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Swipe Right: The Pitfalls of Online Dating

Dating can be difficult in the Modern Age. All too often, we invest our twenty-four hours into work, friends, and other commitments. Online dating seems to be a way to circumvent our busy schedules, or at least act as a fun diversion. After all, what’s the worst that can come from a few drinks with strangers?

This offhand casualness brings the worst out of online dating. It becomes a thing that we frivolously invest our time into, and then wonder why we receive nothing out of it. In the worst cases, we suffer more than just lost time. The anonymity of the Internet is a foggy window where the person you’re looking at is rarely 100% genuine. Places like Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and MeetMe may have good intentions, but this doesn’t always translate to the best results. Here’s some information about the less than glamorous aspects of online dating.

Catfishing

Catfishing refers to assuming you’ve made a great catch, but then end up with the bottom feeder of the lake; The Catfish. In terms of online dating, physical deceptions are the main form of catfishing. Some people I have met in my time of online dating have used fake photos, or photo shopped themselves to create whatever flavor of idealized body they want people to see. This is unrealistic, unnecessary, and concerning. If someone tries to deceive me before we’ve even met, what else would they hide? Honesty and self-confidence, regardless of body type, are the traits that will win the day. If the physical attraction isn’t there for both parties, time is better spent finding a more complete match.

Catfishing might also refer to someone’s personality being false. The person you meet online could be everything they describe, or a complete nightmare. For example, in high school I met a girl through MeetMe. She came across as sweet, kind-hearted, and even a little naive over the course of our online conversations. I invited her to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Before we even sat down, she’d blurted out five epithets about the wait staff and the basketball game on TV. She turned out to be one of the most unapologetic racists I’ve encountered in my life, and probably caused more than one person to spit in our food.

Manipulators

I was misguided in my youth. With online dating sites, I would target women that I felt lacked confidence. I would go so far as to say I was manipulative at times, taking advantage of naivety and self-esteem for the sake of a sexual relationship.

I regret this behavior, but its given me an inside perspective; other users take this approach with online dating. They tend to sugarcoat their words, apply pet names and try to create a feeling that you already belong to them. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them and more genuinely invested individuals. One major red flag that you’re dealing with a manipulator is the fast track to sex that is almost uniform in the approach. Unless casual sex happens to be what you’re looking for, be aware of the warning signs. Finances might be another regular topic with them, as some manipulators prefer to waste your money along with your time. Be wary of these red flags.

Pay Walls In Online Dating

Online dating sites often provide a matching game. These options on Plenty of Fish, MeetMe, and Tagged have the potential to quickly and efficiently find mutual interest. In practice, it tends to be time not well spent. These features are made with a pay wall of some sort in mind that seeks to take advantage of desperation, or impatience. For example, once you hit a certain limit of Tinder swipes, a prompt tells you that you have to wait 12 hours for your swipes to replenish. Then it offers you premium for unlimited swipes. Plenty of Fish also provides premium features that allow you to view sent messages, set profile restrictions, and so on.

The value of premium is debatable. There’s no need to pay for the additional service. The premium services do little to improve your profile or guarantee a quicker match, and the free service is more than sufficient for the majority of sites. Speaking from a male’s perspective, match processes aren’t worth the effort. It’s almost always a better choice to send a message after browsing through profiles on your own.

Non-Responders

You’ve sifted through so many profiles, and found someone who aligns with you perfectly. They have the same hobbies, and want the kind of relationship you crave. You send them a message, and wait for the sure response. It never comes.

This happens all too often with online dating. The effect can be even worse when a notification shows the message as “Read.” It might be painful to have that happen. It may cause doubts, or encroach on your self-esteem, or maybe you’ll react at the opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe you’ll start to look at the flaws of the denier, or assume things about the next person you message based on prior experience.

The best thing to do in this situation is to move forward quickly. Maybe they’ve left the site a long time ago. Maybe they have a significant other and never deleted their profile. There’s an endless amount of reasons for someone not to respond. A non-response is simply an opportunity you can give to someone else. It says nothing about you as an individual. There was nothing more than an implied connection. This is one strength of online dating; rejections don’t carry the same weight of investment, and moving on from a potential date is a simple process.

Being Stood Up

Being stood up in any event is horrible, but particularly if you’ve invested a great deal of time getting to know someone before you even meet them. I can’t even count how many times I’ve spoken to someone for a few weeks, made dinner plans, and then ate dinner alone.

I wondered where I went wrong, if the other person was okay or if this was just a waste of time. Sometimes I’ve learned about what happened, and then set up another date. Other times, that was it. The last message I had was “see you soon.”

As it happened, I became inundated to it; it’s just a nice relaxing dinner by myself. I’ve found that this is the best way to treat it, or to simply treat it as you would a non-response.

Don’t take being stood up personally. An endless list of reasons exists for why your date didn’t show up. Whether you accept their excuse or not is up to you, and their reason (or choice) for not showing up doesn’t reflect on some inadequacy of yours. Enjoy your meal, tip the wait staff, and get home safely. There will always be another date.

Struggling To Connect

While part of the appeal is to have a pool of potential dates to choose from and have very loose associations with them, connections are more difficult to make when conceived online. There’s an alien feeling, an exploration of the unknown that takes place when meeting a complete stranger. It’s a connection that struggles to be made, even if you’re on the third or fourth date with the person. Organic relationships made away from the Internet still have that factor of natural development. Relationships that develop out of friendship or workplace camaraderie tend to blossom more quickly than one conceived through the Internet.

Despite That…

Don’t take this as advice against online dating. Consider it a guide. Some of the best relationships in my life started because I sent a private message. At the very least, online dating blessed me with horrific and hilarious stories to tell. Women in particular enjoy an advantage in online dating because they are the smaller population on most sites, and can therefore choose who to spend their time on. They also act as pace setters for the dating process. Just keep aware of potential dangers, and you’ll find whatever you’re looking for online.

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