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YOUR VOICE Online Dating: The Death of Romance?

Online dating. Or maybe the ‘Diet Coke of love’ is a better way to describe it. A watered down experience which leaves a lingering bad taste. For the generations before us, people would go to music halls to eye up their potential other half. My parents took an approach which seems unusual now in that they relied upon a chance meeting via fate to set off their union. This is an era of social media, instant communication, selling yourself publicly and, as such, you can see why and how internet dating has become so popular.

It is interesting to see how internet dating does not carry the stigma that placing the lonely hearts ad in the local paper used to. That was the preserve of the perceived social misfit or hapless type and would generate sneers of derision. ‘Lonely Hearts’.  Even the name itself breeds feelings of pity. Online dating, however, is very different.  The stigma seems to have all but disappeared from the whole process, which is a good thing. A number of my friends, both male and female, use dating sites and have found partners through it and i admit to having used dating sites myself in the past. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not looking down on anyone who does online dating and I am always of the opinion that if you want something then you need to go out and get it, instead of bemoaning lack of opportunity. It’s just that, in my eyes, the online dating world has been a disappointing experience.

As a long term singleton, I have become aware that maybe I expect too much or, more likely, have simply have not met the right person yet. There was a glorious period when indeed I thought the real thing, ‘the full fat coke’ if you like, had been found and, even though it ultimately came to nothing, I look back now with healthy regard on what were beautiful feelings. Perhaps having experienced these feelings has spoiled me or has raised my expectations too far, but I don’t think wanting a connection or rapport with someone, or the chance to care and support each other, is too much to ask?

Female friends who have tried their luck online complain of the significant number of wannabe players who get in touch. Their intentions are clear and leave little to the imagination. Long term relationship types, these guys are not. As a male casting an eye over women online, you see an endless production line of samey, barely 2D approaches to putting yourself over as an attractive proposition. It’s either the passport style picture whilst looking to come across as conventionally classy or the other perspective which is ‘looking wild on a night out’. It all becomes a paint by numbers exercise. The personal ads themselves trot out the same tired cliches – everyone loves ‘travelling’ – they don’t mention what they learnt from their experience or how it changed their perspective on life, just a rattled off list of all the places they’ve visited. Then there are the ones where it’s all how career minded they are, and now they just need the partner to compliment everything. How romantic.  If you met someone in a pub, could you imagine if they started rattling off all the places they’ve visited, what their favourite food is and then set out their romantic agenda in their first sentence.  You’d run a mile, but this is exactly what online dating does.  Where’s the mystery?

I just feel that the online approach brings with it unrealistic expectation and the serious danger of people creating an identikit partner who must meet exact specifications as if they were a sofa or a washing machine. A lot of people, in the flesh, are fascinating, entertaining, charming along with many other superlatives but these qualities are easily lost in the virtual world, where judgments seem to be made on base instincts and a couple of photos.

So two fingers to the world of winking, emoticons and bland personal statements where you are expected to say, like everyone else, that you pray for world peace, love animals and the rest of it. I would much rather take my chances and be taken for everything I actually am instead of trotting out what I think people would like to hear. My own personal journey to find love and fulfillment will take a different path and will be on my terms. As Bill Hicks pointed out, you should want your rock stars to be playing from the heart. Online dating, for me, seems the antithesis of this and on a par with listening to Justin Bieber when you really want to be blasting out AC/DC.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

4 Responses to this article

  1. What a load of nonsense. Just because you have had a bad experience with online dating why do you feel the need to knock it and put other people off? I tried online dating after I got divorced and it was the best decision I ever made. At first I used it to meet new people and just to get out of the house. I went on lots of dates and had lots of fun. Sure, there are lots of unsuitable people out there, but you can soon work that out. I never went on a date with anyone until I had exchanged several e-mails and had a few phone conversations.
    I eventually met a girl who I will be marry next year. We started writing e-mails to each other and really got to know each other. Why did you feel you needed to “trot out what people wanted to hear”? I was completely honest in every communication and eventually I met someone who was the same.
    As for the mystery? There is plenty of mystery. The excitement of meeting someone for the first time is thrilling. You don’t know if there is going to be the ‘chemistry’ that is so crucial to a relationship. I met some fascinating people, had some very entertaining dates and never got my hopes up. Internet dating is what you make it.
    You sound almost disappointed that internet dating has lost it’s stigma and try to compare it to placing an advert in a lonely hearts column. And what’s wrong with a lonely hearts column? You say it brings about a feeling of pity. Really? It’s just a label for goodness sake. Lonely hearts columns were for people who had struggled to meet someone in their normal life and wanted a helping hand. Internet dating has just replaced this and why not? Why wait for fate to match you up with someone when it might not ever happen.
    The most disappointing aspect of your piece is that it has been published on CALM’s website. Internet dating helped me get over my divorce and certainly stopped me from being miserable. I’m sorry that you are still a “long term singleton” but your piece comes across as very bitter and resentful that you didn’t enjoy internet dating. I’m sorry to hear that, but please don’t add to the stigma of internet dating. Stigma is something CALM tries to prevent, weather it be mental illness or anything that can stop people from being happy. Internet dating brought me a lot of happiness. It’s not for everyone, but until someone has tried it I really don’t understand why you would want to put people off it. There are a lot of very nice, single people out there, all wanting to meet someone special and if internet dating can help that process then why not?
    I am really disappinted that CALM have allowed this on their website.

    Neil Billingham 7th May 2013 at 12:22 pm
  2. Thank you for writing and publishing this article. I, too, have sworn off the online-dating world. It works for some people, but not for me.

    I tried it for several months, and after several nauseating experiences, suddenly, one summer evening, a man contacted me through the site, we met, and we started dating. It was, at first, so beautiful. After a couple of months, he asked to make the relationship exclusive, and I agreed. He professed to love me as he had never loved a woman before. He said that he wanted to marry me, and I loved him as I have never loved a man before.

    Then, abruptly, after about a year,he changed. I later learned that during his entire relationship with me, he had been keeping his online profile up, tweaking it, and dating other women that he met through the site.

    I think that, for men in particular, online dating sites can come to serve as little more than convenient brothels, providing an endless supply of women to sample, and always suggesting to the man that there might be a woman out there somewhere who would suit him better than the one that he is with.

    Deborah Boone 28th May 2013 at 11:01 am
  3. Woah Neil, I thought the author made it explicit that they were expressing their own opinion and didn’t wish to say that online dating is bad for everyone. I myself work for an online dating site, a job made hellish by a small minority.

    What Deborah said can be true but not always, there are a certain brand of f**k wits out there that use online dating to further their campaign to rid the world of innocence in the name peace, love and the betterment of mankind usually. However I wouldn’t paint all males that using dating sites with the same brush. There are much worse people than that, and better ones too. Just like in real life.

    Anon 29th January 2014 at 3:27 pm
  4. I have had some interesting experiences with regards to the opposite sex and I have been in one relationship before. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and where I live means that I know virtually everyone. I am on an online dating site myself although with hindsight I wish I wasn’t, the same with Facebook. It does make you feel very depressed and frustrated which I try very hard not to be. I haven’t had bad experiences with online dating, but it has made me the subject of a lot of ridicule, the same with Facebook. I find this quite humiliating and I try not to. I am sorry if this sounds self indulgent, but my way of approaching online dating was not to think about the people I was contacting until I had actually met them albeit over the phone or in person.

    Tom Gould 15th April 2014 at 5:16 pm

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