the realities of online dating

Photo credit @ Lauren Denise Photography

I’d like to first preface, though I have not had a positive experience “dating” (if my experience could even be called dating) online, some people have had wonderful experiences. I fully realize many people have found their match online, many people have created lasting and loving relationships with a partner they met online. This post is my experience and opinion, and it’s in no way meant to diminish the positive experiences of others. With that being said, I hope my experience and take away from online dating will be able to help guide another individual on their quest for love.

some online dating statistics   |   In a day and age where people are packing their daily schedules so full, their is little time to breathe (let alone date); it makes sense online dating draws a lot of appeal. Online dating provides a compelling solution to the very real problem of “time” these days. Statistics propose 1 in 5 relationships start online today. And, it’s projected 70% of people will meet their partner online by 2040. Michigan State University conducted research that discovered relationships which began online are 28% more likely to break down during their first year versus relationships where people meet one another in person. Furthermore, partners who met online are close to three times more likely to get divorced than couples who met in person. Yet, more than 15% of people say they’ve used online dating or mobile dating at least once. Currently, online dating services are the second most popular way to meet a partner.

my experience   |   I have tried online dating on two occasions. I would not call or consider my experience actual “dating” at all. The first time I tried online dating was through a service called Elite Singles approximately two years ago. I connected with an individual whom I began to talk with regularly. With considerable distance between the two of us, we have stayed in touch over the years, but have still never met. I enjoy the friendship and casual connection with this person and wish him well in his life. The second time I tried online dating was in the last few weeks (after my recent breakup) through a service called OkCupid. I connected with zero individuals and deleted the profile after a short amount of time due to the negative experience. After this most recent experience, I decided I am content to remain single than have to date online again.

my observations   |   I made different observations about the online dating process through my experiences. Many may share similar experiences as well, others may not. It should be noted, my observations and experiences are from two different services, and I live in a rural area in the mid-west. My location does make for a different experience compared to someone who lives in a metropolitan area because, in a larger populated area there are more individuals who are single and use a dating service.

observation one: it’s a dehumanizing process   |   Online and mobile dating bypass the essential and instinctive dating process that has been natural to relationships for centuries. An organic dating process does not include profiles, swiping, and match compatibility surveys. There are many things wrong with digital dating, here are some: there’s an absence of honesty, it’s deceptive, the human component is missing, and the organic process which two people get to know one another is gone.

Over 80% of individuals using an online dating service don’t tell the truth when composing a dating profile. Whether it be through outdated photos, career, money, physical build, age, relationship history, etc, research shows both men and women lie when creating dating profiles. Because of this, there is a massive absence of honesty in the digital dating process.

When an individual is meeting a potential partner online, they aren’t actually “meeting” that individual. In the traditional dating process, two people meet face to face. When two people “meet” online, they are “meeting” one another’s facade of a dating profile. In doing so, an individual is meeting an illustration and guess of the best pieces of the other individual’s character.  Because of this, the digital dating process can be very deceptive.

Furthermore, when one’s initial introduction and “courtship” to another is through a keyboard and electronic device, people completely miss all of the human communication that occurs non-verbally between two people. Quite simply, body language does not exist in a keyboard. Albert Mehrabian is a psychology professor at UCLA and expert in the field of communication; pioneering work on the subject of non-verbal communication. According to Professor Mehrabian, there are three components that are the basis for one person liking or possessing an interest in another person: words (7%), voice tone (38%), and body language (55%). In the world of digital dating, people only get the completely subjective written words of another person to form their “attraction.” The crucial 93% of an individual’s basis for liking or possessing an interest in another person does not exist. Because of this, the overall human component that exists during traditional dating is missing.

With the overall absence of the human component (non-verbal communication, etc.) through digital dating, first impressions, interactions, unspoken attractions, and the natural chemistry that occurs between two people is non-existent. So, what does this create? It creates a relationship investment of time that is entirely mental and emotional. This may not sound bad to everyone. However, this can (and more than likely will) lead to a distorted and bogus “connection” between two people. This is especially true for people desperate for love. For those people, it can be easy to create this idea of a connection in their minds, even when they don’t really know the other person at all. Because of this, the organic process which two people get to know one another is gone.

observation two: men and women typically seek a different experience   |   This should not be shocking to everyone–and let me be very clear, I mean no offense to the male gender, this is simply one way our genders differ in hardwiring–men typically use online and mobile dating as a means of obtaining sex through a casual ‘hook-up.’ Where, on the flip side, women typically use online and mobile dating as an instrument to find true love through the hopeful prospects of marriage. A journalist named Charles Orlando interviewed 50 men who used online and mobile dating services to meet women in 2016. What he found was quite telling.

