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5 Online Dating Misconceptions


In a technology-driven world, why are people still afraid of online dating? Here are five common myths people insist on believing are true — and why those people need a reality check.

By Bob Strauss

ven in the 21st century — when technology is king, and you can watch your neighbor pick up his dry cleaning via sundry mobile applications — it seems that many people still insist on believing their ridiculous preconceived notions about online dating. It’s not exactly the same as chatting with a
Virtually all singles nowadays try online dating at some point.
stranger via Chatroulette; after all, isn’t everyone else that posted a profile in the exact same position as you are, i.e., single and looking for dates? While the social stigma associated with online dating may have made sense 20 or so years ago, those outdated ideas are about as relevant today as a CompuServe email account. Here are the top five online dating misconceptions and why you should banish them from your mind (or at least put them into the proper perspective).

Online dating misconception #1: Looking for love online is strictly for losers.
“This is the idea that online dating is for people who just can’t get a date in real life — because they’re unattractive, have poor social skills or are otherwise undesirable,” explains Shannon Fox, author of Last One Down the Aisle Wins. The truth, however, is that “the majority of people who seek love online are successful in careers that don’t afford them the luxury of lots of free time to meet people, and others prefer online dating because they’re more particular about the people they choose to date and want a chance to eliminate unlikely candidates,” says Fox. One point to consider, though: since virtually all singles nowadays try online dating at some point, a small proportion are still going to be those proverbial “losers” — people whom you’d still meet (and even get set up on dates with) in real life.

Online dating misconception #2: Everyone lies on the Internet.
“A woman hears from a friend that her match lied about his age, and then she assumes that everyone lies and online daters can’t be trusted. But the truth is that the majority of singles online are honest,” says online dating consultant Laurie Davis. James Wadley, author of Would You Marry You?, gives this canard some much-needed perspective: “A harsh reality about dating (and life in general) is that there are some people who lie about anything and everything. You have no control over whether or not someone else is lying to you, but you can move the relationship at a comfortable enough pace to learn more about who the person really is.” In other words, people don’t lie because they’re online; they lie because they’re liars.

Online dating misconception #3: Online dating and online shopping are pretty much the same thing.
I can practically hear you saying it now: “Blue eyes? Check. Degree from an Ivy League school? Check. Height between 5 foot 2 and 5 foot 5? Check. Hey, do I have to pay extra for shipping, or is that included in my subscription?” It’s easy for
This is one of those myths it saddens me to have to debunk.
someone who’s been spoiled by the simplicity of buying anything and everything online to think that a quick 30-day spin through an online dating site is a guaranteed way to land a partner for life. The fact is, though, that finding a great match online isn’t necessarily any “easier” than finding one out there in the real world, though there’s no question that it’s significantly more efficient. Remember, an extended email correspondence with your online match is subject to the same misunderstandings, lapses in conversation and general awkwardness as a chance encounter with someone new at your local bar — though, hopefully, it’s a bit lighter on your wallet.

Online dating misconception #4: Using the Internet to find dates is soulless and impersonal.
“In this day and age, people do nearly everything online, from banking to shopping to social networking,” Davis says, referencing misconception #3 above. “It’s not a replacement for good old face-to-face interaction, but online dating can be a great way to get to know someone because it’s often easier for a person to share his or her feelings in writing than to risk being vulnerable in person.” The flip side to this, of course, is that it isn’t any “easier” emotionally to be dumped online than it is in real life (though it’s certainly more convenient). Even the most experienced online daters can be shocked by the depth of their feelings for a person they’ve never met in person — which is a sure sign that online dating is anything but a sterile, mechanical and lifeless affair.

Online dating misconception #5: Once you’ve “clicked,” the process is over.
This is one of those myths it saddens me to have to debunk, so let’s let James Wadley do it: “You meet someone online and decide to go on a date. You have a wonderful time together and talk about meeting up again the next weekend. A few days later, you email your date and learn that this same person went out with someone else and had a good time then, too. You’re stunned and in disbelief.” Once again, this is how dating someone you’ve met online is no worse (and no better) than dating someone you’ve met in your local supermarket aisle. Life is full of disappointments, sudden reversals and inexplicably dropped communications. My advice: Don’t cancel your online dating subscription until you’re absolutely sure that you and your partner are a genuine, monogamous couple. (And if you’re feeling especially cautious, wait until you’ve agreed to take your profiles down together.)


Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on About.com, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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