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Advice for a reader: Should you give up on online dating?

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Jessica Downey

Coffee addict. The serial single girl. Jessica will give you the what’s what on single life and dating in Chicago.

Frustrated man hitting monitor screen on forehead

A little over a week ago I wrote a little advice for a reader who was curious to know if a guy was into her. Well, that same reader wrote again to ask my opinion on something else she is curious about - is online dating really worth it?

It seems as though she's had her fair share of bad dates and failed relationships with guys she has met off the internet. There was even a guy who told her that he felt there could always be someone more interesting to meet since there are so many potentials online. So even though he might meet a really awesome woman, he still feels tempted to respond when other women contact him.

It seems as though she is feeling a little beat up and wonders if there is a purpose to this whole online dating thing or if she should just give up.

Let me start by saying that I totally feel you here. Really I do. And I am pretty sure that anyone out there who has ever done online dating for any length of time can definitely share in your frustrations. We all understand, I promise you.

In my opinion, part of the problem with online dating is that people have unrealistic expectations. They go into it thinking they will find the man (or woman) of their dreams just because they joined the latest awesome dating site. However, I don't think that being online makes it any easier to meet that person, it just makes it easier to meet people. The fact of the matter is that you still have to meet the person that is right for you which is a big deal.

I don't think the fact that this guy is tempted to meet tons of girls off the internet because of the potential has anything to do with the internet. I am pretty sure that is just the way this guy is and I am sure he could say the same thing about singles events, bars, or really any other place where he can find single women. I think it's far to common to misplace the blame when it comes to dating. It's pretty easy to hear things like that and say "oh the internet is bad because of guys like that" but the fact of the matter is the internet isn't responsible for a guy being like that, he is.

I only know one person who has done online dating as long as I have. I mean, I am sure there are plenty of people out there who have done it as long as I have, I just only personally know one (and trust me it's been quite sometime). Actually I think he did it for a little longer before he met his wife. I also know other people that have met significant others off of the internet. So I surely believe that it's possible. However, there are tons of factors that go into meeting someone for a lasting relationship that I am not sure that I can totally attribute the happily ever after to the internet.

For me, online dating has always been a place to meet people. Sure, I can meet a guy at the bus stop or the bar and trust me I have. I can also go speed dating or to singles events, I have done those too. But really, why not date online? To me it just seems logical to do it.

You have to keep in mind that you are still meeting human beings here and we are complicated creatures. Unfortunately, even though you are on a dating site that doesn't mean that every single person you meet is looking for a long term relationship. You are going to meet people online that are just looking for a good time or who don't want to settle down because they have 999 other options. It's a common misperception that people who are just looking to shack up go on the internet because it's an easy way to meet people. However, that doesn't mean that every person online is like that and I don't think it's fair to assume that.

The bottom line is that I genuinely believe you can meet someone really great online. You will probably meet a few douche bags along the way. I am not arguing with that at all. However, you can meet douche bags anywhere. In fact some of my worst dates have been with guys that I have met in places other than the internet.

You will also probably get a little frustrated along the way. But then again whoever said dating (or anything in life for that matter) would be easy? If you are going to date then you have to deal with the bad and that's the simple truth. Online dating isn't for everyone so if it's not for you then don't do it. If it's pushing you to the point of insanity then take a little break from it for a while, a lot of people do.

Just always keep in mind that you should be realistic and just because you are using an online dating site doesn't mean the man of your dreams will magically appear all packaged and pretty in your inbox. It still takes a lot of work. And of course, remember to have a little faith because no matter how frustrating it all seems you just might find someone (or have a whole lot of fun along the way).

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7 Comments

Dave Sorrell said:

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Definitely I have used it to meet new people, and the idea that perhaps I have a shot of finding that special someone (or winter boo). Then again, I've only starting the whole "dating" mantra last year (since I usually meet women through friends and school), and while its been [overwhelmingly] frustrating, I have met a few new friends, which should be the goal.

