The Digital Dating Disparity

This has always bothered me, though I don’t know why it bothers me to such a (possibly) unreasonable extent. Furthermore, I am convinced that it is an absolutely foreign concept to females. Someone, please, prove me wrong. I would much rather think that I am neurotic and am behaving unfairly. That way, I could at least work on improving the emotional situation for myself. So, at the risk of raising a bit of controversy, here’s my whining and griping for the day.

The “Dating” Situation

There is a glaring disparity in the way men and women use technology to attract members of the opposite sex for any and every purpose imaginable. This is most apparent in the romantic realm and so that’s what I’ll be discussing, but it doesn’t end there. Everything that follows applies to any situation in which gender is an issue, including platonic social networking. That fact especially is likely one reason why it upsets me even more so.

  1. There are many more men than women using the Internet as a means to a social networking end, like dating. Available females who are publicly advertising themselves as available are so few and far between when compared to the male population of the same that the disparity is partially simply one of numbers. With so many men to choose from, women need not try very hard to attract one (or many). Contrastingly, with so few women available, men must work much, much more to interest and attract the woman.
  2. Furthermore, and this is true even of a real-life situation in a bar, club, or at Starbucks, men are far more likely to approach a woman to express interest in her because this is what is expected of them to do. Should a woman do this, it is more likely to be considered surprisingly “forward”. In other words, women are expected to “bait and wait”.

The cumulative results of the online “dating” situation are as follows:

  • If you are a woman:
    1. You are inundated with propositions, welcome or otherwise. In an online setting, this means instant messages, emails, posts, or other things that make your computer go “beep!”
    2. You spend most of your time sorting through these propositions, deciding with a justified split-second choice whether or not to give this particular suitor the time of day. Tools exist especially for this purpose, such as the automated reply.
    3. You don’t need to set up a particularly engaging profile or otherwise advertise yourself as available.
  • If you are a man:
    1. You need to ensure that your profile is unique and engaging enough to sit and read through. Despite this, the chances of it being read through are minimal anyway.
    2. You need to actively monitor the situation, seek opportunities, and act on those opportunities quickly. You will need to spend a lot of time browsing profiles and sending messages. If you can manage it, you need to be available to talk with directly. You are expected to pursue.
    3. Your messages and conversational skills need to be way above par. You must be an excellent conversationalist, a good listener, and a quick typist. In short, you must be engaging.

Put simply: when a man and woman begin talking online, the woman is appropriately not invested, while the man knows that he’s at least somewhat fortunate just to have the conversation.

How it affects me:

My girlfriend is already part of several online social networking services like Friendster and orkut. Actually, I invited her to orkut. As is typical, she gets literally dozens of offers and messages all the time from guys on these services and, comparatively, I get none from anyone. And, yes, I’ll freely admit to being somewhat jealous of her for this. (Wouldn’t you be?)

Moving on however, it is sometimes incredibly difficult for me to feel secure because of all this. That’s what really bothers me — and it doesn’t have anything to do with my girlfriend. I am not the jealous type, I am not controlling or restrictive, and I am not a paranoid psychotic. Nevertheless, the fact remains that it is far easier for a woman to find a man than it is for a man to find a woman, and that fact is utterly unnerving when it is prominently presented time and time again as random men propositioning my girlfriend in all sorts of ways.

To her credit, she is very affectionate and does a wonderful job of reminding me that she loves me. That’s something I need every so often. In fact, as I wrote this entry she said so more than five times. I really don’t have much fear of being subverted by some random guy she meets online. Quite to the contrary; I’ve been her biggest supporter when it comes to striking out to make a social network independent of my own. Like I said before, I’m in no way controlling or restrictive, and I am proud of that.

Still, there is this nagging feeling of…bitterness, maybe, at the situation being so utterly one-sided. Currently, she discovered someone who I’ll call John, and has spent more than five hours talking to him over AIM in the last two nights. I’m not worried that I’ll lose her to John; I’m jealous that she can meet people so effortlessly because she has boobs and I can’t because I don’t.

Ladies, you just don’t know. And I really don’t think you understand the gravity of the effect….

As another note, consider the following excerpt from an IM conversation with a female friend.

…in little stuff, my gmail invite off [gmailswap.com], I posted total BS about my eternal gratefulness or some such thing. But I put in there I was female and got [a gmail account] almost instantly.

(Emphasis added.)

On the up side to the whole thing, my afore-quoted friend did point out that this isn’t something which causes women to fall into lovely, fairy-tale-like relationships. Men who proliferate this trend by being deceitful are in for a very short fling at most. (Or so I hope. Every woman out there, it sometimes seems, needs to start developing more self-esteem, and fast. And not just the outward facade of being cool but true self-acceptance and emotional self-reliance.)

Come to think of it, I think this may be why there is so much dishonesty online. Men have been backed into a corner. We don’t have the power to change this anymore; try to fight it and you simply won’t get the girl. Some (read: plenty) thus resort to lies which they justify as "embellishments". It should also be noted that I don’t believe women are under any obligation to give up this power on principle. In fact, if I were a woman I would be taking advantage of this as much as I could. One of the really annoying things, however, is that some women don’t seem to understand that this isn’t a right. It’s a situation of circumstance. A situation that sometimes frustrates me to no end, and scares me at other times.

But all is well and good when my sweetheart comes to bed, kisses me gently and tells me she loves me. I am lucky to have her love, and don’t for one minute think that I ever forget that.

2 replies on “The Digital Dating Disparity”

  1. Nope. You’re not being neurotic. It is quite accurate. Furthermore, there are women who use the internet disparity (which is an exaggeration of the RL disparity) to somehow avenge all their slights (real or imagined) by men in RL, leading them on and then crushing them. I’ve seen it. Many many times. Makes me embarassed to be a woman. But, to be fair, there are also sites I don’t visit anymore because I’m tired of the perpetual “Hey baby wanna screw” IMs I get. Why can’t a banana sometimes be just a banana?

  2. Bah. That’s what I thought. Although, I don’t quite see using this disparity to avenge all slights made by men is subhow justified by a barrage of “Hey baby, want to screw?” Especially since the women who do that aren’t even avenging the specific men they dislike.

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