I could objectively call myself skinny.

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> Really, why do you expect me to read an entire paragraph to establish some boring point about dating docs, but not to spend more than three seconds evaluating whether or not someone is the love of my life?

The base rate on loves of your life is somewhat lower than the base rate on interesting comments.

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I don't have the patience to write a full explanation, but the words missing from dating discourse most often is 'arbitrage.'

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author

I don't understand this as written and would prefer the full explanation. Hopefully this personal request will overcome your lack of patience!

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Without clicking on this link, are any of the replies complaining about 'white privilege'?

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Not even close.

>Both of my siblings are married to people outside of our ethnicity. They tried for years to find a match within our ethnicity, but it seems they have higher market value (or something) outside of it.

>I'm facing the same issue. To be crass, I sometimes feel like I'm a 4 within my ethnic group and a 9 outside of it.

>To illustrate: The very same week that someone NOT conventionally desirable (just use your imagination here) rejects me within my ethnic group, I'll get superliked and eagerly messaged online - or approached and asked out at a social event in person - by some extremely handsome successful charming person OUTSIDE of my ethnic group.

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Yeah that's my take.

YOU (hetero male) may think you are undesirable because you are not tall or especially attractive. hell, you may even substantially prioritize female appearance yourself.

What you don't realize is that there's a large pool of females, many of them very attractive, who don't care much about appearance but do care massively about reliability and similar bourgeois values, and by those lights you are indeed a catch.

In other words you are able to sell yourself at a much higher value than you imagine because the buyer is rating on different criteria than you are rating (and vice versa).

The same holds true even within smaller domains. For example your theory of what counts as an attractive woman is not actually universal, and you may find very appealing a woman who does not consider herself attractive. The classic version of this is "white girls want to have a small butt on themselves; black guys want a big butt on their partners".

If there's any *single* myth in dating it's that "boys all want one thing" and likewise "girls all want one thing". This may be true at the vague level of "I want you to be nice" or "I want you to be interesting" or "I want you to be smart" or "I want you to be attractive" but what EXACTLY those things mean is so variable that they are essentially meaningless by themselves. .

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A lot of this is what I think is meant by "chemistry".

I'd say my wife and I have always had chemistry, which I understand to mean "From the beginning I found her more attractive than most men find her, and she likewise found me more attractive than most women do."

This is partly why the whole enterprise of dating is a numbers game and it helps to meet lots of people in person.

But there's a certain balance here; chemistry definitely gives you a lift in attractiveness, but there's still a rough and fuzzy consensus on where people fall on the attractiveness spectrum, and there are certain qualities that are in high demand, some that are in niche demand, and some that have practically no demand. Failure to recognize this, and to bet everything on finding a supermodel when you're a troll, is usually called "delusion."

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yeah this kind of mutual fit is what I think happens in the happy path for arbitraging the dating market.

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This is a good point.

Also, I acknowledge this might be weird to say, but there are plenty of white guys who like a big butt too.

(As one expert on this subject matter put it in the early '90s, "even white boys got to shout")

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That's what got the attention of DrZ, even tho we had been introduced previously (thanks, Ma for that purple dress & the 3" heels that meant it was shorter in the back than the front). That was 1970, after 7 years of friendship (while we had other relationships), we've been together since.

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This is so spot on. +10

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founding

Boys want many things, and girls want many things. But for approximately all of them, attractiveness is *one* of the things they want. And attractiveness is something that can be assessed instantly. So if the algorithm is "target most attractive potential mate in the area, see if they have the other things I want, if not try the second-most-attractive...", that doesn't bode well for the people who genuinely are reliable and have all the other "bourgeois values" but are not attractive. They might in principle be "a catch", they just won't be caught.

Most of the techniques for meeting potential mates in the modern world, favor the attractiveness-first algorithm, see e.g. Tinder. And most of the places where you'll naturally figure out whether someone is reliable etc, are now deprecated as romantic opportunities, suitable for platonic friendship only. See e.g. work or school.

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You are missing the point, which is that attractiveness is not an absolute, objective quality. It is viewer dependent.

Yes, there are aspects to it that are more or less objective (most people will agree that a person rated 8 on hot-or-not is above average in attractiveness) but the details vary vastly more than many people seem to want to believe. You and I may agree in our assessment of the attractiveness of 9/10 Hollywood actresses, but not about the tenth. And that tenth makes all the difference, because

(a) unless you have a somewhat pathological personality, the goal is not to get every boy on earth to lust after you, it is to get ONE boy on earth to lust after you.

(b) "good enough" holds for attractiveness as much as it holds for sense of humor, kindness, and everything else. Yes, I'd like a girl who rates 10/10 in hotness according to my lights, just as I'd like her to be 10/10 in kindness, humor, intelligence, patience, etc. But realistically I'll settle for somewhere around 7+ in all the characteristics I find important, and with luck I may get two or three of them hitting 9/10.

