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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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"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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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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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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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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> 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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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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''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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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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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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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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Reading conversations about dating with participants with all sorts of different personalities and subcultural backgrounds is interesting because it really highlights just how varied romantic experiences are.

One of the main things it illustrates is how little people realize that other people are super different. It's sort of like if people who were 4'6" tried to have conversations full of advice with people who are 6'4" about furniture, clothing, and airplane seats, without realizing that different things make sense to different people.

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"Just look at the photo, they don't lie" is falsified every single time you see an arrestee's mugshot next to the selfie they put on Instagram.

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Even more devoutly glad than I was before that I'm an old married man and well out of the dating treadmill.

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This reads to me like a significant underlying difference here is between people who think reading a document about a potentially interesting person is pleasant while a first or second date is unpleasant/stressful/difficult and people who think reading a document about a person is boring work but a first date with a new person is fun.

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What I think you should have changed (or at least looked at a lot more carefully) is the downside of pickiness, namely people who land up alone because they refuse to "settle" (and who then land up unhappy because they only person available at age 45 is grossly inappropriate).

This is not *exactly* the same issue as dating documents, but I think it comes from the same place; a set of assumptions about how attraction works and how people should partner up that is very heavy on theory and very light on real-world experience.

With this in mind, I don't consider the sorts of parent-assisted examples that are provided (Orthodox Jewish, Indian, and, BTW also common among certain segments of Chinese; there are parks in Chengdu where you see large stacks of these "resumes" and people are handing them out) as especially relevant because in all those cases I expect the parents/community to be doing a strong job of pushing back against unrealistic expectations as to the sort of person you "deserve" and can realistically hope to find.

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Minor correction: autantonym, not autoantonym (there are one fewer 'o's :p). Thanks for the mention.

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>This is an absurd question, Scott. I don't know if it's the asexuality or what, but the answer to your >puzzle, or whatever you want to call it, of the five dating ads is:

>1) Which of them is the best-looking?

>2) Which of them is the best at giving head?

>I don't care about *anything* any of them wrote. None of that has absolutely any relevance for a relationship. Have your weird hobbies, girl!

I honestly think this is actually the most sensible comment as far as matching the experience of the average non-internet-rationalist man, at least if the second point is taken somewhat figuratively.

Of any of the dating profiles you mentioned, I think if the girl is conventionally attractive and was sweet and affectionate enough (if not literally being especially skilled at fellatio), most men simply wouldn't care (at least in a negative sense) if the rest of a woman's life matches what he likes. As long as she's pretty, loving and her interests don't make your life difficult, then the rest is not that important. Now obviously, this is a simplification, and the fact that temperament and interests are likely to be strongly non-independant is an significant wrinkle. But many of the happiest relationships I know of are between men with their own interests and women with their own interests with little overlap between the two - the two just clicked and that was that.

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Aug 24, 2023·edited Aug 24, 2023

I spend a lot of time browsing ArViX, PubMed, etc. reading abstracts. Whenever I find a cool paper from a team near me, I'll ask them if they want to get lunch and chat about their paper. (I'm a grad student - this is socially acceptable. :p) I've met dozens of people this way and made many new friends.

I've noticed is that "how interested am I in their paper" and "do we click" are basically uncorrelated! There's some illegible "je ne sais quoi" that determines whether we get along.

Similarly, I've gone on dozens of first dates. Finding girls "in the right ballpark" seems to be important - I don't think I'd like a 50 year old militant socialist - but after that there again seems to be basically no correlation between "do we click" and "do I like your bio". I have no idea why - I seem to be keying off stuff which is illegible to me from text. (What gives me "good vibes"? I'd actually have to think about this. Maybe I'm just unusually bad at reifying the stuff I like?)

I'd find 10 word dating docs really useful (are you evangelical? alternatively, do you like to talk about nerdy things? great, let's try a date!) Any longer would probably be superfluous.

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>Or you could just have everyone list their values beforehand and only talk to the people who share yours. The list of values might not be perfect, but it’s sure better than going in blind. Seems like it would save a lot of time and avoid a lot of incompatibility.

>Likewise, I agree that lots of people don’t like answering personal questions right away. I’ve heard a suggestion not to bring up scary things like children until the third date at the earliest. Fine, so now you have three dates per person in poorly-lit expensive restaurants before they tell you that actually they hate children and you were incompatible all along. Why would you inflict this on yourself when you can just start with a list of who wants kids and who doesn’t?

