Online Dating: Help or Hindrance?

Over at The Atlantic, Dan Slater wrote an article about the recent state of online dating. In the article, he describes an individual’s personal experience with online dating, and mentions various statistics and psychologists findings on the subject. The article’s aim is to showcase how online dating is changing the way singles view commitment and marriage as a whole.

Slater mentions the main “ingredients” that psychologists say determine the strength in a relationship: overall satisfaction with the relationship, the investment one has put into the relationship, and the quality of perceived alternatives. The satisfaction and alternative ingredients, Slater states, are largely affected by the online dating pool. The man mentioned in the article felt that if he were to end his relationship with his current girlfriend, he would not be worried about whether or not he would be able to find another woman to be with, in large part due to online dating. This type of outlook and other research seem to suggest that online dating may produce an overall decrease in commitment. Slate quotes the man he interviewed for the article: “Maybe I have the confidence now to go after the person I really want. But I’m worried that I’m making it so I can’t fall in love.”

Whether or not someone supports online dating isn’t the issue; the issue is commitment. If satisfaction and possible alternatives are indeed factors in how online daters look at relationships, how should we view online dating sites? Is online dating beneficial? How can we redeem this problematic trend in society?

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  • Findlay

    My advice- follow your heart and join the best dating site on the planet called attracion(dot)com with thousands of genuine members looking for love!

  • Jeff Cavanaugh

    I was most struck by Slater’s observation that the ease of meeting people online has likely decreased commitment because, when a relationship gets difficult, it’s easier to cut one’s losses and move on to the next partner than it is to stick it out and work through the problems. Online dating makes it easier to believe that you’ll be happier with someone else than with your current mate.

    This is a great opportunity for Christians to point out the emptiness of that cut-and-run lifestyle and testify to what most committed, married couples find: that happiness in the relationship is often stronger and deeper on the other side of conflict. When you’re committed to the marriage and to your spouse, and when divorce isn’t an option, it gives you an incentive to approach conflict differently–humbly, repentantly, lovingly–in the first place.