Meeting in a Bar vs. Meeting Online: The Ultimate Showdown

Romantic Genius

Romantic Genius

A group of psychologists recently released a study that says meeting a date in a bar can be far more effective than encountering someone online. Which is great news, because it clearly means we’ve cured all mental illness, otherwise why would shrinks be wasting time on something so utterly frivolous, right? Wait. We haven’t cured all mental illness? And people are still scared of going outside, or the number 13, or flying on an airplane without their assistance animal who happens to be a duck named Fred? Well that seems like a poor use of resources. ANYWAY, their main argument is that internet dating can be too overwhelming, and there’s no evidence that the algorithms designed to match daters actually work. Which they could’ve found out by reading this website for maximum 15 minutes. 10, if they skipped right to How is This My Match?

Obviously this is an issue I’ve thought a lot about, as I have both a website about internet dating and a tremendous amount of free time. Is bar meeting really better than doing it on the world wide web? Sure, you get a better sense of a person when you’re face to face at the pub, but you’re also required to put on clean clothes, and, depending on local health codes, leave your duck Fred at home. So let’s break it all down. Is it better to find love online or on tap?

The Chemistry Test: We’ve all been there. You have an email exchange that’s as if you’re talking to your twin. Well, your twin with boobs. Every joke is on point, you share a disturbing amount of mutual interests, even the timing of the emails is perfect. You sign on to Match and BOOM, a note has just arrived from TwinWithSweetRack45, neither too soon to be creepy, nor too late to make you worry she’s lost interest. Or, you know, died. You’re so sure the first date is going to be a home run that you’re already considering what you’ll plan for date #2, and if you should wear one of your three pairs of presentable underwear. (I’d kill for three pairs of presentable underwear.) Then you meet in person and HOLY CHRIST were you wrong about everything. No chemistry, no attraction, no physical certainty that the person you’re talking to is actually even a human being. How does this happen? Was someone else writing their emails? No. That would be too logical. What happened is…the internet. It’s like that line from Chinatown. Forget it Jake, it’s This sort of confusion doesn’t happen in a bar. If you click, you click. So, if chemistry is what you seek…

The Winner Is: Bar

Hands off, she's mine.

Hands off, she’s mine.

The Time Test: I once spent an entire evening chatting up a girl who worked in the coat room of a swanky SoHo bar. I know, I’m as surprised about it as you are. It takes a lot of effort to flirt with the coat room girl, mostly because there’s no organic way for you to be spending that much time hanging around a bunch of jackets. “Yeah, hey, I just wanted to check if my blazer was doing OK. Sometimes it gets lonely.” But I did it. Standing there in front of that weird dutch door thingy, dropping every bit of charm and wit I had swimming in my extremely shallow reservoir of charm and wit. But shockingly, Coat Girl seemed to be a big fan. So big, in fact, that when I asked for her phone number, she readily handed it over. I know, I’m as surprised about it as you are. And although the phone number she gave me turned out to be 100% fake, it did connect me to a very nice gentleman named Alan who wondered if I was calling about the lost cat he’d found. “No, Alan, I am not. But if you happen to locate my dignity, do you think you could give me a ring at your first convenience?” Coat Girl had wasted an evening of my time, simply because that was easier than saying she wasn’t interested. Online, she just would’ve deleted my email and we both could’ve moved on with our lives. Of course, I never would’ve met Alan, but I’m willing to take that loss. So…

Winner: Internet

Pants Test: To meet someone in a bar, you are required to wear pants. Sitting in your living room, you are required to wear nothing at all.

Winner: Internet

They're not laughing with you.

They’re not laughing with you.

Terror Test: I don’t know if women can ever fully understand how terrifying it is to walk up to a lady or, heaven forbid, a group of ladies in a crowded bar. Every worst case scenario starts running through your head. “What if I have nothing to say?!” “What if she laughs at me?!” “What if I start vomiting uncontrollably?!” To the doctors who said internet dating is overwhelming: I challenge you to approach a group of women and try to win one of them over, with the rest of her friends watching, and not pee in your pants just a little bit. Online, no pee. Your worst fear is a rude response. Once a lady responded to my patented Not a Form Letter Form Letter with “Please. Do you send that lame-ass email out to everyone?” Which hurt. But again, I was in my house, not wearing any pants. How bad could it possibly have been?

