We Know Discrimination Happens on Dating Sites and Apps! Here's How to Deal With It

Thomas Edwards
How to handle discrimination on dating sites and apps
I have a friend, let’s call him Matt. Matt’s a good-looking Asian guy with a solid career in the Aerospace industry. He’s affable, athletic, great in social settings, and has his feet firmly on the ground. For the sake of appearances, Matt is above-average height and appears to be professionally successful, given some of his profile photos. He’s what most consider a catch.

Unfortunately, Matt has had some less-than-stellar experiences on dating apps. He’s been the subject of discrimination, primarily, because of his race.

Matt told me about one time where he connected with a woman on a swipe-based dating app. Taking the lead, Matt initiated the conversation with an opener that was witty, unique, and specific to her profile. She soon responded with a, “sorry you’re not my type.” Matt, who wanted to understand more asked, “How so? You’ve hardly gotten the chance to know me.” Her response? “I’m not into Asians.” 

The unfortunate thing is she had initially swiped right, allowing him to reach out and connect with her. On top of that, sending that “I’m not into Asians” message caused Matt to be very confused and discouraged by the overall experience.

You may also like:

Dating and Relationships in the #MeToo Era: A How-to Guide for Women

Dating and Relationships in the #MeToo Era: A How-to Guide for Men

From having worked with literally thousands of clients I can tell you Matt’s experience isn’t unique, not even close. Sites like OkCupid have been putting out data about racial discrimination on dating sites, constantly showing Asian men, like Matt, are less desirable than other races. At the bottom of the list includes Indian men and Black women. And after a decade of more data, not much has changed. 

My friend Matt’s example is just one area of discrimination. There are other popular areas such as height, body type, income, religion, having (or not having) kids –– the list could go on.

While technology has made dating more accessible, convenient, prolific, and honestly, fun, it has made dating more complicated than ever before. 

The Complexity of Abundance

Sometimes even the most popular dating apps can give us a false sense of endless potential partners. You can swipe on potential suitors for what feels like forever, never reaching the bottom of the pool. This makes you:

1. think you *actually* have access to all those individuals, potentially tricking your ego.

2. substantially less tolerant because you know there’s countless others right behind that last person you swiped left on. 

“You’re always just one swipe away.” But when does the ease of dismissing someone become too easy?

Keep Abundance Simple by Meeting People Offline as Well

Meet people offline as well

While I am a huge fan of online dating –– I personally met my wife on Twitter –– it shouldn’t be the only way you’re meeting potential partners. Online dating should be used as a supplement to everything else you’re doing. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is relying on just online dating to meet someone. If that platform was to go away or not deliver results, it makes your chances of finding a partner virtually non-existent.

To really optimize your chances, you should also be meeting potentials offline. This will make you less dependent on online platforms, giving you higher long-term self-esteem, more options, and a less anxious approach to dating overall. Scared to go out and interact with people you’re interested in? There are many ways to learn how to meet someone in-person.

While making the pursuit of a partner online a little more efficient, combined with the ease of feeling protected by the perceived safety of your smartphone, online dating has allowed folks to easily “dismiss” someone within a matter of seconds, in a way that doesn’t happen in-person. This can easily turn into coming off rude and inconsiderate when it comes to how you interact with others on these apps. 

So How Do We Handle This? 

There are a few suggestions you can take that will help you get a handle on navigating these waters with less stress, discouragement, and impact on your self-esteem:

  • Look for the platform that gives you the best experience in your search for a partner. Just because “everyone is on that app” doesn’t mean you need to be there too. In my experience, my clients have found success finding their significant other in smaller, more focused apps than the bigger ones. Their success was based on where they were having the most interactions. Remember, there are dating apps for all types of people. Where you’re discriminated against in one app, you are a total catch in another. Be patient in finding the app that works for you.
  • Preferences vs. Discrimination. It’s important to know the difference. Unfortunately, when someone is selecting preferences/checking boxes on their dating profile, it can feel more like discrimination for someone on the receiving end. But remember, people are selecting their “ideal” person which, almost always, narrows down the field to an incredibly small percentage. Dating apps give you the perception the “ideal” person is actually in there, and then your actions reflect that mentality. What inevitably happens is your “hyper-scrutiny” can lead to poor results online. 
  • It’s not personal, it’s dating. People are selecting their preferences, and I would encourage you to not let that deter you if you’re interested in that person. Preferences are not always a reflection of reality. What you select on a dating app may not be what you end up ultimately attracted to in person. 

When my wife dated online, she never interacted with men who were younger than her… but when I showed up, it changed everything. I’m nearly 4 years younger than her and we’ve been together for nearly 11 years! So again, don’t take it personal and don’t let someone’s surface preferences deter you from pursuing them!

Navigating dating is an emotional process but if you keep at it, you’ll eventually find the one who loves ALL of you. They’re out there so have fun on your journey to meeting them!

Thomas Edwards
Thomas Edwards founded The Professional Wingman to help singles find long-term relationships by developing their social skills through experiential coaching. With his first-ever publicly available course, Dynamic Dating, Thomas teaches you how to create a lifestyle conducive to meeting, attracting, and getting into a relationship with women both online and offline, while staying true to who you are.