41st Review of “Bad Boyfriends”

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook Cover

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook

Since Amazon began to randomly delete reviews last year, I post the new ones to preserve them. A new review of Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Highly recommended by an attachment trauma therapist
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This might be one of the best books on attachment for singles struggling with the process of dating. I’m recommending it to my single clients with trauma histories.

The author explains attachment clearly and terms that are relevant to dating. I appreciate his candid advice that certain attachment combinations are taxing, or simple, that you should run and save yourself the headache. As an attachment trauma therapist, I can tell you he’s spot on. Save yourself from a painful divorce, custody battles and years of bitter entanglement with a monster that you can detect while the stakes are low. The healthy singles that will still make you happy 14 years later and won’t stop loving you & your children can be found if you know what they look and sound like.

I highly recommend this easy read to any single that finds Dating confusing or difficult.

Goodreads Review of “Bad Boyfriends” – “This book will save singles immense pain…”

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook Cover

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook

A new Goodreads review of Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner:

Kimberley rated it 5 stars out of 5 – “it was amazing!”

Bad Boyfriends is a guide to help women (or men) navigate the world of dating, particularly helping them in weeding out “avoidant” men (or women) who don’t have the capacity of participating in a healing, nurturing, healthy relationship without a great deal of therapeutic support and deep work. This book is going to save singles immense pain if it helps them discover this attachment style (and other pathologies) early on, before much time is invested in the relationship. My ex-boyfriend has been heroically honest with the women after me that he begins to date, letting them know that this is his attachment style, and so far, no woman wants to begin a relationship with him. I don’t think relationships work with this type of person because if they meet another avoidant, neither can sustain a relationship beyond a month or two. If they meet someone with an ambivalent attachment style, like me, it will become a living hell for the ambivalent partner. The avoidant doesn’t feel the pain of loss when a relationship ends and actually welcome the end and is relieved by it. There is some hope for an avoidant if they can be with a partner with a history of secure attachment. It will take a great deal of patience on the partner’s part and the ability or desire to be alone a lot.

New Review of “Bad Boyfriends” – “Buy the Book!”

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook Cover

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook

A new review of Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner:

5.0 out of 5 stars

You may not be in a sick relationship, but chances are you know someone who is. BUY THE BOOK!

By Pat Pattersonon April 8, 2016

I obtained this book through the Kindle Unlimited program; therefore, even though I paid for the privilege of reading it, I do not show as a Verified Purchaser.

From his comments, Jeb Kinnison wrote this book for the self-help section of the bookstore. I would very much like to see this included as a part of the curriculum in all helping-professional programs. I’ve finished several of those programs myself, which means I’ve got a lot of degrees; but so does a thermometer, and you know where to stick that. Reading this book, and remembering some of the couples I counseled as a freshly minted M.Ed., I blush a little, and sort of wish I could go back and apologize.

The book starts with a bit of science, but it’s not enough to frighten off a person of average intelligence. As long as you remember that there is more survival value in fear (THERE IS A TIGER! RUN!) than in aesthetic pleasure (Oh, what a lovely sunset), you have the core message of the biology of the brain that you need.

There is a self-assessment form included in the book, and a link to an online form. Since I read this with a Kindle, it was an easy click, and that just sets all sorts of jingle bells ringing for me. Maybe someday, instead of a hyperlink to the internet url, the books will perform that function themselves, and include the info gathered in the rest of the book….I dream.

The PRIMARY advantage of the book is that it is a common-sense approach to good relationships that anyone can understand. If you can identify the toxic issues that have cropped up in past relationships, you have a CHANCE (not a guarantee, because nothing is) of choosing not to walk down that road.

The SECONDARY advantage is that the person with the toxic patterns will be able to see themselves, see what it is that has prevented them from being able to give and receive love in the past, and work on it. This CAN happen, by the way, although it’s less likely.

