Online Dating Sites: More Gym Than Car Dealership


Online dating is not like shopping for a car.

There is little you don’t hear when you launch and manage a website service for singles. One of the toughest challenges we face as a company is providing perspective for customers. In the history of man, online dating has been around for about a minute of time.

So a little adjustment and a few bumps along the way are to be expected. There are no longstanding social norms, manners or etiquette for how to behave.

In the absence of those dictates, it’s easy to get frustrated. When I speak with customers, certain critical feedback keeps cropping up:

  • “I don’t like any of my matches.”
  • “My matches are too far away.”
  • “I was on for six months and went on some dates but nothing came of them.”
  • “I was on for a month and it didn’t work for me.”
  • “I tried it for a while but the people were too religious.”
  • “There were too many people that were not Catholic enough.”
  • “Too many guys just wanted to email.”
  • “More women would reply if free members could read email.”

Few people are more sympathetic to singles than me. You see, in addition to helping start the company and manage it for more than 11 years, I am also single myself. So I am empathetic to the frustrations of being single and, yes, even using a dating site.

The wrong approach

But for a variety of reasons, singles tend to view and use a dating site more like a car dealership and less like a gym. Which causes some problems.

Let me explain.

When a customer does not find “the one” on our site, he might complain that online dating does not work for him. While I understand what he means, it’s obvious that his perspective is not realistic. If you decide to join a gym with hopes of losing weight or getting in shape but then proceed to go only occasionally and after six months you don’t lose weight, did the gym not work?

Sounds goofy right?

The gym, just like a dating site, is a tool, and that tool is intended to make it easier for you to be introduced to other singles. Unlike a bar, party, sporting event, dance or parish gather, you know everyone on the site is single and interested in meeting other singles for romantic purposes. So there’s great potential here.

Joining a faith-based dating site, like joining a gym, is about growth – identifying a healthy lifestyle and then actively pursuing it. It’s sweaty but enormously rewarding.

The rewards come when you put in the time. Like all things, what you get out of the service is what you put in it, so take the time to create a good profile with lots of photos. And then stay engaged.

Rather than a tool (like a gym) that singles carry with them during their single lives, too many users view online dating like a car dealership, which means they enter their criteria and expect the site – poof! – to give them exactly what they are looking for. They browse the profiles just as they would scan cars on a lot trying to determine which is the best fit. Blonde or brunette, tall or short, funny or serious – the list goes on.

But unlike a car, where you can pick something that gets you from point A to point B, a spouse is a life-changing commitment with far greater impact and consequences.

An opportunity for growth

So the next time you sign up or log on to a dating site – hopefully it is – remember the website is simply a communication tool. It cannot determine who God has planned for you or let you see what your kids would look like. Not unlike a treadmill or weights, it is their ability to provide you with opportunity; you have to be the one who uses it.

Just because you don’t see results right away doesn’t mean you give up. Each day brings new opportunity and insight – who knows when your future spouse could log on? The question is will you be there to meet him or her?

Remember, just because you’re using a dating site doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to meet people through parties, parishes, friends and colleagues. People often ask me, “Do you want to meet your future spouse on CatholicMatch?”

My response is always the same: “I don’t care how I meet her. I just want to meet her.”



  1. Paul-99681 October 21, 2010 Reply

    Well put Brian!
    Also if I may add that while the prospect of a long distance relationship may often seem unrealistic the other side to this is often the future can come with things we never imagined as how many of us can look back and think how their life has transformed into the present and just as with finding someone we never know how they may impact our lives and will never know if we “turn them away” for the reason of how far they happen to live?

    Truly often the greatest distances in a relationship have nothing to do with mileage and while yes it’s often the “means” for relationship failures but not often and I venture to say rarely the cause because people let it be and hence through this common belief it feeds on itself compelling us to want to avoid it at all cost or move heaven on earth to “save” our loved ones and friends from it’s clutches .

    I agree that closer is better and much easier but feel it’s a small price to be with the right person so if it takes the road then the road it is! but also writing back and forth ,OK we have to flex our hearts waiting to meet again but through our letters we can get to know each other in a very special way .

    Paul !

  2. Ria-570234 October 22, 2010 Reply

    Good article, Brian. As with everything else in life, it takes patience and diligence. Have found that many members simply aren’t initially aware that the CM site has so much to offer in the way of social contacts and communication, and just look for the profiles. Keep up the good work!

