More than 40 million Americans use online dating services – 40 percent of all singles. Among couples who married in the last three years, 17 percent met online. In 2009, twice as many marriages took place between couples who met online than between couples who met in bars, clubs or other social events combined. Despite the prevalence of online dating, old myths die hard.
Online dating is for (fill in the blank) people.
Online dating is for everyone – it currently represents the largest share of paid content online. If you’re not finding who you’re looking for, try a different service. Some are geared toward casual daters, others toward the more committed. There are also niche online dating sites tailored to people with specific interests.
It’s too expensive.
There is some cost involved in most online dating sites. The same is true for other ways you might meet people, including barhopping or taking classes.
Everyone lies online.
Yes, 80 percent of online daters lie about their age, height or weight. But the extent to which people lie about these factors usually isn’t significant – if they plan on ever meeting you, they can only exaggerate so much.
Some people also lie about their marital status: According to a MSNBC survey, 30 percent of men using an online dating service are married. Possible warning signs include no profile photo, exclusive use of free dating sites and unusual communication patterns (such as only being reachable late at night).
There aren’t any men out there.
Some dating sites are more appealing to men than others. But when you average the top 10 dating sites, the male-female ratio is close to 50-50.
There’s no one my age online.
The average age of online daters varies by site, although it is probably younger than you think. Seniors represent a growing share of the market. Again, certain sites appeal to different demographics, including age groups.
Online dating is dangerous.
Online dating can be risky. Then again, so can offline dating. Reputable online dating sites provide safeguards to help protect their users. Look for a dating site with a double-blind email system. This allows you to get to know prospective mates without having to give out any personal information until you are ready.
No one is responding, so why bother?
If you aren’t getting much response, ask a friend to take an objective look at your profile, photos, etc. Ask for candid feedback: Are your photos unflattering (or too flattering)? Is your profile both appealing and true to who you are? Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t flooded with emails. If you are looking for a serious relationship, you only need to find one person you really click with.
If I have a profile, that’s enough.
Don’t let online dating keep you from pursuing dates through other channels. Get out there, and meet people face-to-face.
There are plenty of tadpoles in the pond.
Avoid the temptation to constantly prowl for someone “better,” even after you’ve found someone pretty great. Until your relationship status is clear, though, it’s fine to keep your online profile active.
It’s all talk, no action.
Different people approach relationships at different speeds. And the nature of online dating makes some people unusually cautious. But don’t waste weeks or months chatting with someone without a clear prospect of an in-person date. If you are still interested after a few online exchanges, let the person know you’d like to meet. If he or she puts you off, move on.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less