If you’re single, you’ve likely been asked, “Have you tried online dating?” Those who make this suggestion usually mean well––the stigma has been erased, a lot of people have found “their person” online (in 2017, 19 percent of brides said they met their spouse online), and it seems to be what all the kids are doing.
I’ve tried it twice. I worked (and-reworked) the perfect profile, swiped right on men who prioritized professional headshots over car selfies, and agreed to numerous blind dates. But I eventually logged off and deactivated my account because I realized that dating the old-fashioned way was a better fit for me than the 21st-century model. And if that means I never find “my person,” it’s okay.
Here’s why I’d rather die alone than date online.
It’s Transactional, Not Relational
One of the reasons online dating attracts users is the ease with which you can analyze your options from the comfort of your couch. You can sort and arrange by a variety of preferences—age, height, weight, race, occupation, hobbies, location, past marital status. Just open your app and choose what qualities you find most attractive.
While being able to select someone best suited for you based on location, age, religion, or your “must haves” is important, there is a negative side to so many options: the process can become transactional, not relational. CNN reported that “the ease with which people can sift through profiles––and click on to the next one––may lead them to ‘objectify’ potential partners and compare them like so many pairs of shoes.”
This is the downside of the online dating market. While it reveals countless options, it also gives you permission to treat potential matches as disposable. It’s difficult to assign inherent value (regardless of compatibility) to a profile, and dating sites can’t hold you accountable. You can easily dismiss potential matches if they don’t check every box because you believe more options are waiting behind that swipe.
But does more choice lead to more dating success? No, increasing your odds has unintended consequences. Psychology Today says dating multiple people doesn’t increase your odds of marriage because it often leads to a “decreased desire to commit to a single partner.”
Online dating is the poor man’s version of ABC’s “The Bachelor.” You’ve got a lot of options, but no fame. You know going in that you’ll likely have to date a lot of people who are also dating a lot of people. And the end result may be never finding someone who wants to commit or is confused about commitment, because options.
There’s No Accountability
If you aren’t the unicorn that can find your future spouse within the first few blind dates, then it’s likely you’ll suffer being ghosted––the very common phenomenon of spending a significant amount of time with a potential match, only to have him or her cut off communication for no apparent reason.
Even eHarmony, one of the first companies to monetize online dating, finds the problem so common that it has advice on how to process the emotions you may experience as a result: “Maybe they had an emergency, maybe they didn’t feel the connection… maybe a million things, but that is all about them. YOU are still worthy… and sometimes the Universe takes away what you think you want to make room for what you actually deserve.”
To be fair, ghosting isn’t confined to the online dating market. This can happen in the real world too, but the built-in accountability makes it less of a threat. If they already know you, they probably care about you as a friend and will seek closure by clarifying their feelings. You may also have mutual friends who will hold everyone accountable by threatening to spread a word of caution to future potential matches if neither of you respects the other. The fear of being that person inspires good behavior.
Outside the spotlight of established relationships, people are more likely to give in to selfishness and cowardice. This is why it’s likely that at some point in your online dating experience, you may fear that your love interest died. Just know that he or she is probably fine, and you were just ghosted.
It’s a Full-Time Job
Go ahead, google “online dating fatigue” and you’ll see a plethora of articles on how to handle not just the emotional stress of online dating, but also the time commitment. One woman talked about the importance of determining compatibility as soon as possible, especially when you have a busy schedule. “When I was juggling up to six different dates with six different men in a week, I learned that I had to be decisive,” she wrote.
Don’t get me wrong, dating should take time. If your purpose for dating is to find a spouse—one of the most important decisions you’ll make—the search should take time and effort. But those who experience online dating success are typically willing to go on a lot of mediocre blind dates in order to experience one good one. We are talking about scheduling coffees, dinners, and other weekend activities around an already busy life, and often to the detriment of current relationships with friends and family.
Let’s break down the time commitment: you have to build a profile, filter through matches, correspond for a few days to determine if this person says he or she is who he or she says, coordinate schedules, meet up for a blind date, then rinse and repeat. Remember, most are doing this with multiple people.
This isn’t the case when you go on a date with someone you know. Think about it: before you ask, you already know if you like this person enough to see if there’s something more. You have enough information to know if it’s a good investment to get to know this person better, so you can just skip to step four (schedule coordination)!
Online dating works for a lot of people, and I think that’s great. It doesn’t work for me. I’m not someone who can go on dates with men who are dating a lot of other women, being ghosted is hurtful, and it’s exhausting to talk to and meet people I’ll never see again.
If this is true for you, know that you can say no to online dating with the reassurance that it’s not your only option. People still meet at work, through mutual friends, or via walking their dogs in the park. It may just take a longer wait.