My favorite part of the book is Chapter 18, The Tyranny of the Fairy Tale. Oh, how I wish that I had this force-fed into my spinal column at age 18! It would have saved me and a few others a great deal of grief. The fairy tale, expressed in my words, is that there is just one love for you in this whole world, and if you find that person, life is wonderful; on the other hand, if you don’t find that person, the best you can hope for is misery. In 1971, all caught up in youthful enthusiasm and the age of Aquarius and an unhealthy dose of mysticism, I believed the fairy tale was true; and I also believed that I had found my One True Love, and spent the better part of a year attempting to persuade her that we were meant for each other. Fortunately, she wasn’t as irrational as I, and eventually, I took a hike; a mournful hike, filled with deep sighs and groans. Also fortunately, many decades after I had been disabused of the fairy tale concept, I had the opportunity to spend some time with her, and realized that we had gone in two completely different spiritual directions, and that our lives were utterly incompatible. And that was a final clearing of the decks which allowed me to seek a mature relationship with a fitting partner, in my latter years, free of the fairy tale.

Conclusion: buy the book. And, if you have any influence at a school preparing counselors, pastors, social workers, or any other members of the helping professions, advocate for this book to be adopted into the curriculum.

Gift Idea: New Review of “Bad Boyfriends”

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook Cover

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook

A new review of Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner:

5.0 out of 5 stars good introduction to attachment styles, December 15, 2014
Verified Purchase
Book provides a clear, concise summary of various attachment styles and issues. Also gives plenty of citations and references to other works for deeper study. Enjoyed the read and found myself nodding “yes” through most of it.


The printed version could be a good gift for those single people in your life who seem to be having trouble finding a mate. If you’re daring, anyway!

You can also gift a Kindle version — look for the gift button. This eithr sends and email to the recipient with a code, or you can have it send the code to your email address so you can give it in a different way.

Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men

I noticed Dalrock linked to this post, which is quite a good example of the phenomenon of single people approaching middle age: the music has stopped, the chairs seem to be taken, and no one that’s left seems like good marriage material. The post, by Tricia Romano at the Daily Dose, is so full of stereotyping, prejudice, and hurtful snark that I think it’s worth quoting most of it….

I sat across from him and listened. He was trim, tall, bearded (as they all seem to be), a recent transplant, having only lived in Seattle for a year or so and worked at a start-up, after burning out at Amazon (as they all seem to have). He rode his bike around town; he had good taste in food and wine; and he lived across the street from where we were meeting. He was a software engineer or did something in tech (as they all did). And he was utterly unmemorable.

I don’t think he asked me a single question about myself. Our date—if you call these impromptu Internet meetings, dates—lasted an hour. It felt more like a job interview, but not the way a date is supposed to be a job interview. There was no grilling about where you were from and what your family was like and what you were looking for.

No, I spent a half hour or more listening to him talk about his job. Since I am not in the tech industry, I don’t understand any of it. It was all job speak—the type of language ladder-climbers use; it was the kind of talk that shuts vaginas down cold.

… As Amazon grows, the number of (boring) men grows too. The gender disparity is bad enough in San Francisco that one company, The Dating Ring, has resorted to flying women into San Fran from other cities.

You might think an abundance of men is a great thing, but as a wise woman once said, “The odds may be good, but the goods are odd.”

“I’ve lived in Seattle for seven years, single most of them,” Annie Pardo, a 31-year-old freelance event and communications consultant in Seattle, wrote in an email. “The only thing that has changed is the increase in men I’d never want to go out on a date with.” She added, “Can’t believe they actually strap on those new employee book bags.”

For Reifman, the number of men versus women presents a challenge for guys like him—he can’t seem to get a date or hold the attention of the women he’s courting because, presumably, he’s got so much competition. But the reality is that all he has to do is have a personality. I’m serious.

The exact same scenario has been playing out in San Francisco for the last few years. One woman, Violet, a 33-year-old who has lived in the Bay Area for eight years, with one of those in the “belly of the beast,” Palo Alto, experienced many of the same things I and other women did. They had money, but they were boring. They had a lot to say about their job, but their development as a complete human being seemed to be stunted. And they exhibited little to no interest in the other person at the table.

“There were a lot of tech men. I could talk a blue streak about them. I don’t have much positive to say. The biggest thing, the thing that bothered me the most is I felt like my intelligence was greatly devalued,” she wrote. ”I am a smart woman. I have a master’s from Berkeley in philosophy. My brain is very abstract, though, the exact opposite of so many men in tech who have very concrete/literal brains. They interpreted information as intelligence. I constantly felt like I wasn’t seen or valued by them, even though I experienced a lot of them as having a very limited view of the world.”

