Even though online dating has been pushed from the fringes where it was back in the 1990s and early 2000s, firmly into the mainstream where it is now, there are still a huge number of people who are highly skeptical as to the efficacy of online dating, dating sites and dating apps. In many people’s minds, the skewed perspective they gained of these platforms in their early days has stuck with them or has been passed to them by their older peers who experienced it.
It’s true to say that even in media portrayals of dating, there is still an atmosphere or feeling of surprise that falls over anyone who says they met a great match online, with whom they are now enjoying a good and healthy romantic relationship. In this article, we want to take a closer look at the reasons why people remain skeptical, but also offer some advice on whether or not online dating can work for you.
Why Are Some People Skeptical About Online Dating?
One of the problems that some people have with online dating is that they perceive it as being dominated by those engaging in so-called hookup culture. That is, they believe that online dating is merely a collection of millions of profiles all looking to get into bed with each other as soon as possible. It is therefore unthinkable that this corrupted and transactional sexual realm could also be home to people looking for the real thing, isn’t it?
Some also don’t approve of online dating because they’ve had a negative experience with it in the past. It could be that they’ve had bad luck with people presenting themselves falsely online, only to meet them in person and be extremely disappointed, or perhaps something worse like they were verbally abused online, or even physically assaulted during an in-person meeting. It’s natural for some that such experiences would lead them to have a dim view of the entire thing.
It’s Not “Real” or “Romantic” Enough
There are some who also think that the world of online dating is simply a superficial or even artificial one, filled with people lying about their looks, their age, and their jobs. How could such a world of fakery produce stories of true love? What’s more, there seems to be so little real romance or electricity in the online dating world. It feels more like people selecting each other at some kind of livestock market.
It’s true that there is a certain “magic” to real-world dating; something almost filmic and belonging to a fairytale or a romantic comedy film. For example, running into someone at the bookstore, exchanging glances with a handsome stranger on public transport, or seeing someone electrifyingly beautiful across the room at a party or in a bar somewhere. Those initial moments of meeting, dancing, drinking, talking are exciting and unforgettable, how can they be replaced with profile pics, swipes, taps, likes and whatnot?
Fake Profiles and Scams
Finally, following on from our previous mention of fakery, there is also a slice of the population who perceive online dating simply as a breeding ground for dangerous scammers, catfishers, and other criminals who are simply out to do as much harm to others as possible. Horror stories abound of, for example, middle-age women being cheated out of their life savings by some wily online huckster based overseas. It’s easily enough to put people off.
Benefits of Online Dating
But surely the world of online dating isn’t all doom and gloom like this? Are there really no rays of sunshine to be found? We say that there are:
Let’s say we set you a goal to meet 20 new dating prospects without using online dating. How long would it take you? After pumping all your friends to make introductions, attending community and social events, going out every weekend to bars, clubs and other hot spots, and more, how long will have passed before you have 20 new phone numbers of people you actually like and might be interested in romantically? It could take months, couldn’t it?
When you move that experience into the online dating sphere, you could well match and connect with 20 people all in the same evening. What’s more, these people would all be separate from each other, allowing you to chat to each privately to get to know them, and all without guilt of “two-timing” or “playing the field” too much. After all, you’re just connecting and talking online. What’s the harm?
A More Efficient Way to Date
Following on from the previous point, when you date online, you can maintain conversations with a whole bunch of people at the same time, covering what could normally take weeks of interaction, meet-ups, lunches, brunches, dinners and more to work out in a matter of hours or days.
So, online dating isn’t just delivering more prospects to you in a shorter time, but allowing you to move through a lot of the early stages of getting to know a person in that shorter time as well.
A Great Option for Introverts
How many times have friends or family told you that you have to “put yourself out there more” or “just go up to someone you like and say hello!” It’s easier said than done when you’re a natural introvert. Therefore, online dating presents a wonderful alternative. You can carefully construct your profile to attract your type to you, and even then all you have to do is respond to messages in your own time, without the real pressures of face-to-face talk.
Online dating gives you control, it gives you personal space, it gives you time to think and consider before responding. In other words, it’s the dream ticket for the introvert who is always too nervous to think on their feet for fear of saying the wrong thing or making a bad impression.
More Control When Dating
When dating online, you can create your own timeline of how things will proceed with another person without feeling any pressure to conform to common dating practices. If you feel more comfortable keeping a connection purely online for a while longer before meeting up, you can do that. If you want to meet straight away and the other person is up for that too, then you can.
It’s also possible to control how much a person knows about you when dating online, too. If all they have seen of you is a profile picture and whatever information you put in the bio, then that’s all they’ll know until you reveal more. When meeting in person, one gives up all control of how they are judged physically, for example, and there’s more pressure to keep giving up more and more about oneself to keep an in-person conversation going. Some don’t like that feeling.
Get to Know People More Before Meeting
Finally, online dating allows you to tailor much more effectively the degree to which you get to know someone before you finally meet them. In-person dating means coming face to face when you’re perfect strangers, which for some is just too awkward and hard to deal with. First dates can be made much easier when there has been a weeks-long prelude of online chat, image sharing, and more.
Does Online Dating Really Work?
The first piece of evidence to seriously consider is the track record of the most established online dating platforms like Match and eHarmony. Both of these boast millions of couplings over the past 20+ years they have been in operation, as well as many successful marriages. The eHarmony platform, for instance, accounts for something like 4 percent of all weddings going on in the US right now. Match claims to be responsible for a further 900,000+ weddings on top of that.
Even the newer apps like Bumble have spread to some 100 million users worldwide. Back in 2017, The New York Times reported that Bumble had more than 800 million matches and 10 billion swipes per month. To think that nothing can come from such epic operations is simply naive. And this brings us neatly to the next point.
Continuing Popularity of Apps and Sites
The fact is that adoption and use of online dating sites and apps is increasing, not decreasing, which strongly suggests that there is a growing perception (and most likely a reality) that they can and do help a lot of people find love. Back in 2019, the Pew Research Center did a survey that found 30 percent of all American adults had used a dating app at some point. By 2021, other data showed that this had grown to 40 percent.
While apps are popular among common heterosexual individuals, they are also highly valued by niche groups such as the LGBT+ community, who find any and all additional channels that help them connect with like-minded people invaluable. Gay people who were either too isolated from or not interested in a city’s gay nightlife scene, for example, found apps like Grindr an amazing way to meet other guys locally who shared their interests or isolation.
It’s Increasingly the Norm
As sites and apps continue to prove their popularity, we can see that they are also increasingly becoming a kind of “default” for people. We are increasingly connected via technology, so why wouldn’t it follow that our romantic connections are also now more commonly found via these devices and platforms? For young people, it may eventually even become strange to meet people who have never used these apps, or who think that they’re bizarre.
Does Online Dating Work?
Yes, If You Want It To
Here’s the hard truth: online dating absolutely can and does work, but it won’t just happen by accident. One of the things that makes online dating interesting is that it does require a bit more input and effort on the part of users. To check and update your profile, search through others’ profiles, read bios, review photos, have online conversations and whatnot, all takes up your time, and requires your effort to keep it all going.
Therefore, online dating will only really work when you want it, and when you make it work. By nurturing your online connections, getting to know your new friends, and working to turn the most meaningful online connections into real-world connections will still take time and heart, and there’s always the risk of heartbreak and worse. However, if you stay the course, modern online dating platforms have a lot to offer, and can make the tasks we’ve just described a lot easier, perhaps even more enjoyable.