Before online dating became a thing, you had a small inner circle, which wasn’t where you found your dates. Those people were introduced by your close friends, family, and folks you’d run would meet. Your dating network was the next step out from your inner circle.
Matchmaking might have been reliant on introductions from mutual friends or family through activities such as (bars, dinner gatherings, etc). But modern relationships are changing, and people are meeting potential matches online with someone completely out of all circles!
1. The Options
As a kid when you walked into a candy store, did you get excited and want everything? Did you neglect the chocolate that would taste AMAZING for the chocolate that had pretty packaging? or a cool toy attached to it? Similar to the virtual dating world, your choices become limitless and you may pass up amazing people for the first glance of pretty people.
Now another great point to look at would be in the article, Can There Ever Be Too Many Options? Benjamin Scheibehenne, shows that when you’re presented with an excess of choices, you’re often less satisfied once you make your decision.
“These proposed effects of extensive assortments include a decrease in motivation to choose, to commit to a choice, or to make any choice at all. A decrease in satisfaction with the chosen options and an increase in negative emotions, including disappointment and regret is referred to as “choice overload”.Scheibehenne 2010: 409
This can also lead to feelings that potential partners are replaceable, creating a culture of short-term relationships.
So the thing is…instead of getting to know 1 or 2 potential partners, you brush through 10 or more and devote less time into each. Which can cause negative effects on a person’s well-being and mental health as they go through poor quality dates, conversations, and relationships with people who may see them as just another option?
“I was single for a year and thought I’d download Bumble to find someone with similar interests that would resonate with me. But, I fell into a roller coaster of hope and disappointment. People would ghost me or lead me on because they were bored and just needed attention. They would talk to me and 3 other girls at once, without letting any of us know. It made finding genuine people very difficult, and I had a harder time trusting after a few experiences.”
– Interviewee 2020
Now, on the plus side there has been a change in the variety of ways we find our partners. Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge for example allow you to find single people in your area. The app lets you match with people who have similar traits, enjoy similar activities as you and find you attractive. It gives you better options for connecting with someone who already finds you intriguing and will enjoy the conversations.
Yes, there is a fear of rejection. But with every one or two rejections, you get one or two matches. Think about it like this, in singles bars, you can only rely on physical attraction and there are only so many options that may catch your eye before getting to know them.
Bringing me to the conclusion that the superficiality of someone’s appearance might mask aspects of their personality that make them incompatible to you. You don’t need to settle for someone you met ‘organically’ if you only have a few things in common with them! Where’s the fun in that? Modern dating gives you the option to find like-minded individuals that will connect with you better.
2. The Game
You get the notification of a match, a new message, or someone you want to talk to is active. Studies have shown that the randomness of the notification, Random Reward causes a little spike of dopamine to be secreted. With the new dating apps, you can talk to multiple people at once in order to keep the exciting feeling.
This can feed your self-ego and make you addicted to this type of dating. It has also transformed into an endless virtual marketplace for singles to shop. Some have even turned it into a minimal-effort transactions of hook-ups.
Back in college, I noticed a lot of people using apps as a one night ticket for fun, short-term relationships, or meaningless connections. (Sorry for exposing the game) but it’s true! The only time I’m going to say this is wrong is when individuals do not communicate what they are looking for.
A man messages 15 girls to have dinner at his place Friday night. 7 of them have other plans, 2 of them don’t reply and 6 are interested. Out of the 6, he makes sure to have 3 lined up and ready to go just in case someone bails. Then he chooses 1-2 to hang out with throughout the weekend.
Now, keep in mind that not only does he have options here, but he is also playing the game! Do you think these girls know that he has a plan A, B, and C?
Nope. He gets that little spike of dopamine with each date and keeps the cycle going. Since he isn’t committing to a choice, or worrying about “choice overload”.
On the bright side of things, it can help you get out of your comfort zone and boost your self-confidence. We all go through patches in our life where we feel insecure, introverted, and afraid to try something new. But by seeing and hearing from a variety of different people, you get a better understanding of what you want and what you’re willing to try.