Carla Swiryn, a matchmatcher for Three Day Rule, a start-up that offers curated online dating services in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, said that her female clients are often hit with a double whammy: “I often hear women say they either date A-holes or nerds—or if they’re really lucky, both in one,” she said. “They feel like they’re dealing with someone who has poor social skills, not a lot of style, and isn’t that attractive, or is decently good-looking, successful, or cool, but by default knows it and acts like it, with a huge ego and selfish mind-set in tow.”

One woman, Bridget Arlene, spent three years in Seattle for graduate school, and said that she actually moved out of the city, in part because of the type of available men—most of whom had computer science or engineering degrees and worked for Google, Microsoft, or Amazon. “The type of person who is attracted to these jobs and thus to the Seattle area seems to be a socially awkward, emotionally stunted, sheltered, strangely entitled, and/or a misogynistic individual,” she wrote in an email. Arlene said that she was once contacted by a Microsoft programmer on OKCupid who required that she read Neuromancer before “he would consider taking me out on a date. He was not joking.”

In Seattle, it has been easy to hook up, but hard to find anyone really interesting or worthwhile for the long term. The majority of the guys who are moving here for companies like Amazon seem to be their late 20s or early 30s, and they are new and exploring the city. And that means they are exploring the city’s women.

This wasn’t what I’d signed up for. I’d moved back to Seattle, in particular to Capitol Hill, because when I’d lived here during the ’90s it was a beacon of diversity for weirdos. (I stress “weirdos”—there are few people of color in Seattle.) The weirdos were: young gay boys, old hippies of varying sexuality, straight artists and musicians, softball lesbians, punk-rock dykes who played house music, metal musicians, ravers, or people into the fetish scene. They were not straight, white guys from flyover country or California imported by a software company. They spent their time doing things other than making Jeff Bezos more money.

The problem has become pervasive enough in Seattle that when I went with a few girlfriends to Pony, one of the last true gay bars on Capitol Hill, I was shocked when I found out that the adorable pair of 25-year-old boys talking to us were heterosexual. They were there because—as one of them told us—”It was the only place on the Hill on the weekends where there are no bros.”

After I posted inquiries on Twitter, I was besieged by women with similar stories of entitlement and dullness in the men of San Francisco and Seattle.

@Iamuhura wrote: “I honestly am thankful every single day that I’m no longer single. Tech dudes are generally 7s looking for 10s. But they think they’re 11s and spew that entitlement wherever they go.”

Even men had something (nasty) to say: Wrote one guy to my request, that I “want to hear about your dating life + how the men in the tech industry have changed it”: “I think you accidentally said ‘changed,’ but what you meant was ‘ruined forever with their awfulness.’”

Why were they so awful? What was it about guys who work in tech that made them worse than lawyers or other white-collar industries?

In a way they exhibit some of the same qualities of those professions—ego, arrogance, and unlimited amounts of cash. In San Francisco, said Violet, “There were a lot of men to date with disposable income who wanted to take women out. It’s just, it was so boring,” she said. “My dating life went from dating artists and writers and going on cheap but exciting dates, to men who thought the ability to buy someone an expensive meal made them interesting.”

Because there are so many people in tech in Seattle and San Francisco, it is like the men in tech have eaten two previously diverse and interesting cities whole. The phenomenon of programming taking over as one of the top white collar occupations (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and mathematical science occupations are “projected to add 967,000 jobs in 2014,” the fastest growing in professional occupations), and the new breed of programmers that are being pumped into the tech sector—derisively dubbed “brogrammers”—is explored deeply by Nick Parish in Cool Code, Bro: Brogrammers, Geek Anxiety, and the new Tech Elite. (Full disclosure: I edited this eBook.)

With the advent of programming as a mainstream career, the nerdy, awkward programmer who liked Game of Thrones before it was a TV show has been supplanted by cocky, arrogant guys who, in another life, would go into finance. It is bad enough that I’ve include a line on my OKCupid account: “NO: Brogrammers.”

