Online Dating: Is It All Just One Big Web Of Lies?

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Online Dating: Why We're All Buying Into A Scam
It seems like everyone's looking for love online... but are they wasting their time?

Single-but-looking wasn't always so hard. If you back up just a few short years, it was commonplace to meet someone from your neighborhood and end up in a relationship with them — eventually getting married. But with the advent of technology, neighborhoods have given way to online communities. Introductions are passé, having been replaced with "friending" someone. Getting to know someone has transformed into It's Just Lunch. And love letters have been reduced to 140 characters.

Of course, there are success stories of couples that have met online. Everyone seems to know someone who knows someone who is getting married to their online sweetheart. But after connecting with thousands of women via my Facebook page and hearing their tales of missed dates, mixed messages, and misunderstood expectations, the horror stories seem to outnumber any purported success rate by a very wide margin.

But why? Don't we all hear how great online dating is? It's easy. You answer a few questions and then get to meet someone with whom you are compatible. The dating site's algorithm automagically matches you up with like-minded people who have similar interests, hobbies, life goals, yada, yada, yada. If this is true, then why do I receive hundreds of messages asking why he didn't call, why she lied about being married, why he pretended to love her and then disappeared, and much, much more?

We'll get into all that.

"Research"
When it comes to measuring the success of online dating, research studies and success stories are usually commissioned research through a third party, and paid for by the dating site. Hardly unbiased results, but at first blush it reads impressively. Here's an excerpt from the Huffington Post in June, 2013:

"A recent study funded by [a major dating website] suggests that as many as 35 percent of Americans now meet their spouses online. What's more, the study suggests that those marriages are less likely to end in divorce than those that begin offline."

What this article silently implies is that the phrase "meet their spouses online" translates to "meet their spouses while using an online dating site".  However, if you read the complete study (and most people don't), you will be quick to discover that "online" means exactly that: on the internet.

Meeting someone online is now commonplace, and is a reflection of the change in societal communication patterns, not a feather in the cap of the online dating industry. Moreover, this study examined many online venues: virtual worlds, chat rooms, multiplayer games, and social networks — as well as many dating sites.

What's needed to evaluate online dating success is information from a source that doesn't have a vested interested in the outcome — like this recent study from the Association for Psychological Science which discusses the notion that, although people are using online dating sites, the way people are actually finding spouses over the last several years remains largely unchanged. According to the Association for Psychological Science, the most common place to meet a spouse is at work or at school (38 percent). "Through a friend or family member" came in second (27 percent), while "On an online dating site" came in third (17 percent) — hardly the "35 percent of Americans" as claimed in the earlier study. Keep reading...

More online dating advice from YourTango:

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Charles J. Orlando

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