“what a loser, I bet they found their date online!” – then.

1 in 3 marriages started online – now.

Still a relatively new concept, online dating is a $4bn industry world wide.  Even as little as 10 years ago, ‘admitting’ to looking for a date on the internet could have brought you ridicule and create suspicion.  Whey can’t they get a ‘real’ partner?!  Previously, people met love interests at work or via friends.  Now, in the heterosexual world, online dating is the second most common way of finding a partner.  And the internet is now the platform for the majority of same-sex dates, way out numbering the old-school methods of finding someone.

Not everyone is convinced yet though.  Is it weird?  Is it awkward?  I can’t face rejection?  Is it expensive? (SPOILER: no.  For example http://online4.love/how-much-does-eharmony-cost/).

For those that see the many benefits of online dating, they flip all that the other way.  They love the convenience.  They love the reduced awkwardness.  They love being able to look further afield for a date without feeling like you’ve got to go back-packing to meet new people.  And they love how efficient it is – you go on dates with people more likely to be the sort of person you’re after.  Lady luck takes a back-seat and Cupid has the wheel! (Sorry, that was really cheesy).

How has the internet changed the dating game?

Well quite simply, it has made it better.  The benefits to giving it are go are numerous.

It’s really quite easy.  Get a profile set up.  Get paired up.  Go on a date if you want to.  Plus there’s no game playing.  You’ve both laid your cards on the table with your online profiles and you have both declared an interest in each other.  Whilst not every date is going to work out perfectly, you have certainly improved your odds of meeting someone you genuinely like.

Play a bigger field.  You work in one place, you live in one place, you see the same people and you rarely break the routine.  How do you meet people?  Especially if you’re a parent, you’re social circles and chances to meet people are seriously restricted. Well the world wide web casts the net further afield for you.  Although you’re probably still going to want to keep it relatively local.  The Maldives would be a lovely first date but you certainly can’t get a cab there.

The cost.  Dates aren’t cheap.  They don’t have to be expensive, but chances are you will have to splash some cash.  And you’re going to resent doing that if the person you’re on a date with turns out to be so not what you were after.  So in that respect, you stand a much better chance of not wasting your money on the ‘getting to know’ stage because all that has been done already thanks to having been matched online.  Also, the actual physical cost of these websites is not what you are perhaps thinking it is.  To get an idea, here is an outlay of the various cost options of one of the leading online dating sites.

A confidence booster.  If you’re a bit reserved, the idea of a first date might be a bit daunting if you’ve not really seen or heard much of them before hand.  In the online dating world there is a bit of messaging before hand and you’ve seen what their interests are and what they’re looking for.  So you’ve got ammunition for conversation once you’re on the date, or if you’re just not feeling it before hand, you cancel.  And as you’ve not even met them, you won’t find yourself in any awkward coffee machine moments that might come with dating someone from work.  And you certainly won’t bump into them if you’re out with friends because you’ve literally never even met them.  Nice.

Honesty is the best policy.  There is a bit of a myth about online dating; that people lie and you don’t know who you are going to meet.  Well ignore that. Stats show that people are MORE honest with online profiles than they are in ‘real life’.  The initial anonymity means people are more free to be themselves.  Furthermore, the websites want honesty from their customers.  They want a good success rate, so if people are lying they soon get found out.  It’s similar to eBay in that respect.  Dishonest traders and buyers soon get found out via bad reviews and ratings.

Ice already broken.  The ‘I don’t know how to talk to them’ bit has already been done.  Both of you are known to have similar interests, and both of you have declared a level of interest in each other.  You skip the need for ice breaking or bad pick-up lines. You can go on your date confident that they like what they have seen and heard of you.  So relax and enjoy.

Online dating is safe, fun, efficient and inexpensive.  Thankfully we’ve moved on from the suspicion of early online dating and more and more people are discovering that traditional methods might soon become the ‘weird’ way of doing it.