“SF, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Man Jose (I mean, San Jose) are all tech-centric, and a potential problem there is that it can attract residents who want a certain kind of lifestyle—namely, a successful but very hectic one,” said Swiryn. “It’s a magnet for a lot of Type-A personalities. And while there’s nothing wrong with that personality or lifestyle, it can create a proportionately homogenous population, making it harder to find a balance with people which is necessary in any successful relationship.”

When everyone is exactly the same, you don’t get exposed to different worlds the way you would if you met someone who was a metalworker or a sculptural artist, or an actor, or an industrial designer, or a university professor. Books they read, plays they go to (or star in), people they know, parties they go to—these things are hopefully different than, but complementary to, your own world. The hope is, you’ll learn something interesting, and vice versa. When I went to Paris, I went on OKCupid dates with several men as a way to see the city and perhaps have a romantic excursion; one worked at a movie production studio, another was a video editor; one guy worked in finance; another was an interior designer. Each one was thoroughly different than the other.

Homogeneity in and of itself isn’t “bad,” said Parish. “It’s just not exciting. Part of the fun of dating is the intermingling of worlds, and the thrill of new experiences or new environments. A basic, beige scene full of clones is counter that, and emotionally stifling.”

“I don’t see increasing sameness as leading to anything but narrow-mindedness and dysfunction,” said Violet. “Add ego to the mix and it’s dangerous.”

The new tech bros have one thing on their brains—making money. They are different than the programmers I knew from ’90s, many of whom were also artists—musicians, photographers, DJs, involved in underground and alternative subcultures. They were freaks. Coding was as much a creative activity as a means to making money. If you got into computers in the ’90s, you were already a little weirder than the rest of the world, you already thought differently. Now that computing is trendy—and economically fruitful—it’s attracting a different kind of person altogether.

“I can see exactly how the tech group in the ’90s may have been more interesting because they actually were disrupting things. They changed culture, and you can’t do that without not only a driven focus but also a wide lens,” said Violet.

Today, she said, “I went out with so many guys who thought they were a part of some big revolution, but who looked to me like any establishment dude in a suit. There was a lack of awareness that they are the establishment now. They wanted it all, to be treated like a tech revolutionary and to be fawned over like a millionaire banker. Who I was got completely lost in the mix.”

“The sad thing about guys who exhibit these brogrammer qualities is they seem to fall short of greatness in both worlds,” said Parish. “They’re not purely macho or purely geeky, they’re somewhat pretenders in both, and I would imagine that’s very obvious to most women.”

For her part, Annie Pardo sees at least one comical upside to the endless stream of dull tech men: “These dudes are easily recognizable with their PCs, backpacks, pulley ID badges, short buses.”

You can see them coming a mile away. There’s just enough time to run.

Having rounded up everyone she could on Twitter who agreed to join her grievance party, she did write an entertaining (and click-baiting) piece. But look behind the snark and you see a woman who judges based on style, clothing, and manner, and finds the worst in every man she meets. As a former programmer and resident of Palo Alto, I have to agree many programmers lack social grace and quite a few show signs of Asperger’s (or as we are now supposed to say, high-functioning autism spectrum disorder.) But many are socially graceful, and interesting, and empathetic, and interested in intellectual discussions with women. I just have a feeling that Ms. Romano gives off vibes that she may not be aware of, with disdain for men who are not musicians or artists or writers, who do not dress carefully and who may be too busy to follow all the cultural news she, as a journalist, has time to follow. And because of her signals, the single men of Seattle who she might have found more interesting steer clear.

One of the comments to her post is the best possible rebuke of her attitude:

This is the first time in a very long time that I read something and just genuinely felt hurt over someone else’s words so I’m going to share my story. Dating in Seattle has been very challenging for me. I moved up here almost two years ago freshly married to a girl I was crazy about having dated for six years. We moved because she came to a cross roads that either she had to choose a career or being with me, which we were living in a small college town and I had a stellar state job in IT. In my mind it was a no brainier, make the career sacrifice for her to work at Boeing and rebuild as it was her turn to shine. Fast forward a year, she is involved in a detrimental emotional affair that causes her to self destruct the marriage and I’m single again after 7.5 years at age 30 but just starting a stellar opportunity at Microsoft.

