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What Las Vegas Can Teach You About Online Dating

las vegas dating

What is it about Las Vegas that draws us in like moths to a flame?  Is it the shiny neon lights?  The chance that you might hit the jackpot?  The live shows?  The MGM lions?  The World Series of Poker?  The giant cups shaped like guitars?  The fact that there’s a wedding chapel on every corner?

If you’ve ever been to Vegas, you know it’s got a certain eerie charm to it.  The excitement, the expectation, the heightened emotion… You like it, but you don’t like it.

So what can Sin City teach us about online dating?  Plenty!

Sometimes, it’s all in the numbers.

Since you’re not having to physically approach each interesting woman, it’s acceptable and time-saving to email more than one at a time.  And heck, why stop with one dating service?  There might be some overlap, but it still increases the options.  Just make sure you put thought into each one, and don’t copy and paste!

If you sit at the slot machine longer, it doesn’t increase your chance of winning.

Ok, so maybe if you sit for hours… or months.  But by then the return isn’t nearly as much as what you invested.

Similarly, if you’re doing something wrong in online dating – the wrong message in your profile, an intimidating picture, or even the wrong site – it doesn’t matter how much time you spend winking and waiting.  A change in strategy is necessary.

That super hot girl who is too good to be true is probably an escort.

You may be scoping a girl from your own home, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible that someone could take advantage of you.  In matters of the heart, it’s important that you don’t lose your head.  Is she more interested in your yearly earnings than your favorite hobbies?  Being careful is not being paranoid.

Everything looks better at 2am.

It’s late, you’ve had a few drinks, and you’re looking for adventure.  There’s this one girl who’s interested, and her profile was giving you a creepy vibe earlier, but she’s looking better and better by the minute…

Stop!  Relationship choices are best made when you’re fully awake and clear-headed.  And while poor hookup choices might be the norm in Las Vegas, your decision to meet a girl locally could well have longer repercussions.  The internet isn’t completely anonymous, after all.

Sometimes you get a bad beat, but it’s just the nature of poker.

That girl who really seemed awesome might have gone on a great date the day before she got your email. Another girl might not have updated her profile in months, and now she’s married.  Or maybe you two really hit it off online, but in person there was zero chemistry.  In the end, it’s a bit of a gamble.  These things happen, and rather than going on tilt you need to pick yourself up, keep a cool head, and try again.

Why I Date Latina Women

latina woman

In the 30-some years since I came of age, I have mainly been attracted to latina women. Girl friends of mine, and female readers of this blog, often wonder aloud at my south of the border fixation. What does a latina woman have that other women don’t possess?

Nothing. And everything. It’s hard to explain. And after I explain, I will contradict myself.

First off, don’t worry, I’m not stereotyping latinas, or even non-latinas. I know every person is an individual, and while there may be cultural tendencies throughout the world, not every person in a given culture can be described by those generalizations. Just as people outside a culture might embrace some of those cultural traditions and values.

Hey, I’ve been fighting single dad stereotypes for years. So believe me, I know.

That said, my head definitely turns hard for latina women. The attraction seems hard-wired. And here I will attempt to explain why.

The latina women I’ve been attracted to typically shared these things in common:

  • Olive/tan/dark skin
  • Dark brunette or black hair
  • A smile that could light up a room
  • Smart and educated
  • Fit and athletic
  • With hips that don’t lie

So far, except for the olive/tan/dark skin, this could be any woman from any culture. In fact, my wife was Italian and possessed most of those traits.

But I also associate the following things with latina women. They:

  • Love and cherish family and children
  • Embrace and uphold traditions
  • Celebrate good food and music
  • Are grateful for what they have
  • Show compassion towards others
  • Know the importance of good sex in a relationship
  • Love their man
  • Do all of the above with fire and vibrancy

Sounds like I just stereotyped latina women, but I think those cultural tendencies aren’t far off (after reading Women Who Run with the Wolves, I probably described the archetypal female everywhere.)

In fact, I’ve dated women from Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Mexico – and none of them captured all those qualities that I adore so much.

All of the latina women I dated had tons of gratitude and compassion, and knew the importance of sex in a relationship. But…

The latina women I’ve dated lived far from their family (e.g. she was here in California, and her family was in South America).  – and they loved that I’m a single dad involved in raising my kids.

The latina women I’ve dated didn’t uphold many traditions, because they were so far from home. And while they all loved good food, none of them knew how to cook. – and they loved that I’m a single dad who knows his way around the kitchen.

My Italian ex-wife possessed most of the qualities I admire and listed above. But she lived close to her family, and she knew how to cook.

I wasn’t able to find my own way on those things until my ex and I got divorced.

