“Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating To Meet My Match” (Book Review)

So, I recently purchased and read “Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match” by Amy Webb.

I was excited to read this book, because it featured a woman who’d had appallingly bad luck with online dating sites, but was determined to find her match. Using her skill with analyzing data, she spent extensive time researching and interacting with people online to pinpoint exactly what made female profiles popular. As the Amazon book synopis says: “Using the same gift for data strategy that made her company the top in its field, she found the key words that were digital man magnets, analyzed photos, and studied the timing of women’s messages, then adjusted her (female) profile to make the most of that intel.”

How could I resist that?

So I waited for it to arrive, ripped open the package and consumed it greedily. I even missed out on precious sleep to get it read quickly. I was excited to find these “key words” that would be “digital man magets”!

After just a few pages I was a little startled at how self-absorbed the author was and how neurotic she came across. I didn’t connect with her at all and had a strong suspicion I wouldn’t like her if we met in person. This is a woman who created a color-charted, coded binder to take to a first therapy session, listing all sources of potential angst and episodes in her life which might have contributed to her need for therapy. When the therapist was taken aback and inferred this might be part of the problem, the author recounted for her readers how she’d saved the therapist hours of work and didn’t understand why it was a problem. Regardless, I wanted to find out what this neurotic, organizationally-driven data analyst had come up with about online dating.

Imagine my surprise to discover that Ms. Webb’s exciting discoveries that she uncovered by creating 10 fake “Super” Male profiles and interacting with the popular women under false pretenses amounted to the following:

  • Refer to yourself as a “girl” in your tagline and profile because it makes you seem youthful and less intimidating.
  • Use the word “fun” a lot. Men like “fun” women who are youthful and non-threatening.
  • Keep your profile brief and generic–preferably three sentences or so. That way you can’t alienate any potential suitors by listing a favorite movie that they don’t like. Also, it’s non-threatening.
  • Men like short women and all the popular girls were listed as between 5’1″ and 5’3″, even though it appeared some of these women were lying.
  • Men prefer blonde, straight hair over any other color and curly.
  • Choose flattering photos that preferably show skin, that have been snapped right after you’ve been laughing and after you’ve covered all showing skin in a lotion that makes it glow. You must go for vibrant, youthful and healthy.
  • Take your pictures right after you’ve been laughing, so you appear very happy.
  • After you’ve been contacted, don’t reply to messages for at least 20-24 hours and don’t set up a date right away. Otherwise, you’re too available. Keep the messages brief and light.

So…let me sum up based on the key-words I found: Be a youthful, fun, generic, non-threatening GIRL, preferably dressed in something that shows your glowing and vibrant skin, over which your straight, blonde hair cascades. Then be interested…but not TOO interested.

Oh my…is THAT all there is to it??? Because that’s been a closely guarded secret for YEARS! I had no idea that men liked non-threatening, fun, generic, happy girls over women with complexities! Men like blondes that show a lot of youthful, glowing skin? You don’t say??? It’s amazing!

By the way, in case it doesn’t come across as sarcasm in the written word, let me be more concise: No shit, Sherlock.

I felt incredibly ripped off and want my $16.80 back. While her recounting of some of her dates was amusing (and I could relate), her 72 point characteristic list that was required for a husband was not (Ex: Must love musicals, except for “Cats”; must be Jew…ish, but not too serious about it). I had purchased the book hoping to gain some insights from her “research”, but at the least hoped it would be an interesting read I could connect with. But this self-absorbed, manipulative, immature child left me cold.

As for the breakthroughs she discovered in how to win at online dating, it’s either common sense or it’s insulting. If I have to be a “girl” instead of a “woman” to get a man, that doesn’t say much for the man. Nor do I want a man who requries me to be generic and non-threatening in order to secure a date. Lying about your height? Saying that men want blondes with straight hair? Are these the games we want to play to find a life partner? Here would be MY list of necessary profile tips:

  • Do use flattering pictures
  • Do write something unique that catches their eye in the first couple of sentences, so you stand out from the thousands of other profiles
  • Don’t be negative (i.e., Cheaters need not apply; I’m not interested in liars, etc.)
  • Don’t launch into your entire relationship history online.
  • Do write to the person you want to attract, so give some thought about who that is and the words that will appeal to him.

The best advice I ever saw on writing online profiles is to remember that you don’t want a profile that will appeal to everyone. You want a profile that will appeal to the men you’d be interested in. Otherwise, you’d be wading through a ton of unnecessary emails to try to find the potential partners you might have something in common with.

I’m glad that Ms. Webb’s techniques worked for her–she apparently got a man who was over a 700 on her ridiculous scoring chart and married him. Or maybe she just got lucky. Either way, the book didn’t exactly show me the way to success. Unfortunately, I think there’s still just a lot of weeding through that ends up happening with online dating. Lately, most of my dates have been fun and enjoyable, but without much potential for a relationship. We just haven’t clicked.

That “click” is the thing that all the data and scoring charts in the world isn’t going to give you. When it comes to love and attraction, there’s a lot of ways in which data falls short.


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