What Kind Of Numbers Game Is Dating?

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I wrote to you sometime ago and you published my letter and I got some great feedback … so I thought, let’s try again.

I’ve been divorced almost two years and have been on most of the major dating sites. I think, for me, the 80/20 rule applies and I express an interest in maybe 20 percent of the women I see and read profiles of (yes, I do read profiles). On the sites where I’ve paid to see who looks at my profile/get messages, I would say 20 percent of the women I message (I write well and I think ask good questions) check out my profile, and I hear from less than 1 percent of them. Is that normal?

I’ve had two friends help me rewrite my profile, and recently had a friend who’s an amateur photographer take a bunch of pictures (I used one as my Facebook profile and it got more likes than any other post), but nothing seemed to improve my “engagement” from the ladies on the sites.

My profiles (all of them) share my interests – that I’m a proud dad, gainfully employed, etc. My pictures (pre and post my friends’ help) avoided all the don’ts (no pics of me and fish, no topless shots in the bathroom).

While I wouldn’t describe myself as easy on the eyes, I also don’t think I’m particularly hard on them either, and I think I look a little younger than my age (56, hair is still there and only a bit grey).

As for unsolicited communications from women, I don’t get many. It’s almost as if something in my profile or pics has the equivalent of spinach in its teeth.

A fellow divorced male once told me he read an unsupported claim that on Tinder (I’m not on that one), 20 percent of the males have the attention of 80 percent of the women. If this was true across all dating platforms, it might explain my less than desired connectivity (or less than desired desired rate, if you will).


– The Return of Mr. Ampersand …


I can’t speak to the math of dating apps. It’s all so random. Maybe that last stat you mentioned is true, but it’s possible that the men who receive 80 percent of the attention respond to 10 percent of it. Who knows?  I would imagine that Tinder has a different match rate than an app like The League. It’s like going to different parties at different times of the year.

For the record, I’ve come full circle on fish photos. I could write a whole essay about why, but for now all I’ll say is that you should present yourself as you are. There’s no right recipe of photos other than to put up shots that make you feel good about your life. People should get a sense of what puts a smile on your face.

If you doubt your friends’ expertise with profiles, there are services that give feedback and offer ideas. It’s not necessary to hire one, but … they exist, if you want to try.

I do wonder about your settings. Who gets to see you? Who’s excluded and why? Also, I love that you ask good questions because that is a wonderful skill. But how many questions are you asking at once? There’s some happy medium between deep, existential probing and “hey lol.” Give yourself time to warm up to the big stuff.

One more thought: it’s been a global pandemic! Only now are people are coming out of their cocoons, wondering who they can see. A lot of people spent the year swiping without much purpose. Consider this a fresh start. Also, spend less than an hour a day on this. Because if you’re constantly on your phone waiting and counting, that mood comes through. The impatience is palpable. Give yourself space to get back into your life and you’ll have more to say when someone turns the questions to you.

– Meredith

Readers? What’s your success rate and what makes you swipe right? What is happening with the math here?

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