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STRUGGLE SESSION: The Coming of AI Matchmakers, Too Many Dumb Dealbreakers, The Late Great Bea Arthur, and More!

On Thursdays I respond to comments and scriticisms from readers and listeners. Struggle Session posts are exclusively for Magnum Subs. So, if you’re already a sub, THANK YOU and read on! If you’d like to become one of my subs — which gets you the Magnum Lovecast (more guests, more calls, no ads), the Maxi Savage Love column (more Q, more A), the Sex & Politics podcast, Savage Love Live, Struggle Session, and bragging rights (you’ll be my sub) — subscribe here!

I shared my concerns at the top of Episode 866 about the potential for AI technology to “supercharge the machine of compatibility,” as Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe put it at the CODE 2023 conference. Where Whitney saw super-computer-enhanced compatibility filters as empowering — no more wasting time on people who don’t already go to the same restaurants you do — I saw them as harmful. The longer your list of dealbreakers grows… and the more dealbreakers your AI yente encourages you to list… the longer and more frustrating...

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...mputer-enhanced compatibility filters as empowering — no more wasting time on people who don’t already go to the same restaurants you do — I saw them as harmful. The longer your list of dealbreakers grows… and the more dealbreakers your AI yente encourages you to list… the longer and more frustrating your search for a potential partner is going to become. Says ClassQueer… While I think I agree with the spirit of Dan’s opening, I think he was muddling two different concepts into the term “dealbreaker.” There is a difference between “I won’t date a conservative,” which is totally valid IMO, and “someone I date has to be 6 foot tall,” which is exhausting. Those are facile examples, but there are a number of things that can just make someone fundamentally incompatible that are harder to suss out on a dating profile. Also, as a user of AI (programming), it’s a useful tool, but it should always be interpreted and checked by a human, it will be confidently and persistently wrong sometimes, even with something that a computer should be really good at, like writing code. I’m Dan Savage and I approve this message. But I could definitely see myself fucking and/or dating an honest and thoughtful conservative. I would never fuck or date a Trumper — fuck the fuck no — and anyone who’s still voting for Republicans and/or donating money to Republicans and/or making excuses for Republicans on TV or elsewhere is by definition a Trumper. (It’s his party now.) And while there may be honest and thoughtful conservatives out there, there’s no such thing as an honest and thoughtful Trumper. (All honest and thoughtful conservatives were “Never Trump From the Jump,” as they like to say at The Bulwark, The Online Home of Honest and Thoughtful and Fuckable Conservatives™.) But to your point, ClassQueer… While I agree that “someone has to be 6 foot tall” is exhausting, lots of people — particularly women people — screen for height on dating apps. So, I wouldn’t call height a “facile” example of the kind of filtering dating apps supercharge. Rejecting all potential matches under 6’ft on Bumble, Hinge, Tinder, Christian Mingle — and telling your personalized AI Yente to filter those guys out — might prevent a woman from meeting a perfectly wonderful man who tops out at 5’8″. And unless a woman regularly meets up with a random sample of the men excluded by her stated height preference (which is just one example of an arbitrary dealbreaker), the work being done by her AI Yente isn’t being “checked by a human.” Weenie shared her experience with dating apps we have now… I totally identify with Dan’s opening on the Lovecast Episode 886. I’m a cis straight woman and I spent over ten years (all of my 20s into my 30s) on and off the dating apps and it was an endless cycle of disappointment. I would sift through profiles looking for the perfect fit — not out of my league, but with X physical characteristics and Y interests. I was either rejected by the men I was super attracted to, or underwhelmed by the men interested in me. Why? Because I was ordering off a menu of ideal traits and, as a result, excluding so many people for esoteric preferences that ultimately were not that important. After all that misery I ended up hooking up with a coworker who is, in my opinion, way the fuck out of my league, with interests and certain characteristics I would’ve skipped right over on a dating app under the assumption that we were not a match. Turns out he is my 0.82 and we have been super happy together for going on three years — which is three years more than any online dating relationship I had. Long story short, searching for a mate based on a list of “ideal” preferences got me a whole lot of the wrong people, even though they seemed like they should’ve fit the bill on paper. I doubt my experience is all that unique. The last thing that we need is an AI to optimize the harmful filter we already develop for ourselves by virtue of the limitless choice (at least in a big city) offered by dating apps. I never would’ve found my partner on a dating app in a million years based on what I thought I wanted. An AI matchmaker like that will close more doors than it opens simply by listening to what we think we want. More people are meeting online than ever before; the pandemic convinced the last holdouts to get on the apps, and the work-from-home revolution means fewer chance interactions at work or on our way to and from work, which is driving more people to get on the apps. At the same time, more people are unhappily single now than ever before and the kind of “ordering off a menu” phenomenon Weenie describes — holding out for what you think is your perfect match — may be fueling that. (Lots of single people are perfectly happy; I’m not talking about perfectly happy single people here.) I’m no luddite — online dating is here to stay. My husband and I met the old-fashioned way, e.g., drunk in a gay bar, but we met our respective boyfriends online. So, I’m not telling people to delete dating apps. What I’m telling people is to keep your lists of dealbreakers short and not to rely on dating apps exclusively. (Go places! Do things! Meet people!) Remember: attraction isn’t always logical. We’re all surrounded by friends, family members, and coworkers who fell in love with people who weren’t what they