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Has online dating made us more cynical?


During a recent lunch with friends, a few of whom as are single, one of them was telling us about his recent date with a girl he met on Tinder. “Yes, it went well. She was nice, funny and we had a lot in common. I’m pretty sure we won’t both seeing each other again.” At that last line I nearly spat out my mouthful of salad (OK, cheeseburger). Surely if you like someone, and you get along, what’s the problem? The other single people in the group simply nodded in agreement with his statement. Apparently, with online dating, there are just too many more fish in the sea to settle for ‘nice’. But is this really the case?

A meta analysis of over 400 surveys concluded that the modern world of online dating generally makes people more ‘picky and unrealistic’. I’m not saying picky is a bad thing – but it stands to reason that if you have an entire catalogue of singletons at your fingertips you’re not going to settle for second best. I’ve even heard that, statistically, you apparently have to go on 39 online dates before you meet the person who you are happy to settle for. Just ‘nice’ means most people get straight back on the swipe. (I admit, I do the same with sale dresses online.) However, I can’t help but think this is making an entire generation of single people more cynical.

Upon further discussion with friends who are serial online-daters, I was amazed at their confidence in ditching potential partners for various (rather amusing) reasons. One friend said that if the person doesn’t look exactly like their profile picture, they make an excuse and leave immediately. Another said if they didn’t know films inside out, which they claimed to like, then they would never contact them again. Another said that saying you have a pet (when it actually lives at your mum’s house) was an absolute no-no, and refusal to look you in the eye within 5 seconds meant instant dismissal. These sounded like fairly harsh criteria to my old-fashioned ears, but why not? If you have an inbox full of admirers, maybe the next one might be just that bit better?

In many ways it’s not surprising that online daters are cynical. One survey revealed that 81% of people admitted that they had lied on their online profile. The biggest exaggerations came in the form of height and weight, according to the survey, but I have had friends who have gone on dates with someone who is an entirely different person to the one in their profile picture. Not a great start.

Another survey looked at whether people actually bother to read carefully-constructed profiles about the person. According to the survey results, men spend 65% more time looking at photos than women do, and women spend 50% more time actually reading the profiles. Perhaps in a busy modern world, with little time to spend on these things, people just move onto the next one if things don’t work out (unlike old-fashioned dating, where you may be more invested in the rendez-vous if you had previous knowledge or a social connection with someone else). Plus, it’s a possiblilty that most people don’t expect things to work out. A survey in 2014 concluded that people who meet online are more likely to break up than those who meet offline. Stats like that could put a bit of a dampner on things.

On the plus side though, an online survey in the US said that couples who do marry after meeting on dating sites are less likely to divorce. This is good news indeed – but maybe the thought of going on another 39 online dates is just too exhausting.

What do you think? Has online dating made you more cynical? Have you met the person of your dreams online, or have you got some hilarious tales to tell? Join the discussion on our Facebook page, and don’t forget to have your say in paid surveys at Opinion Outpost UK.

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