Duggan: Online dating not as fulfilling as following traditional dating norms

By Ryan Duggan on December 7th, 2012

For many of us, it would mean actually giving our friends a call and meeting with them in person to stay in touch, having access to some encyclopedias instead of always relying on Wikipedia and perhaps even meeting our spouse in person for the first time instead of a chat room.

The last of the three is one of the most interesting. Online dating websites are thriving, claiming more than 35 million members between eHarmony and Match.com alone, as well as a $1.05 billion annual revenue. About 17 percent of marriages begin on an online dating site, and 20 percent of “serious relationships” begin there, too.

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, or maybe haven’t given up all hope on meeting someone in person, but I would hate to meet my significant other online. I’m not saying relationships that begin online are illegitimate in any way, but they just aren’t for me.

I always prefer to romanticize about my first encounter with a significant other. I want to describe to my kids how my world froze when their mother walked into the room, how she smiled at me and I mumbled something stupid, and how we were both swept off our feet.

With the Internet, perhaps I can tell them how my screen froze when their mother signed in, how she sent me a smiley icon, to which I replied with a few nervous, misspelled words, and we were both swept off our chairs.

Or perhaps for those who don’t believe in the whole love-at-first-sight thing, perhaps this scenario would be better fitting: I’d rather have that good friend who knows everything about me, who I have had many great memories with. Then, someday we both realize there is something more between us, try dating and the rest is history. We were just slow to realize what we were searching for was right in front of us the whole time.

Instead, perhaps we could chat for a while, read each other’s blogs and be longtime Facebook friends before realizing we’re more than that.

Yes, it’s a hopelessly romantic desire, but it shouldn’t be any less valid of as reason as to why people wouldn’t want to date online.

Aside from that, maybe it’s just a phase people are going through for meeting others. Before long, if not already, the Internet will be no different than the bars or any other public place.

In fact, I would go so far as to say the Internet would be a lot easier to meet people were it not for its users, who are lying about themselves. You can shape your personality and characteristics much easier online through words than you can through real actions in person. Also, people get way more time to respond online, allowing them a chance to formulate how they want to present themselves and consciously shape who they are.

Meeting someone in person may allow for misrepresentations of one’s self through nervousness, but it is still portraying exactly who they are in real time. You can get a sense of who they are right away. With online dating, you obtain a foggy perception of who the other person is, and then have to wait for a date to find out who they really are.

According to StatisticBrain.com, 10 percent of sex offenders use online dating, and 53 percent of online dating site members date others simultaneously.

I know there is potential for this in real life, but I feel that the online dating system allows for dating others simultaneously more than conventional dating. One is constantly being offered new dating opportunities through the website, and the temptation is entirely too easy to give into. In conventional dating, the process of finding new people, talking with them and eventually obtaining a date seems a lot more time-consuming and difficult than receiving emails for potential dates.

Of course, there is always the exception of the confident, handsome guy who can go to a bar on any night and find a date, or the drop-dead-gorgeous woman who can pick any guy she wants at a bar or public outing. These two might have the same ease to acquire simultaneous relationships as those using online dating, but not everyone can be like that.

Furthermore, online dating seems to make the whole process more of a business transaction for finding a significant other. You receive applications, from which you narrow it down to a few promising ones. After that, you contact them for interviews at a coffee shop or restaurant. Depending on how well they do at the interview in meeting your expectations, you either “hire” them as your boyfriend or girlfriend, perhaps ask for a second interview or go back to more applications.

Again, I know I’m old-fashioned, but online dating just seems so lackluster and not nearly as fulfilling as meeting someone in person, making the move to ask them out and then going on your first date.

Ryan Duggan is a senior English and Classical Languages major. Reach him at opinion@dailynebraskan.com

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