After taking some time to myself, I’ve entered the Seattle dating scene. Working at one of these mega tech companies means you are in a very male environment with opportunities to interact with women being far and few between thus making it not a viable source of individuals to date. Online dating was a total faus pax last time I was single, and has come a long ways to being socially acceptable now. I’ve invested in it some on OKC and Match but as a male it has been a giant time sink for me. As a 5’9″ average build intelligent decent looking guy with the divorce black mark who writes short but meaningful intro messages with some tasteful humor in my profile the response rate is staggeringly low for just trying to start a conversation. Online really removes your ability to have your personality come across no matter how well you try to sneak it in and is more of a quasi human shopping catalog. Funny enough though Tinder has been great for striking up conversations and has led to a few good dates so far.

That leaves me with the bar scene and extra activities. I see these type of tech guys you speak of who are well off, non committal and just shopping around for sex. They aren’t the majority and personally I find easy to spot. A vast majority of the girls I run into either just want a one night stand which I’m against, or make them selves unapproachable. I don’t blame them for being so standoffish, the hookup stigma of Seattle would do the same to me if I were in their shoes and treated the way I’ve seen people act towards them. I’d probably do better just visiting more darker dive bars and striking up conversations, but those places aren’t very fun in the down time. Then there are extra activities, which for me has been Underdog sports. This truly is a great way to meet people and stay active. It has been my saving grace in actually having a shot in the dating scene. I haven’t met anyone directly through the sports that I’ve dated yet, but it just starts the networking process so many of us transplants need to go through to meet quality people.

I’ve worked very hard to be at where I am in my career. I’m not a programmer but work deeply in computer operations daily. We all have taken different roads to get where we are, but yes this is a very lucrative competitive field of work that has great perks. With that some individuals have developed a mightier than thou ego, but many others are extremely humble. Many of us in this industry have to live/eat/breathe what we do which may lend to talking about our work more because it is our lives. Others have passions that include competitive gaming or other “nerdy” hobbies that they don’t dare talk to girls about. Personally I really avoid talking about my job on dates because it is so hard to explain in a way that others can understand. I usually use some vague language like “I keep the magic working for 900 machines globally” and just try to leave it at that which actually has annoyed a few people. Luckily I have the gift of gab, hold interesting conversation with just about anyone I meet and have relate-able hobbies, but I know many others who don’t but are just quality guys if someone is willing to invest a little time.

So what is the point of me giving up my life story to the internet and situation I’m in? Generally I don’t give these type of articles my time of day and I’m not going to bash it or you even if there is a small part of me that wants to because it hurt me. I saw a friend post this on his facebook and even though he fits your identification method he is a stellar guy who hasn’t had the best luck finding quality girls who give him a chance. My gut feeling is he too felt put down by what you wrote and I wanted to put a “face” to this horrible stereotype you crafted. I’m a very interesting caring individual who truly valued my partner but was dealt a shitty hand and had the carpet pulled out from under me. It is a mentally and emotionally extremely challenging process to go through and really makes you question yourself. Luckily I have amazing friends and family that kept me going in the right direction. The thought of dating comes with highs and lows of mixed emotion as you put yourself out there again that can make or break your day.

What you wrote grouped me in with the rest of the other backpack toting, wearing a pulley ID tech men who ride the short bus. Many of us are in fact transplants which further increases the diversity and life experiences we have all had. Couple that with staggering numbers such as 10,000 people at the south lake union campus of Amazon, or 40,000 at the Redmond Microsoft campus(not including Bellevue) and you have a very large group of men to date. Somehow though you managed to come up with a way to identify all of us which resonated with me, so kudos to you there, and then put us down so harshly which made me feel very small today. I know personally though that I am the exact opposite of your complaints with this demographic, but you are telling all women out there “Hey here is how you can notice this type of boring self centered guy from 10,000 feet away, keep them there” even if from that distance you can’t even judge a smidgen of who they are. That negative association that I strive so hard to never be made me feel like shit, and I’m certain it also did for others.

