Rarely has an article so deeply terrified me. The Atlantic Monthly’s “A Million First Dates” article states that online dating has made it so easy to meet new potential partners that it is reducing the incentive to commit. Executives and staff psychologists from the world’s top dating sites (eHarmony, OkCupid, Match.com) are all quoted as saying they see online dating increasing divorce and reducing marriage rates. Why commit to just one when a better one may be your date later in the week?
What does that mean for the future of our society?
And what does it mean for the future of us? All that choice could end up making us more miserable; paralyzed by ever expanding options and opportunities. People say the chocolate they chose tastes better when they choose from a selection of 6 rather than a selection of 30. For more insight on how too much options makes us doubt our choice, Check out Barry Schwartz’s TED talk on “The Paradox of Choice“.
Even if we enjoy all that choice, happily skipping from one date to the next, research has shown serious mental, economic and physical benefits of marriage. Married people live longer, report more sexual satisfaction and make more money.
As a woman, I worry about evidence showing that women are the new losers in this dating landscape. Already I’m more educated and have a higher salary that most of my male contemporaries. Now to maintain a potential date’s attention, I have to put out or get out? What ever happened to taking time to get to know the guy? I’m no prude, but I definitely don’t want to feel pressured to sleep with a guy on the first date or risk never seeing him again.
The ease and superficiality of online dating may lead to a backlash if the experts are right and online dating puts off any real commitment or emotional intimacy. The “Million First Dates” article generated a number of articles in response – some agreeing that online dating was reducing commitment, others saying it had no effect on monogamy, and others even saying that the superficiality of online dating actually pushed people toward wanting real commitment, not away from it.
As a single girl living in a world where I’m just another profile on just another dating site….I’m terrified. Suddenly that white picket fence happily-ever-after seem to be yesterday’s dream….