Before launching yourself into the world of online dating, lets consider whether this method is right for you. Will you meet someone through work, family or friends? Traditionally these have been the key sources of meeting available partners but each have their limitations. The circle of potential partners available through networks of family and friends dwindle as people marry or pair up in their 20s and 30s. The workplace also exhibits this demographic shift, with the additional risk of complications should a workplace relationship break down. Geographically, the pool of people you are likely to meet through social engagements, hobbies and interests is limited. Online dating has a strong advantage in the sheer simplicity of access. The online, instantaneous access to a large pool of individuals who are looking for a partner cannot be replicated elsewhere. Do you like going out and looking for a partner randomly? The concept of going out to a bar or other venue in the effort to meet other singles becomes less attractive than it was in our 20s. You are likely to have fewer single friends who want to join you in this pursuit, and you are subject to the same, fairly low chance of success in identifying someone in this environment who is available and shares characteristics that are attractive to establishing long term romantic relationship with you. Are you comfortable in approaching someone in a social environment? The level of confidence and comfort you have in approaching and conversing with a stranger in a social environment will also be a key factor your level of success. Online dating reduces the discomfort of the initial approach step to a computer-based interaction which has the advantage of anonymity and low impact if rejection occurs. The anxiety of waiting to be approached when in a social environment, or being rejected if you do make an advance has far less sting when it is reduced to an internet transaction. Naturally, beyond that first step, online dating requires all the usual interactions in dating with all their complications but is unrivalled in its simplicity of initiating first contact. Research conducted in 2009 demonstrated that more new romantic relationships had begun online that through any method other than meeting through mutual friends. Are you internet savvy? Chances are you already have performed at least one of the following, which gives you more than adequate skill to navigate a dating website:
- Used a search engine like Google
- Subscribed to a newsletter or mailing list on a website
- Used email
- Emailed or uploaded a photo
- Shopped online
Even the most rudimentary technical skills are now widespread, and even if you have never attempted any of these tasks, you will undoubtedly know someone who can help you. Are you time poor? Long working hours, commitments around the home, work-related travel and our existing level of multi tasking means that most of us are time poor. Venturing out to meet others, or pursuing activities that will widen your social circle to improve your ability to meet other singles all take time and offer varying levels of success. Online dating allows all the preparation, initial searching and pursuit activities to be done online, quickly, and at times convenient to you. The ease of ruling unsuccessful individuals out saves valuable time. You can choose your level of interaction from a simple setup of your profile and monitoring responses that come your way directly from others or through matching processes on the site, right through to your own detailed searching and initiation of contact. Do you understand the constraints and limitations? All of the advantages aside, online dating is not an instant resolution to your single status. Ease of access to singles, identification of likely matches and first contact are distinct advantages, but you do need to understand the pitfalls and limitations. Simple commonsense safety principles, guidance around when to progress from first contact to face to face meetings, some healthy self-evaluation around the journey that resulted in you being single today and careful thought about what you are looking for in a partner are the some of the key factors that allow you to progress from online dating as a process to your desired long term outcome.