The world of online dating is fraught with many pitfalls and perils. I have been fortunate enough to avoid most of these, since my time spent on online dating sites was relatively short before I met “The One” in a nightclub, of all places.
Not that there’s anything wrong with online dating. As a matter of fact, according to a scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, fully 35 percent of new marriages start online.
Still, those pitfalls and perils remain. Here are the five most important lessons I learned during my brief foray into online dating. Please keep in mind that these are from my personal experience, which will inevitably differ from yours. But I think the five I’ve chosen are probably pretty common among all who try online dating.
Beware the “See Your Matches For Free” Promo: This one might seem a bit trivial but trust me, if you’ve ever spent a ridiculous amount of time filling out the profile for certain online dating sites that promise you can “see your matches for free” during limited-time promotions only to discover at the end of an hour-long process that “seeing” your matches doesn’t include photos, you know what I’m talking about.
Online Dating Can Be Cruel, Even Without A Date: In the real world, you don’t just leave people you’ve spent time connecting with hanging. But in the world of online dating, it’s quite normal to invest time and energy communicating with potential partners only to suddenly never hear from them again. Just like people break up via text messaging these days, an online relationship you may have thought was budding into something can vanish in the blink of an eye.
For Many, Online “Dating” Means Easy Hookups: No, it’s not just us guys who seek out NSA (no strings attached) hookups, even on sites supposedly dedicated to romantic dating. I was shocked at how many of these women I encountered. Don’t they know about sites like Adult Friend Finder, which cater to random NSA hookups?
It’s Okay To Walk Away: I suppose this one can apply to traditional dating as well, but for some reason it took a few less-than-pleasant online dating experiences before I realized that I can end this the same as I can end any relationship that’s not going well. Like many online dating newbies, I was thrown off by the learning curve inherent in such new endeavors. Learning how to part ways respectfully and amicably took some time. But when you realize a relationship is not in the cards, it’s best not to waste either of your time. Say goodbye and move on.
People Lie: This one is really obvious, but since it’s probably the most commonly-occurring problem in online dating, it’s worth mentioning here. People lie. They lie about their looks, their availability, their jobs, their friends, their experiences- just about anything and everything. Some lies are easier than others to get away with. I had one date that lied about her height. That really confused me. What was she thinking? She knew we were probably going to meet eventually. What bothered me the most wasn’t that she wasn’t as tall as advertised, but rather her duplicitous misrepresentation.