Having no choices can lead to misery, but too many options can overwhelm and lead you to worry that you’ve chosen wrong.You can feel confident in your decision about which car to buy when there are only three under consideration, but if there are hundreds, you’ll constantly second-guess yourself and wonder if you could have done better.
But this can also lead you to pass up on potential dates because with all those options, you can't help but think, "There must be someone better out there." Online dating sites can thus foster an attitude in which potential mates are objectified like products on a store shelf, rather than people (Finkel et al., 2012). Online profiles are missing vital information you can only glean in person (Finkel et al., 2012), so it can be difficult to know if you’re really compatible with someone based solely on what they have shared on a dating site.
Research shows that people spend their time on dating sites searching criteria such as income and education, and physical attributes like height and body type, when what they need is information about the actual experience of interacting with and getting to know the person on the other end of the profile (Frost et al., 2008).
There are dating sites devoted to particular religious groups, like Christian Mingle or JDate, for example, as well as sites that cater to gay and lesbian daters. This removes a lot of the ambiguity that you face when you meet an interesting person at a work event or a party. Because of the ease and relative anonymity of online dating sites, we may take more risk reaching out to people we would not approach in person.
And even though men generally contact women more than vice versa on these sites, research has shown that a sizable minority of women do reach out to men they find desirable online, suggesting that these sites allow some women to overcome traditional gender norms that cast them in a passive role of waiting to be approached (Scharlott & Christ, 1995). Shy or socially anxious individuals often have difficulty forming and maintaining close relationships (Alden & Taylor, 2004; Davila & Beck, 2002).
But in real life, after we get to know someone and like their personality, we begin to find them more physically appealing as well (Kniffin & Wilson, 2004).
Making a quick decision based on an online photo doesn’t allow for this slower development of physical attraction and may cause us to dismiss potential mates to whom we could become attracted.This is only exacerbated by the emphasis on physical attractiveness created by online dating profiles. “How Couples Meet and Stay Together, Wave 3 version 3.04.” Machine Readable Data File. I have been using online dating sites for several years now.Romantic relationships often do develop slowly, rather than taking off from instant mutual attraction. While I think the sites have gotten better about identifying and booting scammers, I have been "scammed" more than a few times by miscreants, usually foreigners, who prey on lonely hearts, particularly those who list their professions and incomes.Thus, it is not surprising that shy people are more likely to look for romance on dating sites (Scharlott & Christ, 1995; Ward & Tracey, 2004). As discussed, one benefit of online dating sites is access to hundreds, even thousands of potential mates—but having all those options is not always a great thing.A large body of literature on decision-making shows that, in general, when we have choice (Schwartz, 2004).One study of online daters found that most viewed each other as similar, and liked each other less, after than before their offline dates (Norton et al., 2007).The sites can put too much focus on physical attractiveness.The same principle applies to online dating: The sheer number of potential partners creates abundant choice.So if one dater doesn’t suit the bill, there are hundreds more who could be better.A recent survey of 19,000 people who married between 20 found that 35 percent of these new couples met online, with about half of those meeting through an online dating site (Cacioppo et al., 2013).How can these sites help you find romance, and what pitfalls should you be aware of?