Pros and Cons of Online Dating

online-dating

It’s a new age and online dating is becoming more popular than ever. Around 30 percent of people who use the internet are looking to date. Most of these searchers at least land a date — over half of online daters went on a date with someone they met via the web, found one study. And almost 1 in every 5 online daters end up marrying someone they met online.

Most online daters say they had an easier time meeting someone online, but online dating comes with its own downsides. Although more and more people are going online to find love, online dating still has a certain stigma in the offline world. Some say they simply can’t date online due to the boundaries created by a virtual world. Whether the positives of online dating are enough to outweigh the negatives are for the individual to decide. Here are just some of the pros and cons of online dating:

Pros:

  • If you’re love shy, it’s easier to approach a person you’re interested in

Rejection is always an issue in dating. When you’re not face-to-face with a person, rejection is less hurtful. And approaching becomes much easier — just a click away.

  • Greater freedom in choosing when and who to talk to

In online dating, you can respond at your convenience. You can choose who you want to talk to. There is less pressure.

  • Easier to know if another is compatible based on shared interests

You can easily find out if a potential date has similar interests by asking, looking at their profile, or looking at pictures.

  • Meeting people you otherwise would not; being able to meet people from around the world

The internet removes physical boundaries and connects people across distances. A person you might not otherwise have met due to location, you can easily talk to.

  • More time to get to know each other outside of the physical; less pressure

Needless to say, dating online puts a greater emphasis on mental and emotional compatibility. You can get to know a person you might not have noticed in person.

  • Meeting a greater amount of people in less time

    essence-atkins-jaime-mendez

    Actress Essence Atkins and Husband Jaime Mendez -- Met on Match.com

Many potential daters gather in one place to meet, making online dating less time-consuming.

  • Dating without leaving your home

Since you don’t have to leave home there is less worry about having to dress up, be on time, or leave familiar surroundings.

  • Before your first meeting, you’re already familiar with your date

In the offline world, daters may still be getting to know basic information about each other on their first date. This is not the case with online dating — having already spoken on the web, you already know much about your date.

Cons:

  • The distance can become a barrier unless you meet early

Eventually, online dating has to go offline. Dating for long periods without meeting can put a damper on true intimacy and closeness.

  • Professional online dating sites can be expensive

Some dating websites charge a hefty fee to use their services. If you don’t find a solid potential partner right away, you may end up paying more than you thought you would.

  • Some online may misrepresent themselves and don’t turn out to be what they claimed

It’s easier to be someone you’re not online. Stories of an online date being completely different offline are not rare.

  • It may be unsafe if you meet someone with bad intentions

Some use dating websites to look for people to use or abuse. Online stalkers are a potential problem.

  • Pictures do not tell the whole story

A photo captures a person in one setting, at one time. There may be more to the person than you anticipated, in positive or negative ways.

  • No contact in person means personality traits, body language, and mood are less clear

Without seeing the person, you can’t as accurately gauge their personality and demeanor. You also can’t react to their body language or mood, making getting along more difficult.

Have you tried dating online? Did you meet a significant other online? What were your experiences, positive and negative?

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27 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Online Dating

  1. This is a good article, Alee, but it focuses too much on online dating via specialized websites. But what about people who met online, but outside the dating websites? Does that qualify as “online dating”?

    I can understand the pros, and the cons. I can also understand it’s possible to fall for someone you’ve met online (it almost happened to me). But in my experience, people ARE different than they present online. It might not be intentional, or with a bad intention. In my experience, people tend to be different offline, which means you have to meet them all over again. So that brings another sort of issues to the first offline date.

    What I’ve observed is that the people who seemed shy and overly nice tend to be… not so nice in real life. And people who seem talkative, opinionated and slightly “bitchy” turned out to be shy, quiet and nice. Granted, it happened with the girls (friends) I’ve met offline, and some of them turned out to be great people. But there was always thing difference between their online and offline personality. I can imagine that being a huge issue when it comes to dating.

    And what if someone looks completely different in RL? Then what? lol

  2. Mira,

    “what about people who met online, but outside the dating websites? Does that qualify as “online dating”?”

    I tried not to focus too much on that, because most of the people I know who met online didn’t meet on dating websites. But I guess I failed. 😛

    People who meet online, but outside of dating websites of course still qualify. Most of the pros and cons still apply, except for a couple of the cons (e.g. cost).

