Original post here. And I forgot to highlight a link to the directory of dating docs.

Table Of Contents

1: Comments That Remain At Least Sort Of Against Dating Docs
2: Comments Concerned That Dating Docs Are Bad For Status Or Signaling
3: Comments About Orthodox Judaism And Other Traditional Cultures
4: Comments Including Research
5: Comments By People With Demographically Unusual Relationships
6: Comments About The Five Fake Sample Profiles
7: Things I Changed My Mind About

1: Comments That Remain At Least Sort Of Against Dating Docs

JDR on Marginal Revolutionwrites:

I think the date me docs are a worthwhile experiment, so I’m not knocking them. But what worked for me is quite different. When I look at relationships that I admire they basically have three things: 1) shared values, 2) something in common besides just raising kids together, 3) both people want to make it work.

What worked for me was just to go on tons of dates and quickly filter out women who didn’t seem to be compatible in those three areas. Shared interests is the easiest thing to screen for and it’s also the least important because over time you and your partner can develop things you like doing together (also why discourse about age-gaps in dating is dumb… spend a year with someone and you’ll have a lot in common even if they’re 10 years younger).

Values are a little harder to screen for since they are more personal and some people don’t feel comfortable answering personal questions right away, but basic things like whether they want kids or not, what part of the country they’d like to live in, etc. are easy to talk about on a first or second date. Others you can bring up over time. I literally had a list of about 30 things that were important to me and over a couple of months I would try to steer conversations to hit on them. If we couldn’t agree or find some sort of compromise we both felt good about I knew it wasn’t worth pursuing that relationship any further.

Whether the other person wants to make a relationship work or not is the hardest one to know, but you can get some idea about that by asking them what their thoughts on divorce are, under what conditions they’d get divorced, what they think makes a successful relationship, etc.

This cogently summarizes the position I don’t understand.

I agree that things like shared values are important. I agree that, in theory, you can go on a hundred dates and ask questions of a hundred people in poorly-lit expensive restaurants in order to winnow the pack down to the five or ten who share your values and might be worth getting to know further.

Or you could just have everyone list their values beforehand and only talk to the people who share yours. The list of values might not be perfect, but it’s sure better than going in blind. Seems like it would save a lot of time and avoid a lot of incompatibility.

Likewise, I agree that lots of people don’t like answering personal questions right away. I’ve heard a suggestion not to bring up scary things like children until the third date at the earliest. Fine, so now you have three dates per person in poorly-lit expensive restaurants before they tell you that actually they hate children and you were incompatible all along. Why would you inflict this on yourself when you can just start with a list of who wants kids and who doesn’t?


The problem here isn’t that profile description is a bad filter - it’s just that mutual physical attraction is a much more reliable one.

Text profiles are hard to verify, reflect self-image more than personality, and it’s still a cointoss whether you two actually vibe IRL. Meanwhile the photos are pretty foolproof - if someone shows up on a date not looking like the photos, the jig is up straight away. And it takes a split-second to judge a photo, when reading a dating doc takes a minute or more - making it faster to find your 1/500 person.

With all the dating apps switching to a swiping-based system, it seems like using apps as a first-pass attractiveness filter is a much more workable model than expecting them to sort people by compatibility - which was way easier 20 years ago where online dating was a niche for a specific kind of person.

In fact, from what I see, the vast majority of dating profiles you see on apps like Tinder don’t resemble any of five examples in this post. They’re simply empty or have a pithy one-liner. It’s very easy to discard these profiles as “not taking dating seriously enough” or “what do I even talk with her about”.

I strongly recommend in favour of attempting to match with these profiles anyway! Empty bio does not equal empty brain. Some of my best dates came out of matching with these wildcard profiles - purely on physical attraction alone. If there’s no long-term compatibility, that’s okay, spending an evening in the company of a stranger who finds you attractive is still better than staying at home. And anything more than that comes as an unexpected bonus.

I’m pretty skeptical about prioritizing physical attraction.

Absent any other matching criteria, attractive men are mostly going to go for attractive women, and vice versa. There’s some disagreement about who’s physically attractive, but not that much. If you’re a 5/10, you can either spam super-hot people’s profiles hoping a 9/10 has some bizarre preference-blip and decides you’re attractive enough to date, or just date other 5/10s or below, in which case congratulations, you’ve narrowed your dating pool down to half the population.

