Online Dating And Its Impact On Modern Relationships

Dating has always been a part of society, where 2 people decide the connection is strong enough to become a part of each other's lives. Humans have been dating since before history, as relationships progresses and leads to reproduction. It’s almost like a natural instinct to find someone to be our companion for life. Over time, how and why we date has changed significantly. In the old times, 'courting' period could last a short period of time before its time for marriage already. Arranges marriages were widely popular back then, as to bring honour to the family was the main reason marriage was a business tactic. However, as society changes, our values and beliefs change as well. We start seeing the importance of love and romance, that it should be in our hands to decide whom we will spend our lives with. The increased importance of dating also leads to longer dating periods before marriage. Most common traditional ways of dating consist of dating a mutual friend, dating someone you know or being set up blind dates, on the other side of the spectrum was online dating. Online dating was frowned upon and wasn't the popular choice when wanting to meet a potential partner. Maybe because there was a lot of negative stigma regarding meeting strangers online, the main reason being it looked 'desperate'.

Society continues to grow and developed; online dating has become a cultural thing where people ranging in ages all use online services. This concept of dating has become so casual and normal that people no longer feel ashamed when asked how they met their significant others, although stigma will always exist with the haters, general society has accepted to be just another form of dating and meeting new people. In this paper, I want to focus on how online dating changed the dating world; the advantages and disadvantages. Online dating could possibly the majority method people meeting their partners in the further with the growing popularity and increased success rates.

How online dating changed dating and relationships?

Before online dating became popular, traditional dating techniques were how first interactions occurred, an e. g. friend of friends, church, bar and would start with a simple smile and introduction when waiting in line for coffee. Since the 1990s number of dating services were created, and the number of users has only increased since. The main purpose of these online services was targeted for finding love; however, many users also expanded their connections along the way. Because dating online allows users to be connected to millions of other users of all race, age, ethnic background, social status, this allowed a higher probability of more matches and high success rate when finding a partner. According to Rewire, researchers have found that 1/3 of marriages is the product of couples who met online. A study done in 2013 found that relationships produced online were less likely to end up at divorce. Statistics showed that 15% of Americans admitted to using online dating services and 5% of those reported to be married or in long term and committed relationships.

Interracial marriages were a large portion of results from online services, this allowed a higher chance of meeting people outside of their circles and built a connection. Interracial marriages used to be illegal and banned throughout the states until 1967 when it was legalized across all the states. In 1995 was when one of the first dating websites launched, Match. com, ever since the amount of interracial couple was on the rise.

'During the 2000's decade, the percentages of new marriages that are interracial changed from 10. 68% changed to 15. 54%, a huge increase of nearly 5 points, or 50%' Researchers found according to Rewire.

Although this doesn’t mean interracial marriages is a product of online dating, it definitely allowed more opportunities for so. Not only did these platforms opened more opportunities for interracial couples but it has become a blessing for LGBTQ people. It's known it’s harder for people in the Queer community to find someone with the same sexual interest as homophobia is still a concept the world is still learning and accepting. But with online dating, this makes dating much more simple and easier for queer people. Dating apps allow its user to select their preferred sexual orientation, with this option the user is only exposed to those who are also queer and higher match rates are presented. It reported that the majority of LGBTQ people meet through dating platforms. For heterosexual couples, it's the second top reason how they met their partners, after mutual friends.

Thousands of dating platforms exist on the web, but Tinder is one of the most popular ones out of a handful. Tinder was first launched in 2012 but it didn’t blow up until 2014 when it was widely popular across the globe with millions of users per month and more than a billion 'swipes' a day. Tinder is a dating service that mainly relies on first impressions-based profile pictures. When users first register for an account, they are required to add pictures to their profile and that's it! They are ready to start swiping, pictures of their preference are presented to them one at a time. The general rule is if the user is interested in a profile, they swipe to the 'right' and to the 'left' if they aren't. This allows users to make quick connection fast and simple filtering out from just swiping in either direction. However, using Tinder makes users judge a person based on appearance from a few photos and decide to swipe right not. Once you swipe left, there a little to no chance of the same profile reoccurring again. Because of this factor, many missed opportunities could have passed, and potential partners lost. Researchers found that male was more likely to mass swipe to increase chances for matches. A unique rule of Tinder is that both users have to swipe 'right' to each other to connect and able to message each other. Again, this narrows one’s chances to meet new people as there isn’t much information about the other person so the user cannot know the similar likes and interest before deciding to message or not.

Online dating services were traditionally used to find relationships and love but as society changes, people's values and belief changes with time. It all part of socialization, norms change with every generation. Pre-marital sex used to be taboo in society, women were shamed at for involving in any sexual acts before marriage. What the general “values' that used to be sacred has become a norm now and pre-marital sex has become so casual that in opposite, people who wait till marriage get surprised looks. That's just a part of socialization, change is inevitable. With more people committing casual sex, friends and close circle people aren't whom you go to for such needs. Tinder is the perfect platform to find people looking for the same.