    “people ARE different than they present online…people tend to be different offline, which means you have to meet them all over again.”

    Definitely, they are different. And yes, it’s most of the time unintentional. For example, with me, you’ll notice I barely speak offline, but I write and comment on several blogs and forums online, so you wouldn’t expect that.

    “And people who seem talkative, opinionated and slightly “bitchy” turned out to be shy, quiet and nice.”

    That’s me. 🙂

    Although I’m not mean online either, I hope.

    “And what if someone looks completely different in RL? Then what? lol”

    Lol, I’ve heard those stories (“He was balding in real life, but he had a full head of hair in his online pictures”). Sometimes it can kill any budding romance, but other times its not such a big deal. Some can get really connected to the people they meet online, even more than they would offline, and won’t want to dump them over small differences.

  3. That’s me. 🙂

    Same here, same here… Actually, I was talking about myself there. lol.

    Although I’m not mean online either, I hope.

    You don’t seem mean, but it’s clear you wouldn’t let people harass you, and you always point at the things you disagree with. You might be like that in RL, but I know I definitely don’t seem as someone who can defend her opinion or at least be heard. I don’t seem like a person who can defend herself.

    Sometimes it can kill any budding romance, but other times its not such a big deal.

    It’s not a big deal, but it’s another thing about having to meet the person again. So I guess it’s all down to it: you will have to meet that person again. To be honest, that would make me even more nervous on the first date. Being on a first date is always tricky, but in this case even more, because you know this person liked you once – so now you have to make him like you again. With a regular first date, there’s not that type of pressure. I think.

    In any case, I can understand if people fall for someone they’ve met online, and there’s nothing wrong about it. Why restrict yourself and your dating options to the people in your region/social circle? This way, you can meet people all over the world. That’s one of the reasons I participate in forums and blogs… I am not looking for a date, but I like having acquaintances from all over the world. And since I can’t travel at the moment, this is a good chance to actually meet people from all over the world. (Some sort of virtual traveling).

  4. Mira,

    “You don’t seem mean, but it’s clear you wouldn’t let people harass you, and you always point at the things you disagree with.”

    Do I? Hmmm… I’ll work on that. Not the first part, but the second; I’ve heard that in real life as well, but I’m only trying to present both sides of the stories.

    “Being on a first date is always tricky, but in this case even more, because you know this person liked you once – so now you have to make him like you again.”

    True, but it’s not a complete do-over. The person already likes you a bit, or they probably wouldn’t have taken the trouble to arrange meeting with you. This is probably even less of a worry when you’ve spoken with the person online for more than a few weeks. If you’ve spoken for a long while, you might have moved to the phone, done video chat, etc., so it’s less like a first meeting.

    “In any case, I can understand if people fall for someone they’ve met online, and there’s nothing wrong about it.”

    Nothing wrong at all. I’ve met some of the most interesting people online, even more interesting than offline. Especially on blogs and forums: you meet like-minded people and develop close relationships.

    “This way, you can meet people all over the world. That’s one of the reasons I participate in forums and blogs…(Some sort of virtual traveling).”

    Aha! So that’s why you’re always on the blogs. 🙂

  5. I used to date online… I embraced the concept very early (2001) and got involved off and on at different times during my single days.

    I did not end up in any relationships from my online matches, but my success rate was still better than it was in real life. I met some decent guys through it, and had interactions that led to multiple dates. In some cases, I cut it off after the third date, and in other cases, he did.

    The cons are what you said, but interestingly, most of my worst encounters with men involved ones I met in person. Maybe because I was a lot more careful with the online guys that I picked versus the in-person ones… maybe I felt more comfortable with the in-person ones and didn’t screen them as well as I did the online guys.

    I would have kept it at if I was still single.

  6. Bunny,

    “I did not end up in any relationships from my online matches, but my success rate was still better than it was in real life.”

    Interesting detail. That’s what many people who have dated online have said. It seems like the internet is a good place to date! 🙂

    So you didn’t meet your husband online? For some reason, I thought you had.

  7. Alee, I think that I give off the impression that we met online… and most people who know us in real life think that as well.

    Don’t laugh, but I’m holding back ALL of the details because I want to sell my story to one of the women’s magazines because it’s pretty unique.

    We actually met through a matchmaking service staffed by three ladies who personally interview clients, use their judgment to make setups and then send the couples on dates.