[Read: The Five Love Languages]
You can also select what you’re looking for (casual dating or serious relationships, similar hobbies or interests, same ethnicity or background, etc).
This may sound like a con since you are selecting what you want and ‘shopping’ around. But in reality it allows you to meet people that you never could’ve seen yourself with or find the courage to put yourself out there.
During an interview someone stated,
“I was always the type that kept to myself in college and I never ventured out to meet new people. I would stay in the library on weekends and found myself more closed off than the people around me. My roommate convinced me to download a dating app and at first, I ignored responding to people or I’d get nervous when someone asked me out on a date. But over time my confidence went up and I learned how to open up and be my bubbly self. It also just helped me ease my way into the dating world, express myself better with each experience.” (Interviewee, 2020)
3. The Convenience
Meeting someone used to be unique, and special. The story of ‘how you met’ would start the organic connection, and spark that defined the early stages of the relationship. Technology has made our world faster and people want to spend as little time as possible looking for someone to meet.
Facebook, Youtube, Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Instagram, etc – are all part of the new ways people can connect with one another electronically. The negative side to this is that some individuals may substitute physical relationships for electronic ones for the sake of convenience.
Being able to connect with thousands of people in your area in the palm of your hand made it easier to have short-lived connections without having to leave the comfort of your own home to get it and then…on to the next.
The convenience of having people at your disposal at any time gives people a negative perception of what dating should look like.
People abuse the convenience as a way to feed into their own fun via (text, Snapchat, etc) without putting effort or time into it and then moving on. This can cause stress and anxiety for most people wanting to put themselves out there.
Things like where to meet, mutual interests, and relating to each other’s sense of humor bring you back to the traditional aspects of dating that still stands today. So…have the important aspects changed THAT much?
Let’s say you go on a blind date ‘organically’, you put time, energy and money into the date hoping that it goes great. But, what if you realize how different the two of you are? Maybe they like things you have no comment on and what if you find yourself in awkward silences, or maybe they don’t shut up about themselves. A disaster right?
BUT, if you choose to go on a date with a partner online, you are saving time and money by first getting to know them through texting, calling, and facetime. It saves you from the dangers of the ‘what if’ and allows you to pick and choose who is worth your time before going in.
In a pervious article I discuss “Standards vs Expectations in a Relationship“. The article also plays a huge role in the ‘talking phase’ as you save time by going for people who meet your standards oppose to going for people who force you to change what them.
A former graduate working 12-hour shifts stated,
“I downloaded Hinge because I knew I didn’t have time to go out to bars or mingle with new people. When I downloaded the app I didn’t put high expectations of finding someone at first. I just thought I’d try it out since I knew what I wanted in a relationship, but just didn’t have time to search for it. Hinge helped me find that person! And I don’t think we would have met any other way if it weren’t for the app, to be honest. We both had busy lives and she was new to town and didn’t go out much like me so it worked out perfectly.”
Lastly, in a study conducted by economist Raymond Fisman at Columbia University, he did an experiment that separated what an individual looks for in a partner through a speed dating exercise. The characteristics were separated into three board categories: attractiveness, intelligence, and ambition.
Now if we compare Fisman’s study with online profiles, the main thing we look at first are the photos. The pictures can show a variety of things, not just physical attractiveness. It can determine whether or not they look smug or warm, and give more information about what they enjoy doing, prior to meeting them. Which can save you A LOT of time.
With all things considered, both the pros and cons display great points; the options, the games, and the conveniences can either go good or bad. It is up to you to change the negative stigma and perception by communicating what you’re looking for and letting them decide whether or not it is something they want.
I know you can’t control how others choose to use the new dating method, but by knowing both sides of the pros and cons it will most definitely give you an upper hand going in.
I have gone through the process and would love to help others decode their own experiences. Email me or message me on IG with any thoughts you have and let’s connect!