Personally I think your article isn’t informative at all, does a disservice to women looking for quality guys and highlights a side of you that isn’t appealing. I would much more love to have seen an article for women like you who are attracted to the wrong type of guys and how to break those habits. Anytime I encounter someone complain about anything in life being lack luster such as their personal body image, people they meet, jobs they get I wonder what have they done to change the outcome. As for yourself, I’d personally look deeply into why you keep meeting the same type of guy and how do you manipulate the outcome. It can be a wide variety of reason such as having unreasonable expectations of a first date, to needing to change your behaviors like where you spend your free time in order to meet a different type of guy. A type of guy does not include where he works and what he does for a living.

I could dive into all kinds of reasons, but the take away here is you control the outcome through personal change instead of just complaining about it. You took the latter route and expressed your lack of personal awareness in the form of grouping 10’s of thousands of men, put them down in a public setting and encouraging women out there to do the same. Luckily for me I know that the quality women out there wouldn’t make such blind assumptions and the silver lining in your article is that if someone does listen to your advice you just saved me $50 bucks on a date that I’ll never have with someone I wouldn’t have wanted… Hopefully you learn the former route and can save your sex life before it dies as that is one thing Amazon doesn’t sell.

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More reading on this topic:

Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Modern Feminism, Social Justice Warriors, and the American Ideal of Freedom
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Evolve or Die: Survival Value of the Feminine Imperative
Feminism’s Heritage: Freedom vs. Special Protections
Red Pill Women — Female MRAs
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications

Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking pseudoscience


Nice article in today’s New York Times by Shaila Dewan:

When Misty Terrell turned 28, she happened to see an ad for a special deal on the dating site eHarmony­ and decided it was time to get serious about her love life. Terrell felt pretty optimistic. The site claims responsibility for 542 marriages a day through its “scientific approach” to finding soul mates: an exhaustive questionnaire, the trademarked “29 dimensions of compatibility” algorithm and its clinical labs where psychologists spend hours analyzing couple interactions. For this sort of comprehensive matchmaking, the company charges $60 a month, which is far more than most dating sites, but perhaps something of a bargain when it comes to finding true love. Terrell signed up to receive five potential matches a day for six months.

I checked out eHarmony for myself, curious about their personality tests. I wasn’t impressed; mostly very basic and obvious compatibilities, and unlike many carefully-constructed personality tests, no attempt to detect the more obvious liars or people with either inflated or depressed self-esteem. But as screening, they do tend to keep you from matching the most unlikely sorts, which does save some time.

Her first encounters, however, were not all that great. One guy’s mother chauffeured them to dinner; another date took her to the Chili’s where his ex-girlfriend worked. So Terrell tweaked her settings to encourage better potential matches. She unchecked the box for sci-fi fans but still remained unimpressed by the selections. “It’s kind of like, Whom am I not getting introduced to?” she says.

So she applies her own prejudices (however much some sci-fi fans might resemble Comicbook Man from the Simpsons, most do not) and tries to outguess the algorithm. That didn’t work.

Nowhere are the middleman’s limitations more evident than dating websites. Consider, for instance, that they don’t even do the thing we perhaps most want them to do: vet potential matches for truthfulness. As a result, you almost have to assume that the lovelorn are lying about their height, weight and income; the entire online dating market, despite its immense popularity, is a giant buyer-beware zone. Some dating sites have tried to address this, writes Paul Oyer, the author of “Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned From Online Dating,” including a Korean site that checks national registration forms, diplomas and proof of employment. Oyer suggests that more and more companies will compete in this heavily vetted space. But it’s difficult to see that type of scrutiny — in which our profiles are written by some third parties in white coats, after a weigh-in and a background check — going over in the United States, where privacy concerns are paramount. In the meantime, that buyer-beware zone is likely to continue.

Vetting backgrounds is something one should always do, but only after finding a promising candidate. This is not time-consuming; and since you are of course cautious and setting up any first meeting in a public place, you are free to turn on your heels and leave if the lying was too blatant. The real question is whether the candidates the service brings you are worthy of your time in going through them. People who sign up on dating sites tend to be one of two types: those who are busy and have a limited social network that has few people they find attractive, and those who are found unattractive by most and are trying online out of desperation. The first type is a good pool to look in, the second, you wish to avoid contacting — luckily most will show their flaws even in limited interaction online, or on the first date (like the man who had his mother chaffeur the date!)

