Are Online Dating Websites Altering the Climate of Commitment?

ChelseaPro Life4 Comments

If you’re like me — thirty and single — you’ve probably been asked once or twice, “have you tried online dating?” followed by, “another friend of mine was in his/her thirties and had just about given up on love when he/she logged onto one of those online dating sites and met the woman/man of his/her dreams. They just got married last year”…or something like that.
The logic of online dating, of course, is that it’s easier to find and meet other single people with similar interests and relationship goals and, thus, easier to find a spouse. But, with so many prospects, some are now wondering if online dating actually makes it more difficult to fall in love?

This is an interesting article from Verily on the tendency of online daters to spend an endless amount of time searching for that one person who represents absolutely everything (they think) they’re looking for in a spouse — a constant quest for someone more compatible.

It’s based on a fascinating Atlantic article, A Million First Dates, which asks:

The positive aspects of online dating are clear: the Internet makes it easier for single people to meet other single people with whom they might be compatible, raising the bar for what they consider a good relationship. But what if online dating makes it too easy to meet someone new? What if it raises the bar for a good relationship too high? What if the prospect of finding an ever-more-compatible mate with the click of a mouse means a future of relationship instability, in which we keep chasing the elusive rabbit around the dating track?

While researching for his book Love in the Time of Algorithms, author Dan Slater spoke with several online-dating-company executives, most of whom, he says, seem to agree with what research suggests: the rise of online dating will mean an overall decrease in commitment. Only one executive, Alex Mehr, a co-founder of the dating site Zoosk, disagrees with the prevailing wisdom that online dating does anything to change whether you’re looking for a long-term, monogamous relationship or not. “That’s a personality thing,” he says. He has a point. It’s definitely debatable how much of this is due to the individual personalities of the people dating online vs. the existence of online dating itself — that this is more of just a reflection of our society as a whole.

Anyway, there’s much more to the Atlantic article, including how online dating makes it easier for people to opt out of struggling marriages. Read it if you get a chance.

Offering a bit of advice to online daters, Verily’s Ashley Crouch writes:

it’s easy to slip into the mindset that one should have a gut feeling instantly whether this is “it.” And while sometimes this happens, don’t underestimate the value of a second look, or fail to remember that compatibility is something that is created together.

It is important to remember that we don’t have an endless amount of time to make such a decision. That is, the window of opportunity for starting a family is not open indefinitely. And, as Sam Keen put it, “We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”

Personally, I looked into it once — a Catholic dating site — and the description of it in one of the articles above as a “mass mailer approach” to love is pretty dead on. I was overwhelmed. I’ve also described it as being like going to a bar and having about 30 guys approach you all at once asking for your number. I didn’t even know where to begin. I also wasn’t a fan of the price, so I only did the free version, which you really can’t go very far with, anyway.

How ’bout you? Have you tried online dating? What is/was your experience like?

4 Comments on “Are Online Dating Websites Altering the Climate of Commitment?”

  1. I’ve tried online dating, and have several friends who are on it. I’ve observed that those who are the most successful with it also put the most time into it- it’s actually pretty hard to get dates. You have to be open to a lot of people, even those who you are only mildly interested in, to find a few people who are interested in you! Also, as online dating becomes more the norm, I think your chances go up as more people join, but like I said before, the more time you put into it, the more of a chance you’ll find someone.

  2. I met my now husband online! We never would have met otherwise, and I think the lack of commitment has less to do with how people met, and is more a “sign of our times” in general.

  3. I actually have had pretty good experiences with online dating. You just have to learn how to filter all the responses you get.

    In my opinion, dating really does come down to the numbers, so to speak. If you’re looking for a spouse, you’re looking for a good partner to help run the business of creating a family. Profiles do a great job of listing somebody’s job qualifications concisely and thoroughly, so that you can avoid getting emotionally tangled up with people who aren’t right for you. The problem lies in when you start looking for perfection rather than sufficiency.

    The truth is, there’s always somebody theoretically “better” out there, but we must live practically and reasonably. Love is not a hypothetical matter. Love grows out of dedication and concrete action. Those who “settle” in matters of romance often discover that they’ve settled for perfection. Meanwhile, those looking for an ideal match continue wandering aimlessly. Ideal matches are made, not found.

  4. I also met my husband over the internet, so yes, I’m a bit biased. 🙂 I agree with what some of the other commenters said – that the lack of commitment is less the fault of dating sites and more the fault of our culture as a whole. That, and as Geoffry said, people tend to make “perfect” the enemy of “good.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *