It is no secret that online dating has become quite popular in modern times. While many people engage in this form of courtship, however, numerous singles still question its effectiveness and wonder if it will make them seem desperate or actually help them find true love.
According to a study done by Erich R. Merkle and Rhonda A. Richardson titled “Digital Dating and Virtual Relating: Conceptualizing Computer Mediated Romantic Relationships”, Americans are some of the most technology-loving people in the world. This combined with their social nature has led the American people to manipulate the Internet into a social tool just as much as a technological tool. And, with the arrival of virtual social communities, people have made it possible to find love online.
The question becomes, then, how does online dating differ from conventional dating methods? And what is the likelihood that an online relationship will last?
Online Dating vs. Traditional Dating
Conventional dating practices differ in many ways from virtual dating, mainly based on how these relationships develop. According to Merkle and Richardson, people traditionally saw someone whom they found attractive and thus pursued them. However, with Internet dating there is less of a need for physical attractiveness while candid self-disclosure becomes more important.
Moreover, the environments that these two different types of relationships are developed and sustained in are quite different. In face-to-face dating, proximity is a big factor in whether to people will have a relationship, especially since in this type of dating if you do not see a person you cannot grow in the relationship. However, this is not so with Internet dating.
In traditional dating, two people who live near to each other and find each other attractive will begin dating and self-disclosing to one another. However, the sequence is different in online dating, with the self-disclosure being at the beginning of the relationship. If the two people find each other interesting they may begin to disclose highly personal matters, and then, when the time is right, agree to meet, often with highly sexualized effects.
Pros and Cons
Steve Roberts, a writer and commenter on relationships and internet dating, discussed the pros and cons of online dating in an article titled “Pros and Cons of Online Dating”. There are various positives to online dating, for example, it is very convenient. For example, you do not have to spend 3 hours getting ready to go out on a face-to-face date. Moreover, online dating allows you to chat with many different potential partners, all without making any type of commitment or feeling obligated to do anything specific. Online dating can also allow for people to communicate themselves better than being put on the spot in a face-to-face situation.
While there are many positive aspects to online dating, there are also negative aspects. For instance, many Internet dating sites can cost a lot of money. And, if they do not, you are more likely to interact with people you may not want to meet. Furthermore, because people are not held as accountable for their actions as they would be in face-to-face situations, there is more room for abuse and dishonesty in the relationship. Online dating can also be negative in the fact that you can only judge a person by their written word, at least in the beginning. You do not have body language to read or facial expressions. And, to top that off, when you do finally meet people may not look like they did in their pictures.
Will it Last?
Another difference that sometimes exists between these two types of dating is the termination of the relationship. Sometimes, online daters will end a relationship before the pair have ever even met face-to-face. With face-to-face relationships, couples usually break-up when the costs outweigh the rewards, when there exists a better alternative to the relationship, when there are few barriers to breaking up, or when little has been invested into the relationship.
If we think about this in terms of online dating, than it may be thought that online relationships are more likely to end than the more traditional kind. First of all, Merkle and Richardson discuss how because the Internet connects each person to so many different people, it becomes quite easy for someone to find a more desirable alternative to their current relationship. Moreover, without having that face-to-face interaction there exist less barriers to breaking it off. For example, family may not really mind if you break off a relationship that they deemed as less “authentic” than a traditional courtship.
Another theory on this does exist, however, that believes that online dating relationships are actually stronger than the traditional kind. Because online courtships begin with self-disclosure and a lot of personal information being shared, there be thought to be a higher personal investment. This higher personal investment could possibly lead to a stronger dedication to making the relationship work.
Online dating can be a beneficial tool that can present possibilities where they did not exist before. It is important, however, to realize that online dating does differ from traditional courtships and to keep it in mind that people are not always what they say they are. It may even be wise to propose meeting up for coffee or a drink early-on when online dating to get a better sense of who this person really is, before you disclose too much personal information. Whichever route you decide to take on your dating endeavors, know that is not impossible to find love online.