My only problem with the whole thing is that, well, you can't. You can't just have everyone list their values, nor can you start with a list of who wants kids and who doesn't. Dating docs are a fine idea, but won't become widespread enough to matter in the timeframe between now and whenever the people still on the dating market are likely to have paired up.

I don't see any likely network or market effects that will make them widespread among more than the current very, very small and fairly homogenous and gender-imbalanced group they're now used by, so the entire thing seems very academic.

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People have pointed out that some people enjoy dates while others don't, but there is also great variability in how much people enjoy reading and writing!

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Many matchmaking apps tout their "success" rates in terms of dates, marriages, etc. Do dating docs keep track of KPIs, and if so, what are the results? How do docs compare to apps? IRL? A Jewish matchmaker? ChatGPT?

What is needed are head-to-head, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled romantic trials.

The world needs to know the most effective, most efficient way to find one's life/momentary partner. And once that's known, those potential partners using less effective, less efficient life/momentary partner finding methods can be eliminated from consideration, thereby creating a positive feedback loop making the most effective, most efficient life/momentary partner finding method, even more effective and efficient.

For some people, finding one's life/momentary partner could be almost as important as finding the most efficient, most effective method of finding one's life/momentary partner.

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I'm curious why it's even controversial.

I mean, maybe if you're 20 and you think of dating as a fun sport?

But everybody I know in the dating market is 35-45 and looking for stable permanent relationships, having already done all the really stupid youthful things-- flings, screwing drug users, having kids with drug users, spending years in court fighting for custody of said kids, etc. Dating isn't fun anymore. Clock's ticking. They don't want to die alone.

At that point, you'd be stupid to even touch online dating apps without docs. The ones I know just list all the things that have scared off previous dates: kids, custody arrangements, STDs, sterilization procedures, employment status, religion (or lack of). Most other things are negotiable, the doc instantly narrows down the field so that they get hardly any responses, but the few they do get are pretty good prospects, so by the time they get to meeting up in person, very little time wastage for either party. Seems very practical. Romance is for the young anyway.

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I was single in NYC and dating was kind of my hobby. I've been on a few hundred first dates. I understand the idea behind the dating docs but I genuinely don't think they're that useful at least for a man. Women get more matches and maybe an additional filtering mechanism would be useful for them in some cases (e.g. they're trying to get married very quickly or something)

Scotts right about the physical attraction range but there's another kind of attraction that I would just describe as vibes or pheromones. Like 30% of people will genuinely not like you when sitting across the table from you. Like 30% of people will love sitting across the table from you. This has nothing to do with values or even looks really and you know it within a minute or two. If a person passes then lots of deal breakers go out the window. For that reason I just think some kind of speed dating is the only way to make it more efficient. Reading through a bunch of dating docs is just as useless as swiping a bunch of pictures.

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Aug 25, 2023·edited Aug 25, 2023

In case anyone was wondering why I decided she was a keeper after the first date...


She's a little embarrassed about it now, but it worked ;)

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Why are you downplaying looks/status/wealth in dating preferences? It is kind of odd of you to do that considering you wrote the "Radicalizing the romanceless" article where you acknowledged that morality and positive personality traits are completely irrelevant in sexual attraction (and thus 'nice guys' don't get laid), and without sexual attraction there cannont be a relationship. I think most people who virtue signal about how they are attracted more to personality traits than LMS are either ouright lying or under the Halo effect, which is when people ascribe positive qualities to people they already find attractive. Romantic relationships are also most of the time a lot more about power than they are about love or friendship, which is why you've probably never seen a straight relationship where the guy is of lower socioeconomic status than the woman.

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I think that mating works on a filter-then-choose model. People start by filtering out all the people they're not interested in, and getting filtered out by people who aren't interested in them, and then they explore the set of possible remaining partners until they find one they're compatible with.

So when I was single, I had a pretty good idea of which girls were good looking enough to be interesting to me and which ones weren't. Likewise, many of the really good-looking girls undoubtedly decided I wasn't good-looking enough for them. This (hopefully) left some kind of overlap set of women that I was attractive enough for who were also attractive enough for me. Similar filters would apply for things like age, social class (which incidentally explains the hypergamy stuff from the other month) and so forth.

