Online dating has never been easier. We learn about the potential partner before the meeting by assessing the looks and stated characteristics; during the meeting, we compare the person with their online profile, checking whether it was an accurate match like the online program has claimed. We do not need to rely on others’ opinions anymore: our friends or families can give us dating advice, but in the end it depends on us whom to contact. Dating became more convenient, but does it mean it improved our chances of finding the most suitable match?
The authors of an extensive study on online dating let us on how it varies from conventional dating. Firstly, the range of services offered changed dramatically. Nowadays we can gain easy access to meeting people we would never naturally meet; we also get a chance to meet foreigners and maintain the relationship online. Secondly, the form of communication has changed dramatically, too. Online dating usually begins by texting one another; it might take a bit of time before we take things a step further and decide to skype or meet in real life. Getting to know someone over a few texts might be difficult, but on the other hand, it is easier than gathering courage to make a first move in ‘’real’’ life. It can be a good chance to see whether the conversation seems enjoyable and rewarding for both sides. Thirdly, the matching system, where a mathematical algorithm is supposed to select the most suitable partner, gives a premise of certainty while looking for a romantic partner. However, the researchers are certain that this method is nowhere near being optimal. It is simply impossible to estimate how the actual social interaction will look like once you decide to meet face to face. What is more, this system is based on the assumption that similarities attract the most; however, the opposites can also work well together and therefore it can be possible that you are missing out on promising matches out there.
Another finding concerns different romantic outcomes when dating online. It is not surprising that you might be under the wrong impression while going through someone’s photos and profile description. We are left to judge based on a few lines of text and carefully (or not) selected photos. We have no way of knowing how accurate the information is and whether it is worth meeting face to face. At the same time, a wide range of available matches might result in objectification. Who started using Tinder by carefully checking out the photos and reading the profile descriptions, just to end up mindlessly swiping left or right without giving it much thought? Having a choice allows us to be picky, but you should be careful when the thoughts of ‘’I could definitely do better’’ occur as soon as meeting someone face to face. This can result in hasty decision making, which will not necessarily lead to finding a more suitable match. Delaying the time to meet in person can also be a a bad idea, as the longer people text, the more they tend to overinterpret what they read, which leads to accumulation of expectations.
Based on what you just read, it is easy to see how online dating has its own pros and cons. Are you interested in finding out how to make the most out of it? Then carry on to part 2: ‘’Online Dating: Approach it like a Pro’’.
Gosia Cybulska is a Clinical Psychology Master student at Leiden University and an International Intern at Willingness. Besides her extensive love for Psychology manifested by volunteering at various facilities as well as pursuing a second degree, she also strives to learn more about what makes cats such adorable creatures.