The Benefits and Pitfalls of Online Dating

This article was written through the lens of an anonymous client.

Dating – a fairly daunting task and concept. These days, society tends to pressure people into finding a partner, but it is a lot harder than it seems. There are so many factors: (mutual) attraction and interests, similar values and wants, overall compatibility and with online dating, the biggest of all, what each person is looking for. One of the biggest pitfalls of online dating, especially in this generation is it is seen and used more for hookups. If that is the route you choose to go on, great! There are plenty of options online whilst using safety precautions. My friends and I have dating apps including tinder and Hinge. While tinder is seen more as a ‘hookup’ app, it is still possible to find someone willing to go on a date. Even so, people on Hinge also ensue on the common theme of hookups only.  While these apps are proving difficult in finding a partner, there are upsides to online dating.

There is a very large pool of individuals to choose from. Dating apps have a distance setting preference in which you can choose the maximum distance a potential person can be from you. This allows for plenty of options of people not too far from you yet people you would not have met otherwise. It allows for a greater variety than everyday life may give. For example, an 18-year-old in high school may be interested in dating but suffer from a small population of individuals within their school, so they choose to go online. I myself am in university, and while there are plenty of people to meet, you can never be sure who is interested and available and plenty of people you would never have known existed can be found online. Bringing me to my next point, online dating makes it easier to show intentions.

Being on a dating app itself breaks the ice that you are looking for a romantic relationship in one way or another. In contrast, in person, sometimes intentions can get lost in translation, such as being unsure if someone is interested in a romantic relationship or sees you as a friend. You are there for that exact reason on a dating app – to date or become intimately involved with someone. Another upside to online dating is social anxiety. Seeing someone you are attracted to in person can be very nerve-wracking and challenging to approach if you should or should not talk to them (but if the timing is correct and you are comfortable, I would say introduce yourself! You never know unless you try). Again, with online dating, intentions are more transparent, so you know they are available and interested, and you can text or call before meeting in person. Circling back to the app used mainly for hookups, it can be challenging for people looking for short- or long-term relationships to find a partner.

For me personally, I am looking for someone to start a relationship with, but I find with many of the men I match and message with, they are only after hookups which can be discouraging. It can be disheartening when you get along with someone and have an attraction to them and you two are not on the same page. It is not uncommon for texting to become sexual and explicit very fast. On the other hand, my friends who have these apps mostly for hookups have found great success. They are mostly happy with their experiences and both parties equally understand what each other want and expect consensually.

Ghosting or being deleted/ignored can also happen. In my case, when the people I am talking to realize they will not get a hookup, they will unmatch with me or do so randomly. I then get left thinking why, which can be unpleasant. Others will never message back after a time or at all. Another pitfall to online dating is the risk of fake people and accounts. On some people’s accounts, they take pictures from google or even screenshots of influencers’ social media accounts and use those as their own. Some are obvious; some are not. For example, I was messaging someone, and when they added me on Snapchat, their name was completely different than the name they put on their account. The excuses he made for the reasons were not believable. When I looked closer at the pictures, I realized someone else’s name was on them – an apparent screenshot of someone’s account. For me, this is why I ask people for their Snapchat. This way, we can accurately see pictures of each other and hear each other since tinder pictures can be deceiving and typically are the best versions of oneself.

Although online dating allows you to input specific preferences such as age, gender, height, ethnicity and more to find the most compatible group of people, it can still feel limited sometimes. However, I have a particular type of individual in mind that can be hard to find, primarily online. Therefore, my options dwindle because of how specific my preferences are. This can also be discouraging for people looking for any relationship. I enjoy meeting people in person – getting a read of them and an impression of them is much easier. Although sometimes, online dating can quickly go wrong, I stay hopeful that my person remains out there, whether it is online or not. But I know I’m doing my best and putting myself out there; I put my best foot forward to meet new people who could be my person. I tell myself as long as I am being safe, there is no harm in going on a date; it is all about trial and error. The biggest thing with online dating is learning how to overcome the disappointment – whether it be someone ghosting, turning out to be someone they are not or a failed date, it takes a lot of resilience. The best way to think about it is that each failed attempt leads you closer to your person. And who knows, maybe it was the universe helping you dodge a bullet, no matter how disappointing it is in the moment. All you can do is keep trying.