Real Life Vs. Online Dating

Hello, folks.

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?

Courtesy of Tumblr.

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!

My sentiments exactly.

– 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! 🙂

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21 thoughts on “Real Life Vs. Online Dating

  1. Tinder is free entertainment on the weekends, but other than that it is a joke. For us “older” folks that have children, bitter exes that pretty much bankrupt us and so forth online dating is a breath of fresh air. There is no pressure and if some one gets a little to nosy or pushy before you are ready you politely tell them bye bye. It took me about three months to get the hang of the online dating thing, doesn’t help I’m single for the first time in my adult life at 38 so it was a little awkward at first.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Online dating has always been a mystery to me, and so I found your personal experiences with it quite enlightening. Good thoughts!

  2. Dating and relationships are very different online and in person. Sometimes intimacy can be different when it’s from a distance. There is a physical thing to where can you exist in the same space.

    1. I definitely agree with you. Depending on whether you’re in an online or in-person relationship, intimacy can be treated as either an abstraction or a tangible thing. Thanks for your input!

  3. I have never experienced online dating as in meeting someone online that’s in my country via some app like Tinder etc, but I have experienced long-distance online relationships which isn’t really the same thing now is it? So I guess the notes on that are invalid compared to this blogpost.

    None the less, it is smart to use the phrase “older folk” or grown ups when talking about online dating in circles of your country, because most grown ups (the opperative word being most) have a much wise pick and to whom they put their trust into, if it’s a rather brief chatting phase but a wish for a quick meet. I don’t really have anything against online dating, even though the percentage of them working out is low,but I always lean to the safety chapter and by that I mean, how safe it really is to even get involved in such things. Me being 17 I think it’s absolutely advisable that I do think like that, but even grown ups can get carried away right?

    I can’t say I’m skeptical about them, but thinking three steps ahead of time and including the fact that many teenagers expose themselves to similar apps and websites, I think that my fear of getting into something that I could potentionally never get off my back would hold me back.
    It’s a line many people of all age groups sometimes ignore, and it could end badly.
    But it could also end great with a ring on it.

    By a few practical and safety reasons (which aren’t full proof in real life either) I’d say I’d lean more to old fashioned real life dating.

    1. I do agree with you. I’m kind of old-fashioned myself, and so I still believe that I will find someone in real life, as opposed to online. And yes, there are definitely many dangers to finding love online, especially when there’s that extra layer of mystery behind the computer screen. But it’s also dangerous in person, especially if the person is a complete stranger, rather than someone who you’ve known for a while. There are many angles and sides to this dating debate which will never get resolved, but at least we have the information to go forward and make our own judgments when it comes to exploring the dating world.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. And welcome back!

      1. Exactly, the real world can be just as/even more dangerous as the internet world, you have to be smart about both.
        And thank you!

  4. Geraint Isitt

    I think the key is to have an open mind and not rule out anything. I don’t Tinder. Before I moved to the Middle East 8 years ago, I had an online dating profile for all of 3 weeks. I received 56 invites to chat, not because I was necessarily handsome, but because as a writer, I could actually write something articulate. So, there is still some sense of brain power in the online world.

    But I would much rather meet someone in person. It’s all fine and dandy telling someone you have something in common, but in person, you can pick up on mannerisms when talking about said things. Reactions, eye contact, body movement can all change and are important when trying to talk to someone, for any kind of relationship. Online and text, you can’t pick up sarcasm or any other nuances.

    Having said that, I do know some people who met through online writing communities and are now married or in commited relationships. The world is a wonderful place.

    1. Good thoughts. I definitely agree with you that online dating can never replace real-life dating in the sense that, yes, while you and the other person might share common interests, those interests sort of become rather…calculated. Being “98% compatible” online doesn’t mean you’ll get along with each other in person. Like you said, body language and speech mannerisms are much more important when it comes to chemistry, and while some online relationships have ended up working out, you can’t ignore the fact that true companionship involves the physical presence of you and your partner, at least in the long term.

