internet dating and the spectrum

Autism and 'Singles' Dating Sites

If you're going to do it, it will be in this lifetime.

My suggestion is that "singles" dating sites are ideal for people on the autistic Spectrum. (This would include Asperger's syndrome people, if Asperger's syndrome can be distinguished from autism.) Dating or establishing intimate relationships is a threshold issue for us to the extent that we can be divided into two groups -- those who date (or are otherwise involved) and those who don't.

(The word, "intimate" has various meanings. For the purposes of this article, I am using the term to describe couples-type relationships, associated with dating and life partnership. There are of course other meanings to the word "intimate". For example, a sincere personal discussion can be considered "intimate".)

Meeting people for relationships is a lot easier with these on-line services. I think autistics may even have an advantage over NTs in the use of this media!

It seems that these sites have at least two advantages over meeting in-person. First, the entire "first three minutes" of a face-to-face meeting are not critical because the face-to-face doesn't need to happen until after the introduction.

There are other advantages. Selection criteria is, by the design of these sites, based on information other than directly reading "body language". The personal information is necessarily sketchy, but it is that way for everyone. Everyone gets to read the same kinds of comments from the poster.

It's actually hard to misread "signals" on one of these sites. Someone listing on a dating site expects to be considered available for dating. You almost certainly will be rejected but you won't be criticised for making the approach!
(link for email harvesting bots)

The Alternatives

If website dating has its disadvantages, consider the more traditional alternatives:
Meeting people in public
I enjoy people watching, but the average person isn't available, isn't interested and even in the best of circumstances would be unlikely to respond favourably to your opening a conversation.
Bars, etc.
A great way for NTs to meet other NTs.
Work
First you need to know if and when it is appropriate. Even if you find it's appropriate (e.g., college), you are still very limited in the number of people you meet.
Introductions
Sometimes, if you don't mind waiting forever or the nightmare blind dates. Even the best matchmaker won't know enough about being on the Spectrum to be of much help in making a good sidduth.
Social groups and singles events
Often a comfortable setting, but takes more time. Introductions are face-to-face. Requires good social skills.

So the point is that when compared to other ways to meet people, websites are at least as good as any. But this isn't an "either or" situation. If you see an event you want to go to, why not?

This medium is ideal for setting up objective criteria. If you don't like kids (or like kids) you can pre-screen. Even if the list doesn't provide for searching under a category, you can manually browse. To me, the browsing is a form of entertainment, although from looking at the statistics, the male users do at least twice as much browsing on these sites as females.

The comments and "short essays" are for the most part either awkward or not very revealing about the person. Everyone's is poorly written to some extent; the well-written ones are probably copied anyway. Some of the comments are even regional, with New Yorkers saying different things from Texans, etc. That shows that some of the comments don't really describe the person.

What does describe the person are the "likes" and "dislikes". If a person says they like to take walks and not go to sports events, most likely the person likes to take walks and not go to sports events. As to personal values, most talk about "sincerity" and "honesty" so these values should be treated as self-assessment, rather than objective truth.

So far it is nearly impossible to search for a Spectrumite by using the internet, at least not to to the extent one can search for more common criteria. This is written in 2002 (revised since then). Perhaps in 2008 this will change. Identification of autistics on the web seems to be limited by the few autistics using the forum, a lack of diagnosis or self-diagnosis by higher functioning autistics and people with AS, and limited desire by autistics to self-identify on the web.

There are a few sites for people on the Spectrum, but there are very few people on them. Unless you count Linux user groups. That's the weak point of meeting singles on the Net. Until there is a forum on the Net where one is likely to find other autistics, the finding will be difficult. What will be possible is to find someone who is at least close to being "on the Spectrum".

There is a large number of people who can and do relate to people on the Spectrum. This can range from people who hadn't identified with autism or AS, to NTs who like the straightforward nature of people on the Spectrum.

This seems to be the general situation with web dating services. With a few exceptions, special interest sites do not attract large numbers of users.

