6 Reasons Why Online Dating Sucks And How To Cope
In the not-so-distant past, significant others encountered one another most commonly via local hangouts, at work, or through new or existing social circles. Today, online dating has gained popularity with rapid speed, with many people hooking up, getting into long-term relationships, or marrying someone they met on a dating app. While many people find success using online dating, many others have experiences that cause them to swear off online dating for good. Is online dating truly as awful as it is often made out to be? Let’s explore.
Online Dating’s Pitfalls
Online dating comes with a hefty list of both pros and cons. It may come as no surprise that as many as 40% of couples reported initially meeting online in a recent study released by sociologists from Stanford University and The University of New Mexico. At its inception, dating online was seen as strange, taboo, or even in the realm of the truly desperate. Now, however, taking to your phone or computer to search for love—or brief companionship—is somewhat common and has been classified as an acceptable way to encounter a prospective partner.
While online dating may have made its way into cultural norms, it is still frequently regarded with some degree of distrust or uncertainty. For many, online dating comes with a new (and potentially confusing) set of rules in addition to the standard dating norms, which can make it feel difficult or uncomfortable. Communication patterns, dating etiquette, and expectations can all differ dramatically between online dating and meeting in person, which can make some people feel as though online dating is not worth the frustration and risk.
Plenty of people have found love online, but just as many others have been met with confusion and heartbreak. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with the uncertainty and pitfalls associated with online dating to minimize emotional fallout and online heartbreak.
Despite having lost most of the stigma associated with it, online dating’s reputation has persisted as one that is fraught with complications and even dangers. Some of these dangers have led to the development of targeted apps such as Bumble, wherein a woman must be the first to initiate an interaction. Others have led to apps like Tinder, where a hookup may be more the norm than a long-term relationship. Online daters can browse from a veritable sea of people, combing through as many as 50 people in a matter of minutes and some swipes of a finger.
Perhaps in part due to the truly enormous number of people dating online, many consider the medium an ideal dating venue. One study indicated that as many as 1 in 5 couples in the UK met online. It has even been predicted that as many as 70% of couples will have met online by the year 2040. The popularity of online dating—and its corresponding predictions—is usually attributed to two things: efficiency and convenience. Online dating allows people to narrow their search fields to like-minded people and allows them to browse potential matches from the comfort and safety of their home.
While most of the indicators above suggest that online dating is something to be celebrated and embraced, there are some issues that can persist with online dating. These persistent problems include:
Hookup Culture And Uneven Expectations
Many people who take to their computers to find love and connection are dismayed to find that many of their matches are interested primarily in a hookup or a highly casual encounter. This is not necessarily a bad thing, provided that both parties are aware and consenting, but there can be an imbalance in expectations or a lack of transparency online. Some people may list their profiles as people in search of a lasting relationship and quickly recant that once a connection is established, while others might simply be browsing apps and sites out of curiosity.
This imbalance has led many sites to install blocks on the site’s messaging services to block unwanted images of a prospective match’s genitalia and other unwelcome and unsolicited materials. Many sites and apps also allow you to block or report users who harass, proposition, or otherwise treat you inappropriately. Nevertheless, some online daters may grow weary of weeding out people searching for a relationship from those who are looking for short-term or casual dating.
The Ease Of Deceit
Everyone can lie about who they are and what they do, but online dating can make it far easier to craft an entire persona that does not actually exist. From using doctored or aged photos, to taking hours to craft a perfectly delivered opener despite being prone to awkwardness in day-to-day interactions, many people are not quite as they appear to be online. These practices are typically referred to as “peacocking,” or the act of putting forth their best possible self rather than their realistic self. Though largely harmless, peacocking can create a divide between what a potential match expects to encounter and what they actually encounter on a date.
Far less innocuous is cat fishing, wherein an individual uses fake photos and traits to lure potential matches in. One survey suggested that 53% of people acknowledge falsifying at least one detail on their profile. From lying about your appearance to being deceitful about how much money you make, online dating can make people feel more comfortable with being dishonest while searching for a date.
The format of online dating can make people feel safer making judgments based entirely on appearance, rather than judging people for who they are as a whole. Online dating is heavily appearance-focused, especially in today’s “swipe right” climate, which can encourage people to make physical appearance the primary determiner of their interest. It has even been suggested that people may discount an ideal match based solely on physical appearance—an act that may be far less likely to occur during in-person interactions.
