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Alexander has been contributing for THS for over a year! While he attained a major in communications at SFU, he also recieved a minor in Psychology. Despite those accomplishments, Alex has also never had a full cup of coffee (crazy right?!). Alex is a lifelong sports fan and will defend his Seattle Seahawks to the death, especially if faced against a 49er fan. While Alex's long-term goal is to become a marriage counsellor, he also has a strong passion towards writing that he looks forward to exploring.

Dating In The Online Age

Image Credit: We Heart It

Image Credit: We Heart It

When looking for your newest partner, online dating has become a more appealing option than ever before. Match.com, one of the largest dating agencies in the world, recently posted an article stating that 40 million Americans are using online dating. The negative social stigma about online dating is quickly evaporating as dating sites become more plentiful and accessible. No matter what you are looking for—be it a cheesy pick-up line (Tinder), a loving relationship (eHarmony) or even to cheat on your partner (Ashley Madison) online dating is continuing to expand.

Online dating and its transition to smartphones through apps offers a more convenient and efficient way to date. You are able to customize your dating experience to hopefully find exactly what you are looking for. While rejection will be an element of every online dater, there are always more people out there to interact with. With that comes the idea that dating is perhaps less intimidating than ever. Online dating and its impact on society is continuing to grow. It would be short sighted to believe that online dating has only positives. There are negative elements that cloud online dating that must be covered in order to get a complete picture. Overall through looking at the different elements, as well as the role of technology, will lead to a further understanding of dating in the online age.

Despite online dating seeming impersonal from the outset, certain dating websites allow and encourage users to make a very personalized search for whatever their intentions may be. I have a close friend named Steve whose preference was brunette women—women that wanted something serious, and are under 5’5. Despite his good looks, Steve struggled in the dating game to find his ‘type’. While he tried meeting women in class, he was constantly finding women who were looking for something else. Like many others, Steve turned his attention to online dating. By utilizing eHarmony, Steve was able to customize his dating experience. While many people do not, and that is okay, it can be incredibly beneficial to know what you are looking for in a partner. Steve saved time by only going on dates with women who had the same intentions. Through stating from the outset what your expectations are (long term, casual, etc.) will help narrow your searches to only viable partners saving both time and effort.

Online dating is also fantastic for its ability to display what may be deemed “deal breakers” for you. If Jack smokes and will only date someone who accepts that, he can search only for those who tolerate smokers. While this might be a deal breaker for many, Jack will save time by being  honest with his partnerOther websites such as Christian Mingle help put the importance of religion to the forefront of the dating experience. While it might be considered a turn off to those who are not spiritually inclined, it offers a great tool through which like-minded individuals can connect.

One of the biggest knocks for certain individuals is the emphasis on physical appearance. This is ramped up by the success of apps such as Tinder, which put your looks at the forefront of any connection. Regardless of the success of Tinder, other dating agencies such as OkCupid put an emphasis on your biography as well as your images. If you are honest with yourself and your partner, you can find a website that fits your desire.

Putting preferences in your dating biography (such as ‘don’t message me if you want a hook up’) can also help reduce the amount of unwanted attention. When you start connecting with someone online it is only natural that a date should occur. Regardless of any interaction you have online, communication in person can still prove challenging. If you place your expectations too high for the first date, you may find yourself disappointed in person. That is not to say you won’t connect but communicating is different. You cannot formulate your thoughts in cleverly worded text messages and maybe they have bad breath? You will hopefully realize shortly into your date if the chemistry is there for you and your future partner. Remember that thearlier you are able to meet for your date, the less likely your expectations will be placed too high.

It is also important to keep in mind that no matter how amazing someone seems online, that might not be the case in personA study in 2007 by Jeffrey Hancock, Catalina Toma and Nicole Ellison at Michigan State University, found that 86% of people felt deceived by their partner that they met online. This deception could be defined as being either their weight, their height, or their age. It also found that women were more likely to seek a man with education and career, whereas their male counterparts eye physical attractiveness. This could be largely credited to the finding that most women lie about their weight by an average of 8.89 pounds.

