Has online-dating made us incapable of experiencing real-life romance?

Online dating has become the social 'norm'

Online-dating is a convenient solution for singles with busy schedules who have trouble integrating a dating routine into their daily lives. After a busy day, not everybody has the energy to go out and try to actively get to know new people. It also offers us the opportunity to meet other singles who would not necessarily cross our paths in our everyday lives, which is a great opportunity to get a better overview of who else is out there. But does online-dating keep us from experiencing real-life romance? Have we become unable to enjoy the company of real people in a time where the quality of somebody’s Facebook profile picture is more important than who they are in real life?

Online dating has become the social 'norm'

Online dating has become the social ‘norm’

When we start looking for partners online, we likely discover that the choices are endless. The first choice we have to make is which dating platform to sign up for or which dating app to use. Do we want a serious relationship? A fling? Or maybe just sex? Whatever it is we are looking for, there are websites for everything. But why even make the choice when in the virtual world we can have it all? Well, at least all the free trial months… While it is always nice to have options, is it good for us to have too many choices when it comes to dating?

When looking through other users’ profiles in search for possible matches, we look for certain qualities, personality traits and interests that we imagine our ideal partner to have. As we discover that even after narrowing our choices down according to our preferences we are still left with a wide choice of candidates, our checklists become more and more specific. After a while, dating becomes less and less about the adventure of getting to know another person, but turns more and more into a procedure that resembles a job interview. Does she like dogs? Yes, but does she like the right kind of dogs? Does he listen to the right music? Does he have the right kind of job and like the right football team? Having all those choices gives us the possibility to eliminate potential dates according to the strict rules we made up ourselves. After some time, experiencing that possibility can leave us unable to look past people’s flaws.

Excessive online dating makes us picture our perfect partner in our head and build up expectations. As in real life nobody is perfect, nobody will ever be able to live up to our unrealistic expectations. That leads to us hastily rejecting perfectly good matches over trivial matters like wrong haircuts or shoes we don’t like. Why would we settle for somebody who is not perfect, when there are still so many people that we haven’t met, and some of them might be better? Why should we give the cute guy who talks to us at Starbucks a chance when we are messaging somebody who is better looking, at least in his profile picture? While getting spoiled by all those choices, we forget what love is really about: It is not about finding the perfect person, but it is about getting to know an imperfect person and growing to love them with all their imperfections.

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Should you search for a partner online or offline?

Of course we cannot fall in love with just anybody, but to allow it to happen, we need to give people a chance, not eliminate them one after another until we are left with a date that looks like our perfect partner on paper just to find out that that person is not perfect after all. No matter how long we search, we will never find anybody who is perfect, so the ongoing search for a partner without flaws leaves us incapable of entering into a functional relationship, because as soon as we discover that our current date does have flaws after all, we move on to the next one.

Can checking your messages online really ever beat the thrill of locking eyes with somebody across the room, the excitement of approaching them and the joy of finally exchanging the first words? With the constant thought in the back of our heads that there might be somebody better available to us, we overlook what is happening in our real lives and exchange the exciting journey of taking a chance on somebody for sitting at home, staring at a screen and waiting for messages from people who may or may not be who their profiles make us believe they are and whom we judge based on pictures that may be edited, taken tenths of years ago or that might even show somebody else. Online dating platforms give people the opportunity to market themselves in the way that they would like to be seen. But that often exaggerated description aiming at selling the product, which in the case of online dating is singles looking for a partner, may not always be in line with reality.

I am not saying that everybody who dates online necessarily becomes picky and unable to be part of a functional relationship. Some of us are picky to begin with, and I do believe that we can fall in love with somebody we meet online. But the more we date online, the more likely we will begin to see dating as an elimination process instead of an adventure. That is why I don’t think that online-dating can ever match the quality of face-to-face interaction from the beginning and that we should consider it an alternative to conventional dating methods, not our only possibility to find a suitable partner. Though online dating is a good way to meet new and different people especially if you have a busy schedule, it should be enjoyed with a dash of caution. Be prepared to not always get what you were expecting, don’t let the endless choices blind you to what may be right in front of you and don’t let the virtual world become more important than your real one.

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