I’m interested in dating a little more, and I’ve heard different opinions about online dating. Can you break it down for me?
–Pros & Cons (♂ )
Of course there is no way that I can cover the whole gamut of ups and downs to dating online, but I can offer a couple of pitfalls and pleasant surprises I have observed from clients experiences and my own. I’ll get started by outlining the cons, which, though not insurmountable, definitely make online dating into a whole different game:
- Dating in a hurry: the very structure of online dating is fast paced. You write a couple of messages, and exchange numbers, there might be the odd text or a phone call and you’re on to face to face, one-on-one go time. The rest of the pitfalls I can think of stem from this…
- Lack of context: A large part of anxiety around online dating starts with the fact that the only thing you know about the person you are meeting is what they chose to disclose in their profile, Then, from this incomplete set of information, I believe it is in our nature to fill in the gaps; create a context with a set of assumptions and expectations about the other person that they may or may not measure up to.
- Lack of a friendship stage: When you meet someone online there is a tendency to jump past ‘meeting’ and right onto the first date. And often, that first meeting either feels like an interview if the set of expectations and assumptions aren’t met, or, if the story you created appears to be correct, seems to move straight from hello to intimate conversation and beyond, leaving one or both daters a little bewildered the next day. Which can lead to…
- Lack of accountability: The saddest part about online dating is that how we deal with the expectations and assumptions. Either immediate judgement is passed, and with little or no explanation, or the level of vulnerability you’ve reached with your new ‘soul mate’ was too damn much and one or both people move on down the line in a less than graceful manner. After all, why be responsible for your actions if you will never have to confront the person again?
And now for the goods:
- Quantity of potential dates: Sounds the same as the first pitfall doesn’t it? Of course there is an upside! Nowhere are you going to encounter the sheer number of potential Mr. or Mrs. Rights. There still exists speed dating, and singles groups… but that means you can’t…
- Do what you want, when you want: Online dating allows you to answer messages and write messages if and when you want to. You can easily plug into the dating world regardless of your work schedule or your ability to find a babysitter. Not to mention, you can date as much or as little as you want to! Plus, if someone isn’t striking your fancy, you don’t have to respond if you don’t wish to. Although a polite “Thank you, but I’m not interested.” is always recommended to avoid pitfall number four!
- Refining your search: Online dating has potential for pre-screening individuals, especially for deal breakers like the use of drugs and alcohol, wanting or not wanting children, belief systems or a love of graphic novels about robots. Keeping in mind, of course, the lack of context point above.
- Broadening your network: Even if the person you meet doesn’t interest you romantically, your friendship can lead one or both of you to meet someone who does. Take care of your date, they might make a great friend!
More important than knowing these pros & cons however, is what you do with them. If you choose to add online dating to your dating regime, really take the time to create the right environment in which a relationship can flourish. Once you meet in person, take it slow, build the foundation of a good relationship, and even if you don’t end up with your perfect match, you might have made a good friend… who might introduce you to the one you’re looking for.
There are a few other resources for online dating help on the site: check out my article called Why Online Dating Feels Like a Cop-out. You can also check out other questions on the topic by searching for keywords on the sidebar. I hope that helps!
Hope that helps!