My name is Chris Backley and I’m a 33 year-old paramedic turned writer from the eastside of Los Angeles. I’ve traveled the world, I can make you laugh, I volunteer with children, and I think I’m a catch. To be fair though, everyone thinks they’re a catch — that’s the amazing thing about the human mind. Have you ever seen the 400 pound women on Springer screaming: “I know that I’m hot! I look good!”?
That odd analogy aside, I know that I have a lot more to offer than the dumpster fires on daytime television. Still though, Los Angeles is an incredibly tough market to date in, perhaps only second to New York. With 8 million people in this town and half of them being women, that leaves a whole lot of options for a man like me, but there are drawbacks to dating in a major city — most notably, the paradox of choice.
“The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz points out that when we have too many options, we spend too much time agonizing over the “right” decision, never commit, and if / when we do, we have buyer’s remorse after finally making a decision. This concept is never more prevalent than when you’re using an app like Tinder, where connections come as easily as the swipe of a finger. Ask yourself, how often do you connect with people and neither of you say a word to each other? And then if one of you does, how often to they reply? No one ever commits to meet someone IRL because of the false thinking that “there’s always someone else around the corner.”
The problem with this mindset is that if you never take a chance on someone, then you may be waiting forever.
So I tried Tinder, using it with the same frequency that everyone does in Los Angeles: in between waiting for traffic lights. After finding a few women of substance (i.e both attractive and interesting) on there, I found that it pained me that the extent of my control in meting them, would be to swipe my index finger to the right. It was only after finding several women like this, that one weekend while laying on the grass in the park I had the sobering thought: “maybe I should try online dating.”
This startled me because I’ve always been a man staunchly against that. What if Tinder is the gateway drug to online dating? I have plenty of friends that have found loving relationships online and I don’t judge them, but I just didn’t want the same for me.
There two reasons why I’ve always hated online dating:
1) It’s inefficient. I’d rather approach a woman in public and have her tell me to “fuck off,” thereby spending 15 seconds of my time rather than 15 minutes of my life crafting a unique email to a woman (and make no mistake, if she’s attractive, she has to go through 100 emails a day).
2) As much as I’d never admit it out loud, just between you, me, and the internet: I want a good “how we met” story. With online dating you don’t have that, you just exchange a few notes and then meet at a bar hoping the other one isn’t fat.
So here’s the crux of my conflict: am I a failure as a man if I turn to online dating?
Women turn to online dating because they perceive themselves as helpless and have no other option. Women are the hunted and as much as they will never admit it, they like it that way — they want to be approached and chased. As men, we’re built for approaching women and it’s what we should be doing — agree with that or not, we respect the men who put in the work and do it.
Coming from a man that once wrote a blog called “90 Women in 30 Days” (wherein I hit on three women a day and documented the results), there’s a large part of me that feels like a failure if I turn to online dating. Why should I go through a J.Crew catalog of human beings on the internets when I should instead be out there relentlessly throwing spears at my prey?
The flip side to that argument? There are actually some quality women on these sites because sometimes amazing really does slip through the cracks. If you consider yourself a catch and you’re still single, then you’re a perfect example of that.
So the question is, am I going to start online dating? I’ll let noted paleontologist Doctor Alan Grant from Jurassic Park answer that: “T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed, he wants to hunt.” So no, I’m not going to start online dating. Swipes on Tinder are just going to be a supplement to the work I put in approaching women IRL — how both men and women believe it should be done, and frankly, still want it to be done.
Will I ever start online dating? Never say never, but I doubt it. Until the woes of being single in LA are outweighed by the woes of that monkey party called “online dating,” then I won’t be joining OK Cupid any time soon — because here’s the fundamental difference between men and women: men know what we want and we’re not afraid of being alone if we don’t get it.