Love is a fundamental human need. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that at a social level, the need for emotional relationships drives human behaviour. In order to avoid loneliness, depression and anxiety, it is important for people to feel loved and accepted by other people. Personal relationships with friends, family and lovers play an important role. Previously, people met their significant others through their social circles, or work/school. Nowadays it is becoming more and more common for people to meet online. With smartphones and the rise of apps and websites such as Tinder and OK cupid, it is becoming easier for people to be social and meet potential partners from the comfort of their own home. The stigma around online dating has diminished. More and more of us have outsourced our love lives to algorithms.
Before you throw caution to the wind and jump onto a dating website there are a few things that you need to consider:
1. People lie on their profiles.
This would hardly come as a surprise to anyone. It is incredibly easy for people to give false information or to portray themselves in an inaccurate way in the online space. The hit TV show “Catfish” highlights this. The TV show follows the journey of couples who have online relationships but have never met in person. The story often goes that their significant other is hiding something important or that they aren’t at all who they said they were.
2. Be aware of possible scams.
The internet can be a fantastic tool, however, if you don’t keep your wits about you, you can fall victim to a scam. This is the same for the online dating space. Although we would like to think that everyone is genuine – they are not. There are things that you can do to protect yourself. Set up an anonymous email account that you use to sign up to dating sites, never give out your phone number or address. Use your common sense and trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably is. It is important to have a healthy degree of skepticism.
3. Not all relationships last.
Approximately 33% of people who are using online dating haven’t even been on a date with someone that they have met online. The chance of meeting someone that you want to marry, who in turn wants to marry you is quite small, therefore making a high percentage of online relationships “failures”. Research has also shown that couples who met online are nearly 3 times as likely to divorce. My point here, is that it’s important to keep in mind not all relationships, whether they were initiated online or not, last. Relationship break downs can be incredibly difficult and painful, so it is important to prepare yourself and ensure that you prioritise self-care and develop a good support network should things go sour.
4. Online dating can make you picky and judgemental.
When you’re spending hours swiping through potential matches and there are literally hundreds of people to choose from, you can fall victim to becoming picky and judgemental – making an assessment of someone based on merely a couple of pictures. Research has shown that reviewing multiple candidates causes people to be more inclined to dismiss a not-quite-perfect candidate, than they would be during a face to face meeting. It is important to have an idea in mind of what you’re looking for, and make sure that your method of selecting a potential partner is reflective of this.