These men all shared something in common, they all played the odds of the numbers game. Translation, these men all sent numerous messages, emails, chats, likes, etc, out to a multitude of women at the same time. This resulted in numerous communication exchanges (and some dates) with the goal of having sex, not a relationship. Among these 50 interviews conducted by Charles, I found one quote from a man living in San Francisco to be quite profound, “I test the waters with soft lines. But I don’t want some lady to fall in love with me. It’s too hard to get away from that. If I see she’s really after a relationship, I move on. I can find easier targets.” Men are predatory by nature, they are biologically hardwired this way. And, unfortunately, many men (not all men) use online and mobile dating services to prey on women.

At the same time, men complain about women’s high standards in their quest to find true love. Yet, lets look at how this really works, women may get 30-100 messages from various men in a week (a large majority of which are playing the numbers game with the goal of obtaining sex) but who actually wants to sort through all those messages when 80% of them either say “Hi, how are you?” or “Hey, you’re hot, wanna have sex?” After my own attempts at online dating, I can certainly say this was my experience. Who can blame me or any other woman for not replying to the majority of those messages? I sure as heck don’t. Yes, women get a great deal of attention from men through these services. Yes, it does require less work for women to get acknowledgment from men. But, when a woman has to dig through an endless array of inappropriate messages, and men “playing the numbers game,” to find any fragment of substance one can begin to see where online and mobile dating services can be so frustrating and be discouraging for many. The fact of the matter is, women are often preyed on and draw way too much undesirable attention.

So, there is a reality check to be spelled out. The majority of women utilize these services with the hope of finding love. And, the majority of men utilize these services with the hope of finding casual sex. One can see where this ratio leaves a massive imbalance in the statistical odds of finding a meaningful and lasting relationship.

observation three: you have to know your self-worth  |   Online dating can debilitate a person’s self-worth. A person will face a lot of rejection in the world of digital dating; rejection hurts even for the most confident people. This rejection will come without reason or explanation, making it more difficult to accept and understand for many. However, what I have observed is, the rejection is not worth worrying about. A large majority of people treat online dating like a retail store where they can literally go shop through an online catalog of potential matches. And, even if you think you have found the “perfect” match, perfection does not exist. So rather than fixate on rejection, I have chosen to hold on to my confidence and know my self-worth.

I have found it more worth my time to look at myself, and self-reflect. What can I do to improve my quality of life? What can I do to better myself and grow as a person? What truly makes me happy? As I have gotten older, I realized the less time I spent pursuing affection and validation from others, the more I received it by improving as an individual through personal growth and development. And, I am a happier person when I spend my time concentrating on areas of my life within my control, rather than stressing about areas of life I have no authority over.

my take away   |   Digital dating is a business, it is not love. These services exist to make money. This is a billion dollar a year industry that earns its money primarily through subscriptions. The average subscriber spends approximately $20 a month on a single service which will cost roughly $240 annually. There are services like Tinder (hook-up central) that facilitate a way for people to mechanically hook up based on nothing more than an 8-second glance as a photo. If you are simply looking for casual sex then Tinder is the way to go! All the power to ya! No, judging here. But that is simply not what I am looking for at this point in my life. So, from where I am sitting, how can a subscriber expect to find true love in these circumstances? The harsh truth of the matter…if you are really searching for true love, you can’t bypass the organic and instinctive dating process that has been natural to people for centuries. Digital dating has its advantages and appeal. Yes, online dating can save a person time. Yes, online dating can connect individuals who live in a place where it is hard to meet people. But at the end of the day, one has to ask them-self if it is really worth it? There is something to be said about meeting a person in the real world versus the digital world. A keyboard will never give a person the kind of connection a first introduction, first smile, or first conversation face to face with another person will. Food for thought to anyone looking for love. I wish you all the very best in your journey.

xoxo, alli


  1. Very good article. I like the way your mind works. It helped me understand the female perspective and was insightful in regards to online dating.
    Thank you.

    1. Trying to understand the opposite sex is a never-ending learning curve for me! I am happy when I am able to help someone else in that process. Thanks for commenting.

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