No matter what social circles you hang out in, you’ve probably witnessed it at some point. You hear someone talking about their friend who just went on a date, and who wants to keep things going. Somebody else asks “how did they meet?” and you notice the sudden disinterest when they get the answer, “I think they met online”.
Plenty of people think that finding love online is a second-rate option, but they clearly haven’t visited that many bars after exhausting every other method of meeting potential dates. It’s not entirely their fault; after all, how many rom-coms have you seen that feature a one-in-a-million coffee shop encounter with the perfect match? In contrast, online dating is typically portrayed as desperate or needy. If they really thought about it, a lot of people might realize that half of their high opinion of in-person dating comes from cheesy chick flicks – but most people don’t really think about it.
What’s left after you take away the clichés and the prejudices? You have millions of people in America alone who want to find romance, and online dating platforms that could help them do it – right alongside many other ways of meeting and connecting romantically with people.
While it’s possible to go on and on about how traditional dating could actually be scarier than online dating for a lot of people, instead let’s focus on some of the drawbacks of online dating – and why it could still work out better than the typical approach.
If you have an internet connection, you’ve probably already heard about romance scammers. The really disastrous cases get the news articles – people who have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, had to sell their house, etc. In most cases though, the cost stays within a few hundred to a few thousand. It usually starts as a fabulous offer, a sob story, or a proposed trade, always followed by a prompt to follow through by sending money.
A lonely 65-year-old woman might get a story about a Nigerian prince who’s had his vast assets frozen, and just needs a few hundred dollars to resolve the issue. Once that’s done, he’ll naturally share his millions with his newfound love. A naïve 35-year-old man could get messages from a Brazilian model whose mother has been kidnapped by gang members, and needs money for the ransom. Meanwhile, these accounts are usually scant on personal information, and none of it is verifiable.
A good rule of thumb is that if they ask for money or try to get you emotionally involved in an unusual personal story, it’s a scam. Just remember, as long as you refuse to make any payments, they’ll realize that you’re onto them and move on to find an easier target. A lot of dating sites let you report suspicious behavior, so they might not even have time to start another scam before the account is shut down.
Another type of unpleasant interaction, mostly experienced by women, happens when unsolicited messages or photos are sent or a surprise in the video feed on Nudelive. Sometimes they’re explicit, but often they’re simply from people who refuse to take a hint. Almost two-thirds of female online daters say that they’ve gotten these types of messages; fortunately, a dating platform that allows you to block specific profiles can at least minimize repeat offenders.
Those are a couple of the issues that are problematic from any perspective; then there are the talking points that come from people who think that online dating is a detriment to society. These talking points usually revolve around the idea that starting a relationship online cheapens the way you view it – or any romantic relationship, for that matter.
This idea is expressed in all kinds of ways. People say that online dating just makes it easier to get together and break up, because there are always more options waiting online. They might complain that online dating gives young people the wrong idea about what a relationship should look like – something that’s said about most departures from the romantic norm. They could remember their own special boy-meets-girl story, and feel disappointed that their child or grandchild won’t make those memories of their own.
If you get into a conversation with someone who’s bringing up their reservations with online dating, that could be the time to gently suggest that traditional dating has just as many weaknesses; they’re just more acceptable because they’re familiar.
And now the good news, because online dating is more than just pitfalls and pre-packaged convenience. Looking at the big-picture view, the first thing that stands out is the sheer number of options you get to choose from. Instead of feeling limited by the lack of choices in your circle of acquaintances, you now have thousands of profiles to choose from. If you want to stick with people who live in the same city as you, that’s no problem – you’ll still have far more options than before.
Online dating also lets you pick and choose who you go out with. With traditional dating, it’s hard to identify certain dealbreakers until a date is already well underway. With online dating, you can meet up with someone knowing that they’ve already met specific qualifications. There’s always the possibility that they’ve misrepresented themselves, but that problem isn’t unique to dating platforms – it can happen anywhere. If you aren’t sure that someone is accurately representing themselves online, check to see how complete their profile is. If they’ve filled it out pretty well, you should be able to confirm at least some of the information. They may have even linked a social media account, which is another way to confirm someone’s identity on a dating website. Whatever the case, you have the time to do your research before the date, instead of walking into it blind.
Online dating isn’t a new phenomenon, and it certainly isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. If you’ve been thinking about signing up for online dating, go for it! You’ll never know what you’re missing out on until you give it a try.