Does Online Dating Make The First Date Feel More Important? [Ask A Dude]

Hey there Dude,

My question’s about online dating. I’ve been trying it out for a while, but all the guys I try to meet never respond to me, and the guys that do reach out are these creepy guys I have no intention of dating. I know a bunch of other girls who’ve ended up in relationships with guys online, but I think the problem for me is that there seems to be a lot of pressure on the first date. It feels like you’re trying to imagine yourself in a relationship with him after spending all of 2 hours knowing him drinking at a bar. Why are people getting so relationship obsessed over one date? Are they or is this just something I keep feeling like I’m pressured to buy into?


Dating in the Fast Lane

Dear Dating in the Fast Lane,

Your question’s a bit more ethereal (Existential? Extramarital? Extremis?) than a lot of others that I’ve gotten in the past. Has the dating landscape changed that much? Maybe, maybe not. I mean, if you look at it on a broad spectrum, for hundreds of years of civilization there wasn’t dating. Marriages were arranged (and in some countries still are) by families for financial and/or societal benefits. And it was a completely male-driven consumer base. All of the pressure was on the man to PICK his bride and then negotiate the right price with her father. Now, at least most of Western society has evolved to a point where women are allowed the freedom to feel this kind of pressure: picking a good mate for herself. But technology changes EVERYTHING!!

Meeting people online is the updated form of putting personal ads in the newspaper. Now you can include pictures. Now you can send flirts, winks, and actually chat. Like a pre-date. Now you have to keep your truths and lies a lot straighter in your head at a much faster rate than before. Also, you have a lot more options. But we’re talking quantity, not always quality.

One can argue that online dating has become much more accepted since its inception more than a dozen or so years ago. Therefore the pool of guys out there should be a bit deeper. A lot more people turn to sites like OKCupid and And let’s not forget specialty sites like JDate. Now we categorize a lot more. We put people into boxes a lot more. We’re encouraged to be pickier. And other people then start trying to figure out if they’re somehow placing themselves in a less desirable category. So they start trying to navigate how better to represent themselves, even if it means bending the truth. Some of the best examples of this phenomenon are actually in the sex sites like Adult Friend Finder and Manhunt. But that’s a slightly different conversation, right now we’re focusing on the dating sites.

In this Dude’s opinion, I think there’s a higher expectation for a blind date set up online than one that comes out of a random meeting in a bar. Online you’ve already done some scouting. You’ve built up some expectations and have had some controlled, thus less personal, interactions. Which actually make them feel a lot safer and perhaps even more personal(?). This can be argued on a case by case basis, of course. How couldn’t it? There are too many scenarios to make a definitive statement. Hence why I call this one Dude’s opinion. But in my own experience and the experiences of many people I’ve known, a lot of folks tend to go online hoping for more than just one date. If all they wanted was a one night stand, again, there are sex sites. If they want something that could potentially be more stable then they go to the dating sites. After all, even when you put down “looking for something casual” there’s wiggle room built into the date for more to develop. So, yes, I think you’re right. I just can’t quite put my finger on how right you are and how much has changed.

“Leave It To Beaver” would have you believing that you went steady with the boy you were going to marry. “Sex and the City” showed us women who were motivated by both sex and the want of a relationship, at various points in the lives of the characters. Now you’ve got “Girls” which offers…well, I don’t really know, because I stopped watching after the second episode. Plus, it’s a satire, not idealistic fantasy or a façade of real life. All this cultural exploration and exposition to get us to this point right now: what you want out of a first date is up to you!

If you don’t want to feel pressured into putting the hopes of a long-term relationship on the shoulders of a first date, it’s up to you to give yourself the freedom from that pressure. Don’t let yourself be influenced by friends and stories you hear about, read about, or see fictionalized in entertainment. Unfortunately, you can’t control what pressure your date might be putting on the, well, date. But that’s part of the inherent risk of a first date, regardless of how it’s set up. You have to be willing to find out if you’d even want to go on a second date. You may not. With online dating you might hope you’re increasing your odds, but let’s be realistic. That would assume you and him are telling the absolute truth right off the bat. And nobody does, not even to themselves.

“It’s clobberin’ time!”

The Dude

[Got a Dude itch you just can’t scratch? Sick of trying to come up with a not-totally-crazy-girl way to bring it up to your guy friends and get their take on things? Totally over over-analyzing the cryptic messages he leave on your Facebook Wall? We got your back, girlfriend. Send your question over to askthedude [at] collegecandy [dot] com. The Dude won’t sugarcoat it, beat around the bush, or any other weird cliche that means lie to you. Like a nice, juicy hot dog, he’ll be 100% real beef, 100% of the time. So bring. it. on.]

Rules for Romance: The Workplace
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