The good news is that the more seemingly useless brokers are, somewhat counterintuitively, the more valuable they can be in signaling our interest — what Oyer might call the “money to burn” move. If anyone can wink at you free on a dating website, or for that matter beam in a job résumé, their actions don’t mean much. On the other hand, if someone fills out hundreds of questions and pays $60 a month — or in the case of a job applicant, researches a company and writes a detailed proposal — it signals a much deeper interest.

So, on some level, an expensive broker does nothing more than indicate the level of your game. Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, a Harvard Business School professor and author of “A Social Strategy,” examined hundreds of thousands of interactions on dating sites and found that the profiles people view on eHarmony­ are very similar to the profiles people view on other sites. The vaunted matching algorithm, he says, doesn’t really do that much that you can’t do for yourself. And as much as we may appreciate having our choices limited, if only to save us from being overwhelmed, from a purely economic standpoint, there is no benefit to limiting your own options, even if it means getting sucked into a time-consuming rabbit hole.

The site’s clients, therefore, are at least motivated and can follow through on complex, multi-step actions, including putting up some cash. Which does winnow out lots of losers and dangerous sorts. Your future stalker, however, is undeterred and works hard for the opportunity to meet you!

What is more valuable, Piskorski says, is that eHarmony­ limits its other members’ choices. In other words, it reduces the competition and makes the market smaller. That means that people whose highly visible characteristics might otherwise disqualify them from consideration (short men, older women) are more likely to get a fair hearing on the site. In one paper, Piskorski and his co-author, Hanna Halaburda, went so far as to theorize that a broker could make selections completely at random and still benefit you, simply by limiting the options on both sides of the transaction. “Suppose the broker was clueless,” Piskorski says. “All that broker did was restrict choice, just match people randomly. It’s what you worry that the broker is doing. Would people still pay for that? Yes.”

And this is particularly important, Piskorski says, for people in a hurry. “Our entire economy has been built on the idea that more competition is better,” Piskorski says. “It drives innovation and reduces prices. But if everyone competes with everyone else, no one actually wins. Then it is better to restrict competition.” As much as consumers may be intoxicated by the prospect of the democratizing force of the Internet, or the notion that everything should be free, most of them simply don’t have the patience to put up with it. You may make more money by selling your house on your own, but if time is a factor, an agent can sell it faster. If you have all the time in the world to date and don’t mind doing it, you don’t need to pay eHarmony­. But if you feel that time is running out and you want to meet other people who want a serious relationship, you should.

This is very poorly expressed. Limiting choices at random is not helpful; limiting undesirable others’ ability to see you and waste your time is. This is why Tinder has done well: it allows women, otherwise very hard to lure into a dating app where men can harass them, to be seen and spoken to only by men they have already selected as suitable. Since this greatly increases the number of quality women on the site, it also serves the interest of male clients.

In the end, dating sites are another tool to meet people. They can save time and energy over real-world meeting places, and perhaps allow you to consider more carefully personality over such factors as height and immediate sex appeal (which, as I argue in the book, are not useful guiding factors for long-term partner choice.) If you have unusually specific needs (say, your partner must be Jewish and you live in a town with few Jews), they can be invaluable. But for most it will still require a lot of patience and care.

And the article goes on to note that Misty Terrell met her future husband on eHarmony just as her subscription was running out.

PS — At a reader’s suggestion, I joined okCupid and answered 100+ questions. What was interesting is that 1) There were no real attachment type questions; and 2) There were intelligence testing questions requiring some thought. This means that at least smart people can seek out smart, competent people willing to sit through a lot of puzzles.

All dating sites have a business model dilemma: the more questions they ask and the more difficult and intrusive the sign-up process, the fewer customers they will have signing up. Most people try these things on a lark then get sucked in by the real people they are presented with to commit more deeply. okCupid is probably smaller as a result, but may have a higher quality customer. And still they rely on unreliable self-reporting and don’t really go after the most critical factor, attachment type.

New Book, First Post

I’m adding material as fast as I can to this website. My first book (Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner) was published at Amazon unexpectedly quickly, so now I’m catching up. The intention is to make the core content of the book (really useful especially to young single people) available here to get people started, and assume they will want to know all the rest as well by buying my book. One thing that’s easier online is taking the Attachment Type test; the simplified version in the book is not as good and is harder to score.

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