With online dating suffering from a number of common misconceptions, we’re here to set things straight. Read on to find out how it REALLY works.
It was inevitable that online dating would become as popular as it now has. With the internet proving a prime driver in so many areas of our lives–communications, information, social interaction, etc.–the dating game can never hope to remain exclusively in the “real” world. Online dating is becoming more and more popular all the time, with thousands of people across the globe turning to the web to solve their relationship woes.
What online dating is
There are so many different types of online dating sites. The principle is generally the same, but there may be small differences in execution. Some are free, for example, and some you need to pay for before registering. Some are managed by dating professionals who run a tight and well-organized ship, whereas others are little more than chat rooms within a loosely defined “dating” environment. Obviously, you can expect more success with some of these alternatives than others, but they all have their place. [Read: 9 social media sites to use to snag yourself a date]
What online dating isn’t
Unfortunately, the humble online dating site has suffered from a number of negative associations in recent years, which only serves to put some people off the idea–people who may have otherwise benefited from signing up.
To attempt to restore balance in favor of dating online, or at least give it a fighting chance, the following list describes ten of the most common misconceptions regarding these sites and why they deserve to be summarily dismissed.
#1 The aliens have landed. There is an established belief amongst many folks that the average user of the online dating site is, to put not too fine a point on it, a committed loser or utter weirdo. This is total nonsense, however. The numbers of people who use online dating services nowadays are vast, and cover a huge range of human types. And there are often very good reasons why people turn to them–convenience not the least.
Some careers are so time consuming *in the medical or teaching professions, for example* that they just don’t have time to go out and do it themselves. In such cases, perfectly normal and respectable members of the community might turn to dating sites as their only feasible option for finding a partner. [Read: 10 weird dating websites for those with unusual tastes]
#2 High and dry. Another misconception commonly bandied about concerning online dating sites is that you never get any responses. You spend all that time developing your profile, uploading photos, writing essays of personal information, and the only visitor to your profile appears to be a ball of tumbleweed!
Well, this can happen, but if so, it’s entirely down to what you’ve included in your profile. References to convictions for armed robbery, for instance, aren’t likely to go down well! A lack of photos is usually the main reason for a lack of replies, but if you tick all the boxes, there is no reason why your inbox shouldn’t be full. [Read: I used a dating site without a photo and this happened]
#3 One night only. This is another common misconception, or possibly wishful thinking in some cases, but many believe that online dating sites provide a direct line to a single night of fun between the sheets. There are sites that cover this kind of thing, but most dating sites are genuinely aimed at romance and partnership.
People who pay regular monthly fees to access a dating site are unlikely to confuse the issue, as they’ll most likely have read into it all before committing. Misunderstandings may happen on free sites, but you can usually identify and avoid these at the first hurdle.
#4 Blush factor 9! This is a big put-off for a lot of people: the embarrassment of friends, colleagues, or family members finding out about their new venture. This is fairly understandable, with all the misunderstandings surrounding online dating and how it works, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go for it.
One thing in particular that some are scared of is having people they know see their profile and ridicule them for it. However, profiles are rarely truly public, and the sites in question put in a whole range of measures designed to protect personal information. This is even the case on free sites; paid sites have a full-on Fort Knox approach to their security policies.
#5 The imperfect match. People may tell you that if you go looking online for love, you’ll never find it. It’s impossible to find a good match amongst people that you’ve never met and who exist outside of your immediate societal sphere.
Put simply, that’s a load of rubbish. This is one area where online dating sites are inherently superior to other methods of dating. The paid-for ones incorporate personality questionnaires as a standard in order to make the best match possible, and even the free ones go some way in attempting the same. This is far better than meeting some utter mismatch in a pub or nightclub.
#6 Dangerous liaisons. Contrary to popular belief, online dating sites aren’t exclusively populated by serial killers, cannibals, and sociopaths. Sure, you have to be alert to the dangers of meeting strangers as you do in any other area of life, and take the same precautions, but you definitely shouldn’t let the paranoid misconceptions of the irreparably timid hold you back.
Just use your common sense. If things progress to the meeting-up stage, make sure you pass on a record of your whereabouts to a friend or family member, and otherwise enjoy the experience.
#7 All that glitters. Another misconception about dating sites is that half the people on them aren’t actually who they seem to be. Using photos of people they know or those gleaned from the web, they adopt a whole new persona for some weird little thrill. Well, yes, these people do exist, but you can usually spot them quite early on. Additionally, these types belong to the casual dating scene, and rarely make an appearance on serious online dating sites. [Read: How to catch a catfish – online fakers revealed]
#8 Time to see the bank manager. A lot of people are put off by the cost of an online dating site, but in reality, you can pay whatever you want to pay–from free to exorbitant. It all depends upon what kind of experience you’re after, but they all have something to offer for someone, irrespective of how much you have to pay.
#9 Different planets. It’s too unnatural an environment, some people will argue, and you can’t possibly get to know someone properly over a computer screen. Yet how can extended conversation carried out over weeks by online written message be any worse than a half-heard conversation in a nightclub? This misconception does not hold any logical value whatsoever.
#10 Forked tongues. It’s true that people might try to blow their own trumpets a little too much on an online dating site profile, much as they would on a resume. They might exaggerate their career achievements, their lifestyles, and their abilities, and you’d hate to find out it was all so much hot air once you’re already in an established relationship.
However, it’s not as common as you may think. Most people who subscribe to dating sites really are making an effort to find true romance and would hate to spoil that with a badly-judged fib or two further down the road. And anyway, that isn’t any different to any other kind of dating!
If you’ve been dabbling with the idea of using the internet to end your run of singleness, then why not give online dating a go? Don’t let the misconceptions put you off what has become a perfectly viable way to play the dating game. It may just be the missing piece in your relationship jigsaw.
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David Cullen is frequently described as erudite, insightful and witty – but only by himself and only after several large glasses of Rioja....