Our dating habits have long been fraught with confusing rituals and awkward first meetings and it looks like the Internet hasn’t done much in the way of changing things. We still do our best to come up with witty banter designed to display our awesomeness to the opposite sex, now we just throw in half-naked pictures when that doesn’t work.
We “Meet” Through a Computer
Today’s dating landscape consists of the same old meet-and-greet of yesteryear, only now much of it is done from the comfort and safety of our homes. Instead of drinking up the courage to start a conversation at a bar, the awkward turtles of the dating world can spend a lot of time coming up with cute one-liners over Tinder or Match.com.
In many ways, this has opened the door for less confident men and women to engage in conversation without feeling the pressure of constantly being “on.” We communicate at a slower pace online, allowing people to think through their responses to questions rather than be put on the spot.
We’re Less Up Front
The negative aspects of that disconnect and ability to hide behind a screen is we seem to be less upfront and honest. In particular, we tend to mislead others about our physical appearance. One study determined around 60 percent of online daters lie about their weight, while almost half lie about height.
The study also found that when we’re online, we tend to swerve away from telling big lies and we’re more likely to express likes and habits honestly, all thanks to the anonymity of an online presence. So, basically, we’re more comfortable with our personalities than our physical appearance once we log on.
We’re More Focused on Similarities
Dating sites and apps allow us to pare down our prospective lovers to just the ones we find common interests with. How you phrase a profile can determine who’s going to talk to you. In fact, the phrase “laid-back” was the most commonly used self-descriptor in 2014. Apparently people like other people who don’t like drama, or at least claim they don’t.
Sites like Christian Mingle and Black People Meet also make it easier for people of similar backgrounds to connect, while most apps and sites allow you to pick and choose what race, religious affiliation, sexuality and hobbies you would like to filter out of your matches.
The positive aspect of this is daters can be sure they’ll have some common ground when they’re staring uncomfortably at each other across the table at Starbucks.
We’re Now Even More Picky
Of course, sites like those also enable people to become pickier about their potential suitors. They enable us to write off virtually anyone that doesn’t fit a particular mold without having to awkwardly dismiss their attempts to buy us a drink. Even then, we tend to go out of the way to look for reasons to write people off.
Online daters often become makeshift private eyes thanks to social media sites. Let’s be honest, we’ve all done the obligatory Facebook investigation to make sure our potential dates measure up, right? We’ve developed a habit of writing off a person because of how they pose in a photo, or how many “friends” they have on social media.
We Date More People
The biggest effect the Internet has on dating is its ability to offer up more options. People today are racking up more potential dates than Taylor Swift at a VMA after-party.
A Michigan State University study claims this leads to fewer committed relationships forming online than off. The online dating arena allows for more options leading to a “bigger and better things” mentality. There’s always something (or someone, as the case may be) better waiting around the corner, so they say.
The rise of mobile dating apps in recent years hasn’t helped things. Tinder estimates users spend an astounding 77 minutes a day browsing through potential dates and hookups. A lot of people must be swiping right at work. It would seem the ultimate question is whether or not the Internet provides us with too many options?
The dating game hasn’t changed over the years, but the rules by which we play it certainly have. The Internet opened up a floodgate of new options for the Average Joe and it looks like we all can’t help ourselves from trying to sample as many as possible before choosing a mate. On a positive note, at least the shy guys have a better chance of getting a date now.
It should probably be noted that men make 80 percent of the initial contacts in online dating. Some things never change.
Image Credit Mik Salac/Flikr
Ben Kerns is a fan of all things related to technology and the Internet, especially when it comes to discovering new ways to further merge the two together. When he's not plugged in, he enjoys the great outdoors, healthy living, and singing off-tune to cheesy country songs.
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