But (and this is the key thing) once you're in the set of acceptable partners, compatibility is what matters most. For instance I don't think people are willing to trade off worse compatibility for better looks as long as both partners hit those minimum requirements. (And if they do, they regret it -- this is basically the plot of most novels.) Dating docs can potentially help with filtering, they can't help with compatibility, because compatibility is something you discover in person.

When I was single, a dating doc wouldn't have done me any good because my filters were (a) straightforward and (b) mostly socially unacceptable to express -- you can't go round writing "Must be at least this good-looking (insert picture of borderline-attractive woman) to ride". If you're weird enough to have other criteria then feel free to express them in a dating doc, I guess, but be sure that everything you write is _really_ something you want to use as a filter.

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From what I've seen, I assume my demographic/archetype is in massive oversupply in that market so would not waste my time. I imagine women looking for a wealthy alpha-nerd could probably do pretty well

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I just love that you can filter people by e/acc. Lol maybe we just need a dating search engine with a map like Zillow but with single people and filters.

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Orthodox Jewish woman here! I agree with Sholom almost entirely, esp. the conclusion, but not this bit: “The average man will date 5-6 people before getting married, the average woman will date 3-4.”

Is this statistic coming from any research? It does not seem to match with my experiences or what I’ve read on the subject.

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FYI frum rationalists, I’m in the parsha...

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Ummmm yea, I _definitely_ don’t want to read your restaurants overly long scroll-hijacking website with its history of your Italian grandma and the story of your time working in the pizza mines of Napoli. I just want to know what the hours and address are!

Maybe this whole thing is just a debate between people that are hyperlexic like Scott and people like me whose writing seems to require summoning words from another plane of existence using arcane rituals. Maybe THATs what you’re selecting for with these dating docs?

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What i have come to realise is people will compromise on their values/interests if they love the person enough.

I didn’t want to get married and the idea of kids didn’t make sense to me. But when i met my wife

Everything changed even though on our first 3dates i still held on to my beliefs, but when i fell in love with her after getting to know her i chaned my beliefs and ideology to accomodate hers because i love her enough

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Another advantage of dating docs / long profiles is that they give you lots of potential conversation topics, and save you the time of fumbling around blind trying to come up with something to talk about.

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I'd love to see a poll on age gaps and see if we can make a heatmap of age gap appropriateness by age range.

20 vs 30 is quite different from 30 vs 40.

I'm also wondering how much people care about age gaps themselves, and how much they care about external opinions on age gap.

Lastly, is there any variance based on cultural background (could keep this as simple as politics, religion, and country/state)

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Interestingly, for the multi-armed bandit problem there is a very clear optimal solution, which gives an interesting rule of thumb for practice: if you have X events in your lifetime, then you should dedicate roughly sqrt(X) (square root of X) events for exploration, the rest for exploitation.

For example, if you move into a new city and want to spend the next 10 years there, and you visit restaurants twice a week, then this makes 1000 restaurant visits. You should spend roughly sqrt(1000) = 30 times going to unknown restaurants, and the remaining 970 visits you should go to places that you like and enjoy.

There are a few correction terms for how many options there are, how similar they are to each other, and so on. This probably increases the number 30 a bit, but not too much.

If you don't know how long you will stay, you can distribute the 30 visits over time. For example, among the first 100 visits, you explore 10 different options. For the next 300 visits, you explore 10 new options, because sqrt{400} = 20 and then you have explored a total of 20 options in your total of 400 visits. And so on. If you are old, you should hardly explore new options. They are usually worse than the pretty good options that you have already found over time.

A tricky thing is that x and sqrt(x) don't have the same unit. So whether you measure the number of days you spend with your preferred person (365 in a year), or the number of seconds (30,000,000) will give you different answers. I don't know a fundamental solution to this riddle.

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Somehow this all reminds me of an old joke:

The boss needs a new secretary. HR sends over three candidates:

Helen ticks all the boxes: secretarial school, types 90 words a minute, 15 years of experience, professional phone voice, not above grabbing coffee or picking up dry cleaning.

Anna dropped out of a prestigious college. What she lacks in core skills she makes up for with a fierce intelligence. She would be a real executive assistant, someone who can face clients and perform complex tasks.

