The advantages of online dating are numerous enough that millions of Americans are increasingly reliant on online dating when looking for that special someone. As a result, nearly 50 million people in the United States alone have firsthand experience with dating online.
Still, this is not to say there are no disadvantages to online dating, either. While online dating is filled with potential and great benefits that other forms of dating cannot offer, a fair and honest assessment of online dating shows it may not be the perfect choice for everyone.
This guide to online dating will reveal the few but very real drawbacks to online dating, while also highlighting the many online dating advantages of online dating. In the process, this guide will provide you with the information needed to determine whether online dating is right for you. Let's start with a few disadvantages first.
If the idea of "putting yourself out there" for the Internet to see comes across as intimidating, then online dating may be a tough sell. This is particularly true for introverts who live in small towns or communities where it seems like everyone knows each other. In such a scenario, you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that people you know from the "real world" will be a decent to significant portions of your matches.
As a result, it may make more sense to rely on traditional dating anyway. If you already know most of your matches, some of the noteworthy benefits of online dating are taken out of the equation. Even so, consider how well you know the people in your small town. There may still be some hidden gems in your small community, making it worth at least a look to see whether the online dating pool is larger than you would have otherwise thought.
Introverts or people who loathe the idea of change may be hesitant to embrace the novel possiblities of online dating. After all, online dating requires you to create a profile and overtly make it clear you are available and looking for a connection. It makes sense that some people might prefer to lay low and wait for a romantic connection to happen spontaneously without forcing the issue.
Of course, this assumes an introvert (particularly a shy man) is not just as shy in the real world, which could prevent them from making a move and asking someone on a date as well. When contemplating online dating, it's important to be honest with yourself. If you truly prefer dating in a more conventional way, that's one thing. But don't fall back on the comfort zone excuse if you are similarly unwilling to go outside your comfort zone in the real world. If that is the case, online dating can be a great way to take action without the fear of in-person rejection, which many introverts have benefited from thanks to dating online.
One of the primary benefits of in-person dating compared to online formats is that you can gauge in-person chemistry immediately. Before you ever even ask someone on a date — call it the pre-dating phase - you will be able to assess how effortless a conversation is or whether you should remain friends.
Online dating really can't provide you with this opportunity. Plenty of online daters will speak about first dates that, to their surprise, sorely lacked in chemistry. Even if you come across a great looking match with a great profile, what's written on a page is no substitute for genuine chemistry in-person. For this reason, it's often best to treat a first online dates as a fun learning experience and more of a pre-dating experience.
Traditional first dates largely occur after a couple already has a decent idea there is some chemistry there, so it's not entirely fair to treat the two "first date" experiences as analogous. Still, online dating unquestionably requires more time and effort to reach a first date, and only then can you determine whether there is chemistry. Research suggests it is worth the effort; however, thanks to online marriage's higher marriage satisfaction and lower divorce rates.
If you are serious about finding a match, it's worth considering whether online dating is worth the extra time and effort, particularly considering online dating's convenience when it comes to finding great matches.
Another potential drawback of online dating that is too seldom discussed is online dating's capability of providing information overload. When you are provided with a seemingly endless number of great matches — particularly if you live in a large city or metro area — it can be all too easy to quickly pass on some great options for seemingly shallow reasons.
While pictures are very important for assessing chemistry, avoid making determinations on who to message based solely on pictures. Take the time to see what your matches say and consider what it is they are hoping to find as well. Yes, this will take more time, but it will likely lead to better first dates that are more reflective of what you are hoping to find in a match.
If you are thorough in your review of profiles — which is a good thing — some people may find the excitement and mystery of online dating is removed. Realistically, this is an accurate description and a potential disadvantage of online dating for anyone looking for the thrill and mystery of dating.
That said, "mystery" does not guarantee a positive experience. Online dating can help you filter bad matches that, in a traditional dating environment, may spring a surprise on you that they are already married. Of course, this happens in online dating as well, but the risk of this is reduced if you carefully review profiles and your matches.
The bottom line is there is no guarantee in dating, but online dating is not boring by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, some of the mystery is removed since you know who you will be meeting, but you have no idea whether there will be chemistry or what the topics of conversation will be. Treat each first date as an opportunity to have a quality conversation with a great match, and you will likely not be disappointed by an lack of "mystery" to the online dating process.
As you can see, these disadvantages are mostly based on how you frame the issue. Framed in a positive light, many of these so-called disadvantages are more closely related to some of online dating's greatest advantages. To that end, let's now transition to covering what makes online dating such a great option for your love life.
If you have been stuck in the rut of traditional dating and the bar lifestyle, online dating is capable of expanding your potential matches exponentially. Odds are good that there are hundreds or thousands (for the largest metro areas, perhaps even millions) of potential matches you would have no way of finding in your traditional day-to-day. The reality is you are either going to college, working, pursuing your career or some combination of activities that keeps you from seeking out all your options in the real world.
