Just recently, I have been talking to friends and family about dating- namely, the differences between dating in person and online. Not exactly sure why the topic came up, but in any case, it got me thinking about my own personal beliefs on real life vs. online dating- two very distinct customs whose contention is more germane than ever in the 21st century. Especially when it comes to finding love online.
Really, I feel that technology has made it at once easier and harder for people to find a romantic partner. What do I mean by this? Well, it’s easier in the sense to find someone to go out with, since there’s so many people registered on dating websites like OkCupid and mobile apps like Tinder. Cliché as it sounds, there are plenty of fish in the sea to choose from. Yet, on the other hand, it’s harder to find someone who you aren’t sure will commit to a long-term relationship (perhaps you aren’t sure about it, too).
This is not to say that online dating or meeting your partner online is guaranteed to fail- not at all. Some relationships in which couples had originally met online do end up working out, even resulting in marriage. But there have been studies showing that breakup rates tend to be higher for online couples than offline ones, in both marital and non-marital relationships (see one study here). And even if couples end up marrying, the next question is whether such marriages are long-lasting, or result in divorce along the way. There hasn’t been a lot of conclusive evidence discussing that, but here’s another article to consider.
Also, before I forget: I know that there’s a difference between online dating (in which couples almost exclusively communicate virtually) and dating people from online (finding people on the Internet and meeting up in person to hang out). For the sake of this post, I will use these phrases interchangeably, not because they are the same (not at all), but rather I don’t want this post to run too long and bore you (I admit, I can’t read anything too long myself). I might write another post distinguishing the two in the future, so stay tuned! Otherwise, keep reading!
In any case, while I am not against online dating or finding love online, I am quite skeptical of it, especially when it comes to committal, long-term relationships. I also want to say that I think hook-ups/flings, are fine, even fun and all, but if one is expecting marriage in the future, then I pause a bit. You could say that I come from the older, “traditional” conception of dating (e.g. meeting someone in person through mutual friends/relatives at some event, going on dates and hitting it of, etc.), and now this new tradition of meeting people on the Internet seems quite…inorganic.
For instance, with a lot of dating websites/apps, you can set up filters to target a specific demographic, even individual, as a potential “date.” You can do something like “I want someone who’s in the 18-24 year-old range, is of Italian descent with blond hair and green eyes who likes pickles and watching Spongebob on Saturday nights.”
See? Very specific, am I right?
Okay, so I exaggerated a bit (*cough* a lot). But what I’m trying to say is that filters, let alone online profiles, are quite arbitrary, let alone just marketing “pitches” to attract others. And they also don’t take into account that the more things you have in common with someone does not necessarily mean you will hit it off in person. Sure, both of you love burgers and romantic comedies, but besides interests, are your personalities compatible? Maybe she tends to be moody on Mondays or perhaps he is a perfectionist with having the house super clean. Little things like that that don’t get mentioned online will come out when you actually get to know each other, and at that point, you will have to decide whether to go along with it, even accept it, or break off the relationship. Truly, it is the quirks that make or break relationships.
I was actually having a conversation about these topics with a friend of mine not too long ago, as well as with some family members. In both cases, my friend and my family were discussing the culture of online dating, and it seemed that they were accepting of it.
For example: my friend, who has a Tinder, says that she uses it not necessarily for dating, but for “meeting people” to hang out- to get lunch or coffee between classes or work. She also acknowledges that Tinder is sort of a “joke,” in the sense that there are some weird people on there, but she goes along with it in a fun, playful manner. Basically, Tinder is a great way to be entertained, as well as make connections with others in the area, even if it’s transient. Personally, I don’t have Tinder, and I have my reasons as to why I don’t have one, but that’s besides the point. I won’t go into too much on it, but I have other friends who use Tinder for the very same reasons as well, and I let them enjoy their fun. What I guess is irking me about this app is the fact that my friends are encouraging, even pressuring me, to get one as well, since “everyone is using it.” And I do not like that. But aside from that, Tinder is just another app. So be it.
In the case of my family, I was having a conversation with them one day. It involved me, my mom, my sister, and my cousin. My cousin, who is thirty-one and single, told us that she has gone out on a couple of dates from people she’d met online, but they never really worked out for her. Being the traditionalist that I am, I jumped in and expressed my skepticism with the online dating scene. I just never felt that meeting people on the Internet would ever work out. But my mom and my cousin justified online dating/finding people online by saying that, besides technology making it more accessible to find others these days, it’s also the fact that most working adults don’t really have the time to meet people outside of work, being busy and all. True, people can meet each other through work, but even then, that is just a small pool of possible partners to choose from. That’s why online websites/apps are helpful for “expanding” that pool, and finding more diverse, as well as like-minded, people (a contradiction perhaps, but that’s fine). I saw their point, but still…I’m not entirely convinced. Perhaps it just comes with experience; it’s all about living and learning, folks.
How have your experiences been with real-life and/or online dating? I would be curious to know!
– The Finicky Cynic
P.S. One article that especially inspired me to write this post is Aziz Ansari’s article on “modern romance” of the Internet, which you can find here. I highly encourage you to check it out! 🙂
Check me out on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/thefinickycynic