One of the most common questions I receive is “Why am I not getting responses on this particular dating app?”. It’s less a question and more a general “Why does dating suck?” rhetorical question that no one can really answer. Except, I can I totally answer it, but you might not like the answer.
There’s hardly ever one right answer for why dating sucks, or why you’re not getting responses on Tinder, Bumble, or OkCupid (which I’ve affectionately dubbed Tumblecupid for brevity’s sake), especially when your profile and messages are good. The thing you most often see represented on the internet, the profiles or messages that go viral, are the worst sort of profiles or messages so we just assume that if you’re not terrible on Tumblecupid, you’ll get decent responses. The person who sends messages that consists solely of emojis spelling out lewd acts(????????????????❓), or the person whose profile is almost willfully bad are what people think of when someone talks about not getting responses. Surely if your profile and messages aren’t terrible, you’re attractive and generally nice, you’ll get responses or matches fairly frequently right? Nah. That’s not always the case.
Let me just say this: I do not believe in Karma in either the Hindu/Buddhist sense (the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences), nor in the pop culture sense (destiny or fate, following as effect from cause). I wont begrudge you your belief in Karma, or fate, or divine intervention in your love life, it’s just not something I believe in. I think life is random, events happen that are unrelated to the other events in your life, and you don’t always get what you deserve, in this life or the next, for good or for ill. I don’t think the universe is capricious, because that would imply that the universe has a will. Life is random, shit happens, and what you do about it determines your lot in life.
I say all that to say, don’t expect me to imply that you haven’t been getting responses or matches because the universe is saving your soul mate for you. Unless your profile and messaging is just straight up terrible, you aren’t getting responses because of any number of small reasons, but they all roll up to three larger reason types: Right place, Right time, Right person. Seriously, there are just so many factors that really just boil down to being in the right place at the right time, and connecting with the right person. For example, my parents met because they worked in the same building (place), my father took the initiative to hit on my mother at her job (time), and she was interested in dating this tall, handsome dude (person). Without all those factors, I wouldn’t be here. Right place, right time, right person. You might call it fate, I would call it random and lucky.
Now let’s say you match with someone on Tumblecupid, so you’ve got the place and person part down, so why does it often lead nowhere? Well right off the bat I would say, it’s the timing. You can never tell whether the person you matched and started messaging is already casually dating someone, but hasn’t gotten to the point where they’re ready to commit so they’re keeping their profile active. Or, it’s entirely possible that they’re on Tumblecupid as a “social experiment”. You have to assume that at least some of the people on these sites are there to try out some wacky idea as grist for the viral dating article mill. No shade to the writers who use gimmicks-for-clicks or anything, keep getting those checks, but just be aware that those Buzzfeed/Huffpo/Elite Daily/Thought Catalog posts that start with this premise “Person does X on Tumblecupid, you wont believe the result” all come from someone actively using Tinder. There’s countless other reasons, but you can always batch those reasons into timing, person, place, or any combination of those three.
I’ll spare you the details, but there was someone who messaged me on OkCupid, tried to set up a date with me with minimal effort, I cancelled because the lack of effort bothered me and then, almost a year later we reconnected and started dating. She asked why I cancelled our first proposed date and I told her that her lack of effort at that point was unattractive. She confirmed her lack of effort because, and I’m paraphrasing here, she said that at that time she wasn’t ready to date seriously because she’d recently had a string of bad experiences. She was the right person (at the time at least), we met at the right place, but that first batch of messages didn’t occur at the right time. It’s all about the timing, the person, and being able to connect with them. That isn’t just limited to online dating either. Sometimes you’ll met someone who might be perfect for you through friends or while you’re out socially, and they’re either dating someone or not currently dating. Again, it’s random, but if you went through every single false start, or missed connection, it can usually be boiled down to place, person, timing.
Right place, time, and person can also refer to the scarcity of suitable matches. It’s easy to think of scarcity when you think of small town dating, but the same can apply to folks in big cities as well. Let’s take me, your humble agony uncle. I’m not the pickiest dater, but I am selective about some criteria. I generally don’t date anyone who would consider themselves pious (regardless of their religion), or anyone live within the 5 boroughs of NYC, and even Staten Island is pushing it. Now, that might seem like some simple obstacles to overcome, but it’s all a matter of what’s out there. We tend to think of dating as this incredibly large dating pool, especially in big cities, but let’s look at my dating pool mathematically. As of 2010, the population of NYC was 8.1 Million people. That’s a lot of people right? Okay, how many of those people are women, aged 25 – 39? About 1 Million. Let’s just assume that about 50% of those women are married, so that’s a population of 500k eligible women to date. Still a pretty big number right? Let’s take that number, assume that the national average of people who identify as not religious (13%) holds true for NYC, so that leaves you with a population of about 66k. Granted, 66k people isn’t a small number, but then you have to factor in personal taste on both ends, being in a position to meet these women, and countless other factors. I used myself as an example, but we could take just about anyone and do the math. If you’re a Jewish woman who want’s to meet a Jewish man who lives in Manhattan, above the height of 6 feet, who is either a doctor or a lawyer, your dating pool is a lot smaller than a Christian woman who is willing to date a man of any height and any religion, anywhere in the NYC/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area.
My point is, the reason you’re not getting matches, or messages, or response to messages is always going to be multifactorial, especially if you have a solid profile, with solid pictures, and you actually put effort into your messages. A lot of advice out there focuses on crafting great messages, and those tips are generally helpful, but they often leave out the biggest caveat: Even the best message can and will be ignored if the timing, place, and person don’t all line up in your favor.
Dating is a crap-shoot, so don’t get too discouraged when you’re not getting the responses you think you deserve. Sometimes things don’t work in your favor and most of the time that has very little to do with the things you can control. Sometimes these things do work out, you just need to seize the opportunities presented to you.
Good Luck Out There.