  5. Okay so sorry but this is off topic… I love the last image. It’s from my favorite show called the Gilmore Girls and I love it so so much! Sorry, couldn’t resist writing this comment!

  6. This is a very interesting post. I come from a culture that has traditionally had “arranged” marriages – that is your family finds your partner for you. Generally such a person would be from the same socio economic background. But that does that mean that such marriages are great!! These marriages continue to “survive” because divorce is something that carries a lot of stigma. Couples stay unhappily married for years and raise children in these circumstances and the cycle might continue. With the advent of technology this concept of “arranged” marriage has become slightly different. There are sites similar to the one you have mentioned that are called “matrimonial” sites. The same filters exist. People meet online, meet in person and then get married. Families are sometimes involved in this too. But I do not know if the happiness quotient in the relationship has improved. Relationships are ultimately between two people. Despite how much you might love each other, one has to essentially work on nurturing it !

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am aware that different cultures have different ideas when it comes to dating and marriage. It seems that Western countries (e.g. the U.S., Canada, Britain, etc) seem to place value on the self and one’s own happiness when it comes to finding a partner, while non-Western countries place more emphasis on duty to the family and to the partner. But that doesn’t mean that the latter situation doesn’t contain happiness; I have heard of couples who have gone through arranged dating/marriages and have been happy with it. Really, it all comes down to compatibility, arranged or not.

      It’s very interesting that you brought up the “matrimonial sites.” I’ve never heard of them in those terms, but have heard of the concept being thrown around online. It’s crazy how finding love is becoming such a big thing on the Internet!

  7. Great post. Insightful and true. I was interested to see that studies have shown that breakup rates tend to be higher for online couples than offline ones. I don’t know why, but this doesn’t really surprise me. Your friend is right, Tinder has become more a joke than a serious venue for people to meet. Although the stigma of online dating has decreased in years gone by, opinions still remain that Tinder is more of a ‘hook up’ type of app, or worst still, just a meaningless pastime/entertainment. On the flip side, there have been thousands (if not millions! …Or perhaps billions… I’m not good with figures!) of online dating success stories! I guess you get out from them what you put in!

    Thanks for the link. 🙂

    1. Yes! Definitely. My opinion on dating apps/sites are mixed, but I can’t deny that there have been couples who met on there and are still going strong today. Thanks for your input!

  8. Well, My Dear, As satisfied users of my wife of 17 years and I can attest to the fact that online dating can be very helpful and successful, though as you point out, not always.

    In order for online dating to work you have to be willing to be very honest and not afraid to talk about almost anything i.e. your past, why your ex-wife left you (she liked her boyfriend more than me), your views on money, kids and the list goes on.

    My wife and I were able to communicate online almost all day from work for four straight days before she decided she would break her “I have to talk with someone for two months before I agree to meet them in person rule”. It made me happy. This is how brave my wife was. I didn’t even have a photo of myself up and we still met for coffee after five days and more than 500 pages of our emails printed out to get them off the company server.

    That 2:00 p.m. coffee turned into a 12 hour date – dinner, walking around Old Town Auburn CA, The movie Titanic and a number of hours of “talking” til 2 a.m. She invited me for dinner the next night and we have hardly spent any time apart over the last 19 years.

    Online dating is just like the old school process of writing letters in warp speed. It is easier to really get to know someone online than in person and you can do it faster. Using an online dating site is good to transition into in person dating. It really helps in life and in dating to know what you really don’t like or want!

    If you are in the dating market I will highly recommend to you and anyone else you know the book “The Psychology of Romantic Love” check out the reviews on Amazon!!!

    Happy hunting! LOL! I should tell you the best four word Header for an online profile but I think I will wait until you come visit me so I know you are “Sincere”. Ha! Remember My Wife wrote me without seeing a photo????

    1. Thanks for your detailed comment. In my opinion, real vs. online dating will depend on what you believe in or are comfortable with. Sometimes one will work, while the other might not. Seems like you and your wife really hit it off through the Internet, so congratulations on 17 years of marriage!

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