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The first woman he clicked on was very beautiful, with a witty profile page, a good job and lots of shared interests, including a love of sports.
After looking the page over for a minute or so, Derek said, “Well, she looks O. I’m just gonna keep looking for a while.” I asked what was wrong, and he replied, “She likes the Red Sox.” I was completely shocked. Imagine the Derek of 20 years ago, finding out that this beautiful, charming woman was a real possibility for a date.
The first girl, he said, was “a little too tall,” and the second girl was “a little too short.” Then he met my mom. Let’s look at how I do things, maybe with a slightly less important decision, like the time I had to pick where to eat dinner in Seattle when I was on tour last year.
He quickly deduced that she was the appropriate height (finally! First I texted four friends who travel and eat out a lot and whose judgment I trust. Finally I made my selection: Il Corvo, an Italian place that sounded amazing. (It only served lunch.) At that point I had run out of time because I had a show to do, so I ended up making a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich on the bus.
But dealing with this new digital romantic world can be a lot of work.
Answering messages, filtering profiles—it’s not always fun.
I asked my dad about this experience, and here’s how he described it: he told his parents he was ready to get married, so his family arranged meetings with three neighboring families. That’s how my dad decided on the person with whom he was going to spend the rest of his life.
I am perpetually indecisive about even the most mundane things, and I couldn’t imagine navigating such a huge life decision so quickly. Happily so—and probably more so than most people I know who had nonarranged marriages.
If this mentality pervades our decisionmaking in so many realms, is it also affecting how we choose a romantic partner?
10 in., has brown hair, lives in Brooklyn, is a member of the Baha’i faith and loves the music of Naughty by Nature.
Before online dating, this would have been a fruitless quest, but now, at any time of the day, no matter where you are, you are just a few screens away from sending a message to your very specific dream man. Throughout all our interviews—and in research on the subject—this is a consistent finding: in online dating, women get a ton more attention than men.
But Derek of 2013 simply clicked an X on a web-browser tab and deleted her without thinking twice.
Watching him comb through those profiles, it became clear that online, every bozo could now be a stud.
I checked the website Eater for its Heat Map, which includes new, tasty restaurants in the city. The stunning fact remained: it was quicker for my dad to find a wife than it is for me to decide where to eat dinner.