In a time when people order everything from money transfers to groceries, holidays to higher education entirely online, it’s not surprising that many now find true love at the click of a mouse.
A decline in marriage and an increase in divorce are often blamed on web dating. FreeDating.co.uk’s founder Dan Winchester told Marina Adshade for the Sunday Times (5 May 2013) ‘the future will see better relationships but more divorce.’
He put this down to the efficiency of the matching programs employed by online dating. There is also the presence of sites like Friends Reunited, the ease of accessing porn or adult services which have changed the whole relationship market too in the past decade.
The Marketplace Web
Adshade described marriage/relationships as a market, where before the web customers would frequently settle for imperfect matches. The internet ‘brought people together, virtually, all in one place’. It generated a variety of new ways to meet new people.
The Oxford Internet Institute gave Adshade figures that revealed the breakdown of web meeting use. 50% of net-enabled relationships found each other through dedicated dating sites; 13% through social networking sites; 16% through gaming and special interest sites while instant messaging and other online services accounted for 21%.
The argument is made that people who often searched in a ‘thin market’, such as religious groups, ethic groupings, singles with disabilities or very ‘special interests’ are now served well by online facilities. This applies to all genders and preferences.
The Oxford Institute worked with eHarmony to conclude that ‘couples who met online shared more common interests such as socialising, entertainment and music, going out, community and religious involvement than did couples who met offline.’
While people are digesting all that, news comes in that Trading Standards in Norfolk and elsewhere are warning people of online dating fraud. Scammers apparently strike up a relationship online and then ask the victim to prove he or she is a real person and not a bot by making a Western Union money transfer to an account in the Philippines!
Just Like Shopping?
Micah Abrams, ’37, on the ass-end of a 10 year relationship’ described her journey through singledom: ‘dating online is just like shopping online: it’s crazy efficient. Plenty of the dates went nowhere, but none of them were “bad” dates, because I had already enjoyed a back-and-forth online that made it easy to identify who might be fun to have a drink with.’
She wrote this on Digital Trends (12 March 2013) in response to critics who argued that couples already knew too much about each other from cyberspace sources to make any relationship interesting enough to take off at the start.
She said: ‘Ultimately, it all boils down to the larger issue of what it is we’re going to do with all this technology, now that we have it. The Internet hasn’t ruined dating anymore than email ruined writing or YouTube ruined television. If you find the former impersonal, you can still send a proper letter. If you find the latter infuriating, you don’t have to watch. And if you don’t like how you’re dating experience has gone online, then go about it differently. After all, the Internet ain’t going away, and singles bars have always kinda sucked.’
Statistics Prove All Sorts
The debates continue. Successful outcomes make supporters of people; failed net relationships put participants in the opposition corner. Researching will go on in tandem with people’s own searches:
* whether men are happier to search online than women, gay or straight are more comfortable, whether it leads to better relationships but more chances for later infidelity.
Adshade concluded with pointing out that it’s all fine to consider measurable compatibles like height, weight, hair, skin, income, education, interests, it’s about the ‘experiential qualities of a partner’, such as ‘how good the person smells and how their smile makes me feel’. Can’t argue with that.
Have you any direct or indirect, publishable experience of relationships through the internet you are willing to share with our readers who are drawn from a wide social demographic?
A few posts to check out, while you’re waiting:
Life-Logging Is Not the Harmless Fun It’s Portrayed to Be, 6 February 2013
Facebook Is Bad for Your Health, But Good For Your Self-Esteem, 29 January 2013
Crazy Internet Japes Show How Crazy Some People Actually Are, 31 December 2012
Image: Ildar Sagdejev