Online Dating: Best or Bust?


Is Charles Orlando right? About online dating- I don't think so!

I read this article and felt the need to answer some of Charles Orlando's statements. I have a great deal of respect for the writer and appreciate that he flushed out areas of concern. While I think he brings up some good points that have merit and value, he also presents a rather cynical view of online dating, which I don't share.

The author talks somewhat wistfully about the "olden days" before online dating, when we met people in our neighborhoods and let fate decide without intervening. Well, let's consider that. With a divorce rate that hovers around 50 percent (and has been at that level for years), I'd say the "olden days" or the "old ways of doing things" really aren't that great. (If we really wanted to talk about the "old way," we'd be talking about the man hitting a woman over the head with a club and dragging her back to the cave.) We evolve with the times, and online dating is the next evolution of meeting new people, making new friends and the entrance to relationships.

He pooh-poohs stories of couples who met online as if they're insignificant. Are they? How many couples do you know who met online? I know many, including myself.  My beloved and I would have never met and fallen in love if we hadn't been on one of the popular dating sites. He talks about all the horror stories of online dating. Certainly, we've all had our botched dates and our bad nights out. Just as we did and still do in real life.

He does make some good points about sites that use compatibility tests. A personality test is just that: a test. It's one tool you can use to determine potential likes and dislikes, but I don't recommend relying solely on a test to plan your future.

Now comes the part that really pushed my buttons. He practically labels the online dating process as unnatural. How? You're still screening men before you meet them, talking to them to get to know them and taking things one step at a time. You still have to figure out if the guy's a player, if he's your type and if he's a good match. Which you would be doing no matter where you met him, right?

The world is changing, largely because of technology, so the online dating process is becoming very natural. Adapting to change is natural.

He says the sense of connection we get from meeting online is a false one. That's interesting, considering that I'm still friends with many of the women I've met online, and I've heard a similar statement from most of my friends and clients. So often, we put more emphasis on a personal connection than it deserves. We put people on pedestals, think we have a deeper relationship than we do, and overlook their flaws—in real life as well as online.  

He also comes pretty close to calling people liars who put their best foot forward on dating sites. Certainly, many of us have been guilty of posting pics that are a few years old or fudging our ages down to stay visible to the age range we want to date in. He calls it deception. Is it any worse than putting on shoes with lifts or touching up gray hair?

Actually, I'm surprised he didn't bring up using dating coaches to help write an online essay as a deception of your true self to a prospective date. That would be like saying Tiger Woods is cheating because he hires a swing coach to improve his game and his chances of winning a tournament, or job seekers cheat by hiring a resume writer to help land a job.

You're just trying to get that first date, so you're putting the best you forward. It's marketing, just like anything else. Do I advocate pretending you're 6 inches taller or 35 pounds lighter than you are? No. If you do exaggerate too much, the truth is going to come out anyway, and then you can decide what to do about it. We're all adults here.

He doesn't seem to understand the tremendous advantage of online dating—you can meet multitudes more people than you can in your own area. Think about a recently divorced woman in a small town in a rural state. How on earth is she going to meet men without incurring a huge travel expense? With online dating.

How about women in cities? How many men can they possibly meet during their normal routine compared to the number of men they can screen on a dating site or two? If a woman wanted to spend every non-working moment looking for men, she could meet three or four potential men on a good day. Online, she can make contact with three to five times that many on any given day.

Dating has changed forever due to technology. You can become acquainted with people you never would have met in real life, which is a great thing—you have access to many more people than you would otherwise. But the downside to that is that we're too dismissive of them. We can press a key and delete them, which means we are basically throwing them away, often based on superficial things like a bad picture or a clumsily-written profile. I don't think that's a good thing. 

Dating online has it's flaws, and most of them have to do with the people involved. Many don't effectively use the sites to their highest potential—just as they didn't utilize newspaper personal ads to their fullest 30 or 40 years ago. It appears that this author just wants to gripe about a way to date, and my guess is that in his research he didn't speak to those that sing it's praises. As I always say, online dating—it's just one spoke in the wheel of meeting new people, making new friends and yes, falling in love.

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