An ability to identify people on the Spectrum presents one potential hazard -- abusers who stalk people with disabilities. Fortunately these perpetrators are rare. More about this at the end, and even more on separate page. It is possible to protect oneself from stalking abusers by being alert for warning signs of these people.

A separate article describing con artists on internet dating sites is linked here: www.wildxangel.com/boundaries.htm




The HOWTO


Choosing the List

As with any place for meeting strangers, determine what precautions to take (some precautions listed below).

There seem to be more than enough sites to choose from. A lot depends on how you like to do your browsing, although there seems to be some variation on the nature of the people appearing on the different sites.

Look for sites with easy access and flat fee structures. "Pay per click" can be limiting or expensive. Most sites will let you sign up for free, with fees for outgoing messages. Some will relay outgoing messages directly to your email address rather than require that the recipient logon and ("pay per click" again!) retrieve the message on-line.

Fortunately, the best sites are going to be the ones with the most reasonable and user-friendly fee structures.

Sorry, I have no specific recommendations here. There are too many variables.


What Not to Choose

Avoid sites which attempt to use heuristic profiling to match people.

This is not to be confused with the "best match" function of some sites; but rather it is based on a personal philosophy of the site owner. This may or may not have validity in the NT world but will certainly miss the target when applied to autistics.

One well-known site (almost "well-known" because I'm unable to recall the name right now while I'm on the train writing this) more or less explained it. He told one autistic that they are unable to match people on The Spectrum. An earlier report was that the site didn't believe the autistic's profile answers were truthful and therefore rejected the application.

Determine if the price structure of the site suits your needs and desires. Dating sites can allow one form or another of a "test drive" sufficient to determine if the selection and format is suitable.


What to Avoid

Most sites have generalized rules intended to prevent activities which they determine is unwanted. About the only thing you're likely to run into in this regard are rules relating to contact information. If the site's business model is to charge for access to contact information, then an email address won't stay up for long.

Filling in the Blanks

When filling in your own profile, it may be worthwhile copying the questions somewhere and taking time to write something. These are supposed to be brief which makes it easy to do. Write only what you want to write about. Remember most NTs find this much more difficult than you will. This is the opposite of "the first 3 minutes" of a face-to-face introduction!

Alternatively, if you really have a writer's block, write anything, copy it somewhere, and edit it later.

When writing, remember that your profile will be read by people whom you write to as well as people browsing the website. Usually you'd want to say the same in both instances, but you may decide to bring up some things by email, phone or in person.

There are two "first impression" items - The screen name and your photographs. Get some ideas for screen names by looking at other screen names for your gender. If you log onto different lists, you may or may not want to take different screen names.


Suggestions

I think it's difficult to try to guess what things about you would attract someone. Instead, think about what that person would like about you once they get to know you.


Photographs

Opinions vary on this one, but my opinion is that if you expect to have people respond, include a photo. The person who looks at the photo is not being shallow because they only have your listing to go by until they get in touch with you.

I can think of two exceptions:

  1. You are not intending to receive inquiries from the list but prefer to be the one to send out messages. In that case, you can include a URL in an email or attach a photo. (An alternative is to make your profile non-searchable.)
  2. You are in a rare personal circumstance where you don't want people to identify you on the list. I don't advocate surreptitious dating by people claiming to be committed. On the other hand, there are circumstances where dating is appropriate but holding out being available is not.

The ideal set of photos should give someone an idea of what you look like, with perhaps an "activity " photo in addition to a closeup. I personally prefer a more full shot as well. Fortunately, most photos are amateurish, so don't worry about the presentation.

If you really want to get fancy, you can get a "head shot" from a professional, but this is probably too extravagant for most people. "Head shots" are professional photographs used by people in show business. I only mention this because there are a few people who would believe that they look bad in photographs and "need all the help they can get". Regardless, the photo should look like you!

Don't use photos which are so out of date as not to represent your appearance.


