5 Myths About Online Datingby Isabel Thottam
Online dating isn’t for everyone. For some people, dating comes naturally because they have an outgoing personality. Others shy away from social interactions and find online dating to be a community where they can be themselves without feeling too nervous. This might be why 40 million Americans are using online dating – to test compatibility through the Internet before working up the courage to hold a conversation in reality.
The truth is, a lot of people immediately become skeptical when they hear someone met their significant other online. Despite becoming a more normal way for daters to connect in recent years, online dating still has a negative connotation to some. Whatever the reason, our culture has yet to fully accept online dating as a respectable way to find love, so when we hear that two people met via the Internet, we immediately start questioning the validity of the relationship. We’ve come to believe in this myth that online dating doesn’t work because everyone is lying or people are just looking for sex.
If you find yourself skeptical, consider the following myths about online dating and maybe these statistics will show the truth behind the rumors.
1. Online dating isn’t safe
When some people think about online dating, they immediately think of shows like Catfish (the term ‘catfish’ refers to the act or luring someone into a relation via a fictional online persona) or the story of the “Craigslist killer.” Since we’ve heard of horrible things happening when people meet online, we automatically stigmatize online dating as a bad idea.
But, consider if you are safer meeting and hooking up with a stranger in a bar, or a co-worker you barely know. Online dating gives you access to building a dialogue with someone before meeting in person and dating services like eHarmony, which has 33 million members, take protecting their members seriously. With so many people using dating sites, there’s a small number or negative encounters, but of course those are the stories the media tells.
To ensure safety, eHarmony has a list of tips for staying safe while communicating or meeting up with matches and provides a way to report any concerning behavior.
2. Everyone is lying on his or her online dating profile
It’s not safe to meet someone online because everyone is lying and most accounts are fake, right? Yes, it’s true; people do lie on their online dating profiles. But, the things they’re lying about are things people exaggerate in the real world too: age, height, weight, income and physical build.
Global research agency, Opinionmatters, found that 20% of women with online profiles admitted to using an older photo from when they were younger and thinner. More than 40% of men said they lied about their jobs in an effort to sound more successful.
As Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D explains on Psychology Today, “Whether online or off, people are more likely to lie in a dating context than in other social situations.”
3. Online users are just looking for hook-ups
This myth comes from the idea that online dating makes casual sex easy, therefore diminishing the chances of building strong, committed relationships.
Remember when Vanity Fair pointed fingers at Tinder for causing a “Dating apocalypse?” The truth is–as we learned from Carrie Bradshaw¬¬–people have always been having casual flings and so what? Sure, technology now makes it easier to find a hook-up so you don’t have to place a personal ad in the newspaper, but it also does help build committed relationships.
Though the majority of relationships still begin offline, research shows that 5% of married couples or those in a committed relationship met their significant other online. This number is and will continue to grow as studies show more people are going on dates with people they meet online.
4. I’m too old to use online dating
No you’re not! Studies show that there has been a 6% increase in online users ages 55 to 64-year-olds from 2013 to 2015. Sure, age will impact your match, but that doesn’t mean you’re too old to give it a try! In fact, older men will actually have more options than older woman because, by age 48, men have twice as many pursuers as women. Moreover, 76% of women say they date men that are at least 5 years older than them.
5. People who use online dating are desperate
A survey by Pew Research Center found that 23% of Americans agree with the statement “People who use online dating sites are desperate.” When online dating first popped up, people were even more skeptical than they were today because technology was not as advanced a decade ago. Though people still think online dating seems desperate, it has become more acceptable as our culture’s attitude has shifted toward a more positive one.
That being said, this myth truly is just a myth. Today, nearly half of us know someone who uses online dating or has met his or her significant other through an app or dating service. Rather than giving into these online dating myths, the best thing you can do is give it a try, see what happens, and trust your gut if you’re worried about anything.