Monday, October 23, 2006

We tussle over online dating

Deirdre: I've been sick, but I know I feel better because I'm in the mood for a good fight. You ready to debate online dating?
Alisha: (Ringing the bell) Let's get it on! And it's about time, Deirdre.
Deirdre: Hmpf. Anyway, while I believe online dating would be a positive thing for some people -- say, the really shy/introverted who need to work on people skills, or folks who live in isolated areas -- on the whole, I am against the practice.
Alisha: Why? Online dating is safe. It's practical. It's free. It provides a safety net.
Deirdre: Online dating is NOT safe. It's that false sense of security that can get people in trouble. Online dating is NOT practical. Think of the hours people spend weeding out "matches" that are really nothing more than random names. Online dating is NOT free. Memberships to most services have fees. Online dating does NOT provide a safety net. Instead, it provides a thick curtain of anonymity for people to hide behind while they lie, cheat and steal.
Alisha: Does online dating scare you or do you think it's just a bad way to connect with a potential partner?
Deirdre: I'm not scared of it -- I don't trust it. In general, it saddens me that this is the direction our society is heading in when it comes to starting and building relationships. I'm not stupid -- I know online dating is here to stay, and I know some people are having success with it.
Alisha: I would much rather get to know a person through months of correspondence than to run into some stranger at a bar. Online dating also gives people confidence. You can chat with someone you likely would never approach in public.
Deirdre: The two main aspects that put me off online dating: 1) I believe in using all of your senses when sussing out if someone is a potential mate. That includes the sixth sense, if you will, where you get a vibe off another person. When you're online, you're restricted to what that person types. You can't see their eyes or read their body language or hear the way they say something. 2) The anonymity of online enables lying. Sure, people lie in person, but online, the lies come so much more fluidly, from little "10 pounds/5 years off" fibs to big whoppers, like people pretending they're of the oppposite sex.
Alisha: Online dating is the preliminary step to a relationship. You eventually will have to get up off of the couch and go out on a date. And, you're right -- there's nothing that can compare to body language and signals. As for the lying, that can happen whether you're online or not.
Deirdre: There's also a part of me that feels it's lazy. You could meet more dating possibilities if you spend less time on the computer and more time out among people.
Alisha: It's not about being lazy. Some people who were married for 30 years might suddenly find themselves single again after a divorce. Online dating is a great avenue for them because it's a way to ease back into the singles scene.
Deirdre: Or they could check out singles groups, or tell their friends to set them up, or join activity clubs that cater to older adventurers ... I think more and more people are looking to the Internet as their last hope, or their only hope. And that's just not the case.
Alisha: What if you're scared to ask for help or you're ashamed you're single? Online dating caters to that crowd.
Deirdre: But the majority of daters don't have to go online. I think it could turn from a curiosity-satisfier into a dating crutch.
Alisha: Online dating is just not as evil as you portray it.
Deirdre: It's not as evil as I portray it, but it's not Soulmate Central like all the commercials and ads portray it, either. That's all I'm sayin'.
Alisha: I don't doubt there are some happily married couples who gave online dating a chance. Speaking of chances, thanks for finally discussing why you think online dating is bad. I'm sure some folks will agree with you, and some will agree with me.


Anonymous said...

Either one of you "experts" ever use an online dating service?

Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

Deirdre, I have tried online dating and it's not as bad as you make it seem. Most of the time you do get to know certain aspects of a person, but you make it seem like people chat a few times and boom, their engaged. That's not realistic. Yes, there are some people who go on these sites and have extremely high expectations and get hurt because they are not realistic about this and are not careful about what they say or do in their e-mails.

Also, your advice about getting friends to fix you up, singles groups and activity clubs don't usually work. 1. Friends tend to fix you up with some really strange men who are really weird - this is just not me, LOTS of women in their late 20's, early 30's, my age group, have reported the same thing. I think the reason our "friends" do this is because most of them are married and desperate for us to marry and have children so that they still have something in common with us. Singles groups...hmmm...I have yet to find a decent one for people my age. Most are geared towards divorced individuals who are also over the age of 40. Activities groups are as expensive or more than online dating sites. It should matter how you get to the destination, just that you got there.

Anonymous said...

Deirdre, I'm not sure why you think online dating is "lazy". I've never been so exhausted as I was trying to keep up with all the different men I had emailing me from I'm glad I kept an open mind about it though, because I did meet my husband on that site. We've been happily married four years last week and are expecting our second kid!

I think the good thing about and other sites like it is that it just increases the number of people you come in contact with. Dating, like sales, is a numbers game. The more people you talk to, the more likely you are to run into somebody who needs (or wants) what you're offering.

Anonymous said...

My brother met his wife online several years ago. She is from overseas and would never have met otherwise. I've never met a better person in my life. I can't tell you how wonderful and even educational it has been just knowing her and her family. They now have a baby girl.

Anonymous said...

I've tried online dating and it didn't transfer into offline dating. However,I did learn a whole lot about myself in the process, only to discover that I wasn't as desparate as I thought I was in trying to find the right mate. Most of the profiles that I searched were highly pathetic to downright creepy. It forced me to become very upfront with someone (even in cyberspace) about my actual disinterest in them.I rather stay offline when it comes to dating.

Anonymous said...

I've tried meeting men both ways, and let me tell you, I much prefer online. It allows me to do the 'initial screening' before actually having to encounter him in person. If we can't have an intelligent conversation online, I doubt seriously he's capbable of one in person. Online filtering is certainly not something for everyone, but I found it quite helpful in weeding out liars and others that I wouldn't want to spend more time than it would take to down a small coffee. I also found it helpful because I'm not a lounge lizard or bar fly and I believe firmly that you don't look for a friend or potential spouse someplace that you wouldn't want to find them sometime during the relationship. That is, if you don't like the idea of someone who might spend their spare time out in bars, why would you go there to meet someone? In addition to that, obviously the online dating room is also much larger than any bar therefore you may find yourself with more matches.

My first husband I met in person, courtesy of our best friends. We divorced because of his infidelity -- he was one of those lying scumbags online who present themselves as single, but was married. (Good riddance!) So to your point, yes you do need to be careful, but not everyone is a lying scumbag. You need to be smart enough to weed them out. But that's no different than meeting someone in a bar or elsewhere.

My present husband and I met online, and after speaking with him online for a couple of days, we both decided to meet for dinner and it was the best thing either of us ever did. We've been married now 2 years and without the internet, I'm reasonably certain we would never have met because we lived 50 miles apart and didn't really travel in the same social circles. Nonetheless, we're best friends and couldn't be happier.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy into the whole "dating is a numbers game" thing, especially when it comes to online dating. We're talking about making a connection with a person here...not moving merchandise. Here's the problem with the numbers theory online: any halfway decent looking woman who posts a profile and picture on a site like will get bombarded with TONS of e-mails from guys. Great if you like selection, but of course she needs to go through all those profiles and try to decipher the normal from the creepy. Female friends who have done this tell me it's great the first 1-2 days then it's like enough already and they have to hide their profile to stop the flood. From a guy's point of view - I just think that leads to a very unnatural dating process. I don't really want to date a girl who's going out with or at least getting asked out by 50+ guys on a nightly basis....half of whom cut and paste the same e-mail message to dozens of women every day hoping for a few nibbles. And if a woman is really attractive it's just over the top. Would you do that in the real world? I mean if I met a woman at a coffehouse and she told me she was dating 5-10 different guys at a time there's no way I'd ask her out either. What she can juggle and squeeze me in so I'm part of the masses? No thanks. Not saying you go exclusive right away, but at some point the volume here is too much.

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