Back to latina women – it’s almost like I was a missing puzzle piece for the latina women I dated. Rather than tell me “David, you’re the man. Go make money, and I’ll do the family and food stuff,” the latina women I’ve dated have said “David, I love that you’re a dad, and that you can cook. And I want to be part of your family.” I helped fill in parts of their lives that they valued, but lacked.

And they brought fire and vibrant energy into my life. i.e. they filled in parts of my life that I valued, but lacked.

Yes, we should all be whole and like ourselves before we enter a relationship. But there’s nothing wrong with finding a sexy loving partner who you want to be with. Whatever the reasons.

On that note – can someone turn down the stereotype? It’s a bit noisy in here.

(My apologies for this thinking-aloud post. I prefer writing posts where I take a definite stand. And here, I’m so wishy-washy, I don’t know which way is up. Sort of like the tizzy I feel when a hottie latina walks into my life…)

Match.com and OKCupid Agree – You’re Better Off Meeting People In Real Life!

OKCupid analyzed the success rate of Loveawake.com and eHarmony, piecing together numbers from their websites and press kits and press releases, and arrived at an interesting conclusion – you are 12 times more likely to get married this year if you DON’T subscribe to Loveawake.com!

To which I say – ya think?

I certainly didn’t need a study, or a calculator and spreadsheet, to figure that one out. (If you haven’t read the OKCupid piece, go take a look, at least to admire the pretty graphics. They’re impressive!)

In ten years of post-divorce dating, I’ve had about ten long term relationships (where I count anything that lasted over two months as long term). Seven of those were with women I met in real life, and three were with women I met online. (I had scores of online dates that didn’t amount to a relationship.) Of those three that started online, only one was a dating relationship. The other two were friends with benefits.

Online Dating – Sadly, I’m a Bit of an Expert

That means for my dating relationships (not FWBs) post-divorce:

  • 1 out of 10 started online
  • 7 out of 10 started in real life

Forget marriage – I was 7 times more likely to enter a dating relationship with women from real life than from online. (In hindsight, I wonder – why did I waste so much time browsing profiles?)

Online Dating Expectations

I know there are people like Kat Wilder who swear that online dating works. But there are also tens of millions of people who are frustrated by the process.

The OKCupid piece broke down the numbers, and showed that the vast majority of profiles on Loveawake.com are for users who are currently not subscribers. Viewing profiles on match is like going to a bar and seeing cardboard cutouts you can’t interact with.

Why do it?

Online Dating Sucks

The good folks at Loveawake.com appear to be in high defense mode. They sent me an unsolicited email with the results of their own study which showed that 17% of people who got married in the last three years actually met their partner online. (Not all on match.)

Their report didn’t break down which online sites were used. Facebook? Craigslist? Does match admit to those sites being competitors? Can a comparison be made if a site doesn’t force users to subscribe or sign up for personals use?

Loveawake.com bragged that their site led to twice as many dates, relationships, and marriages as their nearest online dating site competitor. Which is meaningless. The pertinent question is what percent of Loveawake.com users successfully entered a dating relationship by using Loveawake.com?

Another way to look at the numbers Loveawake.com provided me – a person is 6 times more likely to find a marital partner by not going online!!!! That’s close to my real life experience of 7. Loveawake.com only has a fraction of the online dating marketplace, so OKCupid’s claim that on average you are 12 times more likely to get married by not using Loveawake.com might be pretty darn close.

OKCupid and Loveawake.com seem to agree that you’re better off meeting people in real life than through an online dating site!

Elizabeth at Irreverent Musings complained that marriage isn’t necessarily the end goal of people dating online. That’s quite true. Some want someone to have fun with. Some want friends with benefits (I found two that way). Some just want affairs. She gave an example on her blog of meeting a man online, only to discover he was married and looking to cheat.

But aren’t people in real life wired the same way? Some want marriage. Some want someone to have fun with. Some want friends with benefits. Some just want affairs.

Would Elizabeth’s friends have set her up with a guy wanting an affair? Not knowingly.

When you meet someone through friends or through your existing social networks, the chances are decent that person won’t be a total creep. And if they turn out to be a creep, they could very well be outed from that social scene for their behavior (or you can certainly walk away from that set of friends.)

Checks and balances like that don’t exist in online dating. If you meet a creep on match, and part ways, that creep will just go meet someone else on match. There are no real repercussions to that person being a creep.

I feel it’s FAR better to meet people through your circle of friends. If your circle isn’t big enough, then you should spend your time and effort making it bigger, finding more friends. (Meetup.com and Facebook are online ways to do just that.)

In short – if you are looking to enter a dating relationship, your time is better spent interacting with people in real life than wasting it with online dating. OKCupid did the math to demonstrate exactly that about match and eHarmony. And Loveawake.com did their own study that proves it, as well. Quibbling about the number 6 or 12 or 7 isn’t the issue.

