There used to be a stigma attached to dating services. Many people thought relying on help from others in the ways of love was somehow a failure. Others thought that dating sites were just a fast hookup for sex (some of them are) without any real romance.
But in the age of busy people engrossed in their careers or students cramming for exams, an online dating site or meeting app might be just the ticket. Rather than waiting around for a mischievous little cherub to fire love’s arrow, a growing number of people are looking for love online or through apps. But what are the odds of finding love online?
The wisdom of the ages dictates that love strikes like lightning and you just need to be in the right place at the right time. Fate, kismet, and Cupid’s flying arrow all conspire to make us fall in love. Or maybe it’s all just a Valentine’s Day gimmick to support the chocolate and flower industries.
But these days, people are mobile, motivated, and moving up the career ladder. Basically, we are all just too busy to go out and socialize long enough for stupid Cupid’s little arrow to strike.
Also, many professionals find the whole dating game awkward and fraught with peril. If your job takes you on the road or relocates you to a new city, what if your True Love isn’t even on the radar?
Looking for Love
A traditional place to meet new people was the local bar. While alcohol may serve to ease social anxieties, it can always backfire. The words ‘beer goggles’ and ‘coyote ugly’ are some of the terms used to describe a bar date gone horribly wrong.
But rather than looking for love in all the wrong places, we have many more chances today to meet that special life partner without sifting through the riff raff at the bar.
People are also more refined these days. Gone are the days of ‘traditional’ dating mores and binary labels. Millions of people suffered through bad relationships simply because they jumped too soon or gave up on finding someone truly special for them.
Waiting for fate isn’t the only option any longer. Eventually, online dating sites and apps came along to make romance more about science than art.
There’s an App for That
According to Psychology Today, millions of people turn to their phones to find love. In fact, dating apps have more users than video games these days. A dating site called Badoo.com polled millions of users to discover that millennials (age 18 to 30) spend around 20 hours per week on dating sites and apps.
Apps like Tinder, OkCupid, Match, and many others make up a $3 billion-dollar singles industry. There are specialized apps for every interest, from fast hookups to long-term soul searching – and everything in between.
But with all this swiping left and right, something gets lost in translation. As dating apps become more ubiquitous, much of the social part is lost. People are so used to simply swiping left or right that they forget to meet anybody at all. Talk about spoiled for choice!
Research from statista.com broke down the popularity of dating apps by age group:
It’s no surprise that Tinder takes the prize for the younger set, since the app seems predicated on the quick hookup. Younger people may not be ready for a serious, long-term relationship yet, and prefer to test the waters. A simple swipe left or right is all it takes.
The poll above is far from exhaustive and doesn’t include specialized apps geared toward specific dating preferences.
For the LGBTQ community, Grindr is the largest social dating app across the community. In 2018 it had 3.6 million daily users from 200 countries.
But with all the easy access to dating these days, it is important to remember that there are pitfalls as well.
Quality over Quantity
Many of the dating apps seem to encourage quantity over quality. But for those tired of the endless swiping game, there is a good chance to find a quality partner online.
How many people find love online? Let’s talk numbers.
According to a report by Consumer Reports, 44% of the 115,000 people polled said they found at least one long-term relationship from dating sites.
Those are good odds by anyone’s tally. However, different people look for different outcomes when using online dating sites and apps.
While there is nothing wrong with testing out the waters, you need to take safety precautions when dating digitally. Just like spammers and scammers seek to jam your email with hacks and fakery, not everyone on the dating site is in it for the right reasons.
Like with everything nowadays, privacy is key. Don’t give away too much personal info too soon, on your profile or through dating communications. Just because someone looks attractive and boasts an impressive resume doesn’t mean they are the real deal.
Playing It Safe
In the analog dating world, playing it safe usually referred to practicing safe sex. In the digital age, you need to play it safe by doing some research on potential partners.
According to Statista, a quarter of people using dating apps do no background research at all. This opens them up to potential scams, as fraudsters may post a fake photo in hopes of contacting people and collecting personal data on dating sites.
Almost everybody leaves a digital footprint these days. Do a quick search on a potential date before meeting them in person or giving out too much info. If you can’t find a social media profile on the potential partner, it may be a scam.
Posting a fake dating profile or lying about one’s identity is known as “catfishing.” If someone looks or sounds too good to be true, do some digging.
Other expert tips include what to watch out for while dating online.
If they communicate using pet names right away (‘dear’ or ‘babe’), this may indicate a scammer trying to force a fast connection. Also, if you get to the phone call phase, a poor signal or a hidden phone number are bad signs.
There are also other pitfalls in the digital dating dilemma. Just as in real life, a person may not call you back. This is called “ghosting,” where they simply disappear without explanation.
If they suddenly resurface in the conversation after ghosting, it’s called “submarining.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
People will do things online they would never do in public places. Some of these things have even cost politicians their careers (Anthony Weiner, for one). “Sexting” or sending inappropriate pics digitally is one common negative experience.
The numbers tell a different tale for each gender, according to the types of negative online dating experiences reported by Statista.
42% of females reported being contacted by someone in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, compared to 25% of males.
32% of females reported being sent unsolicited inappropriate pictures, versus 20% of males.
The only category where males reported a higher degree of negative experiences was in the catfishing category. 38% of males found out someone lied about their identity, compared to 30% of females.
Happily Ever After?
During the current pandemic, not many people are meeting in conventional ways. In fact, digital dating may see a surge in users. Even if we can’t meet many people socially at this time, the fact that humans need social interaction remains. Face time is important, even digitally.
There is no bottom line when it comes to predicting the odds of finding love online. Look at the wide variety of social tools, dating apps, and online meeting sites available. Trying them out is an excellent way to tip the odds in your favor.
The odds are high that someone you know has already found a life partner online.
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