Online dating is rapidly becoming one of the more common methods to meet your perfect partner, nowadays 20% of heterosexual couples and 70% of homosexual couples meet online. Why is it that online dating seems to be becoming increasingly popular? At the same time, do the traditional forms of meeting someone still work effectively as well? As a matchmaker and psychologist – I take a closer look at these two methods of meeting a potential partner.
The rise of online dating is a force to be reckoned with. In this day and age time is money, and online dating is a booming business. At the same time people like facts; they like them upfront and before they make any decisions. Long gone are the days of snail mail, horse and carriage, and patience being a virtue. Nowadays, with the Internet and sophisticated tools such as Google and Facebook, we are able to know more at a click of a button than ever. All of these factors have gently shifted us in the direction of online dating. Thousands of single people are accessible online by simply downloading an App, and once you have even sparked up an awkward first conversation, all their credentials (age, location, hobbies, career) are laid readily before you, so you still have time to make an ‘informed’ decision whether to meet the person.
This apparent efficiency allows us to not waste any more of our increasingly precious time. Yet what are we skipping out or skimming through that might be essential to know before actually meeting someone face to face? Do we really get all we need to know about someone from a CV? Communication is a key issue, where time and time again the awkward dance that occurs in the initial few steps of dating can throw one or both people off. So much is lost in translation with online sites. Factors such as your tone of voice, or ability to read each other’s expressions, are crucial in preventing these misunderstandings and painful missteps. In the long run, when you meet the right person the rule-book flies out of the window anyway, and you won’t know this until you meet face to face. So, someone who doesn’t seem like the perfect match on paper could end up being your dream partner.
Although online dating algorithms are unique, and pervasive, and they can be wonderful avenues to meeting people, they do not expose a person’s energy, values or true character, nor do they allow for the old Ying and Yang, or the idea that opposites attract. At Vida we get to know each of our Private Members on a personal level and can make suggestions, almost as an unbiased friend. ‘Wild card’ introductions aren’t out of the ordinary for us, perhaps the person we recommended doesn’t fit perfectly into a clients “shopping list” of living exactly 5 miles from your front door, but the traits, and energy would be a perfect fit.
High end matchmaking has many advantages when it comes to the search for your perfect match. It can often help for a third, unbiased party (the matchmaker) to be involved and provide advice and guidance along this journey. We work very closely with all of our clients and this is proven in our 85% success rate of matches during membership. A trusting relationship is established and built upon, between the matchmaker and their client. With online dating, can you really ever be 100% sure that who you are speaking to is who they say they are? It is not difficult for people to create personas, or even use simple methods, for example out of date photos (1/3 photos are misleading on online websites).
Finkel (E.J) et al, 2012 suggests, that the more you pay for a dating site, or matchmaking service, the more serious people are about meeting someone long term, the more dates you are likely to go on, and the less abuse you are likely to encounter. They become much safer and confidential, the higher the price of the service you use.
Flicking through online profiles is quick and easy, so how do we stop ourselves from just flicking onto a new relationship and getting back on the ‘App wagon’ when everything goes wrong? Nowadays access to new choices is there at your fingertips, so dating itself has become much more casual. Although long gone are the days when we had limited access to people outside our close social group, other issues do come into play. Yes, online dating gives us access to thousands of singles, which is a drastic change from years ago when our options were limited. However how compatible are hundreds of people to one person who shares a similar upbringing, mentality, and values to life.
Yes online dating is fast paced, and fact driven, but is that necessarily a good thing? With the sheer numbers of people indulging in this new type of dating, there are bound to be successes, but is this really the new way to find love, it remains to be seen. Perhaps a more personal and professional approach is needed to find long-term love, whilst online dating remains exactly as it is said in the title, preferable for simply ‘dating.’
(Finkel (E.J) et al. 2012. Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. XX(X), pp.1-64. Download the full paper here