Compare this to values/interests/etc, where there’s less of a clear hierarchy and there are genuine gains from trade to be had. If atheists want to date other atheists, and Christians want to date other Christians, everyone can get what they want and be happy.

Of all the people I’ve had successful long-term flourishing enriching relationships with, only about half seemed more physically-attractive-by-my-standards than average, and none were as physically attractive as the suicidal borderline patient I had at the psych hospital who wouldn’t stop flirting inappropriately with the hospital staff. Still, I’m glad I’ve dated them and not her.

**MaxEdwrites: **

There are people out there like me, for whom “physical attraction” just don’t work. I simply cannot from photo, or even a glance at the “real article” alone judge if I want to date that woman. I mean, a lot of women look very beautiful in their dating profiles, and I understand their beauty - I just don’t have any reaction beyond “well, that’s nice to look at for about 30 seconds”.

A well-written text profile that ticks all my marks? Now THAT’S where I get excited. I’m very lucky I found my wife on OKCupid before it become Tinderized, because I had zero success on Tinder. No woman ever matched me, and I had hard time forcing myself to “like” them. While I went on many interesting dates on OKC, so it’s not that I’m exceptionally undateable - but Tinder-like sites don’t work for me.

My guess is that there are at least two kind of people out there - for some, physical attraction is easy. But for a (sizeable?) minority, it just doesn’t work and they NEED something like dating docs, essay-length profiles, questionnaires, anything but photos. As it often happens, the groups don’t understand each other. People who find physical attraction easy think we’re just ugly, or picky, or whatever. We think people who have success on Tinder are shallow and only look for one-night stands, not relationships. But reality is that we have different needs, and therefore it would be great to have different apps/sites to satisfy those needs. Which we no longer have, because everything is Tinder - it seems “looks” people are the profitable majority.


IRL you have three seconds to get someone’s attention and it takes ten seconds max for them to decide if they even want to talk to you, which is why your first words to them must always be a question. The swipe-right apps are little different. You have only seconds to make an impression. On first contact a salesperson doesn’t try to sell the sale. The salesperson tries to sell the appointment. Perhaps there are intellectuals who set aside time and sit down purposely to read through dating resumés, dull though they may be with little attempt to capture the reader from the first sentence. I think that a dating doc should only be communicated after initial contact and a primary expression of interest. At the very least it’s more graceful than going straight to intimate pix.

Sorry, I only read the first three words of your comment, and they weren’t interesting enough to make me read the rest.

Really, why do you expect me to read an entire paragraph to establish some boring point about dating docs, but not to spend more than three seconds evaluating whether or not someone is the love of my life?


Determining dating preference is a multi-armed bandit problem.

For those unfamiliar, this is a problem in computer science/machine learning. Imagine you have two slot machines - one of which has a 40% chance of giving you a dollar and one of which has a 60% chance of giving you a dollar. You want to make as much money as possible but you don’t know which is which. Assuming you have limited resources to play these machines you want to spend as much time as possible at the 60% machine, yes. But you also want to spend some amount of time confirming that you have guessed the right machine. Since you can never be completely sure which machine is the 60% machine, you employ a strategy that balances exploration to increase your confidence that you have the right machine with exploitation of the one you suspect is the 60% machine.

In dating you should also optimize for both exploration of your preferences and optimization of those preferences. Some folks like Scott may have a strong understanding of their preferences, plus be extremely high status and able to whittle down a large dating pool by several orders of magnitude and still find a match. Such a person should spend a lot of time exploiting those preferences because they’re optimized and possible to exploit. But for most folks, preferences are a guess at what would make them happy in a partner, not a 100% certain formula for partner perfection. You may have dimensions along which you’re very certain (“I want to date a woman”), dimensions along which you’re not so certain (“I think sharing my political affiliation is important in a partner but I’d be open to meeting someone who thinks differently”) and worst, dimensions along which you think you’re certain but you’re not (“Oh turns out I didn’t want to date a woman, something it took me 10 years to learn because I only went on dates with women.”). Plus for most folks, some amount of preference compromise is necessary, so knowing what is and is not a dealbreaker is another exploration/exploitation puzzle.

