When a friend brings up dating apps, it’s not usually to tell you what fun they’re having and all the wonderful people they’ve met. More likely, you’re going to hear the words “nightmare,” “hellscape” and “wasteland.” For every potential match, there seem to be a hundred more profiles they can’t swipe away fast enough. Take it from singles: It’s no picnic out there.
One obvious issue is the difficulty of selling your looks and personality with a couple of photos and snippets of text. Sometimes it all comes off as bland and generic, while on the other end of the spectrum, you get overbearing types who write like they’re hiring for an unpaid internship that nobody is qualified for. The Facebook group “I AM A RANDO ON TINDER AND THESE ARE MY DEMANDS” explores this off-putting and sadly common attitude, which is of course not specific to any gender or orientation — it’s just the way a lot of weirdos approach the game.
But some straight men, frustrated by their options, decide that only women do this. Which makes a certain amount of sense when you recall that they’re only seeing women’s profiles.
Here we have a fairly extreme example of a woman listing the credentials she wants in a suitor. Her standards are so ridiculous, in fact, that a redditor crunched the numbers to figure out that her odds of meeting such a man in the New York City area are closer to one in a million than one in a thousand. This, I think, is the proper response to such a lunatic profile — have a laugh about it and be glad this egomaniac isn’t in your life. To agents of the manosphere, however, this kind of thing is deadly serious, and there’s a whole wing of the subculture built around the idea that it’s not a limited phenomenon but the devastating norm. Its home is the subreddit r/WhereAreAllTheGoodMen, where guys mock women for using the apps to seek out partners of decent pedigree, calling them gold diggers, entitled princesses and trashy, used-up sluts.
WAATGM blends a few strands of manosphere lore to construct a mythical narrative. It begins in youth, when the self-proclaimed “nice guys” fail to achieve romantic success with young women, becoming “friendzoned” while their crushes pursue fleeting sex with “alpha” males, or Chads. (A more vulgar term they have for this is “riding the cock carousel.”) In time, these women may become single mothers or, in any case, “hit the wall,” which refers to the point at which these men no longer consider them attractive — typically due to their age, weight or sexual history.
This, according to the subreddit, is when those women will turn to apps like Tinder and ask, “Where are all the good men?” The forum is obsessed with this turn in the narrative — a promised comeuppance and humiliation for anyone who rejected them in the past.
Outside this spiteful community, most of us understand that men without washboard abs and six-figure salaries get along fine in the dating pool — otherwise there would be far fewer couples. What makes WAATGM so damaging is that it takes a handful of profiles as evidence of intrinsic female greed, promiscuity, narcissism and haughtiness. A lot of the popular posts aren’t actual Tinder screenshots; they’re memes and comics that project these negative qualities onto the gender as a whole. Meanwhile, these guys attack real women for much less, like the temerity to use Bumble while raising a family or having the wrong sort of body. If you don’t want to date a single mom who’s a little overweight, you don’t have to — but her mere existence and desire for affection isn’t a sign that all women are consistently aiming out of their league.
In its reductive logic, WAATGM — a relatively new manosphere offshoot, established in 2017 — presents a clear pipeline from general dissatisfaction with dating apps to misogynist extremism. Maybe you wind up there with reasonable gripes about trying to connect on dating apps, but soon you’re exposed to vicious commentary that lays all the blame for this on women, as if men have no unreasonable standards or flaws of their own. You’ll also see links to r/TheRedPill, Reddit’s quarantined hub for discussing women’s supposed inferiority and duplicity, and r/inspin_tears, where users catalogue “involuntary spinsters” — basically any woman over 30 who isn’t married. There’s some overlap with Men Going Their Own Way, or MGTOWs, a demographic that professeses to have sworn off women entirely (while spending many hours detailing their violent hatred of them). The page even smuggles in a racist trope here and there, invoking fears of cuckoldry and pressure to provide for the child of an absent Black father.
None of this contempt and ridicule can mask the misery of the 87,000 men who subscribe to WAATGM. They tell themselves they’re reveling in the joy of seeing women brought low, but they are the ones desperately scouring the web for anyone whose circumstances will make them feel superior — and that’s about as low as you can get. What can you hope to gain by sharing yet another tweet from a “thot” who says she prefers guys over six feet tall? Their message offers no satisfaction, just a deepening despair that threatens to give way to radicalization.
If it’s true that a good man is hard to find, we can also say this: He ain’t here.