Online dating brings these options to you in a nearly instantaneous way. Even for a moderately sized city, it could take years to meet these matches in an organic fashion. Yet, with online dating, you are able to browse hundreds of profiles to assess your romantic options in just a few hours. Despite the vast opportunities available, be sure to limit yourself and take your time. This, in turn, prevents you from falling into the aforementioned trap of making hasty judgments.
Instead, simply realize the many matches available to you gives you
the unique ability to screen for the best possible matches.
As a unique individual, your personality is itself a unique imprint that will go a long way toward determining who are the best matches for you. Online dating helps you cater to your own uniqueness by filtering based on your perceived dating needs.
Online websites will let you filter by things like religion, political affiliation, and drinking/smoking behaviours. Even physical traits such as hair color, body type, height and ethnicity can be accounted for based on your chemistry preferences. In the real world, in all likelihood you first find potential dates based on physical attractiveness and who catches your eye. From there, you then have to discuss religious similarities, political agreements/disagreements and the like. With online dating, you can instantly screen for all this criteria in seconds, saving yourself the headache of finding great physical chemistry, only to find that you disagree on virtually every important issue.
Functionally, online dating eliminates the unnecessary guessing games of traditional dating. Based on your match's answers to profile questions on a given website, you know where a potential match stands on everything from religion to sex and politics. If you want something casual or you want to wait until marriage to have sex, online dating makes it easy to find a partner looking for something similar. Once you screen based on your essential criteria, it becomes easier to take valuable time to read profiles and really get to know your matches before sending that first message.
21st century living operates at an incredibly fast pace, especially for Americans. America is far and away the most overworked nation in the world, for example. Taking stock of this reality requires recognizing another uncomfortable fact. There are only 24 hours in a given day. When so much of those hours each day are spent on work and sleep to get rested for another work day, it can be difficult to fit traditional dating into a busy schedule.
Online dating changes this dynamic, particularly with the rise of dating apps. Thanks to online dating, you can take active steps to spark your love life on your morning commute, on a lunch break or while unwinding in the evening. Simply put, online dating puts you in control of your love life once again. It's easy to take for granted how difficult is to date traditionally in our increasingly busy world, but online dating has done an incredible job of balancing these scales and putting you in control once again.
Let's face it, traditional dating can get expensive. The amount of first dates spent just to find out whether there is chemistry will often revolve around dinner or drinks in some way, shape or form. Online dating, by contrast, is entirely free or a low monthly fee depending on the website or apps you choose.
Either way, when looking for something truly long-term, it would be nice if you can save some money that can be put toward Mr. or Ms. Right and/or a future family. With online dating, coffee dates or a stroll through a popular public park are great low-cost and/or free dating options that pair nicely with free or low-cost online dating options.
This isn't to say you can't choose low-cost options via traditional dating, but there are more expectations placed on date night when you already know the person. Online dating takes some of the pressure off, making cost-effective first dates more acceptable as a general rule.
In the worst case scenario where an online date doesn't go so well — hey, it happens — at least you'll have a story to tell that a fellow online dater will find hilarious, interesting or maybe even empathetic. In this way, the mutual understanding of online dating can leverage a bad dating experience into a compelling story when you have a great date filled with chemistry.
Limiting online dating to finding love puts needless pressure on yourself, but it also prevents you from exploring some of its other noteworthy benefits. Online dating may introduce you to a range of interesting people in all walks of life. It isn't uncommon to run into a lawyer, an accountant and a doctor in a given month of online dating.
In person, it's easy to send mixed signals. One dater may think they just had an incredible evening, whereas the other dater in question found the experience forgettable. The point is, it's easy for traditional dating to fall into the traps of unclear expectations and mixed messaging.
If you view your romantic life as a journey that needs to arrive at a fixed destination (whether you are ready for marriage or simply starting a committed relationship), online dating is uniquely helpful for setting those expectations early. The written communication inherent to messaging matches makes it easier than ever to set clear expectations about who you are and what you need in a romantic partner.
Instead of walking into dates and "seeing what happens", you can go on a first date knowing your match claims to want the same things you do. In this way, online dating empowers you to pursue partners that are looking for the same life's journey you are.
There are certainly legitimate reasons why online dating is not the right choice for everyone. Only you can decide whether online dating is a worthy addition to your search for romance. That said, online dating is an excellent tool for the majority of today's daters. Even if you simply use online dating as an additional dating source while you continue to date traditionally as well, online dating only helps expand your dating options in meaningfully beneficial ways.
No matter what dating strategies you employ — online dating, traditional dating, or some combination of both — we hope this guide will help you weigh whether online dating can be a useful tool for finding great matches during your romantic search.