It’s not necessarily true that dating docs/expansive profiles/checklists/whatever have to silo you, preventing exploration and putting you all in on your guessed preferences. Someone who thinks critically about their own assumptions about their preferences might use these tools in a different way that actually helps optimize. But in practice, I suspect they do way more often than not.


People don’t think dating docs are weird and repellent because there are no legible criteria to screen potential partners. But these criteria should be a blunt, first-pass tool. If I want an atheist guy in his 30s in DC, and you’re a 20-year-old Christian woman in Ohio, we’re not compatible. Great. Tell people your basic criteria. But once you have someone who meets those first few basic, legible, criteria…go on a freaking date! You’ll be able to tell within 30 minutes whether you’re attracted to the person, like the person, and feel comfortable with the person. And you cannot determine this from any amount of reading and writing google docs.

Dating docs are weird because they’re incredibly long and detailed, and because the effort you spend writing ten pages about yourself and reading other people’s manifestos is effort that could more usefully be spent going on dates, and actually figuring out whether you like the person.

If you like them, feel comfortable with them, want to have sex with them…you’ll find that all the details on your 15th page about your ethical philosophy and tastes in video games absolutely do not matter at all.

I agree that like a good resume, a good dating doc should be short and to the point. Maybe this whole debate is between people worried about overly-long dating docs vs. people worried about overly-short ones, and if we were asked to judge specific documents most people would agree on whether they’re the right length or not?

2: Comments Concerned That Dating Docs Are Bad For Status Or Signaling


The thing that rubs people wrong about these dating docs isn’t so much that people express preferences or even that people try to make themselves sound good (this is bog standard for a dating profile) but that there is an implied “look at how high status I am” embedded in the assumption that lots of people are going to open your particular document and read through your personal essay to determine whether you would think they are a good match for you. On a normal dating site (or in real life) there is a certain symmetry: you see their (short) profile and say “yes”, they look at your (similarly short) profile and say “yes” back, then there’s a conversation that eats up time equally for both of you. It’s arguably true that requiring potential suitors to sign off on your 26 points of agreement before even starting to talk is more efficient since there are fewer false positives, but putting the burden of figuring that out on the other person just feels wrong to fairness-obsessed humans.

Oh, you really won’t like hearing about dating application forms (eg Jacob’s).

More seriously, this surprised me, since I think of dating docs as pretty respectful of other people’s time. What I can’t stand is the dating profile that just says “hmu :)” and nothing else, as if you’re such a hot commodity I should be desperate to go on a date with you without knowing anything about you, or that I should be willing to do all of the labor of figuring out whether we’re a good match by prying information out of you.

Is it presumptuous of a restaurant to tell you what kind of food they serve? What their hours are? What their prices are? Where they’re located? The story of how they were founded by an Italian immigrant trying to create food like his mother made back in Sicily with ingredients from blah blah blah? “Oooh, look at this fancy pizza place, they think I care enough about them to read their menu online”. Again, why do you want to know less about the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life than about where to go for dinner?

Hank Wilbon (blog) writes:

I would think that the problem with dating docs is they come across as desperate. At least, so long as they aren’t a normal way to meet people. Perhaps they will become so popular that they won’t appear desperate in the future, but right now they seem to signal: “I’m failing at meeting romantic partners in the normal ways, so now I’m trying this.”

So far the directory has Ivy Leaguers, models, dancers, startup founders, attorneys, and at least one person who is 6’4. I agree this is a potential failure mode of anything new, but so far I think it’s avoiding it.

Melvin writes:

There’s two questions here:

1. Should you have expressible dating preferences, and

2. Should you actually express them?

I would say that of course yes, it’s reasonable to have dating preferences, but you should be very careful about actually expressing them lest you alienate or repel even the people who satisfy them.

I once heard a story about a person with some bizarre fetish, can’t remember what it was, let’s say bloodplay. He couldn’t have or enjoy sex unless there was blood involved.

Obviously if you date a normal person and say on the first date “hey, are you willing to do bloodplay sex”, they’ll be turned off. But also, if you date them for months and they’re really starting to fall for you and then you say “by the way, I only have sex if there’s blood involved”, and they’re against that, they have a pretty legitimate grievance against you, plus you’ve wasted lots of your own time. I don’t think this person ever found a solution.