thought they wanted. Chemistry is as unpredictable as it is un-algorithm-able. Eric offers a correction… “Yente” in Yiddish is someone who gossips. You meant matchmaker: shadchan. From Wikipedia: “There is a mistaken belief that the word for a Jewish matchmaker is yenta or yente. In reality a Jewish matchmaker is called a shadchan (שדכן). The origin of this error is the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof, in which a character named Yente serves as the matchmaker for the village of Anatevka.” I love your show and am a Magnum Sub! Keep up the great work! Thank you for being a sub, Eric, and thank you for the correction. But I would like to defend my use of the word “yente” to mean matchmaker. As the great John McWhorter reminds us… The fit between words and meanings is much fuzzier and more unstable than we are led to suppose by the static majesty of the dictionary and its tidy definitions. What a word means today is a Polaroid snapshot of its lexical life, long-lived and frequently under transformation…. To think of language as a list of words with set meanings is like thinking of the position of the clouds right now as somehow fundamental rather than as a passing moment. Fiddler on the Roof is an absolute banger of a musical and the performance of Bea Arthur, who originated the role of Yente in the 1964 Broadway premiere of Fiddler, was so amazing that it had the power to redefine the meaning of the word “yente.” (At least in American English.) So, I would argue that I wasn’t using “yente” in error, but using its new(er) meaning. But I can see how my use of “yente” to mean matchmaker could annoy Yiddish purists out there. (You weren’t the only one to write in, Eric!) And there’s a Catholic equivalent: people who think “Virgin Birth” and “Immaculate Conception” mean the same thing. They are two differentthings and I get very annoyed when people — some of them Catholic — use them interchangeably. A caller who was frustrated when the man she met on Hinge attempted to downgrade a scheduled dinner date — which she’d been prepping and dressing for all day — to a quick hookup at his place sparked a lively debate about whether dating apps were making life easier for serial killers or whether other forms of modern tech (GPS, CCTV, digital trails) were making life harder for serial killers. That debate moved Caestus to share something personal… The man who killed at least eight gay men, capping off with my best friend Andrew, did so over a period of ten years. He had been reported numerous times for violence. Before and during that period. After men started disappearing from the Gay Village and the community was complaining about a serial killer, the police were dismissive. A description and the first name of a man who had been previously charged for violent assault, was brought forward, and nothing was done. Yes, lots and lots of GPS, video, computer, internet data was collected… after the killer was arrested. One of the worst things about the whole botched investigation — and there are soooo many worst things — is how bungled things were like they seem to always be with serial crime. I get that Bundy, Dahmer, and Gacy got away for a long time because of stupid cishet white dude assumptions… but that shit was 30+ years ago. Apparently, policing does not evolve or improve. Maybe we should do something about that. /rant Sorry. I feel compelled to talk about Andrew when it is relevant. (I also refuse to name that man because serial murder is always about the killer, not the killed.) I’m so sorry for your loss, Caestus. To learn a little about Andrew and the other victims of the man who killed him, go here. Says Paul over at BlueSky… Dan! You follow me on the other place. I’m so happy you and others are making their way over here, too! Next mag sub meetup, I’ll post whatever invite codes I have to the chat. Let’s get the whole family over here! BlueSky (or Blue Sky?) is invite-only right now, and I’ve been giving away my invites as soon I get them. But I’ll save them up for the next Savage Love Live! If anyone else out there has BlueSky invites you want me to pass along to other subs, you can email them to me or share them — in private messages, please — at the next Savage Love Live! Tito, who wrote in via email, wanted to share something with the woman with 33 frozen eggs was on the fence about parenting… As a father of two (6- and 2-years olds) I certainly miss all the freedoms i took for granted before inviting all of this inescapable responsibility into my life, and before taking the leap I knew that I was going to lose some of them. However, looking back at the last few years before becoming a father, I was losing interest in certain aspects of my lifestyle — even though I kept going out regularly and having sex in all possible kinds of places. I’m not suggesting that you’re ready to have kids if you’re feeling dissatisfied with your life, rather that if you’re at the point where you feel fulfilled with what you do and you feel strong enough to take on something big and new, that might be the sign that you’re waiting for. I hope this helps! And finally… I got tagged into a conversation at The Bad Place… I… am not the best choice to answer that question. I am relationship-inept and that includes the end of them (and the start. Someone asked me out and I just laughed awkwardly and then fled.) I’m a doctor not an advice columnist so ask someone like @fakedansavage pic.twitter.com/49VSwnQaQa — Kay M. Dingwell🍁🩺🏳️‍🌈 (@CanadianKayMD) October 22, 2023 Happy to take that one off your hands, Dr. Dingwell: Go see friends (in public), go see movies (in theaters), go get ice cream (at place you can walk to that’s near a park where you can sit and eat your ice cream), go get some exercise (at a gym where you feel comfortable), go out and meet someone new (at a coffee shop or a bar or a club or the gym or the ice cream parlor or the park) and go fuck them at their place (where you’re less likely to be murdered). Just go — go places, do things, meet some new people, fuck a few of them. Repeat as necessary. (And remember, as recent Savage Lovecast guest Faith Hill explained, rebound relationships are good, actually, and the fastest way to get over someone is to get under someone new — and there’s research to prove it!) And finally… this week’s Muppet-Faced Man of the Week: Patrick Gilchrist! Always listen to the end of the show! And, yes, you’re definitely going to hear this played at the top of next week’s Lovecast!

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