The internet, as we know it, came into our lives to help deliver content and make information more accessible to everyone. And since it started being widely commercially available to the general public, it has become a staple in our lives. We depend on it for recipes, directions, and nowadays, to find love through online dating.
When internet dating first started, it was considered a faux pas, only for people who were fat, ugly, and socially inept. Thus, nobody – at least openly – wanted to be a part of it. And those who were secretly in on internet dating, upon finding the love of their lives, had an unspoken agreement with their new beau that “they met at a party” (details to be sorted out later).
Initially, online dating opened up new possibilities. The theory was that it can lead to more romantic happenings between people because now, potential star-crossed lovers who were either A) living so far apart that a real-life meet was next to impossible, or B) whose schedules were so different that the chances of them happening upon a place simultaneously and making eye-contact were virtually zero, had a fighting chance.
However, over the past few years, online dating has, ironically, become counter-productive to finding love. This has happened not by design, but more due to unintended consequences in the structure and nature of online dating. Changes within our culture have exacerbated these changes.
Over the next little while, I will discuss four reasons why online dating actually prevents one from finding the love of their life. Each reason will be part of a four-part series. Here now, I present to you the first:
1) It Encourages Impossible Checklists
Think about how you met your friends. I’m 99.999% sure this happened through a real-life meet. When you met your friend, you were strangers. But eventually, something clicked, something brought you together; it could have been a mutual interest, a mutual disdain, or a shared experience.
Now think about how you meet potential mates online: you peruse profiles. You’ll scroll through some pictures, looking for someone good-looking. So firstly, you’re relying on a strong physical attraction. Which you may think is no different than in real life, true. But I would argue to a lesser degree. I’ve had an ex with whom I wasn’t initially attracted to, but through talking, bonding, an attraction built itself over time.
This biggest problem, however, is the written profile.
Let’s assume you’ve scrolled through profiles, and on page 7 you have happened upon someone you want to bang silly. Let’s read what they’re all about!
“One of my favourite things in life is music. I love all genres, except for classic rock, never understood it.”
“What??? Have you EVER listened to a Pink Floyd album??? Ugh….NEXT.”
And so there goes a potential connection. What could have been, will never happen, lest they meet in real life and hit it off. All because someone didn’t like classic rock.
You may be thinking to yourself “Naw, I could understand that. If I meet someone who likes the new blu-ray George Lucas edits to Star Wars, it’s over.” No way. Non-negotiables are restricted to characteristics: humour, chivalry, ambitiousness, etc. And yes, I’ve dated women who hated something that I said was so sacred to me that I’d never consider the prospect of regular sex to keep with said principal. Let me tell you, that principal went out the door, so that her clothes may hit the floor. I argue it’s the same with everyone else.
The idea of trying to find love by reading profiles has encouraged us to develop checklists that are next to impossible to meet. In terms of physicality, we’ll look for certain features in potential mates: in men, a broad jaw, dimples, nice eyes. In women, nice boobs, slender face, dazzling smile, and probably nice boobs.
In terms of personality, we’ll look for common interests: jogging, long walks on the beach, cooking, and so on, and so forth.
In retrospect, looking at the checklist I had in my head, and measuring the girls I’ve dated against it, I would have never been with them had I been keeping score. And on the flip side, I’ve dated people who, on paper, were a great fit, but upon meeting, made watching paint dry sound pretty exciting.
In my opinion, chemistry between two people will develop regardless of whether or not they meet certain criteria in our mental checklists. Online dating, unfortunately, makes us forget this.