Clearly the everyone-is-rational-and-the-world-is-sane solution is for him to mention this in a dating doc and everyone else to update on the information, but not on the additional information that he mentioned it “too early”. I would like to be the change I wish to see in the world, so I try not to hold it against people when I see things like this.

3: Comments About Orthodox Judaism And Other Traditional Cultures


Hi, I’m an ultra-orthodox Jew, and I would like to point out a few things about “shidduch resumes.”

1) The single biggest thing that’s looked at are the schools the person attended. Ultra-orthodox high schools are generally selective, and most schools have a defined stereotype and perceived rank. This becomes even clearer after high school, when the boys go to yeshivas that are very often smaller than most high schools (my options for yeshiva were ~25 guys, ~30 guys, & ~160 guys), leading to even more sorting. Girls go to ‘seminary’ after high school and similar dynamics are at play for them. In addition, prospective in-laws are now able to ask the staff of the school about the person. This works pretty well only because ultra-orthodox jews generally get married less than one year out of the religious school system.

2) Another useful feature of these resumes is to provide references who are willing to talk about the person, which allows prospective in-laws the chance to see who their friends are, and how their friends describe them without meeting the prospective partner.

3) The basic outline of the reference will also tell you if the person has deviated in any significant way from the standard ultra-orthodox educational path, which is then interpreted in different ways according to personal preference. (If someone is currently in Yeshivas Brisk in Jerusalem, the path they took to get there may show that they are not a typical ‘Brisk Bochur,’ for better or for worse.)

4) Ultra-orthodox parents often support their sons-in-law in Torah study for several years after marriage, the resume may indicate how long such support is being sought or offered.

5) It also bears mentioning that in the orthodox jewish world, parents are heavily involved in their childrens’ dating lives, and the possibility of comparing potential partners is antithetical to all of the social & religious norms surrounding the dating process. People in the shidduch process are not supposed to see one profile that says “I’m in pre-med” alongside one that says “I’m a secretary in an elementary school,” instead, resumes are given to parents. Parents reject any that are extremely obviously incompatible, kind of as in Scott’s example, and then if they receive one that seems to make sense, they investigate. This includes general fact-finding (personal history, looks, family, sub-subsectarian religious affiliation, etc.), reputation checking (are they a ‘catch’?), and trying to get a sense of whether they would be likely to hit it off. The potential partners are then supposed to consider the combination of resumes, ‘backround check’, and any other information and decide if they are interested in dating each other. If they agree to meet, the partners are understood to be interested in the possibility of marriage; at this point the potential partners are now running things, mostly. This extremely high degree of parental involvement may make the high level of filtering easier than it would be for the person themselves, who may have a bias toward saying yes.

6) It is also worth noting that the general sentiment of the community is that resumes are a necessary evil, and we commit a gross injustice when we attempt to pin someone down to what can be stated on a resume.

7) Finally, it is worth noting that resumes are a relatively recent innovation, and while I am not certain when they became common, they definitely were not a feature of jewish life in prewar European communities.


The orthodox Jewish process is a lot more complicated than resumes, and resumes are not a longstanding tradition.


I’ll chime in here with a rough description of the dating process in my sub-section of the Orthodox Jewish population.

- Every single has a resume/profile. These can be extremely spartan with just basic bio info like name/parents name, DOB/place of birth and residence, school history, current employment details, or can be more detailed with information about what the person is like and what they are looking for. A picture of the person may or may not be included. But every single profile will include references.

- A “shadchan” (matchmaker) will have the idea that Jacob might be a good match for Rachel. She (the vast majority of shadchanim are women), will suggest the match.

- Jacob and Rachel’s parents or other close relative or friend will call the references on the profiles, and will additionally try to find people who know them and are not listed as references (the expectation being that people on the resume are vetted friends who are pre-disposed to say nice things about the person).

- They will be asking about most of the following: What is the single’s personality? What is their level of religious observance? What kind of home did they grow up in? Are there any medical or mental health issues? Where do they want to live? What kind of lifestyle are they looking for? They will not ask whether or not they want to have children; that is considered to be a given for any single choosing to participate in this dating system.