Winner: Internet

Excitement Test: At the same time, when you do it off with someone in a bar, and there’s chemistry and real phone numbers and the potential of makeouts, well, there’s no better feeling in the world. Pulling off the same thing online is great, but it takes a week or two of emailing, meeting, and not acting like a jackass. Meeting someone great online is like a fine, aged wine. You gotta let it breath. Meeting at a bar is like crack. And who doesn’t love crack?

Winner: Bar (and crack)

Algorithm Test: The shrinks were right, the algorithms that dating sites use to match up their members don’t work. But it’s hard for me to get all that upset about that, as I don’t really understand what an algorithm is.

Winner: People Who Paid Attention in Math Class

The Future Test: 30 years down the line, do you really want to tell your kids you met on a computer? Some people worry about these things. Not me.

Winner: If you meet someone you’re with 30 years later, do you really care where it happened.

By my tally, that makes internet dating the winner. But come on, the site’s not called It’s Not a, so what did you expect? What say you: do you still believe in dating online, or are you back to buying drinks and hoping for the best?

This entry was posted in Advice, How is This My Match?, Internet Dating is Weird. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Meeting in a Bar vs. Meeting Online: The Ultimate Showdown

  1. Jes says:

    I feel like these days nay-sayers of online dating should really get something new to make comments about. Online dating has been around for a really long time at this point. It’s not exactly a new concept that should still be shocking to hear, or embarrassing to admit. My online dating history was not as horrible as a lot of that I hear of (yourself included). Once I got over the whole “yeah… I’m on a dating site” insecurity thing, I was kind of okay with the whole thing. I definitely got a tinge of insecurity when someone asked how I met so-and-so, but I got over it by just being cool about it. I successfully formed three relationships by meeting people online. Two of which for a year each, and one was shorter but he was a terrific person, I just didn’t like him. I think I got very lucky, or maybe I did everything “right”, I don’t know. I always felt like they were someone I would want to date pretty soon into the emails. I can easily say with confidence that I would have never formed relationships with these guys had we met in a bar. Neither they , nor myself would have ever approached the other, and even had that happened, it’s possible one of us would have drunkenly said or done something stupid that drove the other away. So in this respect, I must say the internet won. I also had a couple of really horrible dates but even with those I would say that the internet won because those guys were so sleazy and sh*tty that they’d have done just as good a job at pretending to be good guys in person, and thus I’d have had the same amount of naivety as online. I have a friend who’s been with her dating site bf for four years now. She has no issue telling people they met online. She may really, but her voice doesn’t give it away therefore people don’t feel like they can comment. I think that’s the trick. If you sound like “that’s how millions of people meet everyday and you’re weird if you try and make fun of me” then whoever you’re talking to you won’t feel as free to say something snarky. If you tell people you u met someone online all timid and sheepish, that’s opens the conversation up for comments. As far as the quality of people you can meet online or at a bar, that’s a personal discretion. Bars don’t typically pull in the most awesomely smart and successful men in the world, but then again neither does a dating site. I’d say it’s a tie in that aspect. :)

    • H says:

      Yeah, I see some headlines on a local dating site saying “we’ll tell people we met in a bar”. Seriously, it’s 2013, it’s not so shameful to be online. A friend met and married a lovely girl through that site, and he’s happy to admit it.

  2. phichi1106 says:

    So on again… off again. I give online dating a try. Eventually after a few months, it’s all the same faces that you run across. Shut down the account just to try again 6 months later to see the new faces. Rinse and repeat because I think I’ll find a more wholesome girl here than the bar.

    Last 2 years:
    Internet dating: 5 dates, 1 of which would’ve made it to the second date but we didn’t see eye to eye on some future things. 8 replies that were noteworthy out of how many billion messages?

