There’s no doubt about it. Online dating sites and dating apps offer a high-volume, easy-access approach to dating that no other method can. So, naturally, many of us use this technology in our search for love.
And why wouldn’t we? Take online dating, for example. If the site’s name itself doesn’t suggest there are plenty of singles ready to be caught in its vast sea of profiles, then its description sure does. Open the homepage to any major dating site and you’ll see phrases like, “50,000 New Singles Per Day!” And, “Literally, hundreds of thousands of single men and women right in your area have posted ads on [insert website name here].”
This is great, right? The bigger the pool of ready-to-mingle singles, the better the chance you’ll meet someone who is right for you. Surely at least one of “over 27 million searchable members” is the man or woman of your dreams. The odds are in your favour.
Or, are they?
Has access to so many potential matches at any given time caused dating and relationships to become disposable? Abundance means we can be choosy. We’re becoming more selective of those we choose to connect with initially and those we choose to date or be with in a relationship.
Think about it. If we’re scanning hundreds of profiles a week on several dating sites or apps, we’re probably passing over most profiles based on a quick judgement or an assumption:
Loves sports? More like, spends hours on the couch watching hockey. Next.
Has a dog? I’d probably have to walk it. Moving on.
Uses “your” and “you’re” incorrectly? Hell no.
Most profiles won’t make the cut. But that’s okay because there are so many people right at our fingertips. We constantly check off our deal breakers and don’t even consider anyone who doesn’t meet each requirement on our list because the next person might. Dating has become disposable.
Of course, not everyone agrees this is the case.
Gabrielle, 36, has been online dating for a few years and has tried the Tinder app. “I don’t see scanning through a bunch of profiles and saying yes or no to them as any different from scanning the room at a party or when walking down the street,” says Gabrielle. “Yes, there are a lot of choices to filter through online, but there have always been a lot of choices in the real world. [Technology] always seems to get blamed for the way we communicate with each other.”
Okay, fair enough. But passing over profiles isn’t the only sign that dating has become disposable. We’re also becoming more reluctant to date exclusively. “On average we go on four times as many first dates as five years ago, yet have the same amount of second dates,” says dating and relationship expert Hunt Ethridge. “This means we’re placing less value on the actual dates and are replacing quality with quantity because we know we can immediately ‘wind’ or ‘swipe right’ to find someone new.”
We’re becoming serial daters.
Let’s say you’ve met someone you actually like. You felt a connection and found some commonalities. But, a few things came up that weren’t what you’d pictured. You could explore things further, but you know someone new is a click or swipe away. There’s still a chance you could find someone who is exactly what you’d pictured. So, you keep dating.
“We’re looking at dates as being easily replaceable and not allowing ourselves to give the benefit of the doubt, and are continuing a trend of unrealistic expectations,” says Hunt.
It’s sort of like a night in Vegas. You’ve been playing the slots for a few hours and you’re up a few hundred dollars. You’ve done pretty well. It’s already 4 a.m. and you know you should call it a night, but the casino is still humming, the waitress is still dropping off Bloody Marys and there’s still a chance your next spin will be the jackpot. So, you keep playing.
Even if we do get past the first few dates and find ourselves in a relationship, we haven’t necessarily escaped our throw-away dating mentality. Relationships are hard. And meeting new people online is easy – easier than working on a relationship in many cases. Or, at least that’s how we perceive it.
“Dating is so weird,” says Gabrielle. “Single people think, oh there are so many people to choose from, but then when they’re looking for someone they complain how hard it is to find a quality person. It’s like there’s this false sense of so many good people out there to date.”
So, we throw another one back and dive into the dating pool again. After all, there are still millions of single men and women swimming around in there. One of them has got to be the right catch.
Shawna is the co-founder of Wundermeet and a professional in matchmaking and coaching.