Changing the Game: 5 Ways that Internet Dating Changed the Traditional Scene

by Nancy Travers,LCSW

Where did you think that you would meet your spouse? Did you envision the supermarket or the bookstore? A party hosted by friends or a community gathering? How about across a happening club or bar? These traditional scenes may one day be a thing of the past! As more and more Americans rely on the internet to maintain relationships with friends and family, we\’re also turning to the internet to meet new people and prospective partners! The cheesy pick-up lines in the coffee shop are quickly being replaced with quirky private messages on online dating sites. Instead of an afternoon lunch filled with awkward conversation and probing questions about hobbies and work, we\’re answering surveys and connecting with compatible people via a chat and Skype. Online dating sites, and their staggering databases of singles, has changed the traditional dating arena. Here are just a few impacts of the online profiles:

  1. Internet Dating is On Its Way to Becoming a Social Norm: Did you know that nearly 1 in 6 people who get married in the US meet through a dating site like Match.com or eHarmony? That\’s a large increase from the 90s when it was embarrassing to admit that you met your partner online. Now, we see commercials for these dating sites on nearly every television channel; some of them even tout that almost half of all Americans are using or have used on online dating site to meet prospective partners! The convenience and accessibility of internet dating is only encouraging growth in the online dating community, which may push this rate even higher; it is certainly contributing to making online dating a normal.�
  2. Online Dating Via Dating Sites May Offer Too Much Choice: Gone are the days when online dating sites featured divorced, middle aged participants and profiles of computer programmers bragging about their black belt in taekwondo. The mating game has changed and now users of every kind has made a profile and added their best headshot to the ranks of a dating site\’s database. This mass action has allowed for a simplification of the dating game; we have the opportunity to meet and interact with a large number of people. Some dating sites even allow users to eliminate portions of the population based on specific desires such as body type, hair color, and eye color. We have the opportunity to select exactly the physical identity of our prospective mate, but this new availability of options has encouraged a large number of uses to become overly selective in our choice of partners. In fact, this large array of choice has caused the expectations of a partner\’s physical appearance to rise.

It doesn\’t end at physical appearances either. People are also less inclined to settle for mediocre romance, or what is perceived as a lackluster relationship. Bad habits are less likely to be discussed and addressed. Couples are reluctant to building common hobbies and interests. Instead of working on a relationship, dating site users turn back to their profiles and the easily accessible databases. This finicky selection of partners is only projected to rise as more and more people become active users on matchmaking sites.

  1. Dating Sites Cater to Specific Needs and Niches: Community has a new definition online. Common interest, goals, and values define a community on the web; this new definition goes beyond just location and culture. We\’re seeing a rise of niche dating sites that connect users to a specific type of prospective partners. Christian Mingle allows users to connect based on religious views while Geek 2 Geek allows gamers and zombie enthusiasts to connect online. These sites help users define and narrow the qualities that they feel define themselves and possible significant others.
  2. The Online Dating Scene is Contributing to Perceived Sexual Liberation: The factor that encourages many people to postpone sexual encounters is a lack of personal connection with their new partner. However, online dating and meet-ups via IMs and video chats speeds up the getting-to-know-you process that is required in most dating scenario. The seeming distance provided by the computer screen also encourages people to be more bold and forthcoming than they may be in person. As a result, the number of women making the first move online is increasing, and the time to sexual intimacy in a relationship is decreasing.

The online dating scene is also encouraging more and more diverse couples to emerge. Internet dating is changing that way that many people think about race, religion, and sexual orientation. Mixed couples?including both national and religious mixes?are emerging as a result.�

  1. The Internet Dating Scene Allows for More and Easier Infidelity:The Internet is making it easier to meet people. This isn\’t just a fact for singles. Dating sites are making cheating much easier, and may be contributing to the levels of infidelity that plague the American marriage. It is simple to lie about a marriage status when creating an online profile, and some sites even cater to people simply looking to “hook up.” Lovers are readily available to individuals who feel trapped in a low quality, stressful, or unsatisfying marriage. These marriages suffer further problems as spouses gravitate to the simple solution of Internet dating to discover a more satisfying match on the web.

However, for couples who use an internet dating site to connect, a marriage may be more stable. Because of the increased selectivity and the widened range of possible mates, once a couple has formed and reached an emotionally intimate level, the resulting marriages are often more stable than many couple who met through traditional means. Online dating sites are a two-edged blade.


Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 2212 Dupont Dr., Suite I, Irvine, Ca. 92612.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 or contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.

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