    Speed dating: 3 separate events. 3 matches from the same event, the other 2 events were filled with whack jobs. 1 date was a dud, 1 we tried and had two dates but zero chemistry, and 1 we went on about 5 dates and we agreed it was more a casual thing which eventually faded (career changing and I worked a lot and she was vacationing with her daughter)

    Bar dating: Never really call/text a girl when I get their number at the bar. Numerous make out sessions (sometimes a few in 1 night!). Twice back to a girl’s place… and the girls in the bar are much more attractive than the Internet and I don’t have to buy them drinks/dinner.

    So in the end, my vote goes to the bar because I spend the least amount of money and get more action there. Then I’ll wake up and say “I’m too old to be doing shit like this” and send a message to a few nice girls online to which I won’t get a reply… the cycle repeats. Can’t say that I tried

  3. H says:

    I’m too shy to ever pick up a stranger in a bar – never going to happen. I can’t even bring myself to ask our people I know through mutual friends because I don’t know if they are single – seems like that would be very embarassing if not? Probably explains why I have been on hardly any dates ever. At least online everybody’s intentions are more clear – they’re single and looking.

  4. lucyinthesky says:

    Just recently joined a dating site at the age of 60. Whole new world! That’s about the same time I discovered this site. Both are really fun! Meeting a great guy at a bar??? NOT GONNA HAPPEN! In fact the very idea of a guy my age trolling bars to meet chicks seems sorta sad and strange. So hands down, internet wins. Especially since bars are a non-option after a certain age. Now since I am new at all this I could use some input. Have most of you encountered what I think of as a Cyber-crush? And a Cyber-fling? (Maybe there is an official name for this phenomenon but I don’t know what it is.) But it’s brief, intense, fun, possibly a bit sexy, and may or may not result in a face-to-face meeting. Nevertheless it seems to have the some of the same characteristics I vaguely recall from the dark ages: a certain giddiness, mild excitement, lots of silly fantasies. And the ending may be a fizzle, but also can be a teeny tiny heartbreaker, quickly healed.. BTW, I’m no cougar, but must confess that one of my very first mini-CyberCrushes was our very own B.D.
    WHAT A GUY! In reality, I’m guessing his inbox gets about 132,624 messages a week. What lady can resist his level of finely-honed wit ? And his posts have really helped me learn about what to expect and how to maneuver the online dating scene! Bravo!!

  5. The Most Semi-Interesting Man in the World says:

    As far as the Terror Test, why would you care what the reaction was? If it doesn’t go well, so what. As long as you are not a dick, obnoxious, etc. it shouldn’t be a problem. Women can discern fear a mile away on the direct approach (which I am a proponent of doing). Then, if they smell fear, especially if their friends are present…it immediately equates to lack of confidence and/or even worse “he’s cute” in a 7 year old with a missing baby tooth kind of way”. However, I’m not high on my horse. I used to worry about that, but then I decided it was all just in my head. Women should be flattered instead if it’s done in a respectful, direct manner which doesn’t embarass them (Unless you are Tucker Max) An approach is a compliment if done correctly, and you don’t have to “earn” a woman’s approval if you don’t care what she thinks. This is just a different mindset. Think about this: the fact that guys do get nervous on an approach is wrong in and of itself; like a woman is more important, and we are less…rather than equal social footing when we want to flirt. On the flipside, how many great ladies have waited patiently for a decent guy to show her that he had the balls to go up and introduce himself not knowing how it would turn out. Well, most of them are still sitting there…

    • Billie_dee says:

      I couldn’t disagree more with men’s perspectives on approaching women. As a woman, I am always flattered and pleasantly surprised when a guy has the balls to approach me. Sadly, those instances are few and far apart because people are so afraid of rejection. I cannot begin to tell you how many times my girlfriends and I have said: “Why can’t men show us that they’re interested?” If a guy approaches me and I’m not interested, I simply thank him and tell him I have a boyfriend (little white lie) or just not interested. I vote bar, there is nothing that can replace chemistry and human interaction … Cyber romance encourages isolationism and a lack of apathy for the opposite sex.

