Hey, Online Dating Hater (Part 2)
Last Friday, I shared my personal experience with online dating. Today I’m going to list some more general objections that I often make when being pushed to try online dating.
1. Let’s not forget that online dating is a business. A very profitable one. For one thing, it’s not in its financial best interest for you to find the love of your life right away. For another, like many businesses, it seeks customers by marketing to their unmet desires and vulnerabilities. I hate advertising that hits people below the belt about their most important relationships, or lack thereof. The worst offender, Christian Mingle, takes it a step further and brings your theology into it too. Its tagline is “Find God’s match for you,” as if a) their algorithm is divinely inspired and b) God can only work within the confines of their matching pool. Here’s a direct quote from the commercial that makes me the most furious: “Sometimes, we wait for God to make the next move, when God is saying it’s your time to act. The next move is yours.” I’m not here to debate all the subtleties of that statement, but I doubt Jesus would be on board with its manipulative spirit. As if no matter how thoughtfully and prayerfully you’re living out your singleness, it only continues because you’re too stubborn or lazy to join Christian Mingle. As if God is rolling His eyes waiting for you to get on board. I just don’t want to support that.
A while back, CM ran a lot of testimonial ads on Entertainment Weekly Radio during the evening rush hour. I deeply resented having my happy pop culture time interrupted with emotional grenades like “If I’d never joined Christian Mingle, I wouldn’t have this beautiful family.” Like Hey, online dating hater, I hope you’re enjoying this Town Hall with Daniel Radcliffe, because you’re going to die alone!
Full disclosure: One of my best friends, who has much fewer hangups than I, met her boyfriend after 48 hours on Christian Mingle. I’m very happy for her and I refer to their relationship as “Results Not Typical.” (It should be noted that in that 48 hours, another guy broke the ice with her by asking for her views on infant baptism.)
2. Online dating is corporate, impersonal, and high-pressure. You’re essentially being interviewed for the position of someone’s life partner. Some might argue that all dating is like an interview, but that hasn’t been my experience (yet). As the comments section of every popular website proves, the internet can steal your humanity. People treat others like products or prey.
Some of my best friends (including the one I just mentioned) are women I met online, and our friendships are real and alive. I’m thankful for them every day. But we were drawn to one another as people. We chose to be friends. There was no evaluation or series of getting-to-know-you questions. Nothing was herding us along. We just connected naturally. For me, that’s key. If I naturally find myself talking to a guy or having things in common with him, in person or online, I don’t feel threatened because we’re just two people talking. There are no expectations. It’s all good. But having to decide based on a profile, a picture, and a few quiz answers whether I want to Buy It Now? I get heart palpitations (and a powerful sense of ickiness) just thinking about it. Men don’t do online dating to find friends. They don’t take kindly to you “wasting their time.” For me as a woman, once I move forward, there’s a sense of obligation. (I object to that too, but male privilege is too big a topic for this post.)
3. I can’t speak to all online dating services, but at least on eHarmony, long-distance relationships are strongly encouraged. Their blogs and literature imply that if you don’t want one, you’re not giving God room to work or whatever. If you don’t have a very large match radius, they send you multiple e-mails about expanding it. Obviously this is a personal preference, but it’s one they ought to respect. I’m not saying I’d never enter a long-distance relationship, because there are a few circumstances that would make it more okay for me. But with a complete stranger? You don’t have any firsthand or backup knowledge of his family, his friends, or anything about his day-to-day life. You don’t know if you’d even get along living in the same city. All you know is what he tells you. It’s a relationship in a vacuum. He could easily be married with three kids and you’d never know. And even if everything is on the up and up, a long-distance relationship can only end one way. Someone has to move, and in a “traditional” relationship where the man takes priority, guess who that’s going to be?
4. Online dating makes it much easier to lie about yourself. I know, I know, people can and do lie about themselves and their activities in any circumstances. I got snowed in my own marriage. But in person, you pick up on cues you just can’t sense through a computer screen. And if you have mutual acquaintances, you can confirm facts or check into things that seem fishy. (See #3.)
If online dating worked for you or someone you love, great! Really, I’m happy for you. But it’s not for everyone. As with everything else in life, we need to learn to respect each other’s different personalities, needs, and principles regarding dating. We need to stop treating online dating like a trump card – it makes singles feel even more hopeless when they play the card and it doesn’t work. I know that when you find the right person, how you met is irrelevant. For all I know, I’ll change my mind eventually and find the perfect man on one of these sites. But it’s unlikely. I personally can’t open myself up to a relationship if I don’t feel at ease, and online dating makes me deeply uneasy for all the reasons I listed.
I’m undecided as to whether there will be a Part 3 of this series. If you’d like me to address anything in particular, tell me in the comments!
About Brenda W.Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
Posted in dating, singleness