This post was written by Eva Forman from www.consumer-rankings.com
Besides the obvious differences between sitting in heels with a $3 cup of coffee vs. sitting in your slippers with a bowl of microwave popcorn, it would seem that online dating and in-person dating are pretty similar. The goal is to find that special someone and both methods are about communicating with a person one-on-one to get to know them better. But no matter how long you’ve had a dating life, online dating can still feel very new when you get started.
The traditional dating process usually involves a small pool of potential matches made up of locals, colleagues and friends of friends. When you meet someone in the supermarket or a new person at work, it may take a few dates to find out if you have similar lifestyles, values or personality traits. Online dating is the opposite. You are working from a pool of hundreds of thousands of prospective dates but the filters are built in. You can search by religion, hobbies, pets, personalities and sometimes even things like how neat and tidy or sloppy other people are.
Now only can you set your filters but online dating sites often use matching algorithms to suggest other members who could be good matches for you. These sometimes use the profile you set up when you started and sometime require you to spend some time filling out personality test and surveys about your preferences, lifestyle and values. This means that at the very least there is a computer who is searching for the best matches for you which is one advantage of online dating. After all, the HR department at your office probably isn’t hiring with your love-life in mind.
Of course, there are disadvantages to online dating as well. The major ones are safety and privacy concerns. Unlike blind dates that friends set up for you, you probably won’t have references for the people you meet online. There are plenty of precautions to take however, such as utilizing the secure communication tools offered by most online dating sites. When you do meet in person, do it in a public place and make sure that a friend or family member knows where you’ll be. You can’t count on the fact that your boss has seen his or her resume or that you’re best friend’s significant other has known him or her since high-school.
Of course, that anonymity also has an up-side. You will go into your first face-to-face dating with expectations that you formed yourself, trusting no one’s judgment but your own. Of course, the impression you’ve formed can still be far off from reality. It’s important to remember that even though your date may be very different in person, you can’t show disappointment or confusion. It may be the natural reaction but it can be very hurtful if it’s not hidden well enough. On the other hand, because you’re unlikely to have any acquaintance in common, you won’t have to see this person again after the first date if you don’t want to.
Eva Forman is a researcher and blogger for Consumer-Rankings.com, a product review site that has done tests and reviews of the top dating websites, along with plenty of other online services.