6 Reasons Why Online Dating Sucks And How To Cope

By: Jenny Chang

Updated August 03, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Robin Brock

Not in the distant past, people used to meet their significant others through local hangouts, work, or social circles. This was admittedly viewed as a limiting way to meet new people. Nowadays, it seems like most of us are expanding our dating pool by going online.

There are many pros and cons to online dating, but it comes as no surprise that many people have met their current partners through dating applications and websites. A recently released study by sociologists from Stanford University and the University of New Mexico has revealed 40% of American couples first meet online. Once seen as taboo and ‘desperate,’ it has now become the accepted norm.

But just because it’s common to date online in the modern world doesn’t necessarily mean it works. It doesn’t a lot of the time. At one point or another, many of us think that online dating is a waste of time and for a good reason. Heartaches, confusion, jealousy, and ‘ghosting’ all make it a tricky landscape to navigate, but there are ways to cope and survive with as few emotional scars as possible.

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The stigma of online dating has almost completely diminished in the last decade. With the advancement of technology comes the expansion of possibilities, which has translated well into the dating game.

Popular dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have made it easy to search for potential dates in an, sometimes literally, endless sea of faces. You could swipe on 50 potential dates in the duration of an ad break.

Well-known dating websites like eHarmony and OkCupid once looked down upon have increased in favor. Now, online dating-type services are the second most popular way to meet a significant other, with research suggesting that 1 in 5 couples in the U.K. now meet online. Interestingly, it is predicted that 70% of us will have met our partners online by the year 2040.

There are many reasons why online dating has increased in popularity, but one of the main reasons is that it is time-efficient. Rather than trying to meet potential dates in social contexts, which can be daunting, discouraging, and time-consuming, swiping and chatting online means that it is possible to secure a date within a day.

Six Reasons Why Online Dating Sucks

There are plenty of reasons why online dating sucks, but here are just some to consider:

  1. There Is A Pervasive Hook-Up Culture

Women tend to desire a match and a relationship when they are online dating, whereas men tend to look for a hook-up. While this is not a problem in itself, there is an imbalance of expectations, leading to frustration and disappointment. It also leads men to believe that just because a woman is on an online dating service, she is interested in sleeping with relative strangers. This results in men engaging in less than savory conduct, such as sending crude messages and pictures and engaging in creepy behavior.

  1. People Lie On Their Dating Profiles

To appear appealing and impressive to potential partners, people often lie on their online dating profiles. This can also be referred to as ‘peacocking,’ a modern dating term that describes someone showing off their most attractive skills and abilities upfront, or ‘catfishing,’ where people use other people’s pictures to ‘fish’ for prospective mates. One statistic revealed that 53% of US online daters admitted that they lied on their online dating profile. Women lie more about their appearances, posting younger photos of themselves online, while men lie more about their financial situation, presenting themselves as having better jobs than they do.

  1. It Makes People Fussy And Judgemental

It comes as no surprise that because choosing dates online is very much based on appearances, people see the faces on their screen as commodities. The ability to scroll and swipe on an endless number of people gives a false sense of opportunities and options. According to research, having multiple candidates to choose from makes people more judgemental and inclined to be dismissive of an otherwise ideal partner than they would be in face-to-face interaction. “And even if you do get to the point of being committed, you can cop out easily, or without too many mental scars, because you know you can reactivate your profile, and there will be a bunch of others waiting for you,” says Aditi Paul, author of a paper exploring if online is better than offline for meeting partners.

  1. It Can Be A Waste Of Time

Pew’s study revealed that one-third of people using online dating services never end up going on a date with someone they meet online. It could be that a lack of real-life social and conversation skills means people would rather engage in texting rather than face the daunting prospect of an in-person date. Built-up expectations of someone online after weeks of texting can lead to idealization and disillusionment, particularly if the other person does not look like their pictures. A 2014 study found that chatting longer than 17 days before meeting up can lead to major disappointment. And the news gets worse. Research from Michigan State University has revealed that relationships that begin online are 28% more likely to break-up in the first year than relationships that begin face-to-face. Couples who meet online are also three times more likely to get divorced than those who meet offline.

  1. There Are Significant Safety Concerns
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Online harassment is one of the biggest downsides of online dating; research by Pew has found that 28% of online daters have felt harassed or uncomfortable when messaging on dating websites and apps. Many things people, particularly women, need to consider when meeting someone from a dating service. As well as being careful not to give their phone number, address or email away too quickly, they need to be careful about the chosen meeting point, drive themselves to the date, keep an eye on their drink, pay for their half of the bill, and let someone know where they are at all times. Of course, this is smart dating behavior, and a healthy degree of skepticism should be present, but it is a lot to factor in on a first date with a stranger.

  1. There Are Too Many Options To Consider

The paradox of choice means that an overwhelming amount of options leads people to have greater anxiety about making a choice. And, if they do make one, they were more likely to select lower quality options. Paul Eastwick, Ph.D. and assistant professor at the University of Texas, says, “People might pick things that aren’t as good for them ultimately because they have so many options to choose from. And sometimes they are less likely to commit to a choice because they can’t decide.” When you have an endless number of people to choose from, it leads to the belief that no worries-another date is just a swipe and text message away if one doesn’t work out.

How To Cope In the World Of Online Dating

A lot of online dating advice aims to make your online dating profile more appealing, but finding a significant other goes beyond that. Here are ways to navigate finding love in the modern world in a wholesome, healthy way:

Be specific about what it is you are looking for. Whether you are looking for a long-term relationship or a casual hook-up, it helps to be specific about what you are looking for in dating services. This means doing some self-reflection, perhaps with the help of a licensed therapist. They can help you develop a deeper sense of self, identify your dating behaviors and patterns, and explore what you are looking for in a partner and relationship.

Set boundaries. It’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming amount of choices dating apps and websites have to offer. Research has proven that if people are given fewer options to choose from, they are more likely to make better choices and be satisfied with that choice. Implement a cap on the number of people you are messaging and decide from there.

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Be open-minded. Re-frame your expectations to be more healthy and realistic rather than narrowing in on one dating app or one idea of the perfect person. It is well and good to use online dating apps to widen your dating pool, but don’t allow it to be the only way for you to meet new people. Socialize in real-life data out of your ‘type,’ and ask people if they know anyone who would be a good fit for you.

Be patient. You need to go wade through the waters of dating to find love. There’s no way around it. Even though it may feel tedious, everyone has to go through some bad or boring dates to find the ‘right one.’ Don’t lose hope or be discouraged if you go on a bad date. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you want (and don’t want) in a partner.

Ditch the idea of the perfect partner. Relationships are good because of hard work, commitment, and patience, not because they fall on your lap that way. Meredith Golden, a dating coach, says, “Some online daters expect too much from someone who is basically, for all intents and purposes, a total stranger. Not every contender is your soulmate, so try to enjoy the journey of meeting new and interesting people.”

The Takeaway

Online dating can be frustrating, disheartening, and exhausting. But it has opened up a new terrain where finding a hook-up and a long-term relationship is possible all within one app or website. As long as you keep an open mind, know what it is you are looking for, and have a healthy sense of self and expectations, you’ll be able to navigate online dating with a few emotional bruises as possible.

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