- If both camps like what they hear, the shadchan will coordinate a 1st meeting.

- The 1st date is formal. The man will take the woman to a nice bar or restaurant, and they will spend around 3-4 hours talking. There will be no physical contact, not even a handshake or hug. This is almost always purely a vibe check. Not much of substance will be said or shared, and the expectation is that there will be a 2nd date unless one party really doesn’t like the other person. The shadchan will coordinate the next date as well.

- The 2nd - 5th date will be spent verifying compatibility on the smaller things you can’t ask about in reference calls. The minutiae of religious passion and observance, interests, lifestyle preferences, how many children you want to have, are you actually doing well in your career, etc. At any point past the 2nd date it is considered appropriate to end things (via the shadchan) if you just don’t enjoy spending time with that person. Also at any point past the 2nd date the level of formality of the date is entirely the choice of the couple themselves.

- The 6th-10th dates are for DMC’s and chemistry building. At some point in this stretch the couple will stop using the shadchan as a go-between and communicate directly. If either party wants to end it, they will have to end it directly too.

- Beyond the 10th date the couple is assumed to eventually be getting engaged. This usually happens in the 12 to 18 date range. Couples taking longer than this is usually due to commitment issues on the part of somebody, family difficulties, or some characteristic on the part of one single that the other one is trying to get over.

- After engagement, the couple will get married within 3-5 months.

Results: (non-scientific numbers)

- 80% marriage rate by age 30, 95% by age 40.

- 5-10% divorce rate.

- 70% happy/functional marriage rate.


- We are raised from birth to see getting married and having children (as many as possible) as a pre-requisite to living a religiously correct and happy life. Our social structures encourage this at every level, and there is very little comfortable space for older unmarried people.

- We are raised and educated gender-segregated. We do not socialize with the opposite gender who are not our close relatives.

- We are raised from birth with firm gender roles. It’s the man responsibility to provide, and the woman’s to raise children.

- We are taught what to look for and value in a marriage partner: religious compatibility, someone who is kind to us and others, someone who will be a good parent someone who can fulfill their assigned gender role, someone who we enjoy spending time with. Men are told to look for a woman who can make them feel masculine, woman are encouraged to look for a man who makes them feel feminine.

- We are told to avoid getting hung up on physical attraction at the early stages. Attraction will grow naturally as you spend more time together and your chemistry increases. Declining to meet someone based on just their physical appearance is heavily frowned upon.

- We are also told to avoid getting hung up on any number of minor things: How they dress, if they talk too fast, if they work an uncool job, if you don’t like someone in their family, etc. We are taught that all of those things will fade or matter less as you get to know each other and as your chemistry grows.

- There is zero physical contact throughout the dating process until marriage.

- The man is expected to pay for everything throughout the dating process (if he is young or under-resourced his parents will usually pitch in).

- The parents of the couple will pay for the entire wedding (with community support for those needing it) and will also help setup their first home with furniture/appliances/dishes and the like.

Why did I write this megillah? Because Scott’s argument is entirely correct, and should actually be taken much farther than he did. People need to be preference-maxing. It’s easy to get married and stay happily married when you know what you want and have the tools to find potential partners who want the same thing.

I asked Sholom some followup questions, which you can find here. Most interesting to me: “The average man will date 5-6 people before getting married, the average woman will date 3-4”.


You should see the matrimonial section of Indian newspapers. However, I hope you won’t mock them.

They’re very earnest and absolutely open about things Americans would find non PC.

Often, the parents are placing ads. I only saw about 10 of these and one was an ad for a gay son - the mom was looking for a man for him.

Westernized folks there wouldn’t deign to use ads to find spouses for their offspring and while I think they’d have very similar preferences, they’d pretend to be very open minded. Therefore I find these ads charming.

I live in America and every time I visit India I browse a few ads in the papers because they tell me so much about things that have changed (or not) - since I grew up there.

4: Comments Including Research

Tailcalled (blog) writes:

I recently did a quick study where I asked people for their personality-adjective partner preferences, and then asked them what they meant by those. I think the answers were pretty revealing:


For instance, one guy who preferred an honest partner brought up the importnace of her not cheating on him. And one guy who preferred a nice partner brought up that he wanted her to take on a housewife-like role.

