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This brings us to online dating. And because life has become too fast and dependent on technology, dating online is rather convenient, especially for those who are too busy to go out and meet people but are searching for a long-term relationship.
In its early days, online dating was considered silly and used simply as a means to - in layman’s terms – ‘get laid’. However, this idea is changing and studies now show that successful ratings for online dating are increasing.
Online dating is particularly convenient for its speed; one can sift through a number of potential companions without having to leave home. It’s also easier to juggle multiple ‘dates’ without having to experience some of the ‘real world’ social implications or judgments that come with juggling dates.
Amalie Pisani, an Integrative Counsellor says “Online dating is also quite convenient because you get to determine when, where, how, and with whom you spend time from the relative safety of your own home. You can also ‘trial date’ (outside such things as your social or economic circle) or secret date (people who are looking for some action ‘on the side’).
Whether it is straight forward online dating, ‘window shopping’ or ‘cheating’, doing it online can be more convenient and less of a risk if a few simple rules are followed.”
Through online dating, you also have more control over the relationship you’re handling.
“You can pace things in such a way as to take your time, control the type and amount of access the other person has to your personal information while not exposing your world/friends/family or children to a potential ‘Mr. or Ms. Maybe’.
You can keep doing this until you feel things are safe enough to move to another level. Online dating also limits the possibility of rejection,” says Amalie.
Online dating can also be a fun, safe and light-hearted way of meeting people. Amalie says: “Online dating can be especially advantageous for those who are not comfortable with meeting people in public places or for those who lack certain social skills required of at least the preliminary aspects of ‘real world’ dating.”
It is also a good option for those who are new to the island and want to increase their dating options. Another group of people who might gain from the possibility of online dating are those who have children or other responsibilities that make going out to meet people difficult.
It’s all too familiar; online dating can very easily go horribly wrong. But nowadays, as the trend of online dating is increasing, so are the time and money people are investing in such relationships. Thus, online dating is becoming more of a success.
But it goes without saying that online dating still poses some flaws and dangers…there are, and always will be, sexual predators out there that are up to no good.
So what are the major disadvantages of online dating?
According to Amalie, there are quite a few unless the necessary precautions are taken.
“Being part of dating sites on a small island poses a greater risk to anonymity especially since one tends to forget this can be seen or recognised by virtually anyone who has joined or has the option to browse the site.
Also, unless you are prepared to handle a cyber relationship or ‘e-courtship’, there can be more dating hazards than perhaps obvious but a little common sense can go a long way.”
Often, when we go online, because we are in familiar surroundings and feeling safe we give information that might otherwise seem risky or in some way compromising because where we are and who we are communicating with are two different realities. This un-real sense of safety can allow us to become too casual or too personal too fast.
With this in mind it helps to remember that communicating with a virtual stranger requires caution.
Amalie says “You might be chatting with someone who seems great online but who might equally be less than honest about their intentions, circumstances, identity, age or gender. So, be safe even when writing that first email, instant message or personal ‘ad’. Too much information can be risky, can come off as perhaps too intense and might possibly be counterproductive such as turning any potential dater off.”
Most importantly, with online dating, it can be that much more difficult to gauge what is real or beneficial and what is not, compared to that first-hand gut-reaction when meeting in person.
‘E-distance’ can leave the prospective dater at a disadvantage, unable at times to weed out the ‘undesirables’ or perhaps fully understand safe boundaries.
“Online daters can become involved in what may potentially turn out to be fantasy relationships that never materialize, this can be especially painful for the more vulnerable dater or for those perhaps overly invested in the prospect of ‘happily ever after’,” says Amalie.
A phone call can tell you so much more about someone’s social skills than email, chatting online or a text. If you do decide to take that next step and speak with someone on the phone only give your cell phone number or ask the person for their number instead. If you can, use telephone-blocking techniques so he or she can’t get your number through caller ID.
If, for whatever reason you feel pressured at any time to do anything you are not comfortable with or you feel like the person you are communicating with has flashes of anger – take two steps back and re-appraise the situation.
Getting ‘mixed’ messages or inconsistent information should be a warning sign.
There are plenty of people out there so if ever you feel something isn’t quite right move on – dating should be a light, fun, happy experience with few, if any, strings attached.