Online Dating Can Help to Alleviate Societal Pressure of Valentine’s Day

I was talking with a friend last week who is smart, attractive, and single. She turned 30 last month. She's been in relationships in the past, but for the last year or so she has not had any luck with dating. It's been hard to find time to meet guys (she has a full work schedule), and when she does, they have been less than stellar.

With Valentine's Day approaching, she lamented that she will be single again this year. 'It just kind of stinks … I feel this pressure to find someone, and there are not many opportunities to meet people when I am always so busy.

So I asked her: Have you considered online dating?

She sort of frowned and looked away. 'I do not think I need to resort to that ,' she said.

I thought about her response for a while. It's not the first time I've heard it, and I think I understand why.

There is a perception that online dating is sort of like online shopping for potential mates. You visit a dating site, fill out a detailed profile, and usually the site uses an algorithm to compile a list of matches for you. You then click through each match, weed out the ones that do not suit you, and possibly reach out to the few that do. Or, you search on your own, plug in the results you want in a significant other, and get a list of matches.

Online dating sites purport to make dating easier by often narrowing the field to only those which first appeal to you on paper. But a person's essence is more than their self-description and a list of facts about them.

Everyone wants there to be a great story behind how they met. When you're out to dinner on Valentine's Day, it would be nice to remission of the time you met on the train, or at the gym, or in school. But, of course, this should not really be an important factor.

Moreover, many single people feel as though the process of making an online profile is exhausting, and even a bit embarrassing. Self-description is difficult, and it's tough to be objective.

But there are dating sites that do not force you to create a lengthy profile, or to rely on how others describe themselves. Some sites try to capture someone's essence in a way other dating sites do not. They allow you to express yourself through writing or other creative outlets (artwork, photography, etc.). Other members see only your photo + what you create on the site. Their first impression of you is how you express yourself; it is not your self-description or a litany of facts about you. It feels less like online shopping, and more like you are getting to know someone prior to meeting in person.

I hope my friend comes around and gives online dating a shot. It's hard to meet others with such a busy schedule. Online dating can be more than a last resort; when done properly and on the right site, it can be a great opportunity to meet others and form a meaningful relationship. And it can be the first step in not being alone next Valentine's Day.

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