    I had been in it for about four months, but my husband had signed up a week before I met him. He didn’t have a chance to even get his picture taken, so when the lady called me to tell me about him, I had NO CLUE what he even looked like besides her basic description. But she gushed about him to me (so much that I started tuning her out like, yeah yeah yeah, okay).

    Talk about a VERY blind date! 🙂

  8. Bunny, how interesting! That’s definitely something I’ve rarely/never heard of before.

    “Don’t laugh, but I’m holding back ALL of the details because I want to sell my story to one of the women’s magazines because it’s pretty unique.”

    I’m not laughing. That’s a pretty cool way to meet. Sure beats meeting at the club or church. 🙂

  9. I meant laughing about the idea of selling the story! 😉

    There are a lot of stories out there about matchmakers, especially the celebrity type (like the Millionaire Matchmaker), but I’ve never read a story about a matchup that actually worked — unless we’re talking about matchmakers working within a small homogenous community like the Jewish or Arab or Indian community.

    But just two random folks? And an IR matchup at that? $$$$! 😀

    I wish this method was more widespread — and cost-effective.

  10. Bunny, I knew you meant that! And I think it’s a great idea. You should let me know when it’s printed, so I can read it. 🙂

    I’ve heard of other matchmaking stories, but they were either (a) utter failures or (b) involved celebrities. How many non-celebrity people find their long-term partner through a matchmaking service? I’ve heard that these services have a high success rate. But until now I knew no one, absolutely no one, that met their husband or wife through those sort of services.

  11. Well, my mother served as a matchmaker for my husband and me. She was the one who introduced us. But as weird as that was, it’s not the same as real matchmaking service. I don’t know anybody who’s used this service successfully (though I admit they are not popular in my culture at all).

  12. Mira, I know a few people whose parents hooked them up. It doesn’t seem uncommon at all.

    I don’t think professional matchmaking is extremely popular in the U.S. Or else, I’ve never heard as much about them as I have about online dating, church dating, etc. 🙂

  13. Mira, I know a few people whose parents hooked them up. It doesn’t seem uncommon at all.

    Well, it’s uncommon here (at least in big cities), and to be honest, it sounds pretty lame (you were unable to find a date yourself, so you needed your mother to help you).

    I don’t think professional matchmaking is extremely popular in the U.S.

    I guess I always saw online dating services as… well, professional matchmaking, just done online.

  14. Mira,

    “to be honest, it sounds pretty lame (you were unable to find a date yourself, so you needed your mother to help you).”

    Indeed. Some people are a bit embarassed to say that their mother or father introduced them to someone, but I see nothing wrong with it. I don’t think of it as the person couldn’t find a date, but that their parents are the kind that is really involved in their child’s life.

    That’s probably due to having had plenty of parents try to hook me up with their sons because they (the parents) liked me. Not because their son couldn’t find someone else — on the contrary, sometimes their sons would have girlfriends and they were kind of like, “Okay, forget about her, I want you with Alee!”

    “I guess I always saw online dating services as… well, professional matchmaking, just done online.”

    Well, I guess it can be if you use a dating website. But I’ve known several people who met through forums, blogs, social networks, etc. Those are good matchmakers. On a forum I used to post on a couple of years ago, it seemed like every other week there was some new couple or marriage announced.

  15. My mom attempted to be a matchmaker for me as well, Mira. Unfortunately, the young men she knew were nice, but none of them particularly seemed interested in marriage… or even making the effort to date me!

    I’m the type of person who loves to do research and in terms of dating, I was always on the cutting edge of “new” trends. I first tried Speed Dating in 2002, for example and started online dating in 2001! I guess it’s because my personality and my career (which used to involve a lot of travel) made it difficult for me to meet men the old fashioned way, so I came to the conclusion that I would probably have to find my future boyfriend/husband in a unique way!

    I do think that professional matchmaking, outside various ethnic communities, probably isn’t that common in most places. And you have to be careful because they all aren’t ethical… you hear stories of one person paying for the service and the matches are all just friends of the matchmaker and aren’t screened for compatibility at all.

    Most of the major cities have some kind of professional matchmaking service in place, but I am also seeing such companies pop up in places you wouldn’t expect — like Columbus, Ohio and Buffalo, N.Y. But it’s pretty underground, for the most part. Even in the smaller cities, such services trend toward the professional, upper-middle class educated set.