Reaching Out

Eventually, you'll want to take this further than just listing and browsing. The business models of these websites suggests that it's difficult to get people to sign up and post photos, but after browsing for a while they want to send messages. The fee structures track that; the sites usually charge for the ability to send messages. (This is also fair because you get to "test drive" the site before being asked to pay.)

With that in mind, when you do your browsing, chose a site with flat rates. Sites with per-message charges should be secondary. Fortunately, the sites with the most people will be those which are the most user-friendly.

Many of the sites have some sort of advice on how to answer these ads, and how to handle the first few emails. Here the autistic is on an almost even keel with everyone else.

Someone who is socially inept or inexperienced may simply be cautious, as if writing an important business letter or the like, especially when discussing sensitive subjects. Regardless, the context is informal and so it's easier.

Don't lead in with a direct request for a date. Consider the effect of the following:

"Your profile sounds interesting, and Mud Flats is to close that I couldn't resist contacting you. Check out my profile, and if you think we might find enough in common for one date, let me know!" (part of an actual message)
Aspie-direct -- perhaps, but there are a few problems here. First, it puts the onus on me to immediately decide if I want to date this person, based on just the message. If I'm really struck by her, that's good, but if I'm just curious, it would take a bit of conversation (either on-line or otherwise). Then at least I'm familiar enough to decide at least on the first date.

The way the message is stated, the recipient is asked to decide about a date rather than simply deciding on whether to respond. Response is easier than responding and deciding tentatively on going ahead with the first date.

It doesn't take much in the way of social skills to know when to elevate the conversation to "let's talk on the phone or meet". After several email messages, this is a natural step.

Other comments:

One does not "contact" people; that's done by electrical devices such as switches and relays. (You "get in touch" with "contacts".)
"Check out my profile..."
I'm on an internet dating website. I probably already know to check out profiles. Add something to complete the thought!
"Let me know."
Okay, that's a lead, but she could have come up with more provocative leads.

(For the curious, after taking this time to analyze the message, I did decide to respond anyway.)

Now consider:
"Your profile sounds interesting, and Mud Flats is to close that I couldn't resist writing. Your profile mentions you like venomous rattlesnakes. I was wondering if they're like dogs in that they like to cuddle up to you. I'm curious. Anyway please do write."
This asks for just a few answers to something listed in the profile, and takes advantage of the information to start some sort of conversation. The commitment implicit in the response is limited to the immediate answer, yet there is an understanding (usually) that there is some sort of generic interest in social dating.

Here's some suggestions from Matchnet, PLC on sending replies.

If you don't feel creative... (There's no "if" about it. Unless you write for a living, you won't!) Be brief. Tell the person you saw their profile on the list and would like to talk, giving them your email address.

Questions are good here, because questions provide inspiration for the correspondant to answer you. If you can think of a good question or two, ask the questions; otherwise your correspondent won't know what to say either. If appropriate, ask about something interesting in the photo.

One advantage of the email medium is that you can "sit on your hands" by saving and reviewing a text copy of your message before sending it. If you find that you're taking too much time, write a brief note such as, "Thank you for your message. I'm busy but want to get back to you, soon."

It's okay to keep the messages short. (It may be advantageous to keep the messages short!) You're being graded on your interest; not on your email creative writing ability.

As in real life, expect rejection; only the reasons for rejection are often different. The reasons for initial rejection are mostly logistical and categorical:

Logistical

... You get the idea.

Categorical


Emotional
Statistical

One way to guess a person's general interest is the hierarchy of some listings. Matchnet, PLC (appearing as AmericanSingles.com, matchnet.co.uk, matchnet.de, matchnet.com.au, jdate.com, jdate.co.il, gay11.com) allows search results to be displayed beginning with most recently logged on. If someone's listing is frequently near the top, more likely than not they are actively looking.

A completely different approach is to use the "reverse match" function of some dating sites. Then it's just a matter of locating someone within that group that appeals to you.


