"I'm so much cooler online" and other online dating pitfalls
I have such mixed feelings about online dating. It’s how two of my sisters met their husbands, as well as a few friends I know. Even with these success stories, it just seems a little odd to me. Sure, I’ve given it a try, with interesting results. There are a few Christian sites that have a pretty good reputation that I dabbled with. The first sprint fixed me up with several guys, one of which I talked to on the phone for a while and met once, only once. (We spent a good amount of the date talking about his irritable bowel syndrome then saw a movie that he loved and I found sick and demented. Oh well.) The second time I gave it a go, I got matched up with many guys (apparently I have a great personality!) one of which was a news anchor from the town I used to live in, go figure. Generally the guys could be categorized as either super pretty boys or complete messes…neither of which work well for me. The guys that were seemingly in the middle generally seemed either way too old or way too young. And so, from my admittedly limited personal experience as well as the more extensive experience of those around me, here are some of the pro’s and con’s I see in the online dating scene.
It’s a bigger pond. I’ve always gone to very small churches, which I very much prefer. However, this type of community doesn’t lend itself to extensive options on the dating front. It seems like couples start matching up fairly young and often people get paired by default rather than true compatibility. This is probably one of the biggest draws of online dating, more selection. However, selection isn’t always a good thing. It’s important to keep strong on convictions and standards and not lower them for the sake of more matches. There is also the concept of quantity vs. quality. I found, in my short time, that most of the guys that called themselves Christians, weren’t really into the same level of commitment to Christ as I hope to have and am looking for. This made sorting easier, but also seemed like a waste of time.
Call me cheap but dating online is really expensive. Sure if you want to drop a couple hundred dollars a year with no tangible return, be my guest. However, most sites state that couples who actually get married, after meeting online, are only 1-2% of those who participate. Some might argue, “How much are you willing to spend to find true love?” But to me, those odds just aren’t enough incentive.
Just another way to get rejected and reject others. Whether being rejected or doing the rejecting, neither are fun. For some people it is probably easier because there is a sense of anonymity, but for me it always hurt just a little. I always felt bad closing a match and always felt a little affronted when they closed me. It’s the part of relationships that I like the least and with the online set up it happened more than I enjoyed. On the flip side, it was nice to be able to neatly sort through and weed out guys I had absolutely no interest in.
Here is my biggest problem with the online dating scene. Actually, it is pretty well summed up with a country song whose tag line is, “I’m so much cooler online”. The problem is that you are building an emotional connection with someone you really don’t know. That connection is solely based on their evaluation of themselves. If they are honest you may make it out ok, but who’s to tell if they aren’t telling the truth? Even once you begin meeting in person, many of the “matches” live far away, anyone can be just about anything for a day or weekend. Sure, they may actually be great, but for me there was always this (probably legitimate) caution that “not all that glitters is gold”. In fact I know of at least two cases where a guy tried to lure my friend into a relationship then asked for huge amounts of money. Thankfully, it all worked out, but that’s creepy!
If you do decide to give the online dating scene a go, there is a newer Christian site called Marry Well (marrywell.org), which seems to offer an interesting approach. It includes self assessments (similar to that of E-Harmony), but also gives a place for you to post reference letters from parents, pastors, or others who are close to you and know you well. Also, with a smaller, more targeted pool of candidates, it gives the ability for you to be a slightly bigger fish in a smaller pond. In addition they have a free membership which allows you to get started and a one time fee of about $45 which gives you full membership status until you get married (even if it takes 50 years).
As for me, I’ve had my fill of online dating, however if it’s your thing, I wish you all the best.