Photo Credit: Alex Keobke

Photo Credit: Alex Keobke

When looking at online dating statistics, physical characteristics make up the most important factor for 49% of people, whereas personality comes in at 64%. As online dating becomes more prominent, so do the sites that help tailor to those two elements. Just because Tinder may emphasize physical attractiveness does not mean you cannot find someone with a great personality. If you want something serious from the start, eHarmony stresses the importance of your personality. By utilizing different online dating agencies, individuals can hopefully get a complete understanding of what it is they want from their partner.

Online dating can also be the playground for verbal abuse, and for many can be an incredibly toxic environment. Just because someone does not message you back online, does not mean you have the right to attack them personally. An experiment posted on reddit discussed the abuse women faced online. The user, posing as a woman, described how it was within only 20 minutes of setting up their profile that he was receiving unsolicited sexual messages. If the sexual messages got no response, there would often be verbal threats and abuse. This abuse is not only scary, but can be incredibly damaging to someone’s self-esteem. No matter the reason for the abuse, be it boredom, anger or other petty reasons, it does not make being called a slut any less acceptable. While there are ways to block troublesome users from dating sites, once they have messaged you, it can make online dating seem not worth it, incredibly quickly.

The convenience of online dating is a big appeal for many individuals. As smart phones become prominent in society, so are dating apps such as Tinder or app versions of other sites such as eHarmony. For people with busy social or work lives, online dating can be the only way that they fit someone new into their lives. The convenient nature of the website also comes from the fact that it is easier to set up dates. While that first date spark might not be the same as if you were dating your long term BFF, there is still excitementKeep your expectations in check and as you gain experience with online dating, you may find yourself going on dates with all different kinds of individuals. While overwhelming at times, it can also be a great way to gain an understanding of what traits you like in a partner. I have been on many dates, some good and some not so good. Yet with every date, came a further understanding of what I do and do not like in a date. Bad dates eventually become fun stories, and all will lead to you thinking your future partner is extra cool when you do find the right one.

Online dating is unfortunately quantity over quality. With that comes the knowledge that you are most likely not the only person that your partner is talking to online. You may find yourself getting close to a few different individuals, and with that can come harder choices on where to spend your time. If you start going on a few dates that go well, it can also be increasingly hard to know your partner is also going on other dates. As a result, the start of any relationship can be rocky. If you start to fall for your partner, it can be a difficult decision on if to become exclusive. As your feelings deepen, it is important to have that discussion with your partner and not shy away from those feelings. While this can be a difficult decision, perhaps it is a mutual feeling between you and your partner that the relationship is getting more serious.

The nature of online dating means that it is very rare that you will have one or two dates, and jump right into exclusivity. While this is completely acceptable for many, it can also hinder your self-esteem if only one of you is feeling a deeper connection. You also need to stress the importance of strong and honest communication, even when that honesty may hurt. It is one thing to date someone else, but it is another to lie about it or by omission. You owe it to both yourself and partner to be open about your dating life. It does not mean disclosing every little detail, but everyone has a right to know where the other person is getting his or her cuddle time. If you and your partner become exclusive, the communication you displayed during non-exclusive times will be an example that you both can talk openly with one another.

Online dating can come with many advantages. By offering a precise matchmaking tool, you can find whatever it is you are looking for. For those who may have busy lives, online dating is not only the preferred option, it may be the only option. Online dating is not without its disadvantages. Bad dates are going to happen. Even if you click via text, it doesn’t mean that will always translate to person, and it’s not always your fault. While there are mean people in the world, whether you go online or not, you may also find them never more vocal than on dating networks. As a result, it is important to check your expectations before venturing online. As well as making sure you have a strong sense of self, and that you will not let any one person make you doubt your sense of self-worth.

For every bad date or experience, online dating can also offer some success stories. You may come across someone you never would have otherwise. There is no wrong way to meet someone, just be honest with yourself about what it is you want. The experiences you have, good or bad, shape who you are as a person and the person you will be in a relationship.

Just remember that love may just be one mouse click away.

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One Comment on “Dating In The Online Age”

  1. mzrubyred June 6, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Liked your post … Done the online dating some people are really screwed up on them & full of deceit. The positive is I have two very close male friends that I wouldn’t have contact with if it wasn’t for the online dating so I guess even though I didn’t meet with the ‘one,’ I got much more …

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