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If you are the sort of person who wonders why date after date goes badly wrong, could it be the stringent and frankly arbitrary rules - about race, or age, or income or whatever - that may be contributing to this?

We'd all like to think people would be attracted to us for our fascinating and complex inner self, but it seems plenty of folks are looking to tick a box.

The sheer number of cack-handed replies women of Asian ancestry get on dating sites has even spawned its own dedicated tumblr, Creepy White Guys.

Hilarious if you are simply an outside observer, and probably pretty depressing if you're someone getting these messages.

En español | You made the mistake of asking your adult daughter if that guy she went out with last night was "anything serious." She gave you a nonchalant shrug and smiled.

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After all, it gets awfully lonely waiting around for "the one." Perhaps you've decided that what you need at this point in your life is someone to talk to and laugh with — someone with whom you can share the sheets, but not the tax refund.The next morning (or even that night) come the recriminations: Was it wrong to give that person the sexual green light when you had no intention of rekindling the emotional side of the relationship?Marilyn, a 57-year-old single colleague of mine, recently reconnected with someone she had worked with many years ago. "No," Marilyn said with a laugh, "it's better than that: I'm in like with him — and that's exactly where I want to be." She further confided that they planned to make their reunions "a regular thing — if four times a year can be called 'regular.' But I think that's about all I really want." Marilyn's casual approach to maintaining a friendship with benefits typifies the mindset of older folks who have reconciled themselves to having "great fun" even if it's "just one of those things." And episodic pleasure-seeking may be more common than you think: In The Normal Bar, a book I wrote last year with Chrisanna Northrup and James Witte, we reported that 61 percent of female survey respondents who had partners fantasized about someone they had met.As well as race, online dating is famous for all kinds of social faux pas. A thoughtful online dater sends a pic of their face first.) In fact my time on dating and hookup sites is notable for the fact that only one person ever indicated through his initial contact that he had in fact read to the end of my advert, and dear reader, I married him.When I was single and dating at least I didn't have to contend with the horror of people fetishising my background, but that didn't stop a breathtaking number of penis pics making their way to my inbox. The impression that online dating is like online shopping, and lists of qualities add up to the perfect mate, goes against what we all know to be true in the real world: lists of stereotypes don't work.

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