/, Relationship Advice & Tips/Relationship Advice: Is Online Dating the Path to Marriage?


Is online dating the path to marriage? These days, anyone over 25 has probably had an experience with online dating, but is online dating where to find a mate? Online dating sites seem to be a fixture in American life, catering to all segments of society. Niche dating sites have become the modern way to meet potential partners. There are sites for professionals, farmers, religious ethnic groups and gays. There are sites for people who just want to hook up with people simply looking for sex. There’s even a site for people who only want platonic cuddling.

With all of these online dating sites out there, what are the odds of you finding true love?

Apparently they’re very good! A recent study* by U.S. researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that more than ⅓ of marriages began with online dating.  The research is based on a nationally representative survey of 19,131 people who married between 2005 and 2012. The study further found that those who met their future spouses online actually have longer-lived, happier marriages and lower divorce rates.

The Perks

Selection: With online dating you have the luxury of weeding out unsuitable candidates in the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to go reject anyone or hurt their feelings as you only contact those whom you feel might be a good fit. You can learn more about them in the conversation phase and decide then if you want to meet.

Time: With online dating you have the ability to take your time deciding if, where and when to meet in person. You can email, chat, text or talk on the phone for as long as it takes for you to become sure that you want to meet them face to face.  This allows a friendship to develop and for you to connect with potential dates. You don’t feel rushed or pressured to put yourself into any potentially awkward or uncomfortable situations.

Knowledge: There’s definitely less stress involved in first dates when you meet someone online beforehand. You arrive at your first encounter with some foreknowledge of the person you’re meeting. This eliminates a lot of probing questions, awkward conversation and social ineptness. The two of you are already friendly and have had many of the discussions that normally would occur in a first meeting. It’s great to get all of that out of the way, and see if the connection you anticipate is there when you’re face to face.

Expectations: Since you’ve been through the online profiles, and weeded out the ones you don’t want to meet, the expectations you both have are of a positive interaction. You already expect you’ll be compatible with each other based on your initial experiences with each other. You expect to like each other even more when you finally do meet.

No pressure: With online dating there’s no pressure to have a second date if you don’t connect on the first one. Anyone who is in this process understands that there are no guarantees. You might even go on a few dates with someone then decide that you don’t want to continue. Very rarely are there hurt feelings. It’s expected.

The Pitfalls

Trust: One of the downsides of online dating is gauging honesty. If an online profile sounds too good to be true, it very well might be. Some people try to make themselves look better online than they do in real life, and that’s certainly something you risk in online dating. How honest are you about yourself? How honest is your date being? You have to follow your gut, ask the right questions, and really do your homework spending time getting to know that person to decide if you want to take the friendship further.

Choice: Choice can be a positive, but it can also be a pitfall. When too many choices are presented, how do you decide? You can’t go out with all of them! I recommend that you narrow it down to a manageable number like 4 to pursue a connection with. The unsuitable candidates will be eliminated as it becomes obvious who you really connect with.

Bad Dates: You may have to “Kiss a lot of frogs” to find your prince or princess!  You can expect to have some bad dates. Hopefully if you do your due diligence in the beginning of the process, you can keep these to a minimum. Use common sense about putting yourself into a safe environment, meet in public places, and don’t commit to anything serious until you really spend some time with someone. Always have a backup plan in case the date goes south, you can extract yourself without making a scene.

Serial Daters: Let’s face it; there are simply some people who are serial daters. They’re not looking for a love match or a long term partner. They just want someone to hang out with or hook up with for the night or weekend. Those people are fun to date, but don’t expect them to fall for you in a big way, and guard your own feelings about them. Be honest and upfront about what your expectations are so your dates can do the same.

Trolls: There are bad people with bad intentions out there and they can be looking to scam or steal from unsuspecting people. You have to be aware of this and check out anyone you contact on an online dating site as thoroughly as possible. Always keep safety in mind when you meet a stranger,(women especially),  and don’t put yourself at risk by being alone with someone you don’t know. If you are getting any kind of a bad feeling, or suspicion about someone, trust your instincts. Always tell a friend where you’ll be meeting and give them some info about who you’re meeting.

Can you make a true love connection with an online dating service? Yes. While it can be a lengthy and sometimes frustrating process, the perfect match could very well be on a dating site near you. If you are patient and determined, you may just find them. Good luck and happy dating!

Published in the NY Daily News

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About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.

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