    Some of them also host singles parties in case you don’t want to pay for the one-on-one service, but still want to meet single men and women who (hopefully) are looking for a serious relationship.

  16. Bunny,

    “such services trend toward the professional, upper-middle class educated set.”

    That’s what I was thinking. I’ve gone on websites for professional matchmaking and they seem really exclusive. I’ve also seen shows that featured matchmaking services and their clientele were always professional upper-class people who didn’t have the time to find dates on their own because they were either too busy with their career or living off of their family’s fortune.

    I like the idea of singles parties. Those sound like they could work really well, if the attendees are screened for interest. And it’s less like being matched with someone else, since people choose each other.

  17. That’s what I was thinking. I’ve gone on websites for professional matchmaking and they seem really exclusive. I’ve also seen shows that featured matchmaking services and their clientele were always professional upper-class people who didn’t have the time to find dates on their own because they were either too busy with their career or living off of their family’s fortune.

    I think that’s definitely the case with the matchmaking services in the larger cities. In the smaller ones, you get more down-to-earth types… plus the service is a lot cheaper.

    In my husband’s case, he was a college professor in a city that isn’t exactly the most progressive in the world and he said it was difficult to meet intelligent, intellectually curious women. He says this is a common issue for college professors that didn’t find their spouses in undergraduate or graduate school — there are many good universities in the middle of nowhere (or in mid-sized industrial cities) in which you have a highly educated class of professors/researchers/instructors on a little intellectual island in the middle of Cowtown. (No offense to cows, lol).

    One of his former students, now a Ph.D., is at a university in Oklahoma. And she’s Indian. She could eventually decide to use her family’s connections to do an arranged marriage, but she’s trying to see what she can find on her own first. Unfortunately for her, her choices are limited — although she joked that she’s trying to learn about country music and two-stepping and Sooners football so she can catch herself a nice cowboy.

    So… back to me… I liked the fact that the men I met weren’t all millionaire CEOs or attorneys with massive fortunes (although I wouldn’t have complained about the fortune, lol). They just seemed to be caught in a place where people married very young and it was harder to meet single, educated women.

    However… one of those exclusive matchmakers did come to my town to do a headhunting search for one of her millionaire clients. I went just for the heck of it… it was a lot of fun. She held the event at a luxury hotel and some men there for a conference asked what so many beautiful ring-less ladies were doing there and if they could get in on the fun! They hadn’t read the newspaper or heard the TV story about the search, so they were amused by what they were seeing.

    Nothing ultimately came of it for me (and I didn’t really expect it to), but
    All the women there were really smart and cute and we all went out for drinks afterward and laughed at the fact that we were “competing” to be matched up with a mystery millionaire!

    I like the idea of singles parties. Those sound like they could work really well, if the attendees are screened for interest. And it’s less like being matched with someone else, since people choose each other.

    I agree. I went to those as well sponsored by the same service and the guys were very nice. I felt the parties were a good addition to the one-on-one service… I did have three men ask for my phone number, but only one called, and he was pretty flaky though. So the one downfall of the parties is that the attendees might not be AS serious as the ones who signed up for matchmaking, but it all depends on what you’re looking for at the moment, of course. Five years ago, the parties alone would have been enough!

  18. Bunny,

    “In my husband’s case, he was a college professor in a city that isn’t exactly the most progressive in the world and he said it was difficult to meet intelligent, intellectually curious women.”

    Oh, I see. I know about those colleges in the middle of nowhere and their single professors!

    Lol at country music and two-stepping.

    Btw, I always imagine how your husband would look. Dark hair, with square glasses, and well-dressed. Am I close? 🙂

    Your experience with the hotel event sounds like The Bachelor.

  19. I met my husband online back in 1996 and we have been together ever since. It wasn’t an internet dating site per se, but we did become aware of each other there and first began communicating. He was in England and I was in NC.The whole courtship and marriage details will be for an e- book that I may write someday:-)

  20. funkystarkitty, yay, the first successful online dating comment. I’m excited about this, I really am. 🙂

    Wow, 1996? You two met in the Stone Ages. 😀

    Your relationship is a great example of the internet connecting people worlds apart — from England to North Carolina? Amazing how people can date interracially and interculturally without having to lift their feet.

    Congrats on your years together.

  21. Oki, I got some notions about online dating, either you end up in a black plastic bag or you end up in a rape dungeon a lá fritzl. Never tried it though.

