In 1954 Darrell Huff wrote a book entitled How To Lie With Statistics. It’s been revised a few times, but it is still in print. I’m convinced every survey, no matter how correctly designed, uses some of the principles from this work. Otherwise, how can so many studies be so contradictory?
Take the topic of Online Dating, for example. Recent headlines range from “Online Dating Marriage Success Statistics” and “Meeting Online Leads To Happier, More-Enduring-Marriages” to the other end of the spectrum which claim new studies suggest that “Couples Who Meet Online Far More Likely to Have Marriages End in Divorce.”
ALAS, ALL WE HAVE TO GO ON ARE CONFLICTING STUDIES
One thing all researchers seem to be clear about is that online dating is affecting how couples meet in the US, and how long all couples stay together. This is accompanied by an implied impression that this is having a more profound effect on society that anyone expected.
How I Met Your Mother
It wasn’t until the 1990s that anyone met online. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, about one third of all people who dated met online and slightly less than one quarter of people over 50.
Before the 21st century the primary way to meet potential mates was through social networking: friends, family, work, church, special interests. As a result, most people fell in love with, and married, people who had certain life aspects in common. One fifth of the way into the 21st century, we have opened up the meeting/dating pool to far greater diversity in race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, and so on.
Some psychologists believe bringing together more people from various cultures and ethnicities would result with more interracial couples and, hopefully, help alleviate prejudices and racism. While I believe that couples do need some things in common to be happy, I also see greater diversity as a way to enrich our lives, increase our understanding, and eat away at the prejudices that separate us by creating new links within society that didn’t exist before.
One point in favor of online dating.
Unlike the days of arranged marriages and marriages of necessity, in 2019 meeting a potential mate is the first step. And if the older methods of meeting people caused us to marry people more or less like ourselves, online dating should, and has, resulted in more diversity in marriages as well. According to the statistics of the Brain Research Institute, 1 in 5 relationships and a little more than 1 in 6 marriages begin online. www.datingadvice.com/online-dating
However, when it comes to studies about the success and duration of marriage that begin with online dating, the jury is still out. The results seem to point in all directions.
Photo Credit: The Social Firm
Photo Source: pinterest.com/pin/292452569522774655/
GIVE ME THE BAD NEWS FIRST
Because experiences with online dating vary, some people are satisfied and others not. Everyone claims there are Pros and Cons to meeting potential dates and/or mates in this manner. I have some good news and some bad news.
The Bad News First – The Negatives
● If you’ve never done anything like this before, it may create feelings of discomfort and take time to get used to.
● It’s a crowded digital space, and it can be exhausting having to weed out the good from the bad.
● The choice of partners can become confusing and overwhelming, or disappointing.
Online daters can get stuck endlessly "shopping" for the perfect partner, rather than actually starting a satisfying relationship. Having choices is great, but keep them manageable.
If you want an actual face-to-face dating interaction, don't get stuck endlessly "browsing" online hoping for someone better to come along. Narrow your search to a small location, or a certain set of "make-or-break" features, characteristics, interests, -- whatever is most important to you. After your narrow it down, rather than just "shopping", talk to those who make the list.
For men, on average, only about half of your initial emails will get a response. From there some women will drop off and only a smaller percentage will meet up for a date. For attractive women in their 20’s, so many emails may come in that it is overwhelming.
● Many men online are not seeking a meaningful relationship.
“One of the big problems with online dating for women is that, although there are genuine relationship-seeking men on the sites, there are also plenty of guys on there simply looking for sex. While most people would agree that on average men are more eager for sex than women, it seems that many men make the assumption that if a woman has an online dating presence, she’s interested in sleeping with relative strangers.”
● It can be difficult to stick to one site, making the experience stressful.
● Sitting on a computer and interacting via email can get boring and disappointing, particularly if you are just waiting for responses.
If you go out to a bar to meet women (even if you get shot down 1,000 times) you can still feel productive. At least there you’re developing your social skills.
● Evaluating a match is hard without any physical interaction.
Psychologists warn computer-mediated communication may have an artificial and unemotional quality since it can be harder to evaluate a potential match online where you cannot pick up on cues and features that build attraction, like touching and body language. We pick up a lot of information with our physical senses.
