In a world where the typical American adult spends over 11 hours each day watching, reading, listening to, or interacting with media, it is no surprise that people are taking to the internet to meet new people on a personal level. After all, social networks are the rage today. Facebook is boasting that they have 2.41 billion monthly active users as of June 30, 2019. As of February 2019, Twitter indicated that they have 321 million active users. LinkedIn, the business networking site has 260 million users logging in each month. Those are some pretty impressive figures!
With social and business sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, however, there is generally some pre-existing relationship that exists before that online connection is made. Where a relationship doesn’t already exist, connections are usually made for professional purposes only such as the opportunity to pursue new employee, chase a business deal, or other related venture.
Dating sites are a bit different. Though the first online dating site launched back in 1995, it seems new sites are popping up all the time. It is estimated that there are now over 8,000 online dating services worldwide, with Tinder, Match, Plenty of Fish, and OkCupid being amongst the most popular. And even though there are so many sites, and even though users tend to be on more than one dating platform, these sites are different because they play to our emotions.
It is human nature to want to be loved
Love is perhaps the weightiest of emotions that humans can experience. Though there are many types of love, most people seek a romantic relationship with another. For many, the existence of a romantic relationship comprises the most impactful aspect of life. Love and romance can fulfill a deep longing and can be highly fulfilling. Further, the need to connect with another human on an intimate level is innate.
The deep yearning for physical intimacy, though it doesn’t generally come to fruition until late in the second date of life, actually starts at infancy. And as we get older, the need for those relationships becomes stronger and stronger. Unfortunately, as we get older and begin our careers, it can become increasingly difficult to find the time to seek out new relationships. In the event we were in a long-term relationship that has since failed and are looking to start over, this can be just as challenging. After all, regardless of where we are in life, how do we find new people with which we may feel some sort of spark unless we go somewhere that we don’t normally frequent?
For these reasons, dating sites have become quite the rage. Online dating puts you in control. You share only the information you want to share, and you don’t reach out to another member until you have perfected that online image, and you are ready to strike up a conversation.
Contrary to the traditional in-person awkward pause when you think of something to say after a stranger introduces themselves, with online dating, you get a bit more time to think of what you want to say. Additionally, since the other user has set up their own profile, you get a bit of time to do some homework on who they are and what interests them, which makes for an easy ice-breaker.
The perfection of imperfections with online dating
As we alluded to earlier, with online dating, you get time to create the best possible online image for yourself that you can. And, you get time to perfect your response to someone who expresses interest. Unfortunately, this means that users can take the time to embellish who they are or create a completely alternate identity. Users don’t always tell the truth. Even if you have taken the time to study someone’s profile, the person on the other end might not be who you actually think they are.
Though an estimated one-third of marriages in the United States began from some sort of online relationship, it doesn’t mean that everyone out on these sites are good people looking to start a long-term and healthy relationship. Most people, however, are honestly there for the right reasons and kind, genuine people. Since this is not always the case though, it is critical that you go into these online sites, and the resulting conversations and relationships, with your eyes wide open and your instincts, turned on.
- The majority of decisions that we make are based on our intuition, and therefore, when online dating, make sure you don’t throw that intuition out the window. If someone seems too good to be true, they probably are. Be sure to follow your gut. If anything happens that starts to raise your hackles, and you feel that the person on the other end of the internet is being untoward, it is important to pay attention to that instinct. Back off from the relationship, and if the other person keeps chasing and you feel uncomfortable, report their user profile to the site administrators.
- Take time before meeting in person, and don’t do so until you feel absolutely comfortable. When we are lonely, and in need of companionship or intimacy, sometimes we lose the ability to think rationally. Though you may be excited to meet a certain someone, don’t rush it. When you do decide the time is right, be sure to meet in a public location and let someone you trust know where you are going to be and with who.
- Remember that this person is completely new to you. Therefore, don’t give away too much personal information. Though in most cases, the people on dating sites are there for the right reasons, 55% of visitors to online dating sites have reported challenges with other users, including unpleasant conversations and cyberthreats. 55% of visitors to dating sites have encountered some problem with another user on the site. Problems can manifest from unpleasant conversations to potential, if not real, cyberthreats. Considering the risk of such an instance happening to you, even though you can get very close to people you chat with online, do not provide personal information that you wouldn’t give to a stranger or someone else you just met in person.
- Keep your financial information private. There are bad people with poor intentions online, and their goal is to go after people that are so lonely that they would fall for anyone. Thought it might not be their intention to hurt you physically, it is quite possible that they are looking to scam money from you. Be sure that you do not provide any information that provides insight into your financial situation until it is appropriate for you to do so (several months into an actual ‘in-person’ dating relationship).
Online dating can be safe when you go into it with your eyes open
We said earlier that one-third of marriages in the United States began from some online relationship. And, it is also estimated that one in every five relationships begins online. Tinder, the site known for its swipe right for a like and left for a dislike, matches roughly 26 million people per day.
With online dating, you are in charge. This also means that you are in charge of making wise decisions that will keep you safe. And, it implies that you need to be thoughtful of when you are interacting with potential matches. Just like any online social site, it is easy to get sucked in at any time of the day. With the average online user spending over two hours of their 11 online per day on social sites, dating sites can really suck up time. This can make it easy to check in on a match during the workday and to get tied up in messaging back and forth when your focus should be elsewhere. It is this same type of addictive behavior (because of all of our longing for love and affection) that can jade our thoughts and keep up from making rational decisions.
On the other hand, dating websites can really help us to get out of a rut if we are struggling to find a match through traditional means. In fact, online sites can introduce us to those we may have never considered previously. This means that a relationship we may have never considered might actually become the love of a lifetime (or a perfect fling).
Online dating has been proven to work. When we make wise choices and proceed through the relationship-building steps slowly and cautiously, there is a good chance that those we meet online can turn into long-term relationships. According to match.com, one in three connections have relationships that last over six months. And for eHarmony, they can stake claim to creating relationships that have led to 5% of marriages in the United States. Those are some pretty promising statistics for those looking to seek a fulfilling relationship through an online dating service.