Grace doesn't have a standout resume but she is just a wonderful person. Kind, thoughtful, supportive, she gets people through bad days and rallies teams. She would be as much a friend as a colleague.

Who does he pick? The one with the biggest tits.

Men are hardwired. Everything but looks is lies / cope. Only the selfie matters. Docs will never defeat the Tinder juggernaut.

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I'm a bi man who thinks this is interesting, but I should report a comment from a (female, straight) friend of mine. She said: "the most important thing about who I date is whether they are any good in bed. So my process is to fuck as many people as possible as early as possible, then, after excluding the majority who aren't any good in bed, start filtering the ones that are left for whether we're compatible."

That's a process for which the dating doc is completely pointless.

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Thanks to Yosef and Sholom for the detailed description of spouse-finding in the Orthodox/Ultra-Orthodox communities. There is one thing that puzzles me in Sholom's post, though. Quote:

"The 2nd - 5th date will be spent verifying compatibility on the smaller things you can't ask about in reference calls. The minutiae of religious passion and observance, interests, lifestyle preferences, how many children you want to have, are you actually doing well in your career ..."

My question Sholom, if you read this: Could you please specify what you mean by "career" in this context? Am I wrong that most men in the ultraorthodox community have quite generous stipends from the Israeli goverment to study the Torah full-time, and thus do not have "careers" in a standard sense? Is this wrong, and are many instead employed or self-employed like the rest of us? Or do you by "career" mean that some young men have gained/are gaining a higher prestige as experts on the Torah than others? (And that this is the aspect of a "career" that helps differentiate the wheat from the chaff from the point of view of matchmakers and the girls' families?)

My reason for asking: From a fertility perspective, Israel is a puzzle. It is the odd country out among modern societies. Average fertility per woman in Israel was 3.01 in 2022 (ref: Our World in Data). All other "modern" societies are below 2.1 children per woman on average. Although all religious groups in Israel have higher fertility than 2.1, I thought a main solution to the puzzle was the extraordinary high fertility in (Ultra) Orthodox communities (6-7 children per woman on average), and that these communities receive very substantial support from the government - implying that neither men nor women need have paid "careers" outside the family.

Such subsidies do not exist for urban, traditional communities in any other country I know about. Hence I throught they were a major reason why these mainly urban, traditional communities have been able to maintain a high fertility rate (compared to all other urban communities, everywhere), and therefore largely explain "Israeli exceptionalism". But you comment about the importance of having a "career" when looking for a spouse has made me wonder if perhaps I am wrong?

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It’s admittedly been a while since I was in the dating market - circa 2002 or so, when dating apps weren’t even a thing. The thing that strikes me about dating docs is that most people probably don’t have a sufficiently accurate understanding of themselves and their preferences to be able to write such a document accurately. Certainly I, in 2002, would not have been able to articulate which of my preferences were true deal-breakers, or which of my various properties were core to my selfhood and therefore unlikely to change.

I met my wife in college, which as you pointed out is already a pretty strong filter - but not too strong. Is the idea just to create a similar filter? If I were thrown back into the dating pool today, I think my filter would just be “pretty, female, college-educated, not deeply religious, not a Trump voter.” Everything else is down to in-person “vibes” - do they chew with their mouth open? Are their interests either boring or all-consuming? Are they just “weird” in an off-putting way? Very tough to tell from a doc. So I don’t think going on a bunch of random dates is really avoidable.

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"This is an absurd question, Scott. I don't know if it's the asexuality or what, but the answer to your puzzle, or whatever you want to call it, of the five dating ads is:

1) Which of them is the best-looking?

2) Which of them is the best at giving head?

I don't care about *anything* any of them wrote. None of that has absolutely any relevance for a relationship. Have your weird hobbies, girl!"

I know I'm late to the party but this is so far outside my Overton window my eyes about popped out of my head.

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What I don't understand is WHY some people have to be "against dating docs". I mean... If you want to use them - go ahead, if you don't - nobody's forcing you, Tinder bars and many other ways to get dates are still there (and still prevalent). Or do they imagine some kind of future where you just can't get a date if you don't have top-notch eloquently-written resume no matter how attractive or smooth you are? Or do they care about other people wasting their time and not getting any dates? The first is silly, the second I don't believe. I mean, I hate Tinder and I don't ever want to use it for dating, but I'm not saying "no one ever should use it, because it doesn't work for me".

