What is Online Dating?
Matching profiles against a database to help introduce singles to potential life partners has been around for a long time. The oldest version of this was probably the fabled “Village Matchmaker” which we come across in stories every now and then. This dating phenomenon however, really took off with the arrival of the internet.
Online dating sites maintain databases which keep track of a large pool of people who sign up for the service. Most of these sites run on a subscription model which means that for a fee, you get to browse profiles and if you see a someone you think you would like to connect with, allow various forms of messaging to put you in touch with each other.
Members of these dating sites provide information about themselves. Depending on the site you choose, information required can go from a simple, basic profile, to a request of your entire life in exhaustive detail. For example, they may ask for dietary habits, how many times a week you exercise and many more details.
Needless to say, if you are looking for a site which will increase your chances of finding a better match, then those which ask for more information in your profile and also run algorithms to increase the likelihood of a good match are going to be more helpful.
So what are some of the reasons why online dating has become a phenomenon?
You Get to Meet More People
The best thing about these websites is they can match you up with thousands of potential life partners. This is very helpful if you work or live in an environment where there aren’t that many single people to meet, or if you don’t have a large social circle.
You Can Meet Like-Minded People
Being able to list and specify what you are looking for in a person will give you the chance to meet someone similar to yourself. If your beliefs are important to you and you happen to be part of a community where your culture or spiritual beliefs are in the minority, then online dating can introduce you to people who share the same belief systems.
You and the People You Meet are Open about What You are Looking For
Unlike meeting someone by chance and hitting it off, people on dating sites are open about what they are looking for and what’s important to them. This tends to remove a lot of the uncertainty which you might have in the initial stages of the relationship. For example, questions such as “Are you interested in marriage? Are children important to you? Is my religion incompatible with yours?” can be brought up very early in the relationship and answered openly.
It’s Good for Shy People
If you are shy, then online dating sites are a godsend! Being able to express who you are in the form of pictures, video messages and profiles means that you have time to think through what you want to say about yourself and to share it with other people without the pressure of having to cover it all in a brief encounter.
Few things in life are perfect, and whilst online dating has a lot going for it, you need to be aware of the flip side to all that goodness.
You May be Blindsided by Your Preferences
Whilst being able to specify exactly how often your future spouse works out, what sort of food they eat and what type of job they do might sound great, in reality, you may be so focused on what you think you want that you might miss out on what you ought to want.
Most happily married couples will tell you that the glue that holds them together through thick and thin lies in a shared values system. Unfortunately, most online dating site profiles tend to focus on the attributes of your potential dates on not on the values which they might have.
Profiles Don’t Tell You Everything
Apart from the difficulty that sites have in checking the accuracy of the information submitted, profiles cannot tell you everything about a person. There are non-verbal behavioural cues which you can only know about when you interact directly with a person. What if that perfectly gorgeous man you chose picks his teeth and has poor personal hygiene? If you are a clean-freak, this is definitely not going to work! On a more serious note, qualities such as chemistry, empathy and compassion are almost impossible to assess from a profile.
Most Sites Put A lot of Focus on Physical Attractiveness
It’s undeniable, if you have a fun name like Holly or Zac, and you have a gorgeous picture on your page, you will get a lot more requests from people to meet up and get to know you. As a result, many sites have a strong focus on physical attractiveness and member behaviours tend to demonstrate this slant as well.
However, we all know that attraction manifests itself along many dimensions. The 2D photograph is only a very narrow one. Other factors lie in intangibles such as posture and carriage, self-confidence, personality and even that great unknown – animal chemistry!.
Things in the virtual world move along a different timeline. Knowing someone online for 2 weeks may seem like a life time, and you might feel that you are ready for a romantic relationship. But in reality, you probably would never invite someone to go on a date with you that might turn intimate if you had known them through friends for that same amount of time. There is also the possibility that your potential date may feel that since you have both declared that you are single and interested, that moving immediately to the “next stage” in getting to know each other is a given.
It can be Dangerous
It’s a dangerous world out there and the internet is rife with tricksters, scammers and all sorts of confidence games. So be very careful. You never know if you that profile that you are looking at is real. Before you go online, learn to protect yourself. Never reveal your personal, private information, don’t send money even if you think it’s for an important cause and always take precautions before meeting up in person.
Online dating is here to stay and for many, it’s a real and successful way to meet a life partner.
It gives you a chance to meet more people of a similar mindset and intent.
It is difficult to gauge intangible factors such as values, true attraction and compatibility from online interactions.
As in any environment, you need to take steps to protect yourself from potential scams and dangers.