Who is looking for love online? Part 2

In 1995, the first online dating site has been created. Although the arrival of these sites has been greeted with some skepticism, there are now hundreds of dating sites and they are targeting just about every specific clienteles there is: sports meeting, meetings for outdoor enthusiasts, for gays; professionals , 50 and over, etc. in short, there is something for everyone and for all categories of people.

Such a gathering of people do not go unnoticed for researchers and anthropologists. Apart from the Who? When? How? Where? With Who?  Researchers try to understand what motivates people and how far their presentation reflects the truth. If you previously did not consider online dating as the real thing, the encounters that starts online are now  part of the real life experience and this phenomenon will increase. Between 2007 and 2009, in the US, 21% of straight couples and 61% of same-sex couples have met online. On a larger scale, we say that now, 1/9 couples formed through the Internet.

Cited in The Taipei Times, Pai-Lu Wu from Cheng Shiu University and Wen-Bin Chiou from National Sun Yat-Sen University of Taiwan found that more search results on dating sites, the less they pay attention to the choice of partners. According to Chiou, a large number of prospect can be a double-edged sword.

They described the phenomenon as a “double-edged sword,” meaning that even though the users preferred to have more choices during their search for romantic relationships online, they might not be able to assess every aspect of the candidates because they would experience “cognitive overload.”Although the Internet has become a platform for users to develop intimate relationships, recent research shows that users of dating Web sites do not necessarily benefit when they are presented with a wide selection of possible dates.

A study by Chiou Wen-bin (邱文彬), a professor of education at National Sun Yat-sen University, and Wu Pai-lu (吳百祿), a professor of education at Cheng Shiu University, of 128 Taiwanese teenagers and adults who had experience with online dating showed that the participants tended to make less careful choices if they received more search results on dating Web sites.

According to another study published in 2008 in The Journal of Interactive Marketing, members of dating sites will spend an average of 12 hours  on the sites per week to view files, send requests to contacts, etc.. for less than two hours of meetings in real life. Much more time is used to search for partner versus the assessment of partners encountered. When they encounter one, the person is evaluated superficially at the expense of an evaluation where success of a real a couple would actually be estimated. Also, when the possibilities of contacts is high, love seekers tend to increase their unrealistic expectations. They start looking for  Mr or Ms. Perfect, a partner that only exists in their imagination.

Truth or lie?

According to the systemic approach in sex therapy, we all have a “false self”. A facade that we erected in order to show others a socially acceptabe self. Under some  circumstances, strategically, we will show others  some aspects of who we are and we hide some other ones. Meetings on the Internet is similar and given the fact that online competition is strong, people are looking to stand out positively.

A study  from Leah Lucid in the Wesleyan Journal of Psychology: Representing the Self in Online Dating, the lies are mostly benign and are often done to avoid the constraints of the search engines.

81% of people lie about their size, weight and/or age. The lies are small because people want to meet eventually. In some ways, its sort of an embellishment of the truth. People will also mention an activity or a sport that was practice before or where the person would like to do more or they will name an activity they would like to start. Although many people would like to see people describe their “real self”, they will describe themselves as “self-ideal” as well.

Of course when the lie is too big, its not good. The greatest disappointment comes from false photos, married people who had not mentioned it, people who pretend to be someone of the opposite sex and obvious discrepancies in size, weight or age.

The anonymity of online dating sites also allows individuals with malicious intentions to exploit others.  A certain degree of caution is always advisable. When you are not sure about the intention of a prospect lover, do not keep it secret.  Many people are being ripped off financially. Pay attention when it comes to sending money, giving banking information or paying for a plane ticket or lending money for a ticket. If you are very lonely and you need love, you can be an easy target for bandits.  These people can go very far to trick you. If you are in a strange situation and you are too uncomfortable or shameful to talk to your family or friends(its not a good sign), go seek professionnal guidance.

Online dating is here to stay, some predict  it will become the norm in the future. The next article of this Online dating  Serie will be about the Netiquette of dating online. Come back soon!

Meriza

PS Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.

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