As part of my work I talk to a lot of people who are seeking romantic partners. Conversations around dating almost always include a discussion of where to meet potential partners which leads to a discussion about online dating.
One of the biggest knocks against online dating that I hear is that there are so many people that aren’t a match. Oh, it is often not framed so nicely. I hear about how many people are jerks, rude, crude, mean, nasty, liars, scammers, losers or “un-dateable”.
The harsh, judgmental language aside, why does this surprise so many people? It seems like the people that make those statements are operating under one of two assumptions. Either they don’t think that the non-dating site population is full of those types of people or else they thought that dating sites would only have users that are sweet, kind, emotionally intelligent, successful, honest and have a relatively similar set of values and perspectives.
Let’s be realistic about what is going on. Yes, technology has created new ways for people to be all of those negative things. And, those things existed well before online dating was imagined. I challenge you to find someone who used going to bars as their primary source for meeting potential dates who won’t confirm that. Online dating hasn’t created these problems even if it does allow them.
What online dating does is consolidate the process. How many other opportunities do you have where you can instantaneously see 50, 100, 1,000, or 10,000 people and know they are looking for a partner? When you walk in a grocery store or a bar you don’t get the low-down on each person in there and have the chance to discuss what each one might want from a relationship.
So it turns out that one of online dating’s biggest advantages, identifying a pool of available daters, is also one of it’s biggest drawbacks. It takes that pool of people that you might otherwise only interact with over the course of months or years and lets you interact with them (and maybe worse, them with you) in a matter of moments.
While you have great opportunity at your fingertips, you can also be flooded with bad experiences so much faster. That can be overwhelming. It can lead you to believe that finding someone is an impossible task.
I’m not suggesting that online dating works for everyone. It may be that the speed of interactions is more frustrating for you than it is worth. Maybe you would prefer to have the natural filters of friends and relatives making recommendations for you.
Those reasons don’t prove that online dating doesn’t work or that it is only comprised of bad or undesirable people. Ask yourself this – if you were to take a group of 500 people that are looking for a partner, how many of them do you think you would want to be in a relationship with? I would suggest that the number is not that large.
Online dating may not be for you. But don’t rush to judgement just because it reflects reality. Finding a good match is hard, no matter what route you choose. And yet it happens. Over and over. People find partners. Some for short times others for a lifetime. It takes effort. When you consider that you are looking for someone to share important parts of your life with, isn’t it worth the effort?