The dating blog-o-verse has been all twitterpated lately because of this story from the Atlantic magazine. All the dating bloggers in my Google Reader seem to be commenting on this article, so why not Miss July? In the article, author Dan Slater suggests that online dating is/will be the downfall of marriage, commitment, and monogamy as we know it. Why? Because the internet has made us aware of one thing we apparently never knew we had: options.
I’m a girl who likes to keep her options open. I mean, I’m (almost) thirty-three, single, no kids. The most I’ve really committed myself to in my adult life is a mortgage. My vanity drawers overflow with makeup, hair, and nail products. There are enough soaps, shampoos, and beauty products in my bathrooms to clean, fragrance, and makeover a small nation. I have a stack of books “to read” plus a huge list of titles on my kindle, yet there are still times I have nothing I want to read and I buy new one (thanks, Amazon). I can’t bring myself to get rid of cable in spite of the fact that it is ridonkulously expensive and Mr. June knows how to download anything I want to see (how will I watch Sister Wives and Days of our Lives free from his judgmental eyes if not with the help of my DVR?). And let’s not even talk about my closet or how many pairs of shoes I own-come on, I’m a GIRL! I’ve been a blond, a brunette, AND a redhead. OPTIONS.
I love choices. Mr. June affectionately (I think) likes to call me a hoarder, but I have no problem parting with things. Really! It’s not an attachment issue-it’s a choice issue. I just like to have choices. I like variety! It keeps me from getting bored. I mean, you never know what you are going to want to smell like until you wake up and get in the shower, right??? No? Anyway, I’m not one of those people who can stick with the “Special K” diet or any of those ones where you eat the same thing day after day. Unless that thing is chocolate or wine. Then I could probably do it. Yes, I could definitely do that.
But I digress. Back to dating, and this article, which launched a pretty big debate about the merits (or lack) of online dating. When faced with the potential for endless matches, why would anyone want to “settle down?” People are basically disposable-one doesn’t work out, there are ten more waiting messages in your online dating mailbox. There’s probably someone way better out there anyway-better keep looking. I mean, it’s SO EASY.
(Insert that annoying record-screeching sound here)
WHAT? OK, let me back up for a minute. I’m not sure how much online dating the author of this story has actually done himself. I’m guessing LITTLE TO NONE. He profiles a guy named “Jacob” for the story, who is described as early 30s (same as me), average looking, and with a history of not being able to make relationships work. Past girlfriends describe him as lazy and irresponsible. He tries online dating and is suddenly overwhelmed with the amount of attention that is lavished upon him. (Yeah, really sounds like online dating is the root of all his problems, right?) He begins dating a pretty 22-year old (insert gigantic eye roll here-of course he does) and at first things go swimmingly. They are together for two years. When he senses she’s going to dump him, he’s not even sad; because he’s confident he can meet more girls just like her online. In fact, the day she moves out, he logs back on to the dating site and reactivates his profile, happy to see the pool of potential matches for him is even larger than it was when he met her two years earlier. SCORE!
Excuse me, this is your baseline for an average “dater?” It sounds like this guy just doesn’t want to be in a monogamous relationship, irrespective of this dating being dating online, offline, in a shoe, or in a zoo. For some reason, Jacob blames “online dating” for the fact that he didn’t marry the 22-year old (other than his immaturity, commitment issues and a side of “huge ego?”). He says if it weren’t for online dating, he would have tried harder to make things work; the implication being that if he didn’t know there was a world of possibility out there, he would have somehow settled for this relationship he stayed in for two years . Wow, that really insults that woman and the two years of her life she spent with him, doesn’t it? Really, he sounds like a guy that doesn’t have a clue what he wants in a woman or a relationship, maybe even in life, and he probably won’t find it, online or offline. But hey, what do I know. I hate dating. Jacob and I are clearly on opposite ends of the spectrum in that respect.
Most people that I know who have tried online dating do not have this same confidence-no, cockiness-about the online dating process as our dear Jakey-poo. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s time-consuming. I mean, I started a blog about my bad online dating experiences. And yes, you have options-but rather than finding that comforting, I find it extremely overwhelming. How are you ever going to find the right one with so many possibilities? There are so many jokers to weed through it can be kind of frustrating, not to mention incredibly disheartening. It’s not a load of fun. It’s not more appealing than being in a healthy, committed relationship-so I think commitment and monogamy will survive. It’s really not more appealing than being single, either, which is probably why I never had a ton of success meeting people online. Previously, I’d given up pretty quickly due to the unpleasantness of the process. Each time you meet someone, you may wonder if he’s going to be a Jacob-someone who sees you as one of a number of options (maybe not even his best one). We daters already struggle with insecurity and doubt as it is before taking online connections into the real world-will he/she think I’m attractive, smart, funny, etc.? And then you have the Jacobs of the world saying, “Sure, I find you attractive/smart/funny but maybe not as much as this other match I have here. And even if you are the prettiest/smartest/funniest, I’ll always wonder if there might be someone new in my matches that exceeds your beauty/intelligence/wit.” I’m sorry…but, “Jacob”? I don’t think your issues with making a relationship last have anything to do with online dating.
Basically, I think that the author of this article picked a very bad specimen to represent all online daters. I suspect, though, that he wanted to make this point and found Jacob an excellent piece of evidence to support his theory. I would agree with the author that the amount of options in online dating is detrimental, but not for the same reasons. The author asserts that people won’t want or seek monogamy with so many options available; I believe people will still seek it, but it will be more difficult to find and may take longer to sift through so many choices and find your best matches. Most people are looking for a one-in-a-million connection, not one-million connections. Believe it or not, I’ve met a lot of guys that truly were looking for a great long-term match online, even if they weren’t my great match; so I know Jacob is probably not the rule here. For me-and a lot of others, I suspect-online dating is not quite as easy as this article makes it sound. If you know what you want, but are willing to be patient and keep an open mind, online dating can be a great way to find like-minded people you wouldn’t normally meet in your everyday life. Sure, there are plenty of options, but it’s not easy to transition from online to real world, and it’s even harder to translate from real world to real connections.
Besides, if only 1 in 5 relationships begin online, you can’t really blame 20% of relationships for the downfall of monogamy, can you?