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Some thoughts:

- For a lot of people, dates are fun. You go out, you have a nice meal in the company of an attractive person, they show interest in you, you show interest in them, you learn about their life, maybe you make out. (And I consider myself somewhat introverted, but I am very curious about other people, and I like it when they pay attention to me. I can see how this would sound awful to some people.)

- A lot of qualities are negotiable in a way that is difficult to describe on a dating doc. I have a strong aversion to dating smokers, but if a particular smoker were very beautiful, interesting, and talented and enthusiastic about sex, I would probably end up attracted to her.

- For a lot of people, one of the biggest things they are looking for once someone is over their baseline is "are you attracted to me?" That can only really be discovered by dating, and screening out a lot of people lowers the chances that you find someone who scores highly on that criteria. So I could write a dating doc that says "not morbidly obese, IQ > 120, not crazy, non-smokers and interesting remunerative careers preferred, must be open to kids if the relationship moves past casual sex," but what's really the point?

- Does a dating doc provide a roadmap for unscrupulous pickup artists to lie to you? One advantage of tinder dating is it's probably relatively easy to screen out fakes on the first date - either they've optimized their presentation for whatever their pick-up guide says is the most easily bangable woman or they change their presentation as they learn what you like.

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My biggest takeaway from reading through the comments is, wow, sex and attractiveness are VERY important to a lot of people, way more than I thought. I'm not ace, but generally, if someone is within certain appearance norms and they're cool, I start finding them hot. I _also_ find randos hot, but the idea of really liking someone of the opposite gender and not finding them attractive is alien to me.

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I'm surprised that no one (unless I missed it) has thought about dating in Kahneman's System 1/ System 2 terms. On the one hand is the instinctive subconscious mind that automatically reacts to physical attractiveness and non-legible cues and signals, and on the other is the rational conscious mind that likes dating docs and linguistic filters. Which system dominates the other may vary from person to person, but I don't think we should be surprised when someone says "I'm System 1 all the way!" or "I'm 100% System 2!". What would be interesting is to see a survey that plotted people on a bell curve from 1 to 2. I suspect that most readers here would be a couple of deviations towards System 2.

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An anecdote that might be related.

When I was in my last year at college, both the guys who I’d shared an apartment with were moving away, one of them pretty last minute, so I found myself with a spare bedroom, high rent, and few options. So I put a roommate ad up on Craigslist (this was mid-oughts).

In the ad I mentioned that I was a “straight male” with no roommate gender preference. I was basically just trying to state a basic fact that other people might find important in deciding if they wanted to live with me, without seeming obsessed with gender or orientation (plus the ad needed to be pithy).

The first guy that answered the ad, who I ended up rooming with, was gay. We basically went on a roommate date - I showed him the area, the route to his classes, and had lunch at a place nearby. Seemed like a nice guy and we’d get along.

Anyway at the end he sort of hesitatingly mentioned that he was gay, and if I’d have a problem with that. I said I didn’t and we moved on (and in together, I suppose). But it sort of nagged at me because I was worried I had scared him by noting that I was straight in the ad (when really I was just trying to filter out women who’d be bothered by rooming with a straight (and at the time quite single) guy, and in fact he was the second gay guy I’d roomed with).

Happy ending, we got along most of the time, dude was clean and quiet and always paid the rent and by the end of the year I was also getting along with his giant male nurse boyfriend who would stay over occasionally but always be a good guest so pretty much the best case scenario for a Craigslist roommate.

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I think it really depends on what you mean by “dating doc”. There are a few failure modes that seem obvious:

1) you have a bunch of high-status “must haves” that make you sound arrogant and full of yourself. High maintenance partners are a turn off.

2) you sound like a robot

3) you’re a shitty writer, which is fine most of the time (most people are shitty writers) but bad if you introduce yourself with long-form writing

4) It’s very hard to express the degree to which certain preferences are negotiable (and very dependent on how good the person is on other axes)

But a well written, not overly long “here’s the things I value and I’d prefer a partner that does the same” would be fine.

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Aug 25, 2023·edited Aug 25, 2023

I imagine that a lot of the difference comes down to how people think of themselves in relation to the broader marriage market.

