The search for love and a soul mate has been taken online with the advent of online dating. Today sites like PerfectMatch.com, e-harmony and Chemistry.com have emerged to take advantage of this ever increasing need for love and the fact that more people today have access to the internet either through a personal computer or a mobile phone. The main question however is, does online dating work? There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows that for most people it does not work and that conventional dating works better than online dating.
Online dating is characterized by a site which allows people to post their profiles which other potential mates can see and then contact them, mainly through e-mail. From there a conversation starts where the people get to know each other and if they are impressed, they arrange for a face to face meeting. Just how accurate is the information on these online profiles? Epstein states that “some people online lie quite drastically about their age, marital or parental status, appearance, income or profession.”(494). This is one of the main short comings of online dating because even if the people do get to the face to face meeting stage the relationship will most likely not progress as the real person will not be similar to the ideal person depicted in the online profile
Online dating sites advertise that they have a test that will enable people to find their soul mates. Many experts are skeptical about these tests as they have not undergone rigorous scrutiny by scientists to find out if they are true and they believe that these tests are just marketing gimmicks for the online dating sites. These sites use similarities in profiles to give matches but observation of real marriages shows that sometimes similarities are not a recipe for happy marriages. There is also the huge problem of false negatives whereby as the test determines who a person meets it also simultaneously determine who a person does not meet, this denies people the chance of meeting people who they might like.(Epstein,492&493)
While online dating does not offer information about the body type of the matches in conventional dating what someone sees is what they get, literally. This is a big plus for conventional dating as “research shows unequivocally that physical appearance is important to both men and women.” (Epstein 493) Conventional dating allows for the famous feeling of a ‘connection’ which is necessary for a relationship to succeed.
Just how large is the dating pool offered by online dating sites? “A large company such as Match might advertise that it has 15 million members, less than a million are actually paying customers. The others have full profiles online—an important marketing draw— but cannot respond to e-mails.” (Epstein, 493) This leads to frustration as the people posting their profiles do not get as many responses as they would like and is yet another marketing gimmick by the dating sites. Conventional dating offers millions of potential mates from the people at the subway, bookstore, or at the gym, the best part is that one gets to see them physically and they actually respond!
Online dating perpetuates the now common commitment problem among Americans that is occasioned by “half of first marriages and about two thirds of second marriages here end in divorce.”(Epstein, 494) This is because online dating sets the bar very high and any inconsistencies with the ideal partner such height difference or shoe size leads to immediate dismissal because after all the next partner is just another click away. It is this ‘click problem’ that perpetuates commitment issues, if it is broken, do not try to fix it, just throw it away and look for another one. Conventional dating offers courtship which allows for people to get to know each other better and also learn to live with the imperfections of their partners, this is the only known recipe for a fulfilling long term relationship and values like perseverance, commitment and hard work.(Epstein,494)
For dating to be successful it needs to occur in a community set up because friends and family members often provide important insight on a partner and this reduces the amount of deception that can occur. Epstein asserts that “on mega dating sites such as eHarmony and Match, dating is done in complete social isolation, a matter of great concern to Ellison and other researchers in this area.”(494)This concern is due to the high rates of deception, dating sites like Engage have taken a community based approach by allowing friends and family to help in the search for potential matches. There are also safety concerns which makes people hesitant to meet their online dates in person though ‘virtual dating’ aims to reduce this by allowing people to meet online in virtual set ups such as museums and cafés. (Epstein, 494) The success rate of online dating is also low as “barely one quarter of users reported being very satisfied or satisfied with online personals sites.”(Epstein, 493)
Though future technological advances will lead to the improvement of online dating, conventional dating still remains as the only successful path to getting a soul mate, this is because it requires patience, commitment, compromise and hard work all which are values that are important for the a successful and fulfilling long term relationship. It is devoid of high rates of deception and can be monitored by the community, something which cannot be said about online dating. Conventional dating works because nothing beats the real thing!
Epstein, Robert. “The Truth about Online Dating.” Reading for Writers: Indian River State College Edition.
Mason, Ohio: Cengage, 2012. 489-494. Print.