Some Really Stupid Advice

I'm getting ahead of myself here, but this part is important. Since internet website dating is such a mechanical thing, the way to get it to work is to make it work out statistically. If you choose to reach out to people who may as well be running a majordomo email list just to handle the responses, it's not likely you'll meet anyone. But it is possible to be realistic and yet not settle for less than what you really want in most cases.

If you look at the success of individual "contacts" you will be disappointed. This is an impersonal computer thing, and you can take the attitude of spammers in that it's only the "yes" answers that matter.

Consider your selection criteria. Most of us have heard people suggest that we be less picky and date people who (fill in the blank). The problem is we don't want to date people in that category.

That's the "stupid advice" part! If you wanted to date someone who is (fill in the blank), wouldn't you have already done so?!!   Let the people giving you the advice tell themselves what their own likes and dislikes should be!

Fortunately there are categories of people who would be very acceptable, if not preferable. It's only necessary to determine what they are. That part of the advice may not be too far off. I would go so far as to suggest that, if this is approached carefully, it is possible in most cases to find someone who comes reasonably close to your criteria of an ideal date.

(Incidentally, when I mention "categories", I mean identified characteristics; not the value or worth of a person. I believe everyone is worthy.)

Keep track of your contacts and messages. That way, you don't lose someone you may want to meet and you don't disappoint the other person through negligence.



Faux Pas

The following is for people who have trouble with saying "inappropriate" things. Actually most of us do, but some have been fortunate to have had sufficient training to avoid making too many faux pas.

In engaging in conversations, it should be easy to separate "sensitive" subjects from casual ones. You really don't have to be careful when discussing your likes/dislikes about things like television shows, etc. Politics is fair game unless you're in Iran or Syria or something. Be very careful not to perseverate on a personal opinion, however! It's easy for autistics to do that.

Personal subjects of any kind are best avoided, ignored or deferred until you are sure they can be discussed. If unsure, just say, "I don't know if it is inappropriate to talk about this in this forum."

Obvious subjects that take reflection are sex, intimacy, the other person's appearance (except superficial things like hair colour), and women's age. (If women object to age being taboo, then they are welcome to bring it up, but a guy can have his head handed to him if he brings that one up.)

There's a book in the "For Dummys" series titled Dating For Dummys. I don't particularly like the For Dummys' approach to computing but their task-oriented approach is ideal as a good, uh.. HOWTO for dating. A companion (no pun intended) book is Etiquette For Dummys. After reading a few selections from these, you can go back to your O'Reilly novel.


Relationships in General

This is separately addressed in relationships.html .


Follow-Ons

These are just comments on how to bridge the gap between a first in- person meeting and the next time out. Please just skip this section if you already know.

Sorry for this advice on NT game playing, but that's the way it is on this planet.

The "next date" issue has drawn considerable commentary. Some people are emphasize making plans for "the next date." Doing so will actually discourage interest. The easy way around this is to make tentative plans without being specific. Something to the effect of, "I'd like to get together soon if that's okay." That way, you're not asking the person out but agreeing that you'd like to go out. You're showing interest without asking for the person to commit to anything more than expressing enough interest to not say "get lost." You won't really know the answer until you find out that the other person is perpetually unavailable.

If the suggestion meets with a scheduling conflict, ask if another time is okay. Do this whether you're asking or you're the one with the scheduling conflict.



Call the next day.

(or email)
Call the same day if early enough; otherwise call the next day. In particular:
  1. Call after a first date or meeting:
    "I had a really great time. I thought you were really nice."
  2. Call if intimate for the first time in any way.
    Say it generically, e.g., "I had a wonderful evening." or if you feel comfortable with it, something like, "You were really hot." (I think it's easier for women to say that one.)
  3. Any other time you wish to call.

