Goldilocks and whether online dating is destroying romance

I was almost reluctant to write about this, since I’ve posted so much about my (anti-)feelings on online dating. But since it’s topical and all…

The article makes a couple of interesting points about the hazards of dating in the virtual world.

First, he writes that online dating sites sell the dream of finding true love, based on the premise of removing obstacles that might have stopped you from finding it before. For example, geography doesn’t matter in the internet connected world, or appearance, even. Online allows you to put your personality first, and your looks second.

Second, that online dating often fails to deliver true love for two reasons
– Not everyone is using it to find love. Some people are using it as a way to find people who are more likely to have sex with them than if they met them in real life.
– It’s almost impossible to choose when you have so many options.

Behavioural economist Dan Ariely in his research of online dating has concluded that it is, to quote the article, ‘unremittingly miserable’.

‘The main problem, he suggests, is that online dating sites assume that if you’ve seen a photo, got a guy’s inside-leg measurement and star sign, BMI index and electoral preferences, you’re all set to get it on à la Marvin Gaye, right? Wrong. “They think that we’re like digital cameras, that you can describe somebody by their height and weight and political affiliation and so on. But it turns out people are much more like wine. When you taste the wine, you could describe it, but it’s not a very useful description. But you know if you like it or don’t. And it’s the complexity and the completeness of the experience that tells you if you like a person or not. And this breaking into attributes turns out not to be very informative.”‘

The article goes on to talk about the difference between love and sex, but you can read it for yourselves.

As far as it goes, I agree that online dating in offering greater choice, raises hope of greater success which inevitably creates a greater chance of being greatly disappointed.

I do also think that we probably put too great an expectation on a life partner to completely fulfill us that is unreasonable, and makes it less likely we’ll ever meet anyone who is ‘good enough’. But I don’t think love and sex are mutually incompatible in modern life.

Dating isn’t a science or a logarithmic problem to be solved. Dating is like being Goldilocks and trying the porridge until you find the one that is ‘just right’, hopefully, without being chased off by bears…

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