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If she were at a bar and smiled at him, Derek of 1993 would have melted.He wouldn’t have walked up and said, “Oh, wait, you like the Red Sox?! ” before putting his hand in her face and turning away.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.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.What I’m about to say is going to sound very mean, but Derek is a pretty boring guy.
This kind of rigor goes into a lot of my decisionmaking.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.Even a guy at the highest end of attractiveness barely receives the number of messages almost all women get.But that doesn’t mean that men end up standing alone in the corner of the online bar. Take Derek, a regular user of Ok Cupid who lives in New York City.Today’s generations are looking (exhaustively) for soul mates, whether we decide to hit the altar or not, and we have more opportunities than ever to find them.The biggest changes have been brought by the .4 billion online-dating industry, which has exploded in the past few years with the arrival of dozens of mobile apps.Whether it’s where I’m eating, where I’m traveling or, God forbid, something I’m buying, like a lot of people in my generation—those in their 20s and 30s—I feel compelled to do a ton of research to make sure I’m getting every option and then making the best choice.If this mentality pervades our decisionmaking in so many realms, is it also affecting how we choose a romantic partner?As of this writing, 38% of Americans who describe themselves as “single and looking” have used an online-dating site.It’s not just my generation—boomers are as likely as college kids to give online dating a whirl.