In other words, the issue is not that, unless you are Monica Bellucci and rate as 10/10 by basically every sentient being on earth, you are destined to be alone your entire life; it's that all you have reach is about 7+ for a reasonable fraction (20% or so) of the male population. And most women do in fact meet this bar.

It's women (and lazy sitcoms) who go around claiming that the ex-BF broke up with them because of <insert physical characteristic>. Ask the men involved and they'll give a personality based answer – she was controlling, she was boring, she was mean, she was frivolous, etc. You may or may not like this reasoning, but it is NOT "rejection based on appearance". I mean, hell, look at celebrity divorces. Whatever reason you may want to divorce Amber Heard, it's absolutely not because "she wasn't pretty enough".

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I'd go even further, and say that attractiveness is among the *least important* factors in looking for a long-term partner. For me, they just need to meet some sort of minimum bar, and from there, other things matter more. with that said, this summer, i briefly dated someone who was objectively extremely hot, and I did really enjoy it haha. Although I think his good looks dazzled me to the extent where I couldn't objectively evaluate him (it was the same with my ex-boyfriend's personality, lol, i am terrible at objectively evaluating situations once I get a crush)

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People are satisficing on a variety of metrics, the more you are willing to compromise on the more highly demanded metrics, the more selection power you buy yourself on other metrics. Let's consider a couple really obvious examples: a woman who doesn't mind dating shorter guys has a huge range of features to select from, whereas a hypothetical woman who will only date the tallest man available has zero bits of selection power left over (she has to take whatever other features the tallest man happens to have). Less absurdly: physical attractiveness is not a unidimensional scale, people seem to have certain faces that they are much more attracted to. So, if someone who is a "6" on the more broadly defined average attractiveness scale happens to match features you really like, they may be a personal "8" to you.

This is still probably a too short explanation but hopefully more helpful.

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People being willing to move geographically for love has always seemed to me like a way for people with more preferences to widen their options.

I don’t know if it still exists but the New Yorker used to have classifieds that included people all over the world. I would think more global but niche options might be welcome for some people.

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from my own (currently dating, young man) thoughts on how to arb the dating market it seems like the most general way to explain it is there are essentially two value functions judging each participant in the dating & relationship markets, the one imposed by the market in aggregate (probably best rounded off to attractiveness in the eyes of the average person) and the one imposed by each prospective partner. Each participant in the dating market can theoretically take advantage of the fact that their value function for a prospective partner differs from the aggregate market’s valuation of that person and arb the difference between these two valuations

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1. City-based: moving from Silicon Valley to NYC is a *huge* boost for men (and vice versa for women)

2. Race-based: from personal experience, geeky white men are much more attractive to Asian women than to white women.

3. Country-based: arranged marriages to people living in countries with a lower GDP/capita

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Aug 27, 2023·edited Aug 27, 2023

Legacy of cultural values around the Chinese imperial exam system maybe? From what I understand, your best chance at upward mobility for a few hundred years was to write a good eight-legged essay.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-legged_essay

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I was trying to figure out how to apply this concept to dating, but the best I came up with was really more of an instance of comparative advantage than of arbitrage. (That is, don't lead with what *you* take to be your best asset, but instead lead with the asset that is best priced by the target market.)

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Isn't that what "more physically-attractive-by-my-standards than average" means?

I agree though, my most successful relationships were ones where I felt my partner was more attractive to me than they were to other men (which includes both physical and non-physical attributes)

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There's a lot of arbitrage going on though, with successful businesses built on bridging the gap between various Western markets on the male side and East Asian and Latin American and Eastern European markets on the female side.

Personally I've experienced some unexpected arbitrage gains after moving from my birth country to one where I belong to a high-status immigrant group, and I expect that most commenters here could do the same.

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For me, in my experience, how much I think a photo album of a girl is sexy is fairly uncorrelated with how much I'll like that girl in real life, and the (short! why would anyone write a 15-page doc rather than talking?) biopic is far more correlated.

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Aug 25, 2023·edited Aug 25, 2023

TBH I've actually found the opposite - although I am admittedly a bit shallow (not sure how to change that). I think the reason is that, I actually get along pretty well with most people, but with more attractive women I spend much more attention and energy early on in the interaction which facilitates that self-sustaining feedback loop of chemistry

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''Most interesting to me: “The average man will date 5-6 people before getting married, the average woman will date 3-4”."

The totals have to be equal if all dating is within the pool. How is this possible?

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The men are older and the exponential growth of orthodox community means there are always more women than men. As I understand it it’s a real issue

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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023

I'm still not following this. Unless many of the women date but don't get married. Can you elaborate if that isn't it?

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Suppose that all people spend 1 year going on dates, but for women it's the year they're 20 but for men it's the year they're 23. Now suppose the birth rate is increasing by 20% each year. Then there are ~60% more 23-year-olds than 20-year-olds. Accordingly, the number of dates is D, but they're spread across W 20-year-old women but M =1.6 W = (5/3)W 23-year-old men. If each woman goes on 5 dates, i.e. D = 5W, fhen then for the math to work out each man will go on 3 dates, since D = 3M = 3(5/3)W = 5W.

