Magnetic Partners

What pulled you together maybe pulling you apart.

The Pros and Cons of Online Dating

Is online dating killing romance?
Stephen J. Betchen
This post is a response to Letting Go By Holding On: Unresolved Family of Origin Issues and Alzheimer's Disease by Stephen J. Betchen, D.S.W.

I just ran into my buddy Andy at a restaurant-—the kind of hip place you'd take a first date to impress her. Knowing he'd gone through a difficult divorce—one he didn't really want—I was pleased when he immediately introduced me to his new girlfriend, Carol. In my zeal to find out as much about Andy's good fortune as possible I innocently asked: "So, how'd you two meet?" No big deal right? Wrong. Andy and Carol turned to one another and began mumbling something indecipherable for what seemed to be an eternity. Realizing I stepped into something awkward I thought to myself: OMG they met in prison; or on a street corner. After a few seconds passed and all of our skin tones returned to a normal light pinkish color Carol responded: "Well, uh, we met online...that's right...online...yeah...on the computer." Okay, so it was a pretty good impression of Annie Hall, but why all the fuss? Isn't online dating the rave? Why are people embarrassed to admit they use this remarkable invention?

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Most people I've interviewed prefer online dating to the bar scene because online dating offers a better chance of getting a first date. Post a reasonably attractive picture, sell your life's resume, and wait for the solicitations to pour in. A few e-mails and a telephone call or two will allow your personality to work for you—a real plus. In the bar scene it's all about your looks; you don't have the luxury of putting your best picture out there because—you're out there—in the flesh. And if you don't physically appeal to your target objective, forget about it; it won't matter if you've got Anderson Cooper's personality.

Many claim that online dating also reduces the odds of being humiliated. Makes sense; it's easier to endure rejection from afar rather than have someone laugh directly in your face. FYI: my female clients claim that it‘s a must for a woman to have a terrific picture to get online attention but it's not as important for a man to have one. This makes sense in part, because men tend to be more visual. But I do have a friend who refuses to post a picture for professional reasons and he rarely gets any reponses. In fact, one woman admonished him for not posting a picture: "If I have to put one up there you should to," she said.

Online dating is also convenient, or I should say as convenient as you'd like it to be. A female friend of mine would only date men who lived a minimum of one hour away—she liked the anonymity. Call me a wimp, but I get exhausted just visualizing a two-hour drive home in the wee hours of the morning following a date. Neverthless, most people tend to date someone within a few miles of their home. One woman told me that she loves dating a guy who lives close by because she can see him almost any time she wants without a "big production."

Another convenience of online dating is that you don't have to leave your house to get a date; kinda like Netflix® don't ya think? No need to drop a pound or two and drag yourself to a Happy Hour or a meet-up group. Nope; just a couple of taps on your keyboard and presto: Janine appears on your screen to tell you that she loves to laugh, isn't needy, loves her children more than life itself, and can find time to fit you into her mind-boggling schedule.

Online dating is also faster than waiting for your best friend to fix you up with her cousin, or someone from her yoga class. Heck, you don't even have to grieve a death or divorce; just jump right back in the mix and sort them out as you go along; sounds like take-out doesn't it?

And therein lies the problem from my perspective. Like anything else in life online dating has its pros and cons, but it's too damn fast, and when something comes too fast and comparably easy, we don't trust it—it can't be a good thing—it can't be authentic. Relationships should be less predictable and worth waiting for. We have too much control over a romantic process and in turn, we're killing the romance.

There was a time when you had to send couriers from your castle to your mate's castle and wait a month or so for a response. In the not too distant past there was a time when you had to mail a letter and wait two or three days to hear something; there was a time when you had to get off your ass and drive somewhere. Now you can order your partner over a machine.

I know online dating is necessary in our crazy fast-paced world; I, too, think it beats the bar scene; and I know your friend the tax attorney may not be able to fix you up until tax season is over; just sayin: I knew there was something disturbing about the Jetsons.

 

Stephen J. Betchen, D.S.W., is the author of the book Magnetic Partners.

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