It's always good to reassure the person you don't wish to "take over" their personal life. They may be seeing other people or doing other things, especially in the evenings and on weekends. Ask, "Is this an okay time to call?" That way, your new friend will be able to sort out his/her life on her own terms. This is obviously an issue with separated people, but is also an issue with people who are ostensively uninvolved, but who may have other friends. Regardless, it is comforting to the other person to let him/her know you won't intentionally call when they're with someone else. So don't call on Saturday nights, even if you know the other person is probably free.



Conversational Approaches

This is probably the hardest part, which is part of why it's convenient to avoid "the first three minutes".
Come up with something that should work.
If it's logical to get together for coffee or a bike ride, ask. If an errand is interesting, invite the person.

It's difficult to determine if a refusal reflects lack of interest in you or lack of interest in the activity. If the person is astute enough, the person will suggest an alternate meeting, or at least indicate a general interest.

Be assertive about autistic traits.
If a person mentions social foibles in people they've met, it may be worth making a mild comment in response. Some of these comments are totally unrelated to neurodiversity issues (unrelated to autism), but a few such comments are. Evaluate what that person is saying.
"I'm ... I have to admit ... I'm a little uncomfortable with making that sort of characterization. If a man tells a woman some physical feature is too big, that would be considered crass. Here we're talking about someone else's social foibles. But I'm sure in this case, there's something more than just the words."
Well, maybe that direct approach wouldn't be such a good idea, but the thought is to not accept people being critical of what sound like accidental social missteps.

On a more favorable note, talk about your skills an ability to make good judgements (concerning things you do well).

"I think if the proportions of AS and NT were reversed, very little practical stuff would ever get done, but the computer technology would be fabulous." - moderator of Aut Partners



Other Info Sources

There's more in the index page (which has links).

Good on-line dating advice can be found at a page called "Yada Yada" at http://www.jdate.com (http://www.jdate.com/text/funTimes.asp)

Standing on Form

I am surprised to find that even in today's world, there are people that think that a woman shouldn't ask a man out or initiate phone calls. I disagree, but the easiest way is to ask the person how they regard such things.

If money is an issue, there are sometimes ways around that. Some activities are inherently less costly. An example would be bike riding, which is pretty low priced if you already have a bike. If you want to reciprocate with a meal, this can be done in your own kitchen.

Whatever you decide, if you try to match your partner's interests a little, it will probably be favourably received.



Other Stuff



On Being Single

Society gives us the message that being single and dating are transitional stages, and marriage should be the person's goal. Face it, not everyone is suited for marriage! NTs have a 60% divorce rate, and they're supposed to be the ones who do well with relationships. Being single can be a good thing.

Okay, if you get married or want to get married, fine. Just do it for the right reasons. Let the NTs get married because "they're supposed to" or for the sake of the ceremony.

In addition to dating, there are other alternatives, some discussed by the Alternatives To Marriage Project (ATMP www.unmarried.org).

As to the religious morality of living without marriage, is it right to get married when marriage is not suitable to you?



Games and People

Expect games of sort.
So long as the game is meant to be enjoyed by both people, it should be acceptable. So if someone lists her occupation as "sex therapist", that's probably not her day job. But you never know. (Actually, I had met one.)

The problem with games are when the game is malicious or when it's misunderstood. NTs often resort to games when they are uncertain regarding a social activity. Sometimes it's necessary to talk indirectly as a matter of social convention. If the game is understood, it can be fun.

There are of course also malicious games which are generally not intended to be fun. Fortunately in the case of on-line dating, there is less of a tendency to engage in malicious games.

The best thing to do with games is to try to understand the process and go along with it. At the beginning, you're at a computer terminal, so this should be easy. The hard part is when you finally meet IRL, but by then you've already been talking on-line for a little while.

There is a certain amount of inaccuracy on these lists. Besides the propensity of people to self-evaluate over-favourably, there are certain things not to take literally:

I mentioned married people identifying as single below.

Many women "change" their age.
Unfortunately, I have yet to see a functional time travel machine. My work is with patents, so I should know.

Exaggerations regarding occupation
Fortunately, spectrumites don't really care about their potential date's career status. Also note there are frivolous answers in this area.