This post is quite good: "People are worried about marriage market liquidity" https://www.noenthuda.com/2020/07/22/people-are-worried-about-marriage-market-liquidity/

"There are two ways you can go about it – either “over the counter” (finding a partner by yourself) or “exchange traded” (said exchange could be anything from newspaper classifieds to Tinder to Shaadi.com). Brokers are frequently used in the OTC market – either parents or friends (who set you up) or priests.

The general rule of markets is that the more bespoke (or “weird” or “unusual”) an instrument is, the better the likelihood of finding a match in the OTC markets than on exchanges. The reason is simple – for an exchange to exist, the commodity being traded needs to be a commodity."

If you're looking for anything far from the middle of the bell curve, the commodity dating market is a bad choice.

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>I’m never sure how seriously to take comments like these, but I think it’s useful to think about the implications of 20% of the population meaning things like this 100% seriously.

I don't think the majority of guys think like the commenter you are replying to, but if you can't understand the mindset of someone who says this, you really aren't in a position to evaluate the dating scene. Some dudes legitimately care more than anything else about having sex with as many women above a baseline level of attractiveness as possible.

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Aug 25, 2023·edited Aug 25, 2023

Imagine you’re reading an essay writer for the first time. Remove all the punctuation marks from their essay, turning it into a single run on sentence. Remove the spaces, even.

Imagine you’re looking at the dating profile pics, but every pic is an enthusiastic nude.

Imagine you’re reading a research paper. End every sentence in the abstract with an exclamation mark.

Imagine you are meeting a friendly dog on the street. Don’t approach gently. Shout hello at the dog as loudly as you can and run toward it.

This is how your dating docs look to the rest of us. They come on *so very, very* strong. That really works for some people, but for plenty of people, including your own matches, that intensity level is very off putting unless it comes *later*, after a little bit of basic social grace.

In principle, the information is great. I’m in year six of a good marriage that came from OkCupid, and the profile and the match questions and the match scores helped a lot.

But we still didn’t start the first date with a preference dump. Because that is a strong, strong signal of poor communication skills.

Edit: My wife points out that you're putting a huge personal information dump out into semi-public. If you normalize this practice, you're normalizing stalker's guides!

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You cannot ask on a date how they feel about their parents (and if a woman, in particular how she feels about her father), or how they treat their siblings. Nor can you write about this on a dating app. But this is the deeper-level stuff that will color how your relationship develops in the longer run, because it is imprinted in us from our childhood and early adolescence. So find that out.

By contrast, interests change across time, and so do life philosophy, political attitudes, even religion. So getting a long text from your potential date about such things is only marginally more useful than whether you like his/her looks. And "funny to be with/writes entertaining about him/herself" is unlikely to get you past the first year, because being constantly entertaining is exhausting. Deep emotional connection during sex is longer-lasting than being technically good in bed, but even that is likely to become rarer and less important as a glue.

"She is easy to live with" is the best (indirect) compliment I have ever heard a man (married for decades) give to a woman. I have no firm evidence base here, but I believe this and other long-lasting marriages (that are not a shared hell) tend to move into "good silence" mode. Because there are two types of silence in a relationship: the tense type, and the good type. Thinking (or rather feeling) that your partner is basically ok despite all his/her inevitable flaws, irritating quirks, annoying attitudes etc. is key. Also, it will help if both of you share the stiff upper lip British attitude that life is not to be enjoyed, but to be endured. Raising small children will push your relationship beyond its breaking point if you are totally alien to this thought.

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"Absent any other matching criteria, attractive men are mostly going to go for attractive women, and vice versa. There’s some disagreement about who’s physically attractive, but not that much. If you’re a 5/10, you can either spam super-hot people’s profiles hoping a 9/10 has some bizarre preference-blip and decides you’re attractive enough to date, or just date other 5/10s or below, in which case congratulations, you’ve narrowed your dating pool down to half the population."

I think you're vastly overestimating the degree to which physical attraction is reasonably modeled by a one-dimensional spectrum. Sure, there *is* a reasonable grouping based on said one dimension that's a good predictor of "what percentage of randomly sampled people with appropriate gender preferences will find this person attractive, and how much." But this hides a HUGE degree of differential in exactly what different people find attractive. Many of my personal 8-10s would likely rate as 4-6s on a global scale, because I don't find fat unattractive, for instance. My physical attraction has more to do with (admittedly lossy/imperfect) cues of intelligence or creativity that surely count for *something* among the general populace, but not nearly as much as they do for me. Other things that seem to be very popular generally among people who like women (women who are super thin without being muscular) are a bit negative for me. Sure I'm an outlier in these respects, and maybe I'm a much bigger outlier generally than most people are, even about their particular outlier preferences. But from what I can tell, a LOT of people are outliers in some way or another, and it really is possible for more than half of people to end up matched with someone they consider a 7+.

