If you are single, in a monogamous relationship, polyamourous, open, or seeking an affair, most likely there is a website available for your dating needs. Online dating bridges the gap so that users can experience instant gratification while almost guaranteeing that they will be able to talk to someone who fits their needs. Today a staggering 15% of the U.S. population uses online dating sites or apps and that number will continue to increase (Smith A. &., 2016).
This sounds great right? Soon the idea of meeting in the “real world” will be completely void and we won’t have to rely so much on happenstance. Now we can pick and choose from a pool of people and the excitement of scrolling through profiles generates an addictive quality in us.
Dating sites are great, 1 in 10 Americans say they met their spouse or committed partner online (Smith A. &., 2016). I know many people (including myself) who have met their partners online and personally find it to be a favorable choice. However, I have also witnessed possible negative side effects if not used carefully. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of this rising industry?
- Relationships are much more accessible. Instead of waiting until the third date to find out if that person wants the same things as you, e.g. marriage, kids, etc., you get to find out what you have in common before you even meet. In theory, it saves you time that could have been wasted on someone who doesn’t want the same things.
- Studies show that relationships that start online could actually be better than those that start in the “real world.” People who meet online have a greater propensity to be honest about who they are. This is because when we are behind a screen, we tend to feel more comfortable divulging certain traits about ourselves (Bargh et al., 2002).
- Online dating provides opportunity. You can meet someone who you otherwise wouldn’t have met through a dating site.
- Meeting potential partners online could actually cause you to build up unrealistic expectations. The “what is beautiful is good” stereotype often plays a role as we swipe through individual’s pictures. People have a tendency to attribute positive features to those who look more attractive. So when you actually meet that individual in person and they are not what you expected, you could feel disappointed (Shinner, E., & Morgan, B.L., 2009).
- With so many options now available to you, it might be difficult to make a commitment. “The grass is always greener” side effect can kick in which could even cause someone to not pursue a partner at all and remain swiping (Smith A. &., 2013).
- Just because you are on an online dating site, does not necessarily mean you will get a date. It’s a sad truth that just because someone is on the site, it doesn’t mean that they are looking to meet someone. Some people sign up because they are curious, others do it for a self-esteem boost, some people sign up hoping to meet someone and they never do. In fact, one third of people who have signed up for an online dating sight have never actually met up in real life with a person who they met through the site (Smith A. &., 2016).
In summary, this doesn’t mean that you should or should not choose to date online. It just means that now you have more data to make your choice a little bit easier.
Bargh, J. A., McKenna, K. Y. A., & Fitzsimons, G. (2002). Can you see the real me? Activation and expression of the ‘true self’ on the Internet. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 33-48. doi: 10.1111/1540-4560.00247
Shinner, E. &. (2009). Effects of The “What is Beautiful is Good” Stereotype on Perceived Trustworthiness. UW-L Journal of Undergraduate Research XII, 1 – 5.
Smith, A. &. (2013, October). Online Dating and Relationships. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: . http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/10/21/online-dating-relationships/
Smith, A. &. (2016, February). 5 Facts About Online Dating. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/5-facts-about-online-dating/
Smith, A. (2016, February). 15% of American Adults Have Used Online Dating Sites or Mobile Dating Apps. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/02/11/15-percent-of-american-adults-have-used-online-dating-sites-or-mobile-dating-apps/