Trigger Warning: This article discusses potential assault in conjunction with intimate relationships. If you or someone you know has experienced intimate partner violence, reach out today to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
In 2019, 12% of new marriages or committed relationships stemmed from an online dating relationship. The industry profits almost 2 billion dollars per year, with roughly 30% of all single persons in the United States belonging to presently, or at one point, an online dating service. While there are many happy endings, there are just as many dating disasters from online dating.
Statistics suggest that 10% of all sex offenders maintain an online dating account over certain sites like PlentyofFish and OkCupid, and over half of the people on dating sites admit to dating multiple people simultaneously. These statistics are not intended to suggest that online dating is problematic in and of itself; instead, it highlights some of the more significant concerns people have with the sites and how they encourage others to approach dating and relationships.
We've all seen Catfish episodes and heard stories of people meeting in person after chatting online and being very surprised to find that the person they thought they knew is not who they said they were. Having a conversation online can also go a lot more smoothly when you are not face-to-face; after all, online, you have plenty of time to think of clever one-liners and you don’t have to worry about how you look. In person, you may be less suave in your communication patterns, you may be more nervous, and you may struggle to overcome feelings of uncertainty and insecurity.
How can you be part of the 17% of successful online dating marriages? There are several ways to avoid disasters with online dating.
There are also forums you can find that tell daters which profile to watch out for or avoid. Other websites are available where people can post stories of their dates and what city they were in, and the date's name to warn others against going out with them, or engaging in prolonged conversations with them.
Snap Chat and Instagram filters are quickly becoming the way to give anyone a fake makeover on social media, so always make sure to try to see the person live at least once. You can also get a really good feel from someone by how they speak to you live rather than in an email or text message. If the person refuses to video chat, they may simply be nervous—or they may be eager to hide something that they were not straightforward about in their initial messages with you.
6. Report Suspicious Profiles. Every dating website and social media platform gives users the ability to report profiles or accounts that are fake, harassing someone, or posting inappropriate content. If the accusations turn out to be true, that profile will be deactivated and the user banned. While this does not stop the person from creating more fake accounts, it may slow them down a bit, at least. If you are being scammed or blackmailed by someone online, you can report the information to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Online Dating can sometimes work out very well. 17% of new marriages met online, and 20% of people who meet online enter into a committed relationship within a year of meeting. Dating can be fun and exciting but also very nerve-wracking. Many people know someone who has been the victim of fraud, assault, harassment, or stalking. Equally, however, many people can say that they know someone who met someone online and is very happy.
That isn’t to say that online dating does not come with its own unique hazards for finding lasting love. One study determined that couples who meet online are three times as likely to get divorced and that 28% of relationships end within the first year when partners meet through dating sites. Often, the emotional difficulties of a relationship or the trauma of being scammed through an online dating site can cause situational depression. People who date online may have more unrealistic expectations and feel as though they are entitled to being more selective than those who meet people organically, because dating app and website profiles and like job applications—and are graded as such.
Online dating can also harm someone's self-esteem. If you have a dating profile up and are not getting any messages, winks, flirts, hearts, or whatever the site's way of telling you someone is interested, you may begin to think you are not worthy of dating or love.
There is already a huge stigma about online dating, and when you strike out there, sometimes it can be a huge blow to your confidence and self-esteem. Dating sites always feature your profile with a thumbnail of your profile picture and typically lists your location and age. This causes people to automatically judge by the first impression of appearance rather than the person.
If you or someone you know is having a rough time emotionally, has recently faced trauma, been scammed by an internet dater, or is struggling to make their relationships go the distance, ReGain may be able to help. Mental health intervention can help you build up your self-esteem, determine what you are searching for in a relationship, and help you determine what your goals are in pursuing online dating, for better or for worse.