I got a very interesting bit of “hate mail” last week. I say “hate” mail because it was more sad than hateful. I wanted to share it and address some of the issues within because I know there may be others who are thinking on the same lines.
If you’ve ever wondered:
“Why do online dating help services exist?”
“Isn’t online dating useless? Those success stories are 1 in a million and won’t happen to me.”
“Am I a horrible, sad, maladjusted person to need to hire E to help me find love?”
…then read on!
Statistics and “Results Not Typical”
Clips from the actual “hate” email are in green.
Your website, your service, it offends me. Or a better word is that it depresses me.
I don’t mean to say that YOU personally invoke this feeling, but that the existence of your service hurts my heart. While I have never seen any statistical data to show one way or the other, I do not believe that online dating is successful; it’s at best like playing the lottery. Success stories are the outlier.
I’m here to tell you that statistics don’t matter. Why? Let me tell you in the context of something I know a lot about – WeightWatchers.
If you think of the amount of people who join WeightWatchers in an average year (most of them right after January 1st), it’s a huge number. But if you compare that number with the number of people who reach their goal weight and maintain it, it’s a horrible success rate.
In fact, if you read any success stories on WeightWatchers.com, there’s a tiny byline that says “Results not typical.”
HOWEVER – There’s a reason for that. Is it that WeightWatchers program doesn’t work? Nope. It’s because the TYPICAL person who signs up for WeightWatchers goes for a few months, loses 10 pounds, starts skipping meetings, gains weight, and finally quits.
The TYPICAL person who does online dating writes a boring, vague, or downright awful dating profile. They post pictures that are either too old or that send the wrong message. They don’t actively try to be successful. They sit on their rump and hope that their shoddy profile puts out a bat signal strong enough to draw in their perfect match.
Or they go balls to the wall for a month and write tons of emails. Then they get upset at the low return rate, so they start doing cut-n-paste emails, which gets them an even worse return rate. Then they finally quit, blaming the system for failing them, when in reality, they failed to use the system to their benefit.
If you’ve ever read Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, you’ll know that an outlier is successful because of the opportunities they are afforded in their life. As a member of our technology-driven society, you have the opportunity to use online dating as a tool to find the love of your life. [If you haven't read Outliers, you simply must. It's amazing.]
Can’t Buy Me Love
So I feel it takes advantage of lonely, socially-underdeveloped men who think they can find love online. That your service gives an implicit promise of success in romance. I feel that it is leading them on while taking their money. It saddens me that this service EXISTS because there is a desire for it, that there are men out there experiencing the need so much that they have to pay for Help.
There are men and women paying for similar services and they’ve been doing so long before I entered the market. Check out some of the big dogs like E-Cyrano (aka Evan Marc Katz) or ProfileHelper. What I’ve done is carved out a niche helping geeks, because geeks are my people. I am a geek and I understand geeks.
I can’t make promises that people will get more dates, but it’s certainly a possibility. It has been a reality for many of my clients.
I’m not leading people on thinking they’re going to find love any more than WeightWatchers leads people on thinking they’re going to lose weight or IHOP leads people on that they’re going to Come Hungry, Leave Happy.
It’s up to you as a consumer to evaluate the product or service based on your individual personality and needs. If you hate IHOP’s service, you probably won’t Leave Happy. If you can’t commit to new eating habits, you won’t be a WeightWatchers success story. If you’re bitter and jaded about romance, the best dating profile in the world might get you a first date, but not lasting love.
Admitting Weakness Isn’t Easy
And at the same time, I myself am depressed because I too want your service. I am too prideful, too cheap, and too pessimistic about online dating and my own chances to pay for the service to begin with, but I too am a lonely socially-underdeveloped man and I too am tempted by you. And that makes me feel shame. And reminds me of my own loneliness and the hopelessness of the situation, of the looking online, of the hours spent tearing myself up inside due to the lack of responses and the skimming of online sites, spinning my wheels.
For starters, don’t buy my services if you can’t afford it. Seriously. While your money pays my bills, I don’t want it at the expense of the other things in your life.
As for your shame, think about it this way:
- Would you feel shame for hiring a Realtor to help sell your house?
- Would you feel shame for hiring a copywriter to write the sales page for your business’ website?
- Would you feel shame for hiring a hairstylist to cut your hair and give you a new, sexy look?
- Would you feel shame for hiring a personal trainer to help you work out and get muscle definition?
It’s natural to feel a little shameful. Men in particular are taught in our society that asking for help denotes weakness of character. So admitting that you’re not successful at finding a mate is a double blow to the ego.
However, we are a society. In a society people with strengths in certain things offer their services to people who are not so good at those things.
If the idea of hiring a professional writer and fellow geek to help you put your best foot forward for online dating feels wrong to you, then read my archives, use the free information and give it a go that way first.
I don’t know why I told you any of that, or how I can justify it to myself. You, a stranger, a businesswoman, an individual, owe me no explanation and do not deserve to have strangers dump their accusations or emotional baggage on you (unless they are paying you, after all). You have the right to your own business, and there is clearly a market for it. I don’t know why I feel compelled to tell you any of it. But I do.
You are right. I didn’t owe you an explanation. However, when one person raises some serious concerns, I know there are probably 20 others in the shadows wondering about similar things. Thank you for the chance for me to help clarify and allay these concerns.
To all my readers, clients, and future clients:
I am in this business for the joy of helping the geek community. I do this because I love to read and write. I do this because I love talking with other geeks. I do this because I get warm fuzzies every time a client says they’re having success with their new profile. I do this for geek love!