Online dating brings convenience and practicality to a process which could otherwise be stressful and awkward. In many ways, online dating can be more effective than traditional methods of meeting people. Your ability to search for an ideal match is greatly enhanced by the technology it places in the palm of your hands.
Presented in this manner, online dating sounds like the pinnacle of innovation in human courtship. The picture which is painted is one in which we can all enjoy fruitful and loving relationships with our real soulmates — that we never have to “settle” for just anyone. That we must no longer endure the drudgery of having to go out with loser after loser in our search for love. The angst of dealing with people whose personalities we find annoying or suffering the heartache of being emotionally hurt when our affections aren’t reciprocated are presented as things of the past. It is as if matchmaking algorithms and parity metrics have come to our rescue.
Sad Dose of Reality
Unfortunately, as wonderful as online dating can be, it is not perfect. Rather, the people you meet online — much as the people who you meet anywhere else — are not perfect. That is just part of the human condition.
That special someone who seemed so compatible online may not be that great in real life. Even people with a great profile pic, enticing bio, and a 90-plus percent compatibility score can let you down. Worse, they can break your heart.
Online dating does not shield you from heartache. In a way, online dating can make you feel worse when things don’t go your way. After all, having used all of the tools at your disposal to curate the perfect list of potential matches, personally vetting each one through online messaging, enduring several first dates until you came across the “perfect one” — it was as if you held all the cards. You had full control over your destiny.
Sadly, after weeks of dating the person you met online and being happy, you hit a speedbump on the road to “happily ever after.” The new love of your life, the one that all of the dating site algos indicated was your best choice for romantic bliss dumped you. Now what?
Heartbreaks Are Part of Life
When someone you hold strong feelings for does something to dash your trust, your dreams or your aspirations — it’s going to hurt. It does not matter if you met them through a dating app or if you were introduced by your best friend.
This means that there is no way to avoid the grieving process that we all go through when our heart is broken. There is no app that will make the pain go away. The only cure for a broken heart is, as it always has been, time.
Should You Swear Off Online Dating?
Just because you were emotionally hurt by someone you met online does not mean that you should swear off the entire online dating industry. That would be as absurd as you swearing off bars because someone you met in a bar dumped you, or swearing off friends because one of your friends set you up with someone who wound up cheating on you.
What you should do is be more realistic about what you should expect from online dating.
Consider Pragmatic Online Dating
When you first register on an online dating platform your primary motivations are going to be based on need. It will either be a need for romance or a need for sex. No need to sugar-coat it, those are the main motivators for anyone paying a membership fee and then investing their time to hone their profiles and spending hours engaging on the platforms.
That is perfectly normal. The problem arises when you engage in a disconnect between human nature and your expectations about the people who you will meet online. No matter how impressive the matchmaking tools are on your preferred dating app their purpose is to facilitate discovery between two like-minded adults — that’s all. Their purpose is not to magically make everyone genuine and worthy.
The pragmatic approach to online dating requires you to use the dating platforms as they were intended — as discovery tools only and not as dream factories.
It is easy to become infatuated with some of the profiles that you will come across on your favorite app or site. When you add to that the reassurance that you feel when you notice that they share several interests in common with you — elation soon follows. All it takes is a few good chats, a pleasant first date, and the next thing you know you are picturing yourself spending the rest of your life with that person.
The problem with that scenario is that you are blinding yourself. Instead of using the dating site’s tools to properly vet your prospects, you are allowing yourself to be taken in by the glossy facade that each user is attempting to portray.
Pragmatic online dating does not require you to be cold or cynical. It does, however, necessitate an awareness on your part that not everyone is as genuine or honest in their purpose for being on a dating platform as you might be.
How can you level the playing field?
- Place more value on your in-person encounters with the people you meet online.
- If you are impressed by their online profile or online banter, don’t use those feelings to rationalize away warning bells about them when you meet in person.
- If someone is too perfect online, they are probably too good to be true.
- Don’t jump on the first prospect. One of the best things about online dating is that you can search through dozens of prospects every day without much effort on your part. Spend time on the platform, engage with several prospects before you decide to advance to the next level with any of them. Usually, the more time you engage with someone online before meeting in person the more accurate of a portrayal that you are going to get about how they are in person.
In short, there is no way to avoid the risk of having someone break your heart. Whether you meet in person or through the most advanced dating or hookup sites in existence, love and romance are too valuable of a prize to be obtained free of risk.
That said, using online dating the smart way will make your search for love easier. If you have been heartbroken by someone you met online, don’t abandon the technology. Get back on that digital horse and focus on using it prudently and pragmatically. Remember, online dating is meant as a tool to discover potential matches faster, not as a pair of rose-tinted glasses to hide the reality of human courtship.