Online Dating Will Destroy You if You Let It
It’s not perfect, but online dating has merit and is not going away. You might as well stop hating it.
Part 1: Online dating platforms are growing businesses, and that’s a good thing.
No doubt about it, according to all the latest stats, online dating is a booming business. Platforms all over the world are only growing and the biggest company out there — Match Group — owns the top performing companies. That can feel corporate, icky and dubious at best when you start looking at numbers and think, this is about…finding love? No, way. This is a sham, these companies only care about money and they’re sucking us dry, taking advantage of our hearts and minds and it’s all a big lie!
Coming from a business degree, I will absolutely agree that these companies want to make money and expand their user base. They also want to do it with the best product out there and want to make sure they don’t lose credibility, lose customers, or fall behind the tech, the culture or the trends. They have an obligation to their users and if they don’t fulfill it, users will leave.
You, as the user, have more power than you think.
You are electing to sign up and use a product with incredible capabilities. No one is forcing you; let’s get that straight. You don’t like it? Don’t use it, that simple.
Strangely, we should be glad these companies are constantly striving to get us to sign on and invite our friends while providing the best tech, A.I. and features out there. This has made the platforms so much better over the years and some apps even have psychology based “labs” where they study what works for us. Newer features even include resources and practices for self care, therapy and coaching.
These are essentially do-it-yourself matchmaking platforms. These companies rely on leveraging the power of algorithms and our user data to take expensive matchmaking capabilities (elite matchmaking costs upwards of $10k by the way) and putting them into your hands. Wow.
Some folks say platforms should have more accountability with safety and take responsibility for profiles from criminal or otherwise “bad” people. This is where I say — they are a platform for people to meet on. They can take action when users violate their standards, but most don’t guarantee background checks or anything beyond what you would get meeting someone at a bar or coffee shop. Verifications for profiles are getting better, and there’s room for improvement, but that will also depend on our ability to speak up.
Take responsibility for your part. Be safe, smart, and use all the people skills you would normally use in real life to vet folks. Platforms specialize in search results for singles. They mostly don’t determine if anything on a profile is true and they don’t verify personalities for you. Read their terms and conditions. Study up. I definitely agree they can constantly up their game on standards for behavior, bot profiles and safety of information, and in fact, platforms actively make changes to accommodate that as time goes on. They would have to in order to survive. Legal fees are expensive.
Therefore, always report fake profiles and bad behaviors that violate standards. It’s up to daters to make sure they are communicating to the platforms to make them better, not worse, whether that means taking away your business or literally giving them feedback. Before you download, research them. Understand their features, try things out, watch their marketing tactics and social media, give feedback, report violations and importantly — support the platforms that are doing it better to encourage growth in the right direction. #BossMove
If you know any good business owners or marketers, you know that nowadays, for every solid business owner, there is a team trying to understand how to understand you, the user, better. This is also because in the digital age, the power has shifted very heavily to the consumer. Get in the driver seat, baby, we’re in!
Treat online dating platforms like the powerful businesses they are. They are your tools. Understand them and their motivations or they will destroy you...and your wallet.
Part 2: Humans are sensitive, and that’s a tough thing.
So, why does it work? Why do people pay money to get online to find a connection?
We get online for two authentic reasons — to genuinely expand our social boundaries to increase the chance of finding a connection, or to prove to ourselves that online dating is garbage and we knew it all along and everyone sucks.
If you’re in the former camp, you will likely have some success, in the terms as I’ve defined them. You absolutely will expand your social boundaries and increase your chance of finding a connection. The latter?
Getting on the apps begrudgingly or to prove a point will be your dating demise. It’s also an indicator that you’re not ready.
If you are secretly hoping to fail, you will. You will go on dates that annoy you. No one will satisfy your ideal situation and you’ll get to tell everyone, hey I tried. Wasn’t for me. So leave me alone.
What a cop-out.
Attitude, preparedness, self care and resilience is everything. Secretly hoping for failure to prove a point is the wrong way to go about finding someone special… if that’s really your goal. Your dates will sniff that jaded attitude a mile away. What’s worse, you will be miserable and no better off than you were before. Dater, destroyed.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you have a true, fiery hatred for online dating:
Where does my ego sit? Do I think I’m better than most people? That I shouldn’t have to be on an app? That it’s embarrassing?
What might I be afraid of? Being seen as a fraud? That strangers will make make me feel worthless? Ugly? Awkward? That I don’t have the stats on paper to seem dateable? That I’m… boring? Damaged? Stupid? Incapable of being someone’s partner?
What are my expectations of finding someone on an app? Within a certain amount of dates? Time frame? Money spent? Am I willing to accept failures before success? How many?
Literally journaling these things out and practicing some self love with a reality check might answer some questions for you and give you a framework to measure the value of this resource. You might not be ready for it and that’s okay. You must truly believe you are worthy and dateable to attract healthy connections. And hey, if you’ve spent hundreds of dollars, gone on plenty of dates, don’t have the time and feel better without the apps — get off them. If you don’t get any value in them as a resource, they will destroy you.
Part 3: Online dating is online, and that’s a vulnerable thing.
There are plenty of great reasons why online dating can give people a leg up in certain ways. In fact, I’ve written specifically about why it’s great for dating over 30 and why the new features for in-app video dating are amazing.
I’m a huge advocate for online dating — and also many other ways of meeting people you want to date — but it does take some work. It should not be a blind, passive activity. It requires you to care.
There is a thought fallacy out there that when folks join an online dating platform, it’s supposed to solve previous issues in your love and dating life or make dating easier. As in — apps will just figure it all out for you. Magic! Poof!
Online dating takes risk. Online dating takes emotional effort. Online dating requires resources. Online dating is supplemental to all the other ways of connecting with people. If you go into it thinking you’re just supposed to sign up and meet the love of your life two profiles in… what world are you living in?
Being online provides you with more opportunities to meet people of all kinds that you might not have the time and resources to sift through without the power of algorithms. Still, not every date will go well and that’s life. That happens when friends set you up or when you ask someone out at work. Date fails exist everywhere.
Here’s where online is different — and will destroy you if you let it — this is basically the internet and you’re putting information and pictures for others to see. Platforms may have profiles cross paths that cause some distress if the users weren’t intending for those other folks to see them. It’s vulnerable to have all your stuff out there on a profile with the wrong people, whether that applies to your personal or professional life.
You should assume your profile could be seen by co-workers, bosses, friends, community members, exes and family. Be smart about what you reveal in a profile and wait to reveal any personal contact information or showcase sexual behavior until you’ve verified who you’re interacting with.
Think of it this way — if anyone in the world asked to look at your profile, would you be comfortable showing it? Would it seem honest? Would it embarrass you?
Treat the platforms and yourself with care and you’ll make it out alive, I promise. Now, before you go down the rabbit hole of dating app research in order to make some wise decisions that may change your love life forever…
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