Just know that, yes, you have options, but don't raise your expectations excessively high. Getting burned too much will be costly and you only end up jaded.

TKM said:

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Online dating can definitely work. I met and dated someone for almost two years until two time zones and an international border killed it (she had moved away about halfway through). You have to be in the right headspace for it, otherwise you are just window shopping and test driving the merchandise, and suffering the pushy creepy salesmen that make you wanna shower in bleach after just shaking their hand.

Margaret said:

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Well, Jess. Per usual, I enjoyed this post as well. :-)

I've chosen not to participate in online dating sites. If these sites work for others, then that is a good thing. I tend to hear more negative than positive stories regarding online dating. That said I'm sure that a few people do, in fact, find their true love. I think that's probably pretty rare though. I'm guessing that, like "old-fashioned" dating, people use these sites to have fun meeting new people. I don't mean that all of these people use them for hook-ups, but isn't the point to get to know people in a timely fashion . . . not rush through a relationship just because you HAVE to be in one right now?!

I kind of feel like people put too much pressure on themselves when it comes to dating, only to wind up unhappy. I think it's kind of sad. I don't believe in rushing through everything, especially a relationship. I think it's a setup for potential disappointment.

Online dating allows a person to come into contact more easily with a number of people at one time. On one hand, this is a good thing. Offline I'm not sure how possible this could be. The Internet dating scene does allow a person to weed through the profiles to find an appropriate match. On the other hand, the Internet also makes it easier for people to misrepresent themselves. You don't have the face, the voice, the tone, or the mannerisms to put with a person's profile, until you actually set up a time in which to meet (s)he in person.

As I mentioned on the previous post (the young woman's first request for dating advice), I admired that the guy was upfront about the fact that he talks to other women he meets through the online dating website. He could just as easily lie about the fact that he does. However, he also made the mistake of mentioning that he's hung up on a girl who's moved on to a new relationship. This is the *real* red flag, imo.

In my opinion, part of the problem with online dating is that people have unrealistic expectations.

Of course, this is true about offline dating too. Any way a person chooses to date, it's important not to have unrealistic expectations, as Jess so aptly pointed out. And as she also mentioned (and I paraphrase), you can never know what you're getting into until you actually meet the person. At some point, this has to be the logical next step, regardless of how the person looks and sounds from his/her profile.

And I agree. I don't think the Internet is the reason this guy is super interested in meeting lots of women. He would do the same offline. I don't doubt it's part and parcel of his general behavior.

there are tons of factors that go into meeting someone for a lasting relationship that I am not sure that I can totally attribute the happily ever after to the internet.

So very true.

However, that doesn't mean that every person online is like that and I don't think it's fair to assume that.

Also very true.

I think what it comes down to is if you have to question why you're doing something, then perhaps, you're not ready to jump hip deep into the pool and just do it. As Jess mentioned, if a person is having doubts and frustrations with regard to online dating, then (s)he needs to step back for a bit and re-evaluate what his/her expectations truly are and go from there.

At any rate, good luck to the reader on whatever she decides to choose.

(I'm rambling too much and the coffee is wearing off, so this post probably makes little sense. ;-))

im1walrus said:

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If it weren't for online dating I'd never have the opportunity to write to so many women and have so few respond.

Jessica Downey said:

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Well that is quite sad. But I guess everything has a purpose right? (or something like that)

Something She Dated said:

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Well said Jess. Well said. And you're so right...douche bags are everywhere...don't blame online dating people. Plus. Why is it people always look outside of themselves rather than inward. If someone's miserable with online dating. Why do they only look outward to blame online dating. Perhaps it's their attitude. Approach. Outlook on life. Presentation. Etc. But yeah like I said top notch hun!

Jessica Downey said:

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Thank you!! I think it's easy to blame online dating for some reason. It's easy to say it doesn't work and such, but there are so many other factors.

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