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Yes.

Is the claim that in the Ultra Orthodox community the birth rate is such that the age gap between men and women upon marriage is enough to explain about a 50% delta in dates?

A 20%/year increase in births would result in an increase in annual births of almost 250x in 30 years. The math works out, but that doesn't seem to match the reality.

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In my experience, Orthodox men DO receive more matches than women, but AFAIK, the specific numbers given don’t have research behind them.

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It also seems possible if there's an asymmetry in who leaves the pool. (I have no idea whether it would be more likely for men or women to leave.)

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founding

Or if the "pool" has fuzzy borders and orthodox men are more open to dating orthodox-adjacent women.

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It works if you interpret 'average' in more of a 'mode' or 'median' sense, not mean. In this case there just have to be somewhat long tails. (Though it could also just be an inaccurate generalization)

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This is "before getting married". So clearly 2 of the unmarried man's dates are actually with married women.

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Or with other men!

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This was my bad, I inaccurately described the situation. My intent wat to somehow say that because of the asymmetry in ages upon entering the dating pool, men have an easier time filtering for suggestions they are interested in. The actual dating average would of course be the same for men and women.

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I think the driving anxiety behind much of the anti-dating doc sentiment is a reasonable fear at the prospect of de-gamifying all aspects of life. If mates can be found through the upload of explicit statements of photos and preferences, and food and resources acquired through simple two-click transactions, life threatens to become a flat, repetitive nothing. This underlying question of what our days will actually consist of when everything is made perfectly convenient underpins the general unease most people feel when considering the future of VR, dating apps, algorithmically generated entertainment, etc.

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Presumably our days will be filled with things we actually want to do. If some people like dating they'll date, if some people don't they'll plug into the dating machine and get a match, if some people like painting they'll paint, if someone really needs a picture of a dog wearing a hotdog costume they'll prompt StableDiffusion9000.

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This is interesting to me because the gamifying of life is so recent and this dating doc format harkens back to how things have more traditionally been done via matchmaking and arranged marriages.

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I think the ‘price discovery process’ is underrated in dating in a way that a dating docs systems’ would not address. I think there may be an element of Chesterton’s fence.

This is not just via multiple dates with different people but also multiple dates with the same person. Repeated conversations and interventions in different contexts tell you a lot about the person and your relationship with them.

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founding

You can go on more than one date with someone who has a dating doc too.

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This is true but I think the point is that dating docs should minimize the costly dates for Scott?

In a perfect world of dating docs, rationalists would get together off the dating doc(s) alone.

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"This is true but I think the point is that dating docs should minimize the costly dates for Scott?"

Or maybe make it such that you only need to date 10 people to find a "match" rather than 100 ... or 1,000. If the folks using these docs think that 'normal' date selection/filtering is terrible then they might be trying to make a (rational) attempt at improving the chances to the point where dating might actually work for them.

I also think the comparable is not mutual friends, but swipe-left/swipe-right on pictures on Tinder. That is terrible.

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I think that’s right, in the same way a real life matchmaker might give you two or three people to meet. The pool is smaller but ideally more apt.

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Should they tho? Isn't dating fun?

Is the point of a dating doc to optimize the process of dating away? To bring you from single to married as efficiently as possible? Or is it to just efficiently identify fun people to try a few dates with?

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founding

going on a date may be fun but it is far far less fun than being in a good relationship and most of us are not going on sufficiently many random dates with strangers when single to come anywhere close to replacing a good relationship, so it's valuable to make the process of finding a good relationship happen faster and more reliably.

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Interesting! I think that the whole process of "hunting" for a girl is fun. You do things you wouldn't otherwise do (art tours, life drawing, etc.), meet people you wouldn't otherwise meet, you get to flirt, you get certain types of romance, etc.

Just like some of the best bits of a relationship is the "vibe" (feeling wanted, loved, etc.), some of the best bits of being on the prowl is the "vibe" (feeling adventurous, being available, etc.).

I bet for every one guy that likes "being in a relationship" but doesn't like being on "the hunt", there's another guy that feels the opposite. Maybe dating docs are a solution for a particular type of person? IDK. :)

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I got married through the shidduch system.

It definitely has its flaws but it sucks the least from any other method IMHO

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author
Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023Author

I wonder why it hasn't caught on as much in the non-Orthodox community. As far as I can tell nothing about it seems particularly religious / demanding of religious values, and it seems to leave a lot of room for individual choice (unless the reality is worse than the text description).

I'm looking to see if there are secular matchmakers near me, and there are, but they're all advertised as "LUXURY matchmaker for HIGH-VALUE CORPORATE singles!", which is an interesting branding decision that kind of turns me off.

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There's an assumption of a fairly small pool of potential partners in the first place.

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