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March 28, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Is Online Dating a Viable Option for Singles?

By Anne Christen More Blogs by This Author

Virtual Love

I am convinced that my best friend Laurie is addicted to online dating. I’ve reached this conclusion after watching her spend countless hours perfecting her profile and reading those of others who are deemed “compatible” with her. On the other hand, she’s also spent innumerable time getting to know some of these men, and she’s even met a few of them in person. But the same thing seems to happen over and over; she gets really excited and thinks she’s met “the one” only to learn he wasn’t at all what he portrayed himself to be. This happened again recently; she had her heart set on someone who filled her ear with lots of pretty words and then disappeared from her life altogether.

I’ve asked her on numerous occasions why she does this to herself, and her response is always the same: “I can’t get out and meet people any other way.” This, of course, is because of her daughter. Laurie is a single mother who lives three hours away from her friends and family. So I can see her desire to use online dating as a convenient people-meeting resource. It saves her from hiring a babysitter and wandering into bars and restaurants alone. Her heart, though, is too vulnerable to continue in this manner.

If she could slow down and not get lost in the idea of love, Laurie might be okay, but it seems she falls for every guy she talks to. She also doesn’t hesitate to give out her phone number, which seems a little irresponsible. She lives alone with her four-year-old daughter and would be pretty defenseless if one of these men was less-than-forthright. And the truth is that, in today’s world, such a possibility cannot be ignored.

Scratching the Superficial Surface

Of course, Laurie herself may not be entirely to blame. It could also be the expectation that these dating sites plant in the minds of users. They basically offer to help you find love in a nearly hassle-free way. Many even claim they use scientific methods so that each user is paired with only the most compatible matches. Given Laurie’s loneliness (she’s been single since she got pregnant 4.5 years ago), and her desire to find someone to love, such claims probably sound like a divine gift.

While the premise of online dating holds some benefits, my concern is that it sits at the very surface of the complex pool of romance. To start, the information that people choose to share is often:

  1. Limited in terms of who they really are.
  2. Potentially dishonest, because who would ever know the difference?

I could create a profile, for instance, in which I describe myself as a successful writer and published author. In reality, I might appear to be successful, but I don’t make a lot of money, and I am a published author, but that’s self-published, and I don’t promote my book. By the time a potential mate learns the truth, though, it’s a little late.

The Book of Face Connection

The addiction to online dating comes from the fact that it’s not unlike Facebook. I’ve seen the sites to which Laurie subscribes, and it’s easy to fritter away large chunks of time while reading about other people and their interests. I think this is one of the most attractive features of online dating: Looking at the profiles and photos of potential mates. You could just read and fantasize all day.

Ultimately, though, fantasizing is about all that will come from joining an online dating site. I know that some couples find love through this medium and even get married, but for someone like Laurie, the anguish of being desirable isn’t offset by any real benefit. I’m frankly worried about her mental health. She says things to me like, “I’m never going to find anyone because I’m not good enough.” If online dating sites breed such thought patterns, they should be deleted from cyberspace forever.

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