    But I guess it’s a new world out there! (or old one going by funkystarkitty). And one thing good about this that you can meet interesting men from all over the world.

    So you can end up in a plastic bag or a rape dungeon in France or England or some other interesting place 🙂

    I think if I was single I would give that “international” dating a try.

    This whole dating online is kinda interesting. I have read about it in my country that it’s a way for blacks and whites to “hook up” that normally would not even meet. Many black girls in poor townships wants some security and some find it a great way to find a husband of another colour who can provide it.

  22. Nkosazana,

    “I got some notions about online dating, either you end up in a black plastic bag or you end up in a rape dungeon”

    Well, that’s very optimistic of you. 😉

    On a serious note, it’s true that online dating has its dangers. But normal vetting procedures still apply online; maybe even moreso.

    “…one thing good about this that you can meet interesting men from all over the world…So you can end up in a plastic bag or a rape dungeon in France or England or some other interesting place”

    LOL.

    Now that’s the spirit. Way more interesting than a plastic bag in the dumpster down the street from your house, huh? 🙂

    “This whole dating online is kinda interesting. I have read about it in my country that it’s a way for blacks and whites to “hook up” that normally would not even meet.”

    I’ve noticed that too: interracial dating is a little more successful online; I know a good amount of couples, especially of the black woman/white man variety, that met online. I believe that’s because the barrier created because of culture, expectations, etc. are gone, and you relate to another person based on their personality and interests rather than their looks. You’re more able to put aside any preconceived notions.

  23. Btw, I always imagine how your husband would look. Dark hair, with square glasses, and well-dressed. Am I close? 🙂

    That’s funny because what you’re describing IS my usual type… and the type of white guy that I generally dated!

    But no, he’s actually a dirty blond, blue-eyed fair-skinned guy. He does dress well when we’re going out, but on a regular basis, he’s prone to golf polos and khaki shorts!

    He’s not the type of guy I probably would have picked on my own volition, which is why I’m very thankful for a third party that did the picking for me based on her own intuition and sense that we would be a great match.

  24. Bunny,

    “That’s funny because what you’re describing IS my usual type… and the type of white guy that I generally dated!”

    Well, then I guess I’m sort of-kind of close. 😉

    “he’s actually a dirty blond, blue-eyed fair-skinned guy.”

    Really? Interesting. Very interesting. I would not have imagined that. Or him as a professor.

    “He does dress well when we’re going out, but on a regular basis, he’s prone to golf polos and khaki shorts!”

    Polos and khakis? Then he is well-dressed. 🙂

  25. In most ways I prefer online dating, mainly because I can sort out many of the idiots before even meeting them.

  26. I think there are 3 cons with online dating that aren’t talked about enough:

    1) Some people have a tendency, because of all the choice, to tear apart a person’s profile in order to find reasons why they shouldn’t date the person. In other words, online dating encourages pickiness. There is no such thing as a perfect profile, and many times the things that you feel are faults (“I don’t want to date a dude that’s interesting in ice skating”) are really not major issues. If you’re not careful, you can pretty much reject or have major concerns with every profile that is out there. You should really be looking for the reasons why you might like dating the person. Besides, you just won’t know until you meet face to face.

    2) Red flags become non-negotiables. I happen to be a 41 year old male who has no children and has never been married. I can promise you with 100% certainly that it has nothing to do with me being a commitment-phobe or a psychologically wreck. I want to be married. It just hasn’t happened yet. I can give you reasons why it hasn’t happened yet, but if you reject me and assume things before you even meet me, I’ll never be given a chance to explain. Whereas if I meet a woman outside of online dating, she might not find out that I have never been married until the third or fourth date. It still might send up a red flag, but I will at least be given a chance to explain things a bit.

    3) Way too much information for my brain. I hate the match feature at OK Cupid where they ask you all of these personal questions. The answers to these questions are things that I wish to find out over time. If somebody would like to make love every other day, why do I need to find out about this before meeting the person? If someone feels a certain way about a certain ethical topic, why do I need a yes or no answer over the net? I would rather have the person explain their point of view in person. I want to see their body language, listen to their phrasing, etc. I think these online dating sites are on a fast track to take the mystery out of dating. Part of that mystery is the joy of “discovering” another person. This ties into the whole thing regarding pickiness. These dating sites have a tendency to create a dismissive paradigm.

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