Online Relationships

Online Dating Magazine claims that there are more than 280,000 marriages a year as a direct result of people meeting an online dating service and although they don’t appear to qualify this in terms of the geographic extent of their statistics, it is still a surprisingly large number. It is particularly surprising in a day and age when marriage appears to be losing ground as an institution to co-habitation. However, given that the average age of online dating users is as old as 48,  it is perhaps not surprising that relationships resulting from online dating would tend towards more the traditional outcome of marriage.

Online dating has the obvious advantage of a much larger choice of potential partners compared with traditional methods of dating. It also allows people interested in finding someone online to check out the appearance, interests, beliefs and many other aspects of potential partners that might require a much greater commitment in a traditional dating environment. It is also less embarrassing to approach someone if a casual sexual relationship is all a person is after because there are websites solely for that purpose and it is clear that that is what is what one is after if one is frequenting such websites. Also, people with unusual or minority interests may find it easier to meet someone with similar interests when there is such a large number of potential partners to choose from.

The disadvantages of online dating are perhaps associated with the same reason for the advantages, namely that it is relatively easy and convenient compared to traditional dating. Going out and finding someone you might share your life with actually requires a degree of effort and social skill and emotional risk-taking that is probably lessened to some degree at least in an online setting, although it could be argued that once the date goes offline the same criteria apply. It is probably also easier to deceive someone in an online setting – putting up a picture of someone other than yourself, claiming to be someone you are not, are just more easily facilitated by the nature of the internet, although deception is an age-old phenomenon that existed long before the world-wide web. However, it would be difficult to perpetrate the level of online deception illustrated in the film Catfish in a traditional face-to-face dating scenario.

Deception is also an area that sexual predators specialise in and it has been claimed that one out of ten sex offenders use online dating to meet people  However, dating someone for the first time has always had an element of danger attached to it, particularly for women, and the same safety measures applied to online dating as should be applied to traditional dating make the difference in risk involved negligible.

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