I also think there are definitely values cues contained in how someone presents themselves physically. Again, this is a pretty lossy signal, but it's hardly no signal.

Another part of the deal is that if I were looking at swiping on tinder, I would might even avoid swiping on most of the obvious 9s and 10s, even if they were in the subset that fell well within my 9-10 range. I'd look specifically for the folks that *I* found very attractive, where I also know that lots of other people would not likely put them near the top of their list.

I'm not saying this is definitely a better way to look for dates than something else that speaks more directly to values, but I think it does have the effect suggested by Loweren, where even a "useless" date is at least spent in the company of someone you find attractive, who also finds you attractive. And I really don't think it has the failure mode that you've proposed for most people. There are enough physical/visual signals of other traits we care about, and enough dimensions of physical attractiveness that this can actually work well for a lot of people, if not everybody.

The main argument against it is that "hey, the dominant model (Tinder, etc.) already does this, so if something else would work better for a significant minority, why shouldn't it *also* be an option?"

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Infuriatingly, Orthodox Jewish resumes have strict codes about how to say things indirectly and what things simply can't be said, so that including too much information is high risk. Agree that the minimum is schools + references, just noting that anything more than that can filter in annoying unintended ways.

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Tbh i would like the idea of a 2 part dating doc. A first maybe at most 4-5 sentences to get a very rough idea of the person than after a date all the details if im interested. For me atleast it seems like it is pretty relevant if I click with a person in a way that means im romantically interested or am only interested in a platonic friendship

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

I guess this is late, but I didn't realize you had plucked out my comment until just now: for the record, I was and remain 100% serious. Physical relationships are founded on physical attraction. That's what really matters on a bedrock level, strong animal attraction. Obviously there are personality traits that are of crucial importance in a relationship, but those have to do with serious deep-level issues like propensity to cheat, which never get mentioned in dating ads of any kind – such at least is my experience. The stuff in those ads is just completely superficial hobby-level stuff and let me be frank: inability to tolerate these kinds of wholly irrelevant difference in an important relationship is bigotry in the real sense – narrow-mindedness, parochialism. If you experience a deep attraction to a woman but reject her, or she you, because she votes for the wrong guy (something which doesn't even meaningfully affect which guy gets in) or likes cartoons or has some dream about social glory and clout as a lawyer, or because you want to be a fireman or whatever, the rejector is a shallow, silly person with poor evaluation skills.

PS: I actually previously thought you understood this; your conclusions in an old essay on why Henry the wifebeater has more romantic success than a kind nerd seemed to be aware that this is how it works. If the dick is good a woman can put up with a lot.

EDIT: Also, it's not 20% of the population that thinks like this. It's 20% of *your readership*, Scott. (Or, actually most of those 20% seem to mean that all the girls are unbearable based solely on their self-descriptions, which... well, see above for my thoughts on this.) It's far, far more of the general population. You, we, are the bubbled ones.

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I think there are some underlying assumptions people have about dating docs that I think are not necessarily true:

1. “The people using dating docs are only using dating docs.” I often hear, “what happened to good old-fashioned meeting people in person at an activity like a party?” Well, you can find partners through different channels, why limit yourself to one? I personally use most dating apps, social media, in-person and I have a dating doc (here, if you’re interested: https://jacquesthibodeau.com/lets-go-on-a-date/).

2. “Dating doc people have a hard time finding dates so they turn to this weird approach.” This isn’t the case for me. If I’m actively dating new people, my schedule ends up being packed with dates. It’s like a full-time job. I think some date-me doc people are struggling for sure, but lots of people who don’t have any dating doc also struggle.

3. “You will lose potential partners because dating docs are weird.” I don’t think any of the dates I’ve gone are with women who would come across my dating doc before we met. After that, it doesn’t matter. If it is the case that they get turned off by someone having a dating doc, I don’t really care.

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