Tinder might not be the best dating website when looking for a serious relationship since this specific platform is known more for casual sex. Misunderstandings occur constantly when 2 people connect, and intention is completely different. This is particularly due to the limited information and intention we know about the other party, prior to swiping “right”. Due to the unclear intentions, it could end up in un-matching. Alternative online dating sites, such as bumble allows users to select what they are looking for on the app. For relationship, friends or connections. This filters out misunderstandings and both parties know the other intentions. Bumble also allows the female to make the first move, limiting so that the female has to start the conversation allowing it in their control. This way females don't feel pressured into replying certain message they aren't comfortable with without feeling rude for not replying. In the end, the final decision is up to the user to decide whom to meet and pursue the relationship.

Negative Stigma around Online dating

Although society has grown more open to the idea of meeting someone online, there is still a negative stigma that follows online dating. Online dating has only become popular and accepted in this generation, a big reason why some don't agree with meeting someone online. Most likely passed down by our parents and grandparents, the reputation of meeting a stranger online is dangerous.

From personal experiences, my mother grew up in a small town and her potential dating circle was even more limited. Maybe the idea of meeting an anonymous person through a screen seemed risky since there’s a chance it could be a scam for money, or the girl being tricked into unwanted situations. These are all possible scenarios that could still happen in this generation. But with the growing amount of people using the services, the chances of meeting a creeper is probably lower than success rates.

Although I think the main stigma around online dating is people are afraid because it comes off “desperate', that it should be the last resort you go to because you can't meet anyone in real life for whatever reasons and have to resort to meeting strangers online. Which isn't true, because there really isn't a big difference between meeting someone online and meeting them in real life. There is no difference from meeting someone at a bar or coffee shop because it is still a stranger you are exposed to. A stranger came up to say hi and you choose to continue talking to them, with the same risk of them being a dangerous person just as meeting anyone online has the same risk. Meeting in person is also based on appearance realistically, you choose whom to give your number to depending if you find them attractive or not. Almost all relationship has to start with an attraction to one another online or not. That's not being shallow, everyone has their own preferences and at the end of the day, it's their personality whom we choose the stay with.

Pros and Cons of Online Dating

Research conducted in 2016 did telephone interviews with 45 women ages 50+ who has experience about online dating. They shared their experiences and the advantages and disadvantages when it comes to online dating.

The 45 women came to the conclusion that the 4 main advantages were: a larger circle of people, having control, meeting friends and successful relationships. Majority of the women interviewed agreed that this opened their circle significantly as the user is exposed to everyone else using the platform. Not everyone has the luck of meeting a potential partner on the streets.

“I couldn’t meet nobody else anywhere else, and I said, well, let see if I can meet somebody on the internet- just a chance I was taking”.

The women reveal this was a good alternative option since meeting someone at a bar, clubs wasn’t an option for women their age, they revealed they experience high successful rates finding a connection online, compared to in person. These women said that dating online was much easier due to some barriers such as busy lifestyle, health issues, caregiving responsibilities etc.

Control was the second advantage to online dating. It gave them a sense of safety because it was in their ability to control during the early stages of dating from certain risks. They can also limit the information they put on the internet and be able to learn more about their date before meeting them in person. In general, was that it was in their hands to control the pace and duration of the interaction.

Friendship came along the way when scouting for a love potential, one of the 'most positive outcome of using the internet for dating'. Going on a date and realizing that they were better off as friends. Many women reported that they kept in touch with the failed potential partners and even previous partners met online.

Negatives/ Cons

With all the good things that come from online dating, there is risks that come with online dating. Lying is a top reason, it's hard to really know a person purely from a few pictures and just talking to them online. These women shared their negative experiences, whom some experienced potential dates lying about their ages, weight, height, social status, wealth and other basic information. They have also experienced men using fake pictures or using old pictures of themselves when they were in better physical shape. They have also been lied to about the real intentions of what the other party is seeking, even worst men lied to them about their marital status.

Many also reported a lack of success when looking for a relationship online and called it a waste of time. However, despite the lack of success, they have, seeing others' successful finding gives them hope to continue searching. They claim that the failed matches due to deception and lack of honesty or being 'Ghosted' a modern term used to describe being left on read; not receiving a reply suddenly, the other party completely disappears. Many of the women ended up choosing to deactivate their accounts because of the lack of success, they described themselves being stood up on supposed dates or potential dates completely disappearing after the first when things seemed to be progressing well. Lastly, some women experienced violent and aggressive men. They reported experiencing some men getting physical and sexually aggressive during dates. With all happiness that comes with online dating, these risks shadow the positives.

Online dating is a huge factor in the dating world. Billions of people use platforms daily. It's one of the most popular ways to meet potential partners or simply making a new friend or looking for casual sex. This concept of dating went from being a 'hush hush' topic to becoming a norm of this generation. This is all part of socialization when people learn and adapt to culture changes when norms, rule and laws will always change as society continues to develop. Online dating has come a long way with the heavy negative stigma shadowing it for so long. It will only continue growing and expanding with so more and more people using these platforms.

10 October 2020
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