Most men check out online dating profiles solo, with no wingman in sight. But where’s the fun in that? And what are we missing by not including our buddies in the search for love?
No matter whether you live in a big city or a small town, your pool of online dating prospects is finite. So how can you get a leg up (so to speak) on determining who’s right for you? Here’s an option: embrace word-of-mouth recommendations by putting your social network on the case. Singles today complain that people don’t play matchmaker anymore or offer advice to help them locate the best prospects the way they once did. But maybe it’s time to put your friends’ online dating experiences to work for you.
If your friends are also looking for love online, they’ve probably already chatted with, met, and maybe even dated some of the women you are encountering right now. When friends share their tales of the other “fish” in your hometown sea, everyone can benefit (unless, of course, one of them has an unfair ax to grind). But using this newfound buddy system is still worth a shot, right?
I spoke to men who are doing this to save time and increase their odds of finding a great date. Here’s what they have to say… along with some tips on ways to get the most out this word-of-mouth recommendation system.
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Avoid going on dates that you won’t enjoy
“Sharing information is a good way to make sure you don’t get trapped with some awful date from hell, which has happened to me,” says California resident Ian, 33. “My buddy once saved me from going out with this girl he’d dated once. He’d taken her out to an awesome beachside restaurant where she complained about how awful men were all night long, and then stalked him afterwards when he didn’t want to go on date number two. Her profile was great: sexy photos, funny description… but my buddy is a straightforward sort of person, so I believed him and steered clear of her.”
Get verification that someone’s profile is accurate
“I am not competitive with my single friends who are dating online,” says New Yorker Michael, 38. “We are open and upfront about whom we like and share information if one of us knows that person. It’s worthwhile to check in with my single pals about who’s dating whom for lots of reasons. If nothing else, it’s a way to find out if your potential date’s profile is accurate. I know people bend the truth a little online (or, at minimum, put their best foot forward), and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if a woman is 40 pounds heavier and 10 years older than she states in her profile, that’s just false advertising. A couple of times, my friends raised a red flag when they saw me checking out their former dates’ profiles that hadn’t exactly been truthful online.”
Deal with any dating overlap issues beforehand
“I like finding out if a buddy dated someone I am considering dating, just in case they were ever involved,” says North Carolina resident Jimmy, 35. “Once, we were sitting around having a few beers while checking out women’s profiles, and I clicked on the girl I wanted to ask out. It turns out my friend had dated her, too. She dropped him, though, and he still had a thing for her. Mostly, dating overlap is cool; we agree that we’re definitely going to date some of the same women, and that’s fine. But when the profile we’re checking out belongs to someone one of us dated even semi-seriously, I’d prefer to know so we can talk about it and act accordingly. Maybe it’ll be fine; maybe we’ll need to clear it first. But I would still rather know upfront.”
Narrow the field by asking for a second opinion
“My best friend and I have always backed each other up on everything — from advice on buying cars to checking in on work issues,” says New Jersey native Allan, 32. “So one night when I was clicking through online dating profiles (and, frankly, was feeling overwhelmed by so many options), I invited him over. As I showed him the ones I liked, he weighed in with a second opinion. He knows me — and the kind of women I like — better than anyone else. He also knew about several of the women. Not only could he share what he’d heard, but also he was able to offer another pair of eyes reviewing their profiles. He helped me talk through why some women might be a good fit and others would not. He was great at helping me figure it all out, break through the volume, and prioritize which ones to contact.”
Hear what they have to say…but man up when you need to make a dating decision
“I do like hearing of my buddies’ experiences with dating online,” say Virginia resident Randy, 25. “But what concerns me is that they pass on this information — negative or positive — without knowing for sure if it’s true. While I value their opinions, I am careful and categorize their opinions in two ways: it’s either firsthand experience, which is totally valid, or it’s a secondhand rumor that I should ignore. If my friends really know the girl — say, if one of them dated her and has a good reason for saying something bad — then I’ll listen to what they have to say (like if she was really rude or flirted with other guys on their date, for example). But if they don’t know her personally but just heard something about her? Then I don’t pay much attention and make my own decisions.”
Ultimately, all dating decisions are up to you. But it’s more fun to have a wingman by your side, offering his knowledge of the single fish swimming in your digital pond. Your buddies probably feel the same way and just need a little encouragement to start trading online-dating intel with you.
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit hiswebsite, follow him onTwitter, oremail him.