online dating

We now live in an era where we seem to do everything online – banking, shopping, making travel arrangements and dating. That’s right, dating. While many of us still owe our relationships to an unprovoked chat in a bar or a nightclub, for others the virtual route has proven more successful, or is fast becoming the preferred option.

For some of us, the time-honoured method of approaching someone in a nightclub and dropping a carefully crafted (I hope!) pick-up line remains the first choice approach in attempting to woo a person. Not everyone is comfortable with that way of doing things, though. You might be the person who has tried to pluck up the courage to talk to someone in a bar and either made a mess of it when the moment came around or got cold feet and kept the question unasked. Maybe that’s why you’ve turned to online dating in your quest to find a partner.

No two sites are the same

While all online dating sites and apps are ultimately working towards a common purpose, namely to bridge the gap between two people who may be compatible with each other, the methodology they employ in trying to make this happen varies from one platform to the next. The selection is vast and the many different options may seem indistinguishable at first, so let’s pick out some of them and lay bare their defining characteristics.

If you like a minimalist, straight-to-the-point approach, How About We and Tinder are good options. The latter has been well publicised – it’s the app where you simply swipe left or right to judge a person’s profile. The former allows you to suggest first date ideas and is very quick and easy to set up. If you just want to get straight into it, these platforms are worth considering.

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In terms of hitting a good balance between supplying ample information without submitting your life story, Plenty of Fish and Blendr do this perfectly. If you’re really looking to find the one, the likes of OKCupid and Zoosk are dedicated to finding out as much about you as reasonably possible in order to try and pair you with a fairly precise match. Provided you’re willing to take the time and effort to complete their extensive questionnaires, patience could pay off as the quality of matches tends to be quite high, unlike more casual alternatives which could suggest a plethora of possible matches who turn out to be woefully incompatible.

EHarmony and take it to an even more precise level. The former tends to be very selective about pairing you up with other users, maybe too much so as you might not even receive a match suggestion. The latter is very comprehensive also but requires a paid subscription to contact other users – not a wonderful incentive considering that you could be paying through the nose each month without so much as setting up a date.

Why has online dating become so popular?

Let’s revisit the scenario from the opening couple of paragraphs. You see someone on a night out that looks very attractive and your heart is telling you to go over to them and start a conversation, but your head is telling you that you have no chance of wooing them and attempting to do so will only be embarrassing for all concerned.

If this situation sounds all too familiar from past experience, you’ll probably find online dating less degrading than being straight-up rejected in person. With online dating sites, you’re not put on the spot to the same degree as a face-to-face conversation. You can pause to think about your replies instead of trying to verbally keep a conversation going and stuttering like a car being driven by a nerve-wracked learner. Also, even if your attempts to start a conversation with someone come to nothing, the rejection doesn’t seem as harsh. Instead of an awkward ‘thanks but no thanks’ or even a disapproving stare, you’ll probably be told no by the other person’s total lack of response. That might seem like a bigger insult, but for those of us who take rejection to heart, this ‘letting you down gently’ approach is the lesser of two evils.

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Also, when you create an online dating profile, you can usually give a reasonably all-encompassing window to your personality before any communication is exchanged. Another user could see your interests and hobbies, realise that you both have plenty of common and latch upon those mutual interests to ease into the conversation. When approaching someone face-to-face, you don’t have this safety net. That’s a game of being savvy and smooth enough to talk the talk in extracting conversation from someone when you two know nothing about each other.

Overcoming the fear factor

Even if the online dating approach seems less daunting than going up to someone first-hand, many of us can still be wracked by conservatism when trying to start conversations on sites and apps. The fear of getting it wrong is still present in the online sphere, but try not to let it consume you. For one thing, you’re in very good company where this is concerned. It’s a situation that’s familiar to many, even those who ultimately found the perfect person for them and are in happy relationships or marriages.

I once heard a person justifying their go-for-the-jugular mentality to approaching others by saying ‘If they say no, you’ll probably never see that person again so what’s to fear? If they say yes, you could be on to something special.’ Of course it’s not as simple as that for people who are naturally cautious, but it’s not an argument without reason.

It can be hard to persist with something after numerous failed attempts, but remember that Thomas Edison made a huge volume of mistakes before eventually nailing the invention of the lightbulb. You’re worth dating and the perfect person for you will eventually come into your reach, so don’t lose faith. After all, each person who tells you no is turning their nose up at someone who is worthy of far more attention.

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Now get working on your profile and sooner or later you’ll have a date for which to prepare!

Image: flickr

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She works as a content marketing manager at an online retailer.

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