Internet dating is here to stay and the numbers keep growing. A recent poll by Pew Research showed that 11% of internet users report experience with a dating website. That number increases to 22% for 25-34 year olds, the largest segment of the dating population. The survey also showed statistics revealing that close to one-in-four people who date online report marrying someone they met that way. Still, a great deal of suspicion and stigma remain.
The only people who love dating are those who aren't really looking for a mate. If you just want to hook up, have casual relationships without entanglement, then dating is for you! For most people, however, it's a serious effort to find love and companionship in life. Whlie Americans are marrying at a later age, that does not mean that at some point, with maturity and independence established, they are not looking for stability and the security that committed, long term relationships provide. For men and women who hope to have children, dating is the essential step to finding a mate with whom they can build a strong family.
Dating is fraught with peril. We all know that we have to invest time and effort to learn about someone and see if we are really suited to each other. Serious flaws are often not visible early in a relationship and minor incompatibilities may emerge even later. If we are infatuated, we may dismiss signs of trouble even when we see it. There are deceptive people in the world who hide important facts about themselves. We all realize someone may not be telling us everything we should know about who they are. Even when things seem great, we are right to be cautious.
Most of the problems with dating exist no matter how we meet someone. Colleagues we are attracted to at work may have other sides to themselves that we do not see in the work day. People we meet through friends can likewise have problems they don't reveal except in an intimate relationship. Attachment poses risk because when we invest time and effort into a relationship it is always difficult to move on. Many are so afraid of being hurt that they are afraid to risk dating again.
Is Internet Dating Safe?
Internet dating is as safe as meeting anyone that we do not know through a personal connection. For example, someone we meet at a social function, a party, a bar or on an airplane. Today, with the internet, background checks are easy and relatively inexpensive. This can at least allow us to see if the person is married, how old they are and whether they have a criminal record.
Most people dating online make a simple, safe first meeting for coffee or lunch or a cocktail in a public place with one's own transportation. There is nothing inherently dangerous about meeting online vs meeting in person. We all have different boundaries of risk we are willing to assume and risks in dating exist no matter how we do it.
Internet Dating: The Efficient Marketplace
Some people feel there is still a stigma to going online to meet someone but as this approach becomes more common, it is more widely accepted. In fact, it is a terrific use of modern technology and allows us to quickly find a large pool of eligible people who are likewise looking to meet someone. Like any new technology, experience helps us learn how to make the best use of it for our own needs. We learn how we feel most comfortable interacting with someone we meet online-email, chat, telephone or quickly arranging an in person meeting. We learn what to look for in profiles or conversely that the specifics aren't really that important to us. We learn how to present ourselves online. What profile attracts people we don't really want to meet and what to write or say that is most likely to lead to meeting someone that is our kind of person.
So what are you waiting for? Get online and start dating!