It’s hard to believe that the first online dating site Match.com launched 20 years ago. Meeting a partner online has become as much a part of our culture as hamburgers and fries, and it’s often responded to with the same feelings of love and hate. Still, it’s a big part of our culture and it offers a unique opportunity for meeting that someone special.
Everyone wants to find love and in todays super busy (albeit disconnected) world making online dating a viable option for many relationship seekers. Nearly nine-in-ten Americans are online, and dating on the Web has grown in both popularity and acceptance according to the Pew Research Center. The use of online dating is both an act of convenience and desperation. It has become harder and harder to meet a significant other in the modern day culture due to busy schedules and the natural reduction in socialization since the onset of the internet. As a society we are either working or behind our computers making it less likely that a random personal connection will be made.
The stigma has lifted from online dating, and it has become a bit of a pop-culture phenomenon with sites like Tinder and Ashley Madison coming on board. However, there are still many people who feel that dating online is only something people do when they have no other viable options. As a matter of fact, the Pew Research Center also reported that 21% of Americans agree with the statement that “people who use online dating sites are desperate”.
I had a friend once tell me that if you’re not online dating you’re not dating. While this sounds like a reasonable assumption the vast majority of relationships still begin offline, and it’s been found that only 5% of Americans who are in a marriage or committed relationship say they met their significant other online. Even the people who are dating don’t seem to be as lucky (or maybe it’s lazy) as you would think because one-third of online daters have not yet met up in real life with someone they initially found on an online dating site. Even though the stigma of online dating has subsided it would appear that many people are still finding a partner through more traditional means.
Pros and Cons
Online dating expands the market for daters, and it’s also less intimidating for people who might be shy or who are socially anxious. The risk of rejection is equally as high with online dating as it would be approaching someone in person yet the sting is less when shielded by a computer. This makes online dating a viable option for the daters who feel insecure or less confident in their chances of making a connection. It’s also a good option for people who don’t get the opportunity to socialize due to work schedules, being new to a city or being recently divorced with few single friends.
The downside of online dating comes into play around follow through and etiquette. There are no hard and fast rules for manners online so people tend to behave badly by failing to respond to emails or making lewd comments they would never make in person. Online daters end up experiencing multiple incidents of rejection simply because a lack of response is equally as hard as hearing no. Another downside to online dating is that it can be time consuming turning it into a “job”. It could take hours to search and sift through all of the sites members to find just one or two viable options. Time is definitely a big factor for many people who use online dating as a means of meeting a partner.
Fit or Flop
Online dating is a fit mainly because it increases the chances and creates a greater opportunity to meet that someone special. Love is a numbers game so the greater the pool of people, the bigger the chances of success. It’s particularly a good fit for the people that would be considered to be in a “thin dating market”. Many individuals have a limited number of available partners within their immediate social circles including people who are older, divorced or have other unique qualities that might be marginalizing.
Online dating, while being a good viable option should not discourage or diminish a person’s efforts to meet someone in real time. Daters need to be mindful of not relegating their dating option to the internet while neglecting to utilize their social time for the same purposes. Every situation offers the chance for connection if the intention and openness is there.