The Pros and Cons of Online Dating
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Now-a-days, more and more people are turning to online dating sites for a chance at love. Some search for love on the internet because they are shy or timid, while others search online because they do not have time for “traditional dating” opportunities. Regardless of the reason, online dating is now common in mainstream America and throughout the world. According to the statistics website, Statistic Brain (2014), approximately 41,000,000 people in the United States have tried online dating at some point in their lives.
Moreover, most online dating participants rank personality (30%) as the #1 trait in a potential partner (Statistic Brain, 2014). Some of the advantages associated with online dating are: a lower level of stress, a sense of mystery, and better problem-solving and communication strategies. Some of the disadvantages include: “catfishing” (identity issues), safety concerns, and less chances for intimacy. As millions of people turn to the internet for love, it is important to be aware of the “pluses” and “minuses” associated with this type of dating.
Online Dating: The Benefits
Well, online dating is associated with a lower level of relationship stress. How? Well, because you are not physically dating at this point, there are no arguments about where to go to eat, or whether or not to go “Dutch” when it comes time to pay for dinner or other activities. Moreover, it is harder to scream at one another through the computer, cell phone, or iPad, when your relationship primarily resides online. Also, those who have online relationships tend to have fewer conflicts with one another. Why? Well, because everything feels somewhat abstract online. Issues that would be overwhelming in the “real world” do not seem “as bad” in the virtual one. And, most online couples are more cooperative with one another, because they do not get to see one another on a regular basis. Therefore, in most cases, it is easier to resolve issues, and “put conflicts to bed” when the brunt of your communication is online.
Another plus is that online dating provides a sense of mystery. Not being able to see what the other person is doing 24/7 can be intriguing for some daters. Also, some daters prefer to focus on a potential mate’s personality, without the stress of sexual interactions. Moreover, these individuals place more value on personality traits than physical traits like appearance. Most of the fun comes from revealing, piece by piece, aspects of your personality, and having your potential mate do the same. And, if you have never seen your online suitor (in person), imagining what he or she looks like may be quite a turn on! Some people crave mystery and intrigue, and online dating provides that.
Furthermore, online dating helps daters improve their communication and problem-solving skills. In other words, when all you have is written communication (i.e. emails, texts, social network platforms, chat sessions, etc.), the way you talk to one another is extremely important. It is also important to note that when you are communicating primarily through emails, texts, chat rooms, etc., your message can get lost. For instance, your potential mate may make a “shady” comment about your appearance, while texting you one day. Now, he or she may be joking, but you are unable to determine from the text, the true intent behind the comment, therefore you become upset and angry.
It should be noted when online dating that your texts, messages, etc. may not accurately convey what you or the other person is trying to say. Therefore, always take written messages with a “grain of salt,” and always give the other person a chance to explain the meaning behind the message, before blowing up at him or her. One of the best “pluses” about online dating is that it also gives you and the other person an opportunity to practice your problem-solving skills. Because, you are not able to see each other regularly, you are forced to work out your relationship problems online. As a result, you and your potential mate must use effective and positive problem-solving strategies to resolve issues. Together, with the right communication and problem-solving strategies, you and your potential mate can successfully work through any problems that arise.
Online Dating: The Limitations
Although there are numerous “pluses” to online dating, there are also some “minuses.” When you are engaged in an online relationship with someone, you are at-risk for “catfishing” (identity issues). More specifically, you are at-risk of someone lying to you about who he or she really is. In some cases, it may just be a lie about his or her appearance, but in other cases, it could be multiple lies about finances, relatives, criminal background, education, and even personality. It is important to remember that some people on the internet are not “good people,” therefore you need to be selective when providing information to people that you meet online.
Why? Well, some people may use that information to swindle money out of you, or in severe cases - harm you. You should be fine with online dating as long as you stay cautious and aware. Do not allow your heart to overshadow your mind, and your dating experience will be all that you ever dreamed of. The worst thing you can experience is “catfishing.” If your gut tells you that something “just isn’t right,” go with that feeling – your gut is trying to tell you something. Do not dismiss those feelings because you really want to find a partner or get married. Listen to the little voice in your head that is telling you to “run.”
As mentioned before, it is important that you look out for yourself, when dating online. Why? Well, because all kinds of people use online dating services. Some people are mentally ill, sociopathic, criminal, and/or con artists, while others are good people, who just want to find love. The problem is that you don’t always know what you are getting upfront. In other words, you may think you are dating an upstanding person, who loves animals, and spending time with his or her friends and family, but in reality this person may be a con artist or criminal that is only out to scam or hurt you. Do not give out your phone number, address, full name, workplace location, etc. until you have been “online dating” for a while, and you feel comfortable sharing that information with the other person.
Keep Your Address Private
Also, refrain from having your potential mate pick you up at your home for the first few dates, after you starting meeting in person. Schedule to meet in a public place, and tell friends and family where you are going, when you are going to be back home, and who you are going with. If possible, do a background check on the other individual, before committing to a date. Safety is the key. Your life is worth more than a date, so always be cautious when meeting someone for the first time.
Reduced Physical Intimacy
Lastly, with online dating, there are less chances of physical intimacy. Why? Well, because you don’t see each other on a regular basis, especially at the beginning of the relationship. It can be hard to be in an online relationship, and not be able to physically touch the person you are “falling” for, and in some cases, this lack of physical intimacy can cause problems in the relationship. Regardless, do not rush the relationship – there is not a specific time when you should meet and/or become intimate with one another. Once again, go with your gut, and start off slow (i.e. hugs, kisses, and cuddles), if need be. If your potential mate does not accept or agree with waiting, he or she is probably not the best fit for you, and you should move on with someone who is.
You can find love, regardless of whether or not it originates in the flesh or online. Love is love, and it can pop up in the strangest times and places. Although there are some disadvantages associated with online dating, there are also disadvantages associated with “traditional dating.” The key to cultivating a healthy relationship with another person is to always be cautious, and take your time. If it is meant to be, the relationship will flourish in time. Your soulmate is out there – you just have to be patient. Open your heart and mind, and love will find you.
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ishii, K. (2010). Conflict management in online relationships. Cyberpsychology Behavior Social Network, 13(4), 365-370. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20712494
Scott, V. M., Mottarella, K. E., & Lavooy, M. J. (2007). Does virtual intimacy exist? A brief exploration into reported levels of intimacy in online relationships. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 9(6), 759-761.
Statistic Brain. (2014). Online dating statistics. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/online-dating-statistics/