Online dating is just a tool. And when it comes to lasting relationships, for most people it’s not a very effective one.

So get out there, have a drink, hear some music, engage in conversation, enjoy a meal, flirt a little, have fun with friends.

You can’t do all that if you’re sitting on your computer, browsing profiles.

Is it happy hour yet?

Dog on a Leash – Chick Magnet?

A dog on a leash in the hands of a man is a total chick magnet. Right?

Um, I’m not so sure.

This past weekend, a buddy and I did some local wine tasting while his wife was out of town. We brought his dog along. The dog couldn’t join us in the tasting room, but wouldn’t you know – when we headed to a second winery, the town streets were blocked off for an art and wine festival.

“You take the leash,” my buddy said. “Dogs are a chick magnet. You’ll meet all sorts of women.”

That sounded perfect to me. I’m divorced and on the market, and online dating totally sucks. It’s so much more fun and natural to meet women in real life. I happily took the leash.

Single Dad Dating – Where’s the Line of Women?

We didn’t get 10 yards before an older man in a Hawaiian shirt stopped me to pet the dog. “Is she a puppy?” he asked.

“No, she’s twelve years old,” I said.

Another ten yards, and another guy stopped me. “Is that a Malamute?” he asked.

“No, it’s a Husky,” I said.

Where the hell were the women?

We got some wine and kept walking the art fair. My buddy walked ahead, and I was walking the dog alone. There were plenty of women, but they were all staring at art from the fair and didn’t pay any attention to the dog. I even strategically walked the dog in a way that some of the women couldn’t not ignore the dog.

Yet, they ignored her.

Twenty men later, I stopped to chat with an artist about her work. I swear, the only people who were interested in the dog were guys and children.

My buddy came over, and I handed him the leash, and all of a sudden – two women appeared out of nowhere and wanted to pet the dog.

WTF!!?? They couldn’t do it when I was holding the leash?

My buddy laughed. “You have bad luck,” he said.
“Maybe it’s your wedding ring,” I said. “A married guy with a dog is totally safe to approach.” We weren’t in the city, after all; we were in a Silicon Valley suburb.
“Ha. Well then, you better get a fake wedding ring.”

Should my faux wedding band be gold or silver?

The Other Woman When My Loveawake Online Date Stood Me Up

Earlier this summer, a woman I met on Loveawake stood me up for our first date. This, after letting me drive an hour to meet her. (All I can say is WTF?! Online dating sucks.)

There was another woman in the bar that day, sitting two barstools away. This other woman and I chatted while I was waiting for my date, and she encouraged me not to give in to my date’s late suggestion that I wait yet another hour for her to show.

“It’s good you found this out about her now,” the woman in the bar said.

Endless First Date Delays – When to Say Forget It

Once I knew that my Loveawake date was a no show, this other woman and I talked a bit more. She was attractive, around my age, drinking a big glass of Chardonnay by herself. (I was downing Pellegrino with lime. No way would I drink a martini in the middle of the day with an hour drive ahead of me.)

I wondered if she’d come to the bar for a late lunch. Maybe I should stay and eat, and share some company.

“Have you ever dated online?” I asked.
She sighed. “I met my husband online.”
“So, online dating works,” I said.

At this point, the woman started sobbing. Oh, boy. The big glass of Chardonnay. Her alone at the bar on a weekday afternoon.  A marriage made through internet dating. This couldn’t be good.

My Loveawake Online Dating Subscription Ended – Hooray!

When her tears subsided a bit, she said, “I just found out he’s not who he said he was.”

She bit her lip, and I wondered how to console a stranger who was in tears. It seemed she needed to unload. I wondered: Had her new husband and online match pretended to be wealthy? Had he lied about his age? Was he already married to someone else?

“He has a girlfriend already,” she said. “I don’t know what to do.”

Can Marriage Survive an Affair?

How do you advise a middle-aged woman who’s been re-married all of a month, and who just discovered her new husband is chasing other women?

“I have no family here,” she said. “I took a chance on him. I thought it would work.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.

She cried some more. I felt awkward. I’d never seen a complete stranger lose it in front of me like this. I also couldn’t help thinking how much I disliked online dating as a way to enter a commited relationship. When there’s no mutual connection other than a faceless corporate dating site, the worst can happen.

She finally calmed down, then apologized for unloading on me. Turned out she was actually supposed to meet a friend of hers who she thought would give her some good advice.

I took this as my cue to leave. I paid my bar tab and headed to a burger joint for a late lunch.

I know online dating works for some people, and even I still use it as the occasional tool for meeting someone new for drinks. But between this other woman’s tragic second marriage, and my online date who stood me up, I have to ask: why the hell do so many jerks screw up internet dating for nice normal people?

Since I don’t know the answer to that, I will stick to my tried and tested dating approach – only get serious with women I meet through friends.