Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Hefty Bag Approach to Dating

Has anyone yet compared the success rate of dating the old fashioned way, ten years ago, back before Internet personals were invented -- and the new, improved Internet way?

Are there any statistics that show a greater satisfaction with relationships, more stable and lasting marriages?

Or has Internet dating actually eroded our ability to meet and relate?

Here are some themes I hope to explore in Brain Dancing:

1. An endless stream of new prospects has made dates less precious, more expendable. It's created what I call the "Hefty Bag" approach to dating. Dates are rapidly trashed (or recycled.) As if Internet dates somehow aren't "real" people -- so real feelings don't matter.

2. The anonymity of personal ads has created an explosion in "casual encounters," "hookups" just for sex, "booty calls", swinger ads and "NSA" affairs. Were people really into so much no strings attached sex ten years ago -- before the Internet made it so anonymous and easy?

3. