How many people do you know who met their significant others online?
As another friend of mine got married to someone he found in the global web, and one more just had the now-partner visiting from a different province, I started thinking if online-met families are the future that my kids will face as the main or even only reality.
Back in the early 2000s, amongst people surrounding me, online dating was known as something out of the norm. First, most of it was about finding a one-night partner. Besides, there was a notion that only those who couldn’t find anybody in the real world go online. Finally, a widespread opinion suggested that it was really unsafe to try to meet a stranger online.
Now, at least seven of my friends got married to those they first met over the Internet (and that’s only those I know of). Another couple dozens were or are currently dating someone they caught on the web. Online dating has become normalized and mainly destigmatized a long time ago.
Most popular dating websites exist since the 90s, and widely used apps appeared almost a decade ago already.
I originally was quite a skeptic about dating sites. I still am, at least about some of them, fluctuating somewhere between sex-industry and entertainment. But the number of my friends and acquaintances meeting each other online, and then getting serious, moving in together or even getting married keeps growing.
Another trend I noticed, dating apps and websites become more inclusive in the sense of age. If several years ago it was mainly youth or young adults resource, now I hear about couples 16-65 meeting online and later committing to relationships.
So what’s good and what’s bad in online dating?
Some research suggests that weddings after meeting online are happier. To a point, it makes sense, especially if you know what qualities are the most interesting and important for you. In the world of online dating, you usually have a clear understanding of what the market looks like and what you are getting before the first real date.
Seems that more and more people reach out to the technologies when thinking about committed relations or even establishing a family. One of the researches conducted in the United States showed that one in three respondents found their spouse online. With the main venues still being work, friends and school. How long will this tendency survive?
Different research suggests that people who met online (and quite often for some time face long-distance relations) tend to proceed with a marriage more quickly than those who met anywhere else.
Few studies claim that often online-met couples also survive better than those who weren’t professionally matched and are happier in their marriage. Again, makes sense, if you had an option to find a person of similar interests, ambitions and lifestyle.
However, there are downturns to online search for Mr. or Mrs. Theone. The most obvious is different motivation for online search for a partner. While a lot of people look for commitments and relationships, another lot is simply looking for sex. And there is nothing wrong about that as long as interests of both parties coincide. If not, especially if not a number of times in a row, hopes are ruined and online dating turns into a bad experience.
Another problem is virtual castles. Not only can people say whatever they want about themselves (and we do lie or at least embellish), they also can overinterpret or assume something about the counterpart. Unfortunately, the reality doesn’t always stand the test and thus ruins dreams.
On top of that, with more people that a person could reach out to trying to interest in a matter of just one hour, there may be more cases of getting refused. And such negative experiences may undermine self-esteem and hurt ego.
Besides, there is still a notion that facing a stranger you first met online in the offline setting might be dangerous. However, offline strangers might not be less of a threat.
So far the body of research on online dating short and long-term advantages and disadvantages is still very limited. And a lot of it is coming from those who develop online dating tools.
But the general tendency suggests that a lot of people get over the cons of meeting on the web and dive into the world of opportunities technologies open in front of us.
And chances are the future generations will completely shift from real risks to online mathematically accurate matches. For some reason, it still feels a bit cold to me. But I guess it will change too.