I think part of the issue is in using abstract terms like “nice”, when really everyone wants something more specific. Like the conservative guy wants a nice housewife, you probably want a nice girlfriend who doesn’t mock nerds and doesn’t aggressively push woke stuff, and a woke guy probably wants a nice woman who cares about the oppressed. You all agree that you want someone nice, but you disagree about what “nice” means.


The below article cites some research favourable to Scott’s case. A quote -

“Research in laboratory settings consistently shows that what people say they want in a partner has virtually no bearing on who they actually choose to date [citations] And yet, once people are in established relationships, they are happier when their partners match their ideals [citations].”


Kenny Easwaranwrites:

I think you’re overestimating how significant those numbers say political compatibility is. The study said that 4% of marriages are between a Republican and a Democrat, which sounds low, but given that something like 30% of people are Republicans and 30% Democrats and 40% Independents, you would only expect 9% from pure mixing. There are 17% between Independents and non-Independents, but from random mixing you would only expect 24%.

Great point! (though some commenters say the correct number would be 18%)

5: Comments By People With Demographically Unusual Relationships

Doug Swrites:

For what it’s worth, my marriage is a statistical anomaly. I’m an atheist liberal Democrat with an undergraduate engineering degree, and my wife talks to ghosts, voted for Trump, hasn’t finished community college, and, most astoundingly of all, does read books but does not like Terry Pratchett novels.

I started dating her around nine years ago. If you had asked me back then what I wanted in a girlfriend, she would have checked almost none of the boxes and probably should have set off a lot of alarm bells, but when you’re 32, not employed, living with your parents, and have never had a girlfriend before, when someone shows interest in you you’re inclined to give them a chance; it only took one date to decide she was a keeper, and ever since, in spite of problems that would probably make a sane man or woman run for the hills, I’ve never been happier or felt like my life has been more meaningful.

(Btw, she did give up on Trump after Jan 6.)


Interestingly, I’m an atheist (Dawkins, Dennett, the whole thing) and my wife of thirteen years is an ordained minister and our marriage is solid.

His wife is a Unitarian. I maintain it’s not surprising she’s married to an atheist, it’s surprising that she’s straight.


I had no idea how statistically rare my relationship with my spouse is. I’m a Christian Republican with a JD and they are a Agnostic Democrat that dropped out of college.

6: Comments About The Five Fake Sample Profiles

Dave Rolskywrites:

Jane has remarkably narrow tastes in anime for someone who likes anime. Someone should introduce her to Monster and Nodame Cantabile. But she sounds like a nice person.

Many of you had strong opinions about Jane’s anime preferences and what they said about her. I’m sorry if you wasted any brain cycles on this, I got them by Googling “what are famous animes” and including the ones in the list.

Eric Zhangwrites:

I think I’m in love with Hana.

Variants of this were the most popular comment. Sorry, I tried not to make it “five very different people and one of them is the rationalist and that’s obviously the good one”, but it was too hard.


Not done reading but I’d love to see a poll on into/neutral/eww for your fake profiles. Hana sounds obviously awesome and I have a hard time imagining anyone (anyone here?) ranking someone above her, but also would love to be wrong about that.

Autantonym ran such a poll, you can see results here. And there’s another one at Data Secrets Lox, results below:


This is an absurd question, Scott. I don’t know if it’s the asexuality or what, but the answer to your puzzle, or whatever you want to call it, of the five dating ads is:

1) Which of them is the best-looking?

2) Which of them is the best at giving head?

I don’t care about anything any of them wrote. None of that has absolutely any relevance for a relationship. Have your weird hobbies, girl!

I’m never sure how seriously to take comments like these, but I think it’s useful to think about the implications of 20% of the population meaning things like this 100% seriously.

7: Things I Changed My Mind About

I overcounted the low rate of Democrat-Republican marriages, which is only a little less than would happen by chance. It’s not mentioned here, but I also misread a page on interracial marriages: 10%, not 2%, of whites marry non-whites.

I agree with Kayla’s comment that a page worth of dating doc is probably enough for all practical purposes, and understand why people who have to read 15 page docs or whatever might get frustrated.

Otherwise, not much change.