Cartoon by Bill Whitehead
Cartoon Source: https://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/o/online_dating.asp
● Matching is a difficult process and testing may not be accurate for everyone.
I assume “computer matching” is likely to identify clearly incompatible matches, but could possibly overlook potentially good partners in the process.
“I said I’m looking for a date who is soft, sweet,
and a little bit nutty. They matched me with a
loaf of banana bread.”
Cartoon Credit: Randy Glasbergen
Photo Sourse chinalovematch.net/magazinearticle
Why are you not surprised? Online dating sites will admit many users lie on their online dating profiles. Men users most commonly lie about age, height and income, whereas female users lie about weight, physical build and age. Women pick the most flattering picture possible which may not represent the current reality.
● Your best chance is still meeting through a friend.
Despite everything, eHarmony states that statistics currently show you are more likely to meet “the one” by being introduced through a mutual friend. In fact, that’s how 63% of Photo Source: married couples met their spouse.
Now The Good News – The Positives
The primary rationale of online dating is meeting potential partners [for just hooking up, dating to have fun, dating with the intent of getting into a relationship, dating with the intent of finding a longer term partner, spouse, companion, mate] for subsequent person-to-person contact. In that respect, online dating serves its purpose in the 21st century. In my opinion, the positives are fewer in number but compelling in quality. They include:
● There is no longer as much social stigma to meeting online.
● Meeting online is easy and convenient.
To quote one site: “You can connect with women without having to bother with things like putting on pants.” [Clearly written by a man]
● Meeting online saves time.
Dating takes time, and in today’s world some people who want a relationship don’t have the time for endless dating to find a companion. Why waste time on relationships that eventually will not work.
Cartoon by Out There By George;' Photo source: www.toonpool.com/cartoons
Such matching can help guide individuals toward dating partners who may be more compatible. Gone are the days of sitting through awkward blind dates–most dating sites use personality tests to guide users toward their best match.
● Dating online gives access to people you might not have ever crossed paths with.
Online dating allows people to connect with a much larger dating pool which is no longer limited to the people you went to school with or live near, or friends of friends. It dating allows you to meet and connect with people you probably never would have met without the Internet. If you’re interested in a particular type, orientation, and lifestyle or live in a rather isolated area, online dating gives you access to more potential partners.
● Meeting online allows screening and reduces risk before investing effort, money, and time.
As crass as that sounds, it’s true. Face-to-face dating takes a certain level of commitment you may or may not want to invest in. And if you are shy or not socially inclined, the risks of dating may seem overpowering.
● The odds are pretty good.
One out of five relationships start online [the percentage may be debatable, but it’s close]. Such computer-mediated communication allows for safe and convenient interaction, without much risk or time commitment. For the busy professional, or the safety-conscious, such communication is an excellent way to "test" potential partners.
Now The Really Bad News - A Word of Warning
Be careful! Don’t let infatuation or anything else cloud your thinking. There are a lot of nuts and predators out there. The dating sites and surveys don’t address this – quite the opposite: they run from it -- but dating online can be dangerous and requires the application of good sense, which is often in short supply, young or old.
According to Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, a UK-based non-profit, “actual physical attacks are only part of the picture. Online dating is also the source for financial and other scams [such as obtaining your financial data] that cause emotional trauma … I honestly believe there is a lot more that the online dating companies can do” to protect users … No dating company has ever approached this organization for a conversation about safety.” Instead, he claims, when he tried to talk to them they are “very defensive” on the issue. https://qz.com/dangerous-online-dating
Recent data from opinionmatters shows 53% of people lie on their profiles. Most of them – such as lying about age or using younger pictures -- fall into the category of “white lies” which won’t hurt anyone else, although they may jinks the dating. However, predators who lie can be very convincing. Things are not always as they seem, even after a surprising number of dates.
Cartoon by: SHIERS Jr. Creativet; Photo source: www.courierherald.com/safe-online-dating
Retired Toronto Police sex crimes detective, Suzanne Kernohan says online dating provides a new hunting ground for sexual predators. “Don’t be afraid to sit down at the table and say, ‘Okay, this might sound silly but I don’t know who you are. Can I have a look at your driver’s license?’”