Online Dating Can Be Seen As A Waste Of Time
Although connecting and chatting with people online may be common, many of these conversations never actually result in a physical encounter or regular dates. The precise reasons behind this are numerous: while chatting, potential matches may discover they have very little chemistry, or they may find that they do not have as much in common as originally thought. Some people may even enter the online dating arena without intending to see a conversation through to an actual date and are more in search of conversation and friendly companionship. No matter the actual reason, hours of chatting back and forth without a solid date can make you feel like online dating is a waste of time.
One study evaluated the amount of time spent talking prior to a date and determined that chatting for more than 17 days prior to meeting led to idealization of a potential partner and subsequent disillusionment. Some studies have even suggested that couples who meet online are less likely to reach the one-year mark of coupledom, and less likely to remain married.
Questions Of Safety
Harassment is one of the chief concerns and complaints about online dating. Research has indicated that 28% of people using dating sites and apps have felt uncomfortable or harassed via unwanted messages and images. To maintain safety, online daters should adhere to a few simple guidelines, including not giving out their phone number, not divulging too many identifiable details (home or work address, daily routines, etc.), meeting in a public place, and always letting someone know where they are. No matter how many dates you have gone on in the past or how many dates you might go on in the future, safety is paramount.
There are several phrases used to describe the problem of having too many options, but the paradox of choice and decision fatigue are the most common descriptors. Having a lot of options seems like a significant boon to online dating, but it can lead people to feel overwhelmed or overconfident in their ability to just “get another date.”
Learning To Cope
When a discussion of online dating comes up, many people are quick to seek out advice for making their profiles more appealing, rather than seeking advice to avoid the common pains and pitfalls associated with using dating apps and sites. To help prepare yourself for some of the less desirable aspects of dating over the internet, consider the following:
Be Specific About Your Wants and Needs
Knowing what you want can help you create an accurate profile and help you navigate potential matches with ease. From the type of relationship that you are looking for (long-term, short-term, hookups, etc.), to the type of relationship you are primarily interested in (a highly independent relationship, a relationship that involves a lot of time together, and more), ensure you take some time to figure out what exactly you are looking for.
Set Your Boundaries
Boundaries are vital to carrying out healthy relationships of all types, dating or otherwise. Communication boundaries are important and might include when texts are exchanged, and how often you and your potential match are expected to talk on the phone or in person. Boundaries might also involve when you give out your phone number, when you anticipate meeting friends, whether you discuss any children or personal details, and plenty more.
A quick glance at someone’s face is not truly enough to indicate whether or not someone is the right fit for you. Before you immediately swipe right or left, take a few moments to actually go over a potential match’s profile and evaluate how likely the two of you are to be compatible. Instead of scouring the internet looking for that one perfect person, consider casting a wider metaphorical net and getting to know different types of people in a variety of different settings—or even just on a variety of different sites or apps.
Dating is a prerequisite to finding a relationship. It may seem appealing to skip the tedium of dating altogether and leap into a relationship but doing so can result in unrealistic expectations and undue pressure on a fledgling partnership. Rather than viewing dating as a frustrating or boring practice, consider practicing patience and finding gratitude for the different roads dating can take you down.
Online Counseling With Regain
No matter the format, dating can test your patience and be difficult on your nerves and self-confidence. Some pitfalls of dating can be avoided altogether, while others must simply be managed as effectively as possible. If you are eager to pursue dating but feel unsure of yourself, or you find yourself continuing the same old patterns without relief, it may be time to consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Online platforms, such as Regain, can be used to receive high-quality, professional mental health assistance, without ever leaving the safety and comfort of your home. While you may be accustomed to going out a lot to meet new people in the dating scene, you don’t have to do so when getting online therapy. This may provide some much-needed relief, allowing you to relax at home while also working through the problems you’re facing in life.
The Efficacy Of Online Counseling
When you’re involved in the dating scene, there’s usually a chance of rejection. Whether you’re telling someone you don’t want to see them anymore or hearing it yourself, it can be an inevitable part of putting yourself out there. Rejection can be tough to handle. If you’re regularly being rejected, you may develop symptoms of anxiety or depression and feel emotions like anger or sadness. Online counseling could help you through each of these, as one study showed. Researchers have consistently found that online counseling interventions are just as effective as those that are in person. Those receiving online counseling reported fewer symptoms of depression, interpersonal sensitivity, and anxiety, which could be positive outcomes for those navigating the dating scene.
