21st Century Relationships: A Look at Online Dating

Forensic psychotherapist Dr. Mary Aiken agrees that the internet has changed the world around us, but more than the noticeable changes, she also argues that it is shaping our development, behaviour, and societal norms. In her book titled The Cyber Effect, she explores the impact of the internet on our ability to form relationships. In line with her argument, one of the topics discussed in her book is the prevalence of online dating.

How has the 21st century shaped relationships? Will online dating become the new norm in finding a lifelong partner? In this article, we will take a closer look at the role of the internet in answering these crucial questions.

Dating in the 21st century: online dating statistics

Current online dating statistics indicate that 1 in 5 relationships begin online. Out of all online dating profiles in the UK, 52% belong to females and 47% to males. In 2017, the most popular online dating platform Tinder had approximately 57 million active users every month. If you are familiar with the popular television show Black Mirror, one of the episodes tackled the possibility of sophisticated computer programs dictating who you date through a simulated virtual experience.

24-year old blogger Jordan Brown said that she met her current boyfriend through Tinder, whom she admits she would not have met if not through the internet. But despite the success stories, meeting someone online requires effort and persistence. You will need to spend hours swiping through profiles, chatting up potential partners, and having to stumble through messy first dates and those who have no real interest in dating you.

Apart from heterosexual relationships, online dating has also proved to be a revolutionary tool for gay relationships. Grindr’s Jack Harrison-Quintana said that “the fundamental reason dating apps were created in the gay community was to protect users and create a safe environment.” That is considering gay relationships are punishable by death in some countries.

How do online dating algorithms work?

Love is supposed to be a complex emotion that cannot be equated or explained using numbers. But that is not the case with online dating. Dating apps use sophisticated algorithms to find matches and compatible partners through the information you provide in your dating profile; hence, the more information you provide, the better your chances of finding a good match. According to reports, Tinder uses an Elo rating system, which is similar to the method used in calculating the skill level of a chess player.

In a recent post by Tinder, they claim that the Elo rating system is no longer the accurate representation of how their algorithms work. Despite not providing any further details on how their systems evolved, many users assume that the amount of information gathered by Tinder is enough to help their systems change and predict user behaviour. Another thing that cannot be denied is that matches on Tinder rely heavily on the user’s appearance.

Users can add more photos to their profile without any real incentive or take advantage of social media integration such as connecting their Instagram and Spotify accounts to “bulk up” their dating profile without providing any additional information.

The pitfalls of online dating

There is no doubt that online dating is sweeping the world, but the question remains: Is it the real deal? There are always two sides to every coin, and online dating is not an exception. Despite the noble intention of bringing people together through technology, there are still some dangers to be wary of. One of the primary challenges of dating online is the risk of meeting someone who intentionally lies on their profile. According to a study conducted by Opinion Matters, 44% of British respondents admit to lying on their dating profiles. But for older users, dishonesty appears to have declined significantly.

Another concern posed by users who are genuinely looking for relationships is that a great many people active in dating apps like Tinder are more interested in one night stands rather than cultivating a real emotional connection with the person they meet.

For some men, they do not acknowledge the distinction between online dating apps and seeking legitimate adult companionship from services like Babylongirls. Although escort services are designed to provide men with the opportunity to meet women who provide professional adult services, some still think that they can use a dating app and get the same level of service for free. This behaviour is a problem that is not only hurting the escort industry but also gives dating apps a bad reputation.

Regaining romance in online dating

Online dating is a significant advantage because it allows you to increase your statistical chance of meeting “the one” by casting a wider net within a bigger pool of people carefully chosen through a mathematical algorithm. Success stories from people who have met their lifelong partners through online dating are encouraging, but it is also essential to keep romance part of the equation. After all, isn’t it the driving force for doing it in the first place?

The fact is, technology does not kill romance. Digital platforms only tend to make people neglect the importance of conventional romantic interactions. Online dating platforms are effective in bringing you closer to the people whom you are compatible with, but it does not end there. Dating apps are only one part of the equation, and the rest of the work is up to you.

It is true that dating in the 21st century is made easier by the internet, but it does not mean it is any less authentic. Despite these innovations, technology will not take away love, which is the fundamental aspect of human relationships and is a basic human need.


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