As to whether the untruth is something you can accept, consider whether the intent is malicious or not.
In general lies about age and other "socially acceptable" lies do not suggest the person is a deceptive person.


Cautions



Single?

A frequent complaint is of married men holding themselves out as single. I see this as gender-specific because the women I've met have been either transparent about their marital status, or at least not making "heroic" attempts at hiding the fact that they are married. Part of this may be in the way men and women "flirt" or become interested in partners. Regardless of the reason, that's the way it is.

Whether a person is really married should be easy to figure by using logic. If someone claims to be single but can't have you meet at random times near his home, then look into the reason. If it's just a messy house, the person will allow you to drop him off and allow you to linger in front. The hard thing here is to avoid confusing this with someone just wanting to be "private", and so it is necessary to look at the whole picture. If someone is hard to reach but you can call him at home, then at least there isn't likely to be a spouse at home. Whatever the particulars, work it out to see if it makes sense as far as marital status is concerned.

There are people who have multiple lives. Fortunately, this is relatively rare, and it's more likely that the men who misrepresent their marital status are simply looking for a mistress. At least that's my guess.

The marital status issue becomes more complicated when the married person claims to be in a bad marriage, but that he's willing to get divorced. The "rule of thumb" is that the person's status will not change. If he is in a bad marriage (a reasonable presumption if you think about it) he will stay in that bad marriage. If that were not the case, he'd have moved out, separated, and a divorce would be actively pending. A pending divorce can proceed to a final decree, but in that case, you will see activity.

There are variations on all of this, but the idea is to apply logic to the situation.

My personal take on this is if the couple entered into a marriage with expectations of adultery, then that would be okay. I had thought that avoiding dating married women was important. I changed my mind after not getting romantically involved with a friend whose husband took a mistress. If dating were an option for her, she may never have gotten divorced. So there's no black and white morality in this area, and it's hard to evaluate someone else's marital situation.



Be Careful Out There

When meeting someone, know that you are meeting a stranger and that you have little knowledge of who they really are. Presumably the person is a friendly stranger, but a stranger nevertheless. Make sure that you are comfortable and safe before you take chances with personal safety.

Health issues and avoidance of STDs get some attention. As a practical matter, if you're particularly concerned, it is possible for you and your partner to get blood tested. If you feel it necessary, take more precautions. In the meantime, I'll leave the dire predictions of doom to the media.


I'm writing this in the US. Heterosexual non-IDU (I-V drug users) make up 11% of HIV cases in North America. Moreover,most of that 11% are within particular ethnic groups. Statistically, the HIV infection rate for all high risk groups should have equalized by 1986; however this hadn't occurred in North America. In 2000, the percentage of heterosexual infection as a percentage of total HIV in the US was:
White:     5%
Hispanic:     13%
Black:     16%
http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/graphics/images/l238/l238-4.pdf
In part, this relates to a prevalence of people who are homozygous for the CCR5 Δ32 gene variant (the 32 bp deletion (Δ32/Δ32)), which substantially decreases infection rates.
If you're in one of the higher risk groups, use proper precaution.

Practical Tips from about.com

" If you're considering entering the world of cyber-dating, it's a good idea to keep the following tips in mind:

Immigration Marriage Schemes

Serious marriage minded people who only want a life companion to understand them and share life with are potential victims for immigration marriage schemes. Don't fall for the foreign spouse-prospect who seems a bit too eager. Be careful not to be duped. The cynical term "mail order brides" is suggestive of how unlikely this is to work out in real life.

On the other hand, there are legitimate foreign seekers who "identify" with your country and whose idea of a meaningful life includes the sought-after relationship. So if you're familiar with their culture, this sort of thing could work.



More About Abusers

There are abusers who stalk people with disabilities (or particular conditions). Fortunately these people are rare. It is possible to protect oneself from abusers who stalk by being alert for warning signs of these people. This sort of abuse can and does come from both genders.

