The ups and downs of online dating
As a psychologist, I hear from scores of single adults of all ages who want to meet someone. Young adults, divorced middle aged-adults, and widowed older adults who find themselves looking for that special someone. Most folks want to find a companion, a loved one, or a life partner. It’s the way we’re wired.
Like some individuals, I met my wife at school. Some are fortunate and meet “Mr. or Ms. It” through work, friends, or family. But what if you are finished with school and find yourself single, either having ended a relationship or simply from not finding one? What if your work doesn’t have any suitable suitors?
Recent studies find that about one-third of married couples met through friends, about 10% at work, twenty percent through school, church, and other contacts and more recently, a whopping one-third through online dating. It’s becoming a more common way of meeting other eligible adults. It makes sense in our modern life.
After all, don’t we find great restaurants, hotels, and vacation spots on the World Wide Web? In the 21st century, the Internet has become the portal into all things desirable and knowable. Why not find love through this vast network? It’s a meeting place that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! And I can search through the crowd from the comfort of my easy chair! What’s not to like?
I have met many adults who found their loved one through the Internet. But I have also met many frustrated, disappointed men and women who felt like they were looking for a lone flower among acres of weeds. They weary of kissing scores of toads in search of their prince.
Match algorithms are notoriously poor. Each site argues that they have found the secret sauce for great dates. But outside of what the seeker doesn’t want, do we really know what we do want? So much of connecting with another person is chemistry. What’s the formula for finding love and passion?
Many folks put in hours coming up with the “perfect profile”--one they feel fits them like tight pants. Lets see what I would write—“stodgy psychologist with gray, thinning hair, a little paunchy, likes to walk, with a good sense of humor” or how about—“active, good looking, fit, psychologist with lots of energy and great sense of humor”. It’s a good thing I’m taken. Honestly, honesty may not get you many dates.
Social scientists believe that the vast number of potential matches create stress for daters. When confronted with too many possibilities or choices, we think of the one we haven’t met yet. It may inhibit actually getting to know the person in front of you. Perhaps the more perfect person will show up tomorrow.
What about the necessary photo? Which “selfie” will express my true beauty? Some research shows that a little cleavage goes a long way for gals. Guys with dogs or cats do particularly well, especially if they are looking away.
Let’s face it. Online dating sites are really just another way to meet someone, probably no better than through friends, taking a yoga class, joining a hiking club, meeting someone at the your neighborhood gym, or at happy hour at your local bistro. Think of it as an introduction service, creating opportunities to meet people--Maybe not a heck of a lot better than a blind date.
Think about what you are looking for. Be honest. If you are looking for a serious relationship, let the dating world know. If you are looking for fun, but have little interest in depth, that’s okay, but put it out there. Honesty, first with yourself, and then with potential dates, is always a good policy.
Don’t waste your time. What you see is what you get. Frogs don’t turn into princes. If she isn’t right for you, or has some red flags (e.g. recent breakup), salute them and go to the next one on the list.
Have a sense of humor. Hope for the best (true love) but be prepared for the worst and everything in between. Don’t take it all so seriously. You never know where love will turn up—sometimes it’s just around the corner. Where you least expect it.
Have you tried online dating?