6 (Surprisingly!) Life-Changing Lessons I Learned By Online Dating

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Online daters reveal the things they loved — and what they loathed about digital dating.

You can't always get what you want but thanks to the Internet, you can get pretty damn close to it. Though the digital age has already given us a simplified answer to shopping, deals, discounts and travel, the Internet Gods truly broke the mold when they gave us an answer to dating.

Now, with just the flick of a finger, you're thrown into a universe dedicated to taking those awkward firsts off the streets and positioning them safely behind your computer screens. Gone are the nights you dread asking a girl out on a date or getting up the courage to asking that guy at the bar for his number. Those firsts are now happening all online.

So, as the size of the world shrinks down smaller with every passing second, is it getting easier to meet a potential mate… or more difficult? YourTango expert Charles J. Orlando argues that online dating is a web of lies. On the other side, YourTango expert Evan Marc Katz believes it works.

So what's the deal with finding love on dating websites? We asked online daters to come clean about the things they loved — and what they loathed — when it came to finding a match online:

Lesson 1: The World's Your (Unresponsive) Oyster

On dating websites, there are tons (and tons) of fish in the sea. Only, they may not respond to you. "I loved the variety of women that were available — outside of my typical social settings and social circles. I'm not the kind of guy that would approach a girl in a bar but I loved being able to send messages to women that I thought were attractive and that I'd be interested in getting to know," says Alex, 26. But the grass wasn't necessarily greener on the other side of the screen. "One thing that really frustrated me," he said, "was the low-response rate for guys. There was no guarantee a girl would ever respond."

Jameson, 29, echoed similar sentiments, "Here's the thing: You want to send a girl a long message that shows that you took the time to read about her and paid attention to the things that she’s interested in and what she likes and who she’s looking to meet. But since the response-rate is so low anyway that I was like ‘Do I really want to spend all that time writing a note that may never get answered?’ At the same time, you don't want to send a canned response that is really impersonal that a girl would never respond to anyway."

Lesson 2: You Find People Who Are The Same Page 

With paragraphs, taglines and profiles, there's tons of information about your potential partner right at your disposal. Only looking for a serious relationship? You can weed out the ones who aren't. "I really, really loved meeting guys who were 'matched to things I was. I turned to online dating after a long relationship and it was just a huge relief to meet people that were on the same page as I was and who wanted the same things I did," says Jacklynn, 28.

Lesson 3: Always Go With Your Gut

Even digitally, it's best to go with your instinct. "Because there's typically a rating or a match percentage, I don't really want to give a guy with a lower match rate because of some random algorithm whereas you might be totally compatible in person," says Maya, 33. "I ended up meeting my [current] boyfriend online and we would have never been paired up if we’d listened to the 'match'. Sometimes you just have to forget the statistics and science involved and go with your gut!"

Lesson 4: Physical Attraction Comes First — Which May Not Be A Bad Thing

Is online dating superficial? For some, it's a better way connection. "I hate to sound like a b*tch, but when I meet a guy that's not cute in person, it's so much easier to write him off. But when I'm online, that physical connection is one of the first things you get. I don't think it’s being too shallow to want to be physically attracted to someone that you're dating — and for me, that attraction really matters," says Jessica, 25.

Morgan, 29, agrees, "I think some girls that you would find attractive in real life (or that you might be interested in), you might not be interested in them if you saw their profile. It takes the pressure off when you see someone before you get to know them."

Lesson 5: Not Everyone Is Honest About Who They Are

Online dating can be a reminder that people lie online — and offline. Sometimes it's a fib about their height or weight and othertimes they disguise who they really are and what they're looking for. "I'll admit it: I have an online dating account but I only use it to see if the girls I’m meeting are trying to date other people behind my back," says Aaron, 31.

For Mariah, 24, too many people are dishonest on dating sites. "People using online sites are making up false identities — it's way too easy to pretend to be someone you're not."

Sarah, 26, agrees, "How can I trust someone if I'm not sure that they're who they say they are? You can't. Relationships need to be built on fundamental trust and I feel like I wouldn't have with someone I met online."

Lesson 6: It Can Restore Your Faith In Dating

While some encounter liars and scammers online, others see think their matches are the real deal — and serious about finding love. "Have you ever looked at an online dating site? There are people EVERYWHERE. Everyone wants to meet someone, everyone is looking for love. I don't feel like such a hopeless romantic anymore when I'm online," says Tara, 23.