Online Dating – Is This Really The Best Way to Meet Your Mate?

By Emily Murray

Whether February and all it’s red, pink and heart-shaped glory leaves you thankful for the one you are with or perhaps wishing you had someone to be your Valentine, it’s the month of love and this is just the beginning of the onslaught of love themed posts to flood the Internet!

Traditional courtship roles have been largely replaced by text messages, facebook-ing, emails and online dating which adds a whole new dimension to how we get to know one another. Whether you have tried meeting a mate online firsthand, or have heard of success/failure stories from friends and family, online dating is a trend that continues to gain momentum. In fact, as many of these sites like to state, nearly 1 in 5 relationships now do begin online.

In order to better see the advantages and disadvantages of this type of courtship, a new study was conducted and published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

As with any study, information from a large group of people needed to be gathered in order to see true trends or correlations. For this specific 64-page study, the authors actually reviewed 400 studies and surveys which have been done on the subject according to a recent TIME article. Some of the research came from actual dating sites like eHarmony and others who have done their fair share of research to see what kind of impact matching people based on commonalities has on that success of a dating match.

The short answer of the study is yes, Internet dating provides a great opportunity to connect with those who you may have never crossed paths with otherwise. When you look a bit more in depth, however, it becomes easier to see a few places where online love misses the mark as found in the study and reported in TIME.

1. No evidence that online dating ends in a better outcome than traditional dating
While in theory it makes sense that if we are essentially shopping through lists of suitable mates to find those that share common values and interests should work out better than a random connection, there is more to attraction than similarities. Often matches that look great on paper don’t hold up when they meet offline.

2. The “mystery” is removed 
It’s nice to be able to see the person’s photos and peer into their lives based on what they show on their profile, but perhaps this takes away from the real life “getting-to-know-you” part. After all, these basics are usually the topics of discussion on a first date and help to bond the potential couple as they search for experiences or interests they have in common. It’s not always the most effective way to get to know someone simply by reading a profile online. Often part of the appeal is the mystery factor which is essentially removed in online dating.

3. You may skip over people initially that may have actually been a good match 
When you are faced with so many options, it becomes a bit like online shopping. Perhaps in the search to find the most attractive mate, you may skip over other attractive and potentially more compatible matches carelessly.

4. You can’t tell how you will interact with the person
You may be able to find someone who meets every single standard you have marked down on your checklist, however once you meet in person, your actual interaction/chemistry may be horrible. There is something to be said for that feeling you get when you first see someone in person and this is lost in those moments of looking at a screen.

5. Long online courtships can raise expectations that can’t be met in person
Often people are much more open/witty/charming/polite online than they are in person. That’s why online dating can be particularly helpful for those who are shy to be able to meet other people more comfortably. However, you may be giving or getting the wrong impression through online interaction. This may be easy to overlook if the online portion of the courtship is brief, however if it draws out for too long, expectations may be set and can lead to disappointment when the online persona does not match the “real life” version.

On the positive side, there are fewer opportunities to randomly meet a potential mate once you are in the workplace and out of college and online dating truly brings thousands of prospects to you in a mere matter of minutes. It seems the study and most of society in general seem to feel that there are drawbacks to online dating of course but there are challenges both online and in the dating arena that arise and for some it may in fact be a way to meet a long-term mate.


What do you think? Did you meet your mate online? Have you ever tried online dating?