Internet Dating, Nearly Flawless

Online dating began in 1994 with the registration of kiss.com to the Internet domain.  In 2007, Americans spent over 500 million in online dating sites making it the second highest “paid content” website on the Web behind pornography, according to brainz.org.  Since then, the industry has exploded with 40 million Americans on online dating sites.  The problem that online dating sites are attempting to fix is the lonely heart.  Those searching for soul mates with little luck or time in the real world can use this alternative to the traditional, brick-and-mortar routine of meeting people out on the streets.  Today, online dating services appeals to a wide age range and variety of people.  Online dating gives the opportunity to not only singles, but also people who have been divorced or widowed, heart broken or shy, to find their soul mate.

The immediate appeal of online dating is simple.  There is little emotional risk for the potential daters because they create profiles and do not have to meet the other daters if they do not agree to it.  This reduces the risk for blunt rejection and the sad feelings that come with being rejected.  This first screening process is extremely passive which makes it easy to be open and eliminates the first of nerve-racking step meeting someone face-to-face.  Not only is the potential rejection eliminated, but also the searchers don’t have to worry about commitment or obligation to get a number or keep in contact.

The dater is able to choose whether to take their online acquaintance to the next level by requesting their number or continuing contact.  Choice is a common theme in online dating and there is choice by the dater in almost all stages so they are in control of the situation at most times.  Similarly to flipping through a catalogue, once you see something you like, you can read the dimensions, the details, the materials, and where it’s made… and then you can order it.

The picking and choosing of profiles is not as organic in the real world.  A concern with online dating is that people lose the person-to-person aspect of dating.  Meeting people in person is a unique experience that can not be duplicated which involves human interactions and people skills.  Daters are turned into commercial items because online sites serve as a brochure of daters.  The process of meeting and dating can also create the opportunity for the dater to learn about themselves and others through interactions.  The process of matching people through online dating is also under scrutiny.  Dating sites claim to match daters based on their answers to strategically worded questions.  Algorithms are responsible for matching he to she in sites like eHarmony with their trademark Compatibility Matching System.  Love is no longer up to butterflies and cupids, but answers and algorithms.  While this may be the case, it is still the choice by the dating client to use a dating website.

People may think it is a problem that people will lie or skew their profiles to make them more appealing, but sometimes it is not a bad idea.  Yes, to a certain extent if you present phony pictures or give an age 20 years different that true, you may run in to problems in the long run, but minor buffing to present your profile in a positive attitude is effective tactic.  For example, on your resume, you need to sell yourself and make yourself standout in order to book an interview.  So when daters are trying to book a date, they need to sound appealing.

However, online dating can also potentially affect one’s safety if dangerous daters are trying to date as well.  Reports of stalkers or unusual daters have shown up on dates and independent websites designated for horror stories of first dates of online matches are evidence that you never know what you are going to get.  States have recognized the need to protect their users and in July 2009, New Jersey passed the Internet Dating Safety Act, followed by New York in 2010.  Online sites have also recently begun to implement background checks on all users after a recent lawsuit was filed against Match.com.  In the case, a woman suffered a sexual attack after a date with a man she men from the dating website.  Safety precautions for clients are a great improvement to the online dating industry.

Online dating can become costly very quickly.  Top online dating such as eHarmony and Match.com costs an estimated $60 and $35 per month.  And like any business, profits are key; Match.com reported $83.3 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2009, according to a report from FOX Business.  Further, paying site fees does not even guarantee that you will meet a person who you are looking for.  Although single seekers may contact others and go on dates, it is never certain that they are your “match.”  The massive revenues imply that the online services industry is truly booming.

Dating websites offer an amazing reward to the client.  The possibility of love in exchange for a bit of risk is entirely worth it.  Especially when that risk can be minimized by careful screening and is being protected by law and site regulation.  In the beginning, online dating was looked at as a last resort to not being able to find a partner in the real world.  Today, the Internet dating industry is responsible for one in six marriages, according to a recent matchmaking article from NPR.  And an astonishing average of 542 eHarmony members marry everyday, in the US as a result of eHarmony.  The industry is out in the open now, people avidly and successfully seek lovers openly and honestly through these online dating services.

In an ideal world, we would be able to plug all the qualities that we want in a partner into a machine and he or she would pop out of the other side.  Online dating is nearly that solution.  It is interesting to think about the future of online dating.  As Internet dating is becoming more and more popular for all ages and types, will it dominate the way people meet life partners in the future?  Of course people will continue meeting people “on the streets” in the real world through daily activities, but will the Internet be the medium that facilitates love in the future?  It sure seems like dating is turning this way as more and more Americans are low on time and effort to soul search the hard way.  Whether Americans stay single or chance their luck in cyber space, online dating is here to stay.

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3 Comments to “Internet Dating, Nearly Flawless”

  1. This essay that you have written is a very well thought out and explained essay. I really enjoyed the fact that you decided to discuss online dating, because you make great points throughout your essay. One, yes they have become very popular. When you watch the television at night, you almost always see an advertisement for online dating. Whether it be match.com, or even eharmony, but the dating sites are becoming more greedy for money, and very smart with the way that they advertise a lot of their services.
    The paragraph where you discuss the stalkers and unusual daters makes people hesitant to join such online dating, but in my beliefs, if you know the person and have been talking to them for some time, and they have pictures of themselves, it can possibly be alright. Maybe if anything, when you meet the person from online you should have someone come with you, just in case.
    I would like to say that online dating does help though, because one of my relatives actually went online there, and found a lot of matches after recently becoming divorced with her husband. Though a lot of our family members had our speculations, we were right by the fact that it does help, and you can find love somewhere, it just takes time and a lot of effort into getting to know someone. I really enjoyed this essay and liked how you explained a lot of the online dating services and how it has blossomed into becoming so popular, and also the risks that you should take once you start online dating. Overall, this is a well put essay! Great job!

  2. Online dating sites have provided a service that creates positive outcomes to many people in our nation. From companies like eharmony and other well known dating services have concocted an alternative way of meeting someone and avoiding the shame of rejection. I enjoyed this piece as it has opened my eyes to of understanding those who choose to join online dating services. I actually have friends that have met their significant others through dating services and live happy and content lives. But there is always a handfull that create controversy and thats where we as a nation should just live with acceptance and not try to analyze everything. We all live in a country that is described to give us freedom to choose what we please with our lives, and I agree with your ending, “online dating is here to stay” because there are just so many individuals who are exploring this mysterious side of dating.

  3. Need someone a female

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