470 Men and Women Weigh in on Online Dating’s Biggest Problems (And How to Avoid Them)
On a mission to end bad dates
Between my years of online dating and the survey of 470 men and woman I conducted, “Online Dating: What Sucks Most”, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the worst aspects of online dating, including the biggest challenges users face.
The many problems with online dating include:
- People looking better in dating app photos than in person
- Online dating users lying about personal details
- Wasting time on bad dates that don’t meet expectations
- People being dececptive about their intentions
- Fake profiles
- Romance scams
- Uncertain physical saftey, including violent crime
- “Dating ADD” (being on too many apps at once)
- Choice paradox (too many people to choose from)
You may be asking yourself: Wow, is this guy some kind of masochist? Or has he just gone over the edge?
Having dated online for many years, I’m surely a candidate for both. But the main reason I did the reasearch was that I needed the data to build a product that would address the challenges users face.
I’m sharing my findings now because I think a better collective understanding of what’s wrong will bring us one step closer to turning things around.
So, please indulge me as I dive in to just how bad things have gotten. I promise I’ll end on a positive note!
More hated than Comcast and PG&E
Online dating has an abysmal Net Promotor Score (NPS) of -35. For the uninitiated, NPS is a system that businesses use to measure the likelihood that someone would recommend a business to a friend.
How does an NPS score of -35 measure up to other brands? Comcast, which is known for jacking up prices since they have a monopoly, had an NPS of -2 in 2019. PG&E, the utilities provider that caused massive forest fires in California, got a -4.
People actually dislike online dating more than even the most reviled of companies.
Top 5 Worst Cities for Online Dating
We conducted our survey in major metros across the US, as well as London. Here are the top 5 worst cities for online dating, including their NPS scores (sorry, Londoners!).
- London (-45)
- New York City (-37)
- Chicago (-35)
- San Francisco (-34)
- Los Angeles (-30)
Online dating pain points for women and men
Whereas men gave online dating and NPS score of -30, it was -40 for women. And the pain points were different for women than for men. Here are the seven biggest online dating pain points for each gender (Note: this is for heterosexual users only. Our LGBTQ sample was not large enough for the findings to be statistically significant).
Better looking in dating app photos than IRL
Who knew but people are not being honest in their photos. This was at the top of the list for both men and women, although the specifics differ. On average, nearly 8 out of 10 women take issue with the photos men poster dating apps. Allegedly, they post photos that make themselves look taller and trimmer, and may obscure their hair (or lack there of!).
Men, on the other hand, are even more likely to say that women post photos that make them look thinner and younger, and are all too skilled at taking flattering selfies.
Online dating users lie about personal details
Another shocker. Nearly 7 out of 10 women allege that men lie about their height, age, marital status, children and income. However, even more men are concerned about the same thing, so it’s difficult to tell which gender is more guilty of deceit.
Wasted time on bad dates
Anyone who has tried online dating knows how easy it is to end up on a bad date. With only 1 out of 3 first dates resulting in a second date for women, and just 1 out of 4 for men, it’s no wonder so many users feel that they are wasting time and online dating sucks.
On average, 8 out of 10 women using dating apps do not trust their male counterparts. Men may say they are looking for a relationship, but do they really want to hook up? Interestingly, men are not nearly as concerned, with More than half of them believing that women are being honest about what they are seeking.
Catfishing and spam
Men and women are both likely to be catfished, but women are less subject to bots, and scams such as the hookup ID. Why is it that scammers target men more often? Probably because men will do almost anything for sex.
Uncertain physical safety
When it comes to online dating, the sad truth is that no one is safe. Sex offenders and other violent criminals are known to target online dating users, men and women alike. Women seem to be aware of this, as 7 out of 10 indicated that they were significantly concerned. Disconcertingly, only 3 out of 10 men are concerned about their physical safety and security being at risk.
No one likes being ghosted, but it seems that women resent it more. 6 out of 10 complained that ghosting is a problem, whereas less than 5 out of 10 men were concerned. Ghosting may be the new normal, but that does not mean it’s OK!
People screen their dates online…but with mixed results
With so much they can go wrong, we were not surprised to find that 95% of people Google their dates before meeting. Less than half, however, ended up finding enough information online to draw any conclusions. I firmly believe that giving people access to truthful information about their dates will reduce the incidence of bad first dates, which is why I built DateID.
You can still make online dating work
While the situation might seem grim, and you probably should get better at meeting people IRL, don’t give up. Let’s face it it’s 2020 and you really don’t have a choice but to date online. The good news is that there are things you can do to lessen the pain of online dating. Start by reading our post on how to make online dating work.