It is my heart’s work to be able to support others in all their relationships – personal and professional. As a coach, I know it’s important to keep growing and learning so I can best help my clients. So, I embarked on the quest to research the experiences of people on dating sites to learn their challenges and successes.
I want to be very transparent. I have not used dating apps. I am not single. So please know that I understand it’s impossible for me to intimately know how this process feels.
Most of my conversations with those I interviewed for this article went deeper than what I could possibly include in an article. Otherwise it would have been 10 pages long. Through these conversations I felt my heart expanding as I heard the enjoyment some were experiencing, as well as the frustration from others.
The pandemic certainly has made the whole dating experience more difficult and my compassion grew stronger for those in the dating world because of this. Perhaps responses to my questions would have been different if social distancing weren’t taking place when we spoke. And now, to the article!
A Love Hate Relationship With Online Dating
“I feel like I’m being offered up as a buffet on the menu”, explained one of my friends about her online dating experiences. As a coach, my goal was to combine an understanding of how people’s experiences with dating services relates to scientific hand analysis. This is a method I use to advance clients through challenges expressed in our coaching sessions.
My objective – my true passion – is to coach people to have joyful relationships in all areas of their life. After listening to distressing stories from people with friends using dating sites, I simply had to investigate this by conducting a deeper study than what national survey statistics revealed. I decided to conduct primary research in the form of personal interviews with a group of dating app participants between the ages of 26 and 76 to better understand a deeper, emotional level of the effects of online dating.
OVERVIEW OF STATISTICS
The Pew Research Center conducted a survey Oct. 16 to 28, 2019 claiming that “30% of U.S. adults say they have used a dating site or app.” Further, the research cited that: “By a wide margin, Americans who have used a dating site or app in the past year say the experience left them feeling more frustrated (45%) than hopeful (28%). 1
What I discovered in my research were a plethora of “buffet choices”. There are over 1500 dating apps or websites. In my interviews, only 13 dating apps were mentioned. Of those, only 8 were consistently discussed.
- 100% of the men and women interviewed said they must feel a physical attraction when seeing a profile picture to have any interest in pursuing the person further.
- A whopping 90% felt misled by someone after meeting them in person: Age and appearance being the two biggest discrepancies.
- For women over the age of fifty-five who had been married with adult children, 95% of them were only interested in dating someone who had also been married with adult children. They didn’t want to be the person to break down those walls about marriage and all it entails with someone who hadn’t been married.
- Regardless of the dating platform, 30% of women experienced an outright scam attempt while the men did not.
In a nutshell, the scam went like this: The scammer wanted to meet up but said he was being deployed for the military or was getting ready to leave the country for a short time. He suggested they stay in touch getting to know each other while he’s gone, and then meet up upon his return. If the woman agreed, he contacted her several weeks or months later explaining he suddenly needed emergency money for his mother or a friend, and was having trouble transferring the funds, himself.
He then asked the woman to send the money for him, promising to pay her back. At that point, every woman realized it was a scam. Some blocked the person and others reported the scam to the company.
- Only 40% said they included what mattered most to them in life on their profile. They also said they added what they were looking for in a relationship, and felt comfortable sharing that information.
- 40% of the matches were incorrect based on the person’s profile requirements. The algorithm accounts for some of these mismatches. Details like “age range” and “geographical distance” had them mismatched with people thousands of miles away, and with ages ranging 10 – 20 years younger or older than specified on their profile.
- Most disheartening to me, was learning that 75% lowered their standards as time dragged on without any matches, dates or after several bad dates. As a coach, I perceive this to be a primary flaw of dating – online or offline – that I strive to help clients process by bringing other perspectives.
IS ONLINE DATING ALL DOOM & GLOOM?
Dating was not all doom and gloom for people using these services. 30% were in a long-term relationship or found the person they’re married or engaged to through online dating.
10% of the interviewees said they were using the online dating service for the enjoyment of meeting new people and had no specific expectations from their dates.
MY PERCEPTIONS & CONCLUSIONS: YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
When starting out, people seemed to have an optimistic feeling of finding love through online dating. But it didn’t take a lot of poor matches, bad dates or being ghosted before their optimism was being chipped away and an emotional toll started to take shape.
Those who wanted to find lasting love expressed a tug of war going on inside them saying,
“I don’t want to keep doing this anymore, it’s too depressing. But If I stop, then I stand little chance of meeting anyone.” The rejection, poor matches, and the risks inherent in the platforms, became internalized, with people commenting: “I’m starting to wonder what’s wrong with me?” “Am I that unattractive or uninteresting?” “Aren’t there any kind and respectful people out there anymore?”
A high percentage of people were willing to lower their standards and change their profile answers, hoping for a better outcome. The tendency was to remove or change certain profile information. For example, they changed “I’m looking for a serious long-term relationship and interested in marriage.” to “Looking for someone to have some fun.” Or, “Want children.” to “Okay not having children.”
A common thread in the tone of interviewees was represented in this comment: “We become a commodity on these dating sites. When we’re swiping, we’re not dealing with people. People just become a product.”
Lowering standards or representing yourself falsely just to get more dates could backfire at some point. Imagine if you really click with someone and become exclusive, or truly want to be married and have kids, and your new-found partner has been led to believe otherwise, according to your profile. That issue would have to be addressed soon.
The people I interviewed on these services were far more complex than they shared on their profiles. They were human beings full of individual life experiences. These were real people with real feelings. Some were introverted, others extroverted. Some were comfortable in their own skin; others not so much. Some had been through the school of hard knocks, while others were just starting out in this game of life. All of this can have a huge impact on the way a person represents themselves, and the results showing up for them and those with whom they interact
Even the scammers showed their internal struggle and pain that drove their need to take advantage of another human being. For those who ghosted someone, we never knew their real why. Perhaps they were suddenly hit with a tremendous fear of rejection and it felt safer to bail. Generally, this just shouldn’t be taken personally, and remembering that can make it easier to move on.
We are often all too quick to judge people’s behaviors when we never really know what’s going on in their life. No matter how harshly they’re behaving toward us – online or in person – we can always choose to treat them with kindness while maintaining our boundaries, as needed.
DEFINE YOUR OWN TRUTH
Dating services are far from perfect. There are safety considerations, people who aren’t who they claim to be, algorithm issues, fake profiles, and profiles showing up when the person is no longer on the app. These are some of the very things that can have you lowering your standards and messing with your mindset. In spite of these imperfections, it’s still part of the online experience and not going away any time soon. The less you let those things get under your skin, however, the better for you in the long run.
Ultimately, I learned what seemed to work best for people was to approach the date without high expectations and with a genuine curiosity and interest about the human being sitting in front of them. The more relaxed people were about the process, while focusing on having as much fun as possible, the more at ease they were on the dates. If they had an open mind and released previous bad experiences which could have tainted the present experience, there was less stress and frustration, and their time felt less wasted.
While using these dating apps it serves you to show up as your most authentic self. The number of swipes, matches, dates, ghosting or cat-fishing does not define the truth of who you are. You are worthy of kindness. You are worthy of respect. You are certainly worthy of love. Don’t lose yourself in order to find another. You are already a gift in the world. The other person simply becomes your bonus match.
I’ve found that incorporating Scientific Hand Analysis and knowing one’s innate emotional style to be incredibly valuable to those who gain this insight. That’s exactly why I created a “heart line class”: To help people find their unique key to how they most naturally want to give and receive love in all their relationships. Seems like it should be simple, right? Oh, heavens no! We’re complex beings and sometimes need this clarity to really thrive with enduring relationships.
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