Blair Garrett

Love is in the air.

February is a time of appreciating the love we do have, whether it’s for your significant other who’s always there to listen to you, your family who is always there to care for you, or your friend who is always there to make questionable decisions with you. Love comes in many forms, and in the modern dating world, things are tremendously different than they have ever been.

The trend to find a partner is going virtual, with nearly one in four relationships starting online since 2020. Among many things, technology has completely revolutionized the way we date. Instead of vetting potential mates based on what you know about them and your in-person experiences with them, we can now decide based on a few pictures and a conversation or two, should you decide to go the online route.

Meeting partners online gives singles access to meeting fun and interesting people, no matter their current circumstances. In the adult world, it can be hard to branch out and meet new people if you’re living in unfamiliar territory. Say you get a new job away from home, or you’re going to school out of state. There are hundreds of apps and outlets to start friendly or romantic relationships online, and the connectivity of the internet has made that more available than ever before.

Beginning relationships online does have its drawbacks, though, and before you enter that world, it’s good to educate yourself on what you might be getting into.  

Online dating emphasizes quantity over quality when choosing dates. The general idea is the more feelers someone puts out, the higher the chances of them landing a potential date. While that has become the norm, it may not always lead to success when venturing out into the virtual dating pool.

The problem is that it can degrade the level of communication when your focus goes from one person to many. Think of it like a flashlight. A concentrated beam of light shows great contrast and detail, but when you greatly widen the scope, you may pick up more of the surroundings, but the shine may not be as bright on the things right in front of you.

The tendency is often to match, send a low-effort pickup line, and repeat. Some people cut straight to the chase, immediately stating their intentions, but that also takes time and effort.

When it’s a numbers game, people put less and less thought into their connections, because it takes more time to do so. The less time and energy someone has to dedicate to a stranger, typically the less lively and engaging the conversations end up being.

One of the big pitfalls of online dating is the lack of context with your match. Without body language and other physical cues, it can be hard to pick up on a person’s real thoughts or opinions on subjects that may be important to you. That can, of course, be alleviated by meeting up for the first time and assessing the chemistry, but that, too, has its inherent problems when not approached with caution.

With social media being as volatile as it is, there’s no shortage of contention when someone can throw insults from the safety of their home. It can be difficult to iron out exactly who you’re talking to until you meet in person.

While there are certainly dangers when going out to meet a stranger for the first time, the general guidelines are to meet in a public place, have a backup plan in case things go south, and have someone you trust know your location. Most modern smartphones have a share location feature, which allows you to share your current location at any given time with an individual of your choosing.

Terrible daters are out there, and an alarming amount of both women and men have horror stories about first dates. If you think that can’t happen to you, guess again.

That’s not to say that online dating is all bad, though, as it gives people who are especially crunched for time a chance to date on their time and on their terms.

It provides people with an opportunity to connect with so many more people than they ever would have, and that’s a really valuable thing.

So many people have found success stories through the internet when dating online, but with a little attention to detail, you can weed out the duds from the studs. One thing that may be helpful is to really pay attention to the things that you need in a partner and the things that you know do or don’t work for you when meeting someone new. If you have values that are near and dear to you, compromising on those for a new boyfriend or girlfriend can spell failure down the line.

Red flags are there for a reason. They stand out, and if something doesn’t feel right with a person’s reaction or demeanor toward something important to you, you’re better off playing it safe than sorry. But fear not, everyone’s perfect person is out there somewhere. It’s just up to you to put in the effort to find them.

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