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Personal Note

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.

https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/06/the-virtues-and-downsides-of-online-dating/

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.

Please click on “Join the discussion” button and share your comments below.
They will likely help others gain insight or possibly even validation.
Whether you’re using online dating apps or not, your perspective is important and deeply appreciated.

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About Linda

Linda Salazar

Author Linda Salazar

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Lauren says:

    Thanks! Great article! You did a great job talking about the general trends and also the emotional experience of it.

  • Christian says:

    I really liked it. Especially the second paragraph of Perceptions and Conclusions. Pretty spot on.

    • Linda Salazar says:

      Thanks, Christian! Appreciate you honing in on that 2nd paragraph. It really can be quite a tug of war going on for people.
      Understandably so!

  • Cynthia says:

    I found the article insightful, well-written and unbiased while offering information on what someone could expect from online dating. As someone who tried online dating off and on throughout the years, I found the information to be validating of my own experience. I felt less alone in my experience. I especially felt heard when reading about other women’s experiences in potential scammers and was surprised to read that no men had reported experiencing female scammers. Much like how the article details, I have felt like a commodity in the online dating world, where it is easier to have more product readily available and more easy to dismiss. It wasn’t until reading this article that I was able to put accurate words to my experience though. This article should be read by more and the topic of online dating should continue to explored.

    • Linda Salazar says:

      Cynthia! Thank you so much for your detailed comment. I’m so glad it helped in having you feel less alone in your experience.
      That’s one of the feelings that I wanted for people going through this dating process. I’m grateful the article was able to help you find the accurate words for your experience. I wish you all the best and yes, this topic needs to continue being explored!

  • Marcia says:

    What most impressed me about this article is that when the initial optimism wore off for many, they found themselves rewriting their profile quality to increase the quantity of responses. I certainly support Linda’s suggestion to be at ease with the process of online dating, minus any expectations, while still being true to who you are. Anything done in haste will attract flaws so just take your time, be mindful, have fun exploring, and let your truth shine.

    • Linda Salazar says:

      Thank you, Marcia, for your comment! And yes, it was disheartening to learn about the desire to change the profile with the hope for better results. Love your words of wisdom – ..”take your time, be mindful, have fun exploring, and let your truth shine.” Well said and may others follow your advice!

  • Ulyssa Preiss says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article, Linda! I met my husband on OK Cupid. It was my first dating experience after leaving a very unhealthy 28 year marriage. It worked for me because I was not looking for a serious relationship, and was just dipping my toe back into the relationship realm and wanted to meet people in the area I had moved to. I agree that if you can relax and enjoy the process and not get too attached to the outcome of every date or meet up, you won’t end up feeling discouraged and heartbroken. No one can predict how or when we’ll meet our special person, so I say, just relax and enjoy the ride.
    In retrospect, I wish I had the knowledge that I learned about myself in the Heart Line class. It would have saved me time in knowing what I need in a love relationship and knowing what’s not going to work for me. Knowing about my heart line has also helped me navigate getting my needs met in my new marriage, as well. Tools like Hand Analysis and the Heart Line Class have been invaluable in helping me navigate the challenges and stresses that life and relationships, in particular, have presented. Thank you again, Linda for your guiding hand and heart.

  • Linda Salazar says:

    Oh Ulyssa, thank you so much for your incredibly thoughtful comment! I know the journey you’ve been on and your ability to allow yourself to relax through the whole online dating experience that led you to the wonderful marriage you have today is so well deserved. Thank you for expressing how the Heart Line class and Hand Analysis has made a difference in your life. I’m deeply grateful for you.

  • Ri says:

    What I love in this article is the HUGE reminder that we don’t know what the other person has going on in their lives…therefore none of the crappy experiences while online dating should be taken personally! I online dated for many years off and on, including during the pandemic. It’s easy to get sucked into feeling not great about yourself when it feels full of rejection. But, the importance of being able to clearly see that, “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.” BINGO! This is it right here. It’s a flip of the coin of hating the process or just having fun with it.
    Well written, Linda!

    • Linda Salazar says:

      Ahhh, thank you, Ri! I’m so glad the last paragraph in the article hit home for you. I so appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts here!

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