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Love Online: Dating Expert's Advice and the Love Letter Wish

Facebook is becoming both a social support and a matchmaker.

In a world that is looking for love, Facebook is becoming both a social support and a matchmaker.  A new report released by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project points out how those associated with "power users" are reaping the benefits of reaching thousands and building confidence. 

Despite questions as to whether or not technology is ruining romance and contributing to the demise of the love letter, posed by PsychologyToday blogger, Azadeh Aalai, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Montgomery College, social dating is on the rise.

"Facebook is emerging as the world's largest dating site," says Julie Spira, online dating expert. "The next generation of online dating has emerged. It's called social dating and it's here to stay." 

Meeting on Facebook and social dating tips

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Spira says:  "From typing in their name in a search, to looking up former college sweethearts, and chatting with friends-of-friends while at an airport, singles are meeting on Facebook." 

But despite the ease of connections, Spria advocates caution.

"Start off by listing your relationship status as 'Single'on your profile. It's free advertising in a large playing field. Before you start friending potential mates on Facebook, start by checking their relationship status. If their profile status is 'Single' still double-check by viewing the photos they post. If their arm is around the same person over-and-over again, enjoy your digital friendship," she adds.  

"If you've already set up a date with someone from an online dating site, compare their facts and photos on Facebook. See if you have friends in common and call your real-life friends to find out more about your date. But don't get too excited. It's a netiquette no-no to friend a date on Facebook in advance of or after a first date. You both might not be on the same digital page. Remember, you're courting, not stalking," she says.

Noting that "the new world of social dating presents the opportunity to put one's best digital foot forward and find a partner and mate in a crowded and confusing marketplace,' Spira outlines the social dating blend:

  • Flirting on Twitter
  • Friending, liking, chatting and commenting on Facebook
  • Reconnecting with former colleagues and alumni on Linkedin
  • Downloading a handful of mobile apps
  • Joining one or more online dating sites
  • Sharing TV shows, films and music on Get Glue, Netflix, and Spotify
  • Video chats

"You don't have to do it all, but the options for meeting continue to grow," she notes. "So make sure you're ready for that spur-of the-digital-moment date, as you'll be using your mobile phone to communicate."

Replacing romance and the love letter with technology

Is technology robbing couples of romance? Azadeh Aalai, Ph.D. tells us "Indeed, experts have asserted that technology has completely degraded what constitutes romance today (Heussner, 2010).

"Perhaps it isn't surprising to hear that a survey conducted in Britain found that 62 percent of respondents reported that they had never sent a love letter (Adams, 2009).

"Despite the ways that technology may be eroding romance today, this doesn't mean that our preferences are changing to match the modern age."  Dr. Aalai pointed to a study in which 70 percent of women and 53  percent of men said they would rather receive love via the written word than digital communication. Is Technology Ruining Romance?

Social dating advice

Nonetheless, social dating is today's replacement for friends and family introductions of days gone by. Spira says that "as of 2011, singles logging onto mobile apps surpassed traditional website logins. OkCupid's new location-based app, Locals, helps you meet faster in-real-life by letting nearby matches know you're in the area. Other mobile apps are on the Top 10 Mobile Dating Apps list."  Here is what she suggests:

  • Turn on your webcam
  • See who's on Facebook chat
  • Start a hangout on Google+
  • Download your dating site's mobile app and start that social conversation now.
  • Make social dating your new best friend.

Spira is the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. 

Copyright 2011 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

Follow Rita Watson on Twitter @ LoveColumnist

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Rita Watson is an Associate Fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College and a columnist for The Providence Journal.

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