You may not know it yet, but online dating platforms have really been picking up steam in the last few years. In 2013, only 11% of Americans said that they’d used an online dating platform before; by 2019, that number had increased to about 30%. Most current relationships still got their start the old-fashioned way, but there’s no denying that online dating is gaining acceptance among adults of all ages. In fact, about 12% of committed relationships and marriages actually began online.
At some point there may have been some stigma attached to meeting your romantic interest online, but that stigma is fading fast. Just like attitudes towards things like cohabitation and sexual orientation, the overall opinion on using dating platforms is evolving. Currently, the general attitude is pretty ambivalent. Around half of Americans don’t think that online dating platforms have either a negative or positive influence; about a quarter of them think that dating platforms have mostly had a negative influence on relationships, while the remaining quarter (approximately) thinks that they’ve had a mostly positive influence.
What about you? Maybe you’ve already been there, done that; or maybe you’ve never tried online dating, and are curious to know more. Either way, let’s dive into the details about online dating.
Why all the haters?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s hard to read anything about online dating platforms without hearing a few points being made about the drawbacks. Of course, that’s a part of any balanced discussion on the topic, but for some people it’s just about all they can see. Most counter-arguments go something like this: “it’s too risky because you never know who you’re talking to”; “I saw a show on TV about romance scammers and now I’m worried about what could happen”; and most importantly, “meeting people online instead of in-person cheapens the experience”.
Without digressing into meaningless generalizations, the people who aren’t a fan of online dating sites also tend to be those who are somewhat resistant to other social changes, like the idea of cohabitation without marriage. Even so, just look at how things have changed in the last 20 years – as American society has evolved, the way people interact with each other has also changed. Sometimes people are opposed to something simply because it’s unfamiliar – they met their significant other in such-and-such a context, so why can’t you? Other people are concerned that online dating just makes it easy to substitute a single dating profile for actual social skills.
Some of these points are valid – for instance, a lot of people probably aren’t using as many social skills to find matches as they would during in-person encounters – but this doesn’t mean that everyone should ditch online dating. For a lot of users, a dating platform helps them get out there and explore the options in a way they’d never have the courage to do otherwise. Just like with plenty of other issues, some people focus on what’s being lost, while others are excited to see where the change will take them.
Not surprisingly, younger adults are usually more open to trying out new ways of doing things, and that applies to finding romance just as much as anything else. That isn’t just a cliché – it’s backed up by statistics. About 50% of Americans aged 18 to 29 have tried out a dating app or website at some point, while almost 4 out of 10 adults aged 30 to 49 have used a dating platform.
There’s not only plenty of diversity when it comes to age; dating platforms are also popular with users of all different sexual orientations. One survey showed that people who identified as bisexual, gay, or lesbian were twice as likely to try online dating as their straight counterparts. That’s not all – 20% of them ended up in a committed relationship or marriage with someone they met online, as opposed to 12% for online daters of all orientations.
What to know before signing up for online dating
Creating a profile on a dating platform might feel like ordering off an unlimited menu, but remember that there’s such a thing as being too picky. Instead of looking for someone who’s perfect, look for someone who’s right for you – they’ll both make you happy, but one of them is much easier to find. Use popular video chat sites like Fruzo for instant connections and weed out what you’re not looking for.
Set some realistic expectations before you really get into it. What are your dealbreakers? Are you prepared to get some explicit and definitely unsolicited messages or pictures? It wouldn’t hurt to research some common scammer tactics, so you can nip it in the bud if you start getting odd messages. Here’s a hint: if they ask for money or start offering too-good-to-be-true deals, it’s most likely a scam.
The way online dating platforms advertise themselves is truly inspiring, but here are some statistics that could give you a better idea of what you’re signing up for: about 60% of online daters reported having a positive experience, which isn’t too bad considering all the variables. Keep in mind that “a positive experience” will mean different things to different people. For a small percentage of them, it means that they found true love and “happily ever after”. Many people aren’t looking for that, though; many users want other things, like a fun and flirty evening at a new bar, or someone to spend time with while they’re vacationing for a few months.
Part of what’s missing in an online dating experience is the idea of that romantic first meeting, where you lock eyes from across the room and know that they’re the one. Let’s be honest, though – it’s an awesome daydream, but the chances of that happening are close to zero. Again, consider looking for the right person, not the perfect person.
Just like trying to find dates in-person has its advantages and disadvantages, using an online dating platform could involve a few bumps in the road, but that’s to be expected. At the very least you can be confident that if you do your part, chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for.