Is online dating bad? Let’s put aside the myths about online dating. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons people leave dating apps. What was it that made them decide online dating is bad? Are these things that can be overcome, or should we all just give up on digital dating?
There are too many people. One of the most appealing things about online dating is how many options we have. After college, our choices for finding people to date were limited to work, bars, or being set up by friends and family. Because of that, having limitless options of people to date available right at our fingertips is understandably exciting. But are there too many? A 2008 study found that the more online dating profiles we browse, the more likely we are to misremember details of profiles. Too many choices also lead people to make decisions that aren’t aligned with their stated idealized mates. That means that we end up choosing people that are very different from our stated preferences.
One problem is called the paradox of choice. Feeling like there are too many choices is a common complaint from those who’ve labeled online dating bad. Famously, the “paradox of choice” suggests that the more choices we have, the more difficult it is to choose. While it may initially seem like a good idea to have as many options as possible, it might actually make people less likely to commit, or even go on a date with someone. Or, in other cases, it makes people approach dating with an attitude of indifference. Why should this date matter? There are plenty of other options for me if this goes terribly. And, in the worst scenarios, we keep our eyes out on other options, even after we’ve made a choice. Many people stay on dating sites even after they’ve begun dating someone, “just in case.”
Having a lot of options isn’t all bad, though. In some situations, and for certain types of people, more options actually reinforce our decisions. As we see many other options, or as we narrow our criteria, we can feel more certain of the decision we’ve made. Certain filters, like choosing to see only people with a specific religious background, can be helpful. But having so many choices can also make us encounter something we could’ve otherwise ruled out. It helps us to realize which deal breakers don’t actually matter as much as we thought. That’s how many people find something they hadn’t even realized they were looking for.
We need so many options, because how else will we find something wonderful, unexpectedly? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the crazy amount of choices presented by online dating, instead of thinking of all the things that make online dating bad, stay optimistic. You might just find something you never knew you were looking for!