Online Dating

Online dating is a powerful resource for meeting potential partners. While conventional dating methods are still practiced, online dating offers a convenient, safe, alternative approach to meeting new people. Some people do not choose online dating because they meet new people in their everyday lives, while others appreciate the safety and confidence provided when initial contact is made through a computer screen. However, online dating is not risk-free, and appropriate safety measures should be followed. There is a great possibility for success with online dating. Many long-lasting relationships start online. 

5 Interesting Facts about Online Dating

Many people are familiar with online dating, as its popularity has increased significantly over the past decade. Below is a list of five interesting facts about online dating:1

  1. Online dating is becoming less stigmatized, with many now believing it is a good way to meet people.
  2. Online dating increased from 10% to 27% among 18-24 years olds and 6% to 12% among adults aged 55 to 64 years old in the United States between 2013 and 2015.
  3. One-third of people who have used an online dating website never go on a date with a person they meet online.
  4. One-in-five individuals who participate in online dating have asked someone else for help when creating their profile.
  5. 5% of Americans who are married or are in a committed relationship say that they met their partner online.

Who is Online Dating For?

Online dating is for everyone! All people, whether young (most sites are 18+), old, gay, straight, Christian, Jewish, Asian, African American, or of any other identity, can participate in online dating.2 Sites such as Match.com are inclusive to all people, whereas other dating sites such as ChristianMingle.com and FarmersOnly.com specifically target certain groups of people. A recent poll concluded that 11% of American adults have participated in online dating websites or mobile dating apps.3. Positive attitudes about online dating are steadily increasing. In 2013, 59% of internet users agreed with the statement that “online dating is a good way to meet people”, compared to 44% in 2005.

Deciding on a Site

One of the toughest parts of online dating is deciding which site to use. There are many options, and no one site works for everyone. Some sites are better than others for specific purposes. For example, sites such as Match.com are intended to create life-long relationships, whereas an app such as Tinder are geared towards short-term relationships. Most sites will allow new users to search through candidates for free, before requiring a paid subscription to communicate with other members. Researching different sites can help potential new users find the right site.

Setting Up A Profile

A profile needs to accurately reflect the individual who creates it. It is important to dedicate some time and energy towards creating long, meaningful descriptions and answers to the site’s questions. A detailed profile allows others to get a glimpse of the individual and helps users determine who may be a compatible match. The way a profile looks and the quality of the content provided can make the difference between whether the users receive a match or not. Answers should not be made up. Instead, answers should be truthful and accurately reflects the individual. An honest profile will help ensure appropriate and quality matches

Good photos can make a profile stand out, as they are usually the first thing people see when viewing a profile. Online daters want visualize other users clearly. Some examples of bad photos include a lack of photos, photos that are too dark or blurry, costume photos, photos that are extremely photoshopped, sunglasses or hat in every photo, only group photos, mirror selfies, and only headshots. Photos should enhance a profile and give other users a better idea of the person. Pictures of kids and pets, and even group photos, are okay, as long as they are supplementing enough quality photos of the individual. Uploaded photos should be recent and accurately depict the person in their current state. For example, if a person drastically changes their hair color, they should upload new pictures and remove old ones to reduce confusion regarding their physical appearance.

Communicating Online 

Once a match is made, the individuals can begin talking to become better acquainted. While profiles can help solidify initial attraction, nothing determines compatibility like an actual conversation. Some online dating programs utilize their own chat services for communication between matching members, while others have members communicate via email. However, users should never give out their personal information to strangers. Having honest discussions regarding the intentions can ensure both parties want the same things.

Breaking Off Contact

Sometimes a match does not work out. The participants should not feel pressured to pursue the relationship if they are not comfortable or happy with it. There are many other options out there (which is one of the many perks of online dating). Do not become discouraged if a match does not work out. Some people talk to and online date many people before finding the right match while others are able to find their true match quickly. It might take one try, or it might take thirty tries. The key is to not give up. If someone is persistent after contact has ended, report the profile to the site or see if there is a “block” feature available.

Meeting In Person

Once a match is made online and the virtual communication is satisfactory, then the matched couple may decide to meet up in person. When preparing to meet up with another member from the dating site, remember to always tell a friend or family member where the meeting pace is and estimated time of return. The first meeting should be in a public, well-lit area, such as a coffee shop or restaurant. If the partners decide to become sexually active they should use proper protection, such as condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Have a reasonable conversation about sex before actually having it. Both partners should be tested for STIs, and must be completely honest regarding their status.5

Safety Tips

While online dating is a great option for finding a partner, it does come with a few risks. Specifically, the internet is a very public place and people should be cognizant of what they are putting online. The following is a list of safety tips that should be considered when online dating:

1. Never publicly list or give out any private personal information. Private information includes full name, personal email address, home address, phone number, or place of work. Individuals should protect their identity until they are comfortable enough with someone to share it.3

2. Never continue to communicate with someone who is pressuring for personal or financial information. This information can include social security number, credit card number, or bank information. Report such incidents immediately to the website.

Catfishing

Catfishing is when a person assumes a fake identity or personality on the internet, with the intent of deceiving, manipulating, or swindling someone.6 The term was made popular by a 2010 documentary entitled Catfish, directed by Henry Joosf and Ariel Schulman. The film followed a man who was being catfished in an online relationship. The documentary has since been adapted into a television show, further popularizing the term and subject. Catfishing is one of the risks associated with online dating. However, there are signs to look out for and strategies to help avoid being catfished. The following is a list of signs that may indicate a person is not who they claim are online:7

  • The person wants to immediately leave the dating website to use a personal email or instant messenger.
  • The person claims they are in love really quickly.
  • The person claims they are are traveling or working overseas.
  • The person keeps planning on visiting, but are prevented by a traumatic event, or an emergency at work

Money-scamming can oftentimes be the motivation behind catfishers. The following is a list of tips for avoiding being scammed:7

  • Do not wire money to cover travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospital bills for a child or other relative, visas or official documents, or losses from a momentary financial setback.
  • Do not send money to help someone who claims they were a victim of a mugging or robbery.
  • Do not do someone a “favor” by making an online purchase for them or forwarding a package to another country.

Catfishing and scams are serious issues. However, there are ways to avoid becoming a victim. Recognizing these issues and understanding their likelihood are good steps in protecting oneself.

Concluding Remarks

Online dating is a great option for finding a potential partner, especially for introverts, older generations, and people with very busy lives. As long as users are cognizant of and take the proper precaution against scammers, the possible rewards of finding someone can greatly outweigh the risks of online dating. There are plenty of website options and tools that can be used to find the right partner. Online dating is not for everyone. However, it is up to individuals to decide if online dating is right for them.

References

1. Smith, Aaron, and Monica Anderson. "5 Facts about Online Dating." Pew Research Center. N.p., 29 Feb. 2016. Web.

2. Match.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.

3. Smith, Aaron, and Maeve Duggan. "Online Dating & Relationships." Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. N.p., 20 Oct. 2013. Web.

4. Ware, Lauren. “Cringe Worthy Photo Mistakes.” Match.com, n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.

5. “Safety.” Tinder. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.

6. "Catfish." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web.

7. "Consumer Information." Online Dating Scams | Consumer Information. N.p., Sept. 2011. Web.

Last Updated: 8 March 2017.

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