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Psychology and online dating

When I first saw the movie “You’ve Got Mail” at the ripe old age of 8, the idea of developing a relationship through online chatrooms seemed novel, unconventional and even…creepy?

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As more and more dating websites continue to crop up, from Ok Cupid to Veggie Date (yes, a dating website for vegetarians), online dating has become a common and convenient way for singles to meet and pursue relationships.Rather than relying on word from a friend of a friend (“you guys would be PERFECT for each other”), users often let the formula do the work.Online daters also have extensive personal information at their fingertips.Before even online chatting with potential matches, users typically know something about their appearance, personality, and job. Dating websites offer users new levels of access to potential partners, a perk that may be especially advantageous for those with uncertainty about, for example, approaching a stranger in a bar.On certain websites, users have the option of providing even more personal information, such as whether or not they want children, how frequently they bathe/shower, and even if they like to cuddle Finally, in contrast to conventional dating where both parties first meet in person, online dating situates the first conversation in cyberspace, where users usually online chat before arranging their first meetup. Similarly, for individuals that struggle to meet potential partners due to geographic location, work schedule, or other obstacles, the accessible nature of the Internet makes this process much easier online.Is online dating really that different from offline dating? Recently, social psychologists who study the development of romantic relationships have begun to explore the phenomenon of online dating, specifically examining the extent to which it does or doesn’t mirror “traditional” dating.

In the specific study that I’ll summarize here, researchers reviewed existing dating websites with the goal of identifying ways that online dating is similar to and different from romantic relationship initiation in offline contexts.

There are a few fundamental ways the Internet has changed the dating scene.

For one, the majority of dating websites implement matchmaking algorithms (though, there is not much evidence to support their accuracy ).

Once online daters finally meet in person, relationship processes appear very similar to traditional forms of dating, though there has been little research examining if subsequent relationship maintenance varies depending on its origin (e.g., online vs. Online dating also offers promise for bringing similar individuals together, especially niche websites intended for people with the same religious background, interests, or career.

Finally, through online dating, individuals can use both user profiles and online chatting to gauge compatibility with others before the first rendez-vous.

However, this is not to say online dating is without its drawbacks.