In a technological age, dating websites are a great resource for finding a prospective partner.
In many regards they have become the primary means of engaging in a new relationship. And, it has to be said, there are distinct advantages to using a dating site as opposed to some of the traditional meeting grounds, such as the local pub or night-club. In the past, you were more often than not attracted to somebody by their looks; you then started chatting with them, perhaps asking them out as you sought to find out more about them to see if you had anything in common and to ascertain what sort of person they were.
And this only occurred if you were confident enough to approach someone new. How many relationships failed to materialise because a person was too shy or feared rejection or worried about what others might say or think?
It was all very random, very hit or miss.
Dating sites offer greater choice, greater opportunity and greater utility.
On a dating site, not only can you make dating approaches without others knowing but, by doing it on-line, you are distanced from any emotional turmoil and personal embarrassment. Rejection, nervousness and self-consciousness become less of an issue.
Theoretically, dating websites are also a far more effective means of establishing successful new relationships. There is some logic and application that goes into the match-making process.
That is because on a dating site you have some basic information about a person. It isn’t a complete lottery as to whether or not you strike lucky. You do have something to go on – interests, hobbies, job role.
And then you have various filters available to you – ruling in or ruling out specific things. Do they already have children? Do they smoke? How far away do they live? How old are they?
You can narrow down your target group so your chances of success become much higher. Not only that, you can also be chatting up numerous potentials at the same time. These two increased factors – specificity and level of activity – means success should be much more attainable.
The growth of online dating has been rapid. In 2019, 39% of heterosexual couples reported meeting their partner online compared to 22% in 2009 (Michael Rosenfeld, Stanford University). This trend is expected to continue with it predicted to be up to 50% by the 2030’s.
It seems that online dating is not only the accepted way of establishing a relationship with a prospective partner but it is also increasingly seen as the best way of doing so.
And yet there is a fundamental issue with online dating which, paradoxically, arises from its very strength….it’s too easy. By facilitating the process to the extent that they have, dating organisations are at risk of turning it into a game – Find Your Perfect Partner.
Being on a dating site can be like being in a sweet shop. All the goods are laid out in front of you. They’re there for you to choose. And so you make a selection. But then what?
You see so many other potential purchases, acquisitions that might well be preferable.
And so you are reluctant to commit to the single purchase. Always, at the back of your mind, is the thought that you might be able to do better. There might be a real gem out there that’s just waiting to be discovered.
Given how easy it is, it is so tempting to keep on looking, to keep playing the field.
Notably, dating agencies do not claim that they will find you a partner. They are much more ambitious than that. They promote themselves as being able to find you an ideal partner, someone that will help you to create a perfect relationship.
In the old days, before dating sites, we’d settle earlier and then work on the relationship. Nowadays we want to find perfection straight off. They’re out there; the technology makes them available; we just have to find them. We strive for the perfect partner when in fact they probably don’t exist. But the belief that they do is what will keep many of us looking.
There comes a point when you have to decide whether to stick or twist. It’s a gamble. Do you settle with what you have or do you just try to push it a bit further and see if you can improve on what you have? The reluctant gambler may audaciously and dangerously try to play a couple of hands at once.
A second possible consequence caused by the ease with which online dating can occur is that it has perhaps made us much more relaxed about our relationships. If it doesn’t work out we just give up on it and find somebody else. It’s become too easy to move on and find a new partner.
Traditionally, the best means of finding a suitable partner has always been the same as for choosing a financial advisor; you should go on somebody’s recommendation. “You would be really good together.” Dating agencies believe that they can satisfy that match-making process. Unfortunately, by simplifying the process and making it as user-friendly as they can they have, for some people, turned it into too much of a game.