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By allowing us to pursue romantic prospects from a distance, online dating puts us at a remove.
It softens rejection and allows us to get away with behaviours we wouldn’t engage in if the technological medium weren’t there to protect us from people’s reactions.
A Columbia University study conducted an experiment with speed dating where straight men and women were placed in each other’s company for a few minutes and surveyed four times throughout the process – from beforehand to six months after the speed dating.
They were asked to rate potential partners based on six different criteria, and the results showed consistently that what we say we want in a partner has no correlation with what we will actually opt for in the moment.
They’ve taken our immediate social circle out of dating, so you can do what you want without ever having to deal with the judgement of a peer group.
It turns out, however, that we are singularly incompetent when it comes to determining what we want with any degree of certainty or consistency.
Online, sending the word in block capitals still probably isn’t a good idea, but for men initiating contact and not getting a response, it isn’t as debilitatingly soul crushing.
Everyone is generally braver and less accountable online – more likely to communicate with others in a way that we would certainly hesitate to when faced with that person looking directly at us in conversation.
Surely, I thought, being able to “swipe” through potential prospects prior to meeting them would minimise the agonising tension of rejecting or being rejected face-to-face, and eliminate complete mismatches.
Online and app-based dating has changed the way we interact with each other.