      P.S. – This is by far the best blog on pro con internet dating I have come across! Amazing discourse!!

  6. Sapphire says:

    Another older dater here: as a practical matter, the bar scene fades as you get older. No, not because we need our prune juice and jammies. It’s boredom!

    On-line gets boring too but it has one great possibility-meeting someone who you simply would not run across any other way. I’ve met, dated and had a relationship with guys that georaphically are pretty close but don’t shop at the same store, don’t work near me, don’t hand at the same coffee place and certainly wouldn’t frequent the same watering holes.

  7. Bringing sexy back says:

    In general, I think it depends on your personality or what you hold more important to you to decide which way to get dates! If you are more of a charismatic type, pride yourself on personality I think a bar would be a better way for them to get dates. You right away can see what this person is about and can build an attraction faster. If you aren’t charismatic, or personality minded online dating is there for you. Those who are on seem to be going through mental checklists and look for general requirements to talk to people like money, education, body type, etc. Those who are on those sites aren’t as open to talk to someone who doesn’t fit their “criteria”. For example, a women may want a guy who is at least 6 feet 2, makes 75k+ a year but had a college education to do so to “filter search”. So it would be restricting herself to these parameters and leaving a chance not to meet someone great and that whole process comes to mind when people hold shallow things more dear to them then personality. Charismatic people can thrive in a bar setting or social gathering place. While personality is hard to detect online and may be different when you eventually decided to meet.

    I can only think about that Olivia girl you were talking about who tried online dating and from the description seems like a very outgoing person-not to mention hot, of course. While she was smart as well, she probably has gotten multiple messages from guys who I am sure looked and saw that and emailed her to no end, and sometimes twice. From the guys perspective here, I am sure they weren’t emailing her because of her personality, but more so for that she was freaking hot and was educated! I honestly feel bad for the girl because she probably got a baziilion emails saying how hot she is or just stuff like that. If you have the the total package, you want to see people contact you because you are great person, which can’t really be magnified as easily trough social media.

    I also can ‘t help to wonder about people who go for online dating for that have before tried bars and social scenes and haven’t gotten results. Personality is shown in actions, not sentences. I am sure Olivia wasn’t pleased with bar interactions and turned to online dating eventually to get harrased and stuff. I am sure for any person who wants people to notice their personality and are looking first for that same thing from your partner should try to keep themselves out there and go to more social events and talk to single people. Expand your social circle! Chances are you won’t got home with someone who has a requirement sheet on his/her head after you meet in person, but only because of the fact that you/their both personalities clicked. I think we as a society are getting lazy and just turning to online dating for a quick fix with any person you may want to talk to online without having to put on a shirt. Mini rant, I apologize.

  8. Wendy says:

    I quite agreed with that..
    i have been actively go for a date both online and meet at some casual place..
    i realized the chemistry is so stronger if you realized a man staring at you secretly and you looked back to him ..thinking that whether he will come to me….and finally we talk…that is actually chemistry coming..
    for online dating i have been meeting many guys are perfect match in many aspects..but turned out the chemistry just want there ..because know everything before we met..there is no mysterious feeling and just unrealized expectation…
    i am asian come to europe countries…the social norm is strong that nice person could not be met at the bar or pub…but i changed my attitude can always have the chance to meet nice person in pub and always have the chance to meet jerks in everywhere…
    but we look for a place that gives you potential sparks is worth to try

  9. Diane says:

    I have had the most success online when I knew them in person and then they found me online and asked me out, which I guess they couldn’t do in person. Both times, however, they ended up not wanting a relationship. Match is where I found my last boyfriend and where my sister met her husband, but after two years of being single, countless “talks online” that led nowhere or being stood up, I’m back to the bar scene. Problem is the last guy I met at the bar didn’t want a relationship either. I don’t think it matters, both are a waste of time. Finding someone is like a needle in a haystack. I truly believe timing is everything and it will happen naturally without looking.

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