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Online dating; the positive and negative effects
The term ‘Online Dating’ refers to the use of dating websites for finding potential romantic partners. These websites require the user to create their self-descriptive profiles which will help them to find potential partners. Hence, self-presentation and impression management plays important roles in finding potential partners online. According to selective self-presentation theory dating website users can make use of advanced technologies to control their image presentation and opinions. They can take the desired amount of time to build their profile with the help of their cognitive resources and create a strategic self-presentation of themselves.
The image shows a user finding her potential romantic partner on a dating website.
Some Important Definitions
Some important definitions related to online dating includes −
Dating sites − Refers to websites that enable its users to find and connect with other users whom they find attractive and would like to get involved romantically.
Conventional offline dating − Refers to people’s way of finding and connecting to romantic partners through offline or non-internet activities. This includes day to day activities where they meet people face to face or physically at various locations or occasions.
Self-election websites − These websites allow users to find their potential romantic partners on their own with the help of keywords. Example: Match.com.
System-selection websites − These websites make use of mathematical algorithms for identifying the potential partners. Example: eHarmony.com.
Hybrid websites − These websites not only allow users to find their potential partners on their own but also offer ‘suggested partners’ with the help of compatibility algorithms. Example: OkCupid.com.
Key Services of Online Dating
Three key services provided by online dating websites are −
This means a person’s exposure to wide options of potential users in the dating platform whom they would otherwise never come across. Online dating platforms consist of profiles in the form of webpages of thousands and millions of people. These profiles contain significant information about the users which can help people find suitable matches and contact them.
This refers to the kinds of communication that online dating service users may prefer. Communicating through these platforms requires use of computer-mediated communication (CMC). The process of communication is different for different online dating platforms. Some of which may use asynchronous forms of communication where the form of communicating is less personal, for example: email. Other platforms may use synchronous forms of communication which allow for more personalised communication through real-time texting, video calls which enable the users to see and hear their potential partners before meeting in person.
The image depicts a computer-mediated communication called ‘texting’
This indicates that online dating applications use certain mathematical algorithms which enables the site to find potential partners for people. These potential partners are called ‘matches’. It is assumed that these algorithms identify the ‘matches’ for a person using self reports or by way of measuring individual differences even before the two ‘matches’ get informed about each other's presence on the dating platform.
Positive impacts of Online Dating
It enables users to find someone whom they find physically attractive, who shares similar interests like them and who is willing to make an effort to meet them in person. These platforms are easy to use. They are efficient in introducing one person to many other prospective romantic partners at a single time which is not possible in a traditional set up. This increases people’s options by connecting them to others irrespective of their geographical location and other traditional settings.
Negative impacts of Online Dating
Online dating is claimed to have reduced or damaged the traditional way of finding love or meeting one’s romantic partner. Deception is a major problem. Lack of authenticity is always a probability. People can lie about their appearances, features, likes and dislikes in order to create a ‘match’. This can be very frustrating for some users. According to Pew Research, 45% of the American people who used this dating website in the year 2019 have felt frustration.
These dating platforms can also be a means for harassment especially for women. Research suggests that women under the age of 35 are constantly approached for favours even after they have clearly mentioned their disinterest.
Analysis of Online Dating
A research study has termed ‘online dating’ as ‘relationshopping’ because of the process of mate selection. This study found that dating site users find these websites as virtual markets where they have multiple options to choose from and which can be done by entering certain preferences or specifications on search boxes of the websites. This mentality has been found negatively related to commitment expectations of users and their satisfaction level.
Since communication is an important step in online dating and is mostly through digital space, there are always chances that a ‘text’ goes unanswered. This can also be termed as ‘ghosting’. This can create a feeling of rejection which shatters a person’s hope of speaking to their chosen one.
Even though online dating has created new prospects for its users in their romantic life, it does not come with consequences. People become addicted to online dating. It is also a means of different scams, harassments, violations and assaults. It creates a huge impact on its user’s mental health and impacts their self-esteem management. Moreover, it affects the digital wellbeing of people.
Q1. What do you understand about the term ‘internet dating’?
Ans. The term ‘internet dating’ is used interchangeably with ‘online dating’. This means a person making use of dating websites or applications present online in order to find a romantic partner. Some of the popular dating websites are Bumble, Tinder, Match, Plenty of Fish, etc.
Q2. Explain one consequence of ‘online dating’.
Ans. According to a study conducted in 2017 and published in the peer reviewed journal named ‘Body Image’ people who use Tinder are found to have low self-esteem. People who start using dating sites slowly and slowly start doubting their body image and develop fear of social interaction.
Q3. What do you understand about ‘positive romantic outcomes’?
Ans. Positive romantic outcomes refers to a person’s serious intentions of pursuing a romantic relationship or evaluating a romantic partner with whom they wish to get involved romantically.
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