“Shannon is very knowledgeable, and skilled in knowing how to use that knowledge to help others. She is also very compassionate and encouraging. I was skeptical about using a counseling service, but this experience has been incredible. I highly recommend Shannon to anyone who needs guidance or help through a difficult time in life. I gave her some enormous challenges, and nothing has been over her head. She has been a tremendous help to me.”
"My experience with Priscilla has been immensely helpful in better understanding myself and providing me with the tools to see my life and relationships with more clarity and compassion."
Online dating isn’t for everyone, but it can be an effective way to meet new people for some. Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship or a short-term fling, you can find people looking for something similar and easily get connected with them. It can be important to stay safe while using online dating, and to be mindful of the common pitfalls that can come with interacting with strangers online. Those utilizing the internet to date may also be interested in connecting with a licensed counselor in the same way. Regain can match you with an online therapist who can offer their advice and guidance as you search for new potential love interests. Dating can be complicated but having another opinion may make it less intimidating.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What is the problem with online dating?
Online dating can be an incredibly frustrating and stressful experience for many people. Some of the most common complaints around dating online are rejection/getting ghosted, meeting up with a date who wasn’t who they claimed to be, and the superficiality of selecting people to connect with based largely on appearance. Sometimes it can feel like online dating takes up an overwhelming amount of time and mental capacity.
Various articles discuss why online dating sucks for men. It is common for heterosexual men to send out many messages to women online only to get one response back (if that). Other reasons why online dating sucks for men are the amount of competition involved in pursuing a woman online and getting ghosted or rejected. An article published by OkCupid found that many men are also more selective about their desired appearance in a partner, which means they are messaging women who receive a high volume of messages, making it less likely they will receive a response.
If you decide to start dating online, it can be important to ensure that you feel ready and open to meet someone new and recognize that finding someone special can be a process. Several online dating tips include finding the dating site that is most aligned with what you are looking for, having boundaries around how much time you spend swiping on a dating app or maintaining conversations, and taking time to build rapport with a potential match before meeting in person.
Why should you avoid online dating?
If online dating is hurting you more than helping, it may be wise to avoid it. Potential signs that might indicate that it may not be healthy for you to date online are if it hurts your mental health, you notice it becomes more about receiving validation than making a meaningful connection, it is more stressful than fun, you are not able to be flexible about what you are looking for in a partner, and you find yourself feeling desperate to be in a relationship.
On the other hand, there can be positive aspects of dating online, such as connecting with more people than one typically would in one daily life. Match and EHarmony are top options for finding a serious relationship. Free dating sites such as OkCupid and Plenty of Fish could be worth trying as well. Dating apps that are gaining popularity for Millennials include Hinge, Bumble, and Coffee Meet Bagel.
Is online dating a waste of time?
For many individuals, online dating provides an avenue to connect with others that they would not meet organically in their daily lives. However, various challenges can make online dating frustrating and, at times, feel fruitless. It is common for an individual to have to weed through many matches, deal with conversations that go nowhere, and face being ghosted by someone unexpectedly.
While the average woman typically receives countless messages, it is much less likely for men to get matches or receive a message back. Before a person decides to start dating online, they often must commit to keeping an open mind and resilient spirit throughout the setbacks they are likely to face in finding their person.
Is online dating really worth it?
As there has been decreased stigma around online dating over the years, many individuals find themselves utilizing the Internet to make connections that can lead to committed relationships or partnerships. The option of online dating may be particularly appealing for shy individuals or those who live with social anxiety and have difficulties initiating conversation with others in social settings.
Online dating has also been shown to save money. Instead of meeting with a blind date that may or may not progress, an individual can build rapport with a potential match before deciding to meet up with someone and pay for a date.
Several online dating tips to enhance your experience include narrowing down which dating site most fits what you are looking for, crafting a profile that accurately captures what makes you unique, and setting boundaries around time spent on dating apps to prevent burnout.
Which dating site has the highest success rate?
Match is the most successful online dating site for finding a serious relationship. As it has been around for the longest time, it has perfected its algorithm for connecting its users to potential dates based on compatibility. Since you must pay for Match, users are more likely to be serious about finding a lasting partnership instead of a hook-up.
If you are looking for free dating sites, you might consider OkCupid or Plenty of Fish which also have positive results for finding a serious relationship. This is opposed to Tinder, which is known for less committal users seeking more short-term flings.
Is dating stressful?
Most people find dating to be very stressful and anxiety-producing. It can evoke difficult feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and fear of rejection. This is normal. An individual must lean on their support system and have a safe space to process their feelings and experiences as they navigate the complex world of dating.
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