  3. Mary-562983 October 22, 2010 Reply

    I loved your article Brian. First, people need to put their picture on their profile. I like to have a visual of who is e-mailing me or sending me emotiongrams. I am often hesitant in writing to men as I grew up believing men should always make the initial contact so I’m working on just saying hello to perfect strangers on-line as I feel the “older” more “mature” male is just as scared as I am and doesn’t know what to say so I’m starting to come out of my shell a bit.
    I think it is so important to become a friend first. We live in a society where we scan the profiles and judge each one on their looks, their profile and their grammer/spelling when the person may have all the qualities that we’re looking for ~ kindness, spirituality, affection and respect. At least say “Hello” ~ it may lead to “Talk with you tomorrow” to “See you next week!” Keep in mind that people put on their profile what they “think” you are looking for and they want to be that person! So guys – If you are interested in someone you see online – Be yourself – say “Hi” even if you think she wouldn’t be interested in you ~ even if you think she’s out of your class ~ you never know ~ you might be exactly what she’s looking for ~ remember, this is a communication site! Catholics looking to meet other Catholics. Doesn’t sound too religious to me! Everything is in God’s hands!

  4. Kathryn-641404 October 22, 2010 Reply

    I am looking forward to meeting many interesting new friends.

  5. Patrick-606389 October 23, 2010 Reply

    Seems I am always at odds —

    This service and I have only bounced on these sight for about a year, And it’s never the sight, it’s always either me or them — or circumstances (in my case income). While the tools could be more selective. These are nothing like a gym. At the Gym, I pay a fee and on ocassion will one one assistance (almost always if I ask) At the gym I set my own pace and routine. I even set the the tension for the level of work out. What anybody else thinks or feels has very little play or impact on my workout. None of the wieghts are effected by mood or temperment. The bars don’t care about my income, they dumb bells don’t mind if get on the treadmill. And I have never had a single cycler request a photo before I get on for a ride. If I don’t lie the equipment or the service, I can generally workout a reasonable exit relationship financially. The gym services have never asked me to commit only to them on the first second meeting when we are getting to know each other.

    At the gym, if I get there early enough, the equipment is almost clean, crisp and free of debris. Whatever sweat, dirt and grime left by other users is usually gone and if not a a quick spray and wipe (with whatever cleaner that gym uses or my own) does the trick. If I set the tension to high or too low — the equipment doesn’t question my motives, integrity . . . The equipment doesn’t care about my tone of voice. It does not concern itself with my previous history looking for a way out or a way in. At the gym, I choose the equipment and in most cases it does not object, I once tried ta treadmill, one of the few occassions an inani,mate object expresed a view, by sending me flying to places I still cannot recall. When i have gotten into a racquetball court and slammed a ball around neither walls or the ball have asked me to slow down, or not so hard, or harder, pick up the pace . . . and while the ball may travel at unique and even unexpected trajectories — after a while one learns that the ball will always do this or that when it is hit in this manner and this angle. I know when the gym will be open and closed. This rarely changes. The gym does not simply disappear after what a person thought was a safe, and secure place to exercise. The gym equipment never calls me a loser or a nothing . . . the quad machine will not gossip, spread mistruths and sabotage my relationship with the bench press because we disagree about the scriptural validity of ‘soul mates’. The bench press will poison the relationship with the pool because I chose not to date women with children or who have been divorced. Not a single gym equipment is ever lying in wait to twist some comment out of context in an attempt to blight another person. The weights don’t blame me because the person before dropped them from too high a hieght allowing them to slam and get cracked or scarred. The weights, just sit patiently and allow me to work them or not. On occassion one may pull a tendon or muscle, but most of the time the gym is left with the person unscathed by the equipment.

    One of the best times at the gym is after the workout when the warm waters slam against my body and a good bar of soap washes the sweat and grime away and I am clean.

    DS as tools are a shared to for the express purpose of finding another someone to share life with. And the saheres, no matter how nice, how spiritual how in or not in with God the Father — Christ His Son are messy. The problem with the metaphore is that the DS is interactive and the dirt humans bring is on the inside and people are not inanimate, And the dirt and grime that’s thrown seeks to find rest on the inside — where for instance only the cleansing blood of the lamb can get to it . . .

    I prefer to see the DS as a dance hall, where people occassionally bump into each other, get rejected for a dance, sometimes when the movemnets are a quick step – spittal and perspiration fly . . . some are good dancers, some are mediocre, some dance all by themselves, enjoying the music, the vibration, toes are stepped on, elbows jab, there may be an occassional fist fight, but mostly people make room for each other because they know in order to dance whether alone or with a partner — the best place is on the dance floor. i would continue this metaphore analogy — but it belabours the point, another time

    Even this (dance hall) falls short — because it is always those internal bruises, cuts and scrapes — that even takes the blood of the Lamb time to wipe clean.

  6. Rebecca-152968 October 25, 2010 Reply

    Good points Brian – both about the way to look at using CM and at not closing off to meeting someone outside of it. God bless ~ Rebecca

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