For a while after those experiences, I dialed it back and dabbled. Here and there I'd pick up a date . . . and still get the same damned results.
To be blunt, too many people think online dating should be a made-to-order mate designing system. The people you encounter have no interest in improving themselves. They're broken people who don't care that they're broken and generally take offense if you nudge them in a positive direction.
Online dating is a roundly shit idea. Collecting all of the failed people with high expectations in one spot and having them piss each other off is not a good idea. The entire concept is flawed for the simple reason that men explore online dating in the hope of having more sex and women explore in the hope of being able to highly selectively winnow down their mate choices without having to deal with guys they don't really want to fuck.
It just doesn't work, except when you get two people who are completely spent and choose to issue their surrender to reality on the same day. I have yet to see an attractive long-term couple that met from online dating. So unless you are screening for people under the assumption that you are both losers and today is the day you both decided to lose together and call it a win, online dating is not going to work for you. (To answer the obvious question, I am not ready to accept that I am a loser.)
Random observations1. If you're an attractive guy, online dating is harder than real life. I've been told that I'm an attractive enough guy that I assume this is a fact. I don't see it myself, but enough requests for a song make it a hit even if it's sung by a shitty band, right?
It's kind of weird the first time a chick questions whether your profile photo is real. I know I haven't really done the right thing with my dating life, but is it really just considered beyond the pale that a guy in his mid-30s who looks decent and kinda has his shit together hasn't settled down? In truth, the whole "that ain't really you" thing becomes depressing because it makes you wonder just how fucking low you've set your sights that the chick feels that it's appropriate to ask the question.
2. Good luck finding a stable woman. The brutal reality of online dating is that it selects for the worst of the group. The one thing that OLD has taught me is that the scene takes an unfairly bad wrap from the sore losers of the world. I've met lots of nice girls at the bar; I never met one worth a pint of piss through OLD. Seriously, OLD brought me a chick who's working on becoming a psychologist and whose every move suggests an endless need to engage in power games -- OLD is just full of healthy role models!
3. If you're gonna make a move, just make a move and forget the long-term consequences. Girls on OLD are so fatally flawed that the only worthwhile move is to simply drive to get a piece of ass and forget the rest. They're too flaky for long-term dating, so forget about it. Get in, get laid, get on with your life.
4. I learned a lot about myself. For example, I learned that I will never marry a psychologist. Fuck that. I learned that the vast majority of women attracted to my OLD profile were psychologists (seriously, I hate to feel like the victim of a externalized machine of control, but WTF PoF and OKC!?!?).
I learned that since losing weight that I've been aiming way too low, and worse that the women I was hitting on were questioning why I'd be hitting on them in the first place.
I learned that I'm happier with the bar scene than any other available option for pursuing a mate.
I learned that letting things happen naturally in real life is better than trying to make them happen artificially over the web.
I learned that I am in fact looking for a long-term mate -- regardless of the reasons that I've failed to meaningfully pursue it. I've learned that my inability to cope with a long-term relationship should be seen as separate from my desire to have one. That is to say, just because I torpedo myself in that department doesn't mean I don't want a LTR.
I learned that you have to a limit where you just say no way and skip the bullshit. Which is where I'm now at.