The only thing that makes this significant on the Internet is that a person can more easily "target" people with disabilities because of the expanded ability to scan a large number of listings. This started to surface when it was found that men were searching on the net for bipolar women in their "mania" stage. That's quite different from autism, however, and there is a strong possibility that mostly women are targeting autistics.

The ability to "target" people with disabilities and conditions is not necessarily a bad thing. The entire point of this article is that it is possible to focus a search. It is also entirely reasonable that some NTs enjoy the companionship of autistics. The only thing is to be aware of abusers.

There are also NTs who seek out and enjoy the company of people on the Spectrum who are not abusers. These can be very good people to meet. (One of several definitions of the term "AC" refers to NTs who identify with people on the Spectrum.)

Fortunately, in terms of autism, it is possible to use what NTs refer to as "codewords". Autistic characteristic or terms more familiar to autistics can be used to hint at Autism, examples being "direct communication" "___ more important than eye contact" "pretending to be normal together" "Anthropologist from Mars", etc. This sort of thing is less likely to attract random stalkers. (Next week's subject, "How to form a clique and talk about fashion." The following week, "Botox parties". (just kidding here!))

Another fortunate thing is that it's not important to spot an abuser right away. Spotting abuse is like landing a plane -- any landing 'you can walk away from' is a good landing. So any abuse situation 'you can walk away from' was identified in time!

I have a separate page, with the cryptic title, abuse.html, which has more comments. If you're more interested in landing an airplane, go to my page on landing an airplane.




Are You *Anybody's* Type?

"Physical type" may be shallow but one of the major issues for dating and relationships is physical attractiveness. If a person is looking for a faithful companion and doesn't need to be physically attracted to the companion, you'll find them looking at the local animal shelter to adopt a pet.

Obviously there are ideal physical types, but even there, variation in taste exists. Fortunately there are no universal ideals!

Even a "sex goddess" is going to evoke, "what do people see in her?" response. There are people who find just about every "look" in people attractive. Incidentally, men are often visually attracted to women who are not their type, and will often not be interested in dating women that are most likely to catch their eye on the street.

Unfortunately the major exception is weight. It's not that there aren't people who find overweight people attractive; it's just that there seems to be many more overweight people than people who are interested. The answer in an ideal world is to do whatever is necessary to bring the weight down. You will live longer and enjoy life more.

Regardless, it may be worth it to try to find someone, even with the weight. There are a handful of people who find overweight people particularly attractive. There are websites which include "reverse matches", meaning an ability to search for people most likely to find you attractive to them. Then it's just a matter of browsing those listings.

The idea of matching physical type is the reason I encourage photos. I know that there is a reluctance in some parts of the country to show a photo which discloses physical features, but that seems counterproductive. If you are a particular physical type, why not find someone who finds you appealing.

Other factors (listed above) include children; no children, income/work, smoking, height.



Age Factors

When I wrote this, I completely dismissed age, mainly because I hadn't seen it as a limiting factor. It turns out that age affects the statistics enormously, perhaps because a high percentage of males are seeking younger women. That of course skews the odds dramatically. Women in some age groups are reporting being overwhelmed with responses to their listings, while women above 45 are often the ones responding to ads. This suggests that a high percentage of males are searching in age groups below 45.

My guess is that the demographics are slightly different with women seeking younger dates. If I am correct, a woman over 45 who is in good physical shape will probably be successful locating younger men.

These types of statistics can be worked in your favour. Select the criteria which are important to you and work around the criteria which are not. If your personal taste goes toward people who are likely to respond favourably, then the on-line services are a panacea. The difficulties of availability, appropriateness of asking and approach are solved.

If your personal taste has you competing against too many people, see if there is a comfortable way to adjust the criteria. The idea is to find someone you would like; not someone who you wouldn't like but have to accept.


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Questions - see FAQs.      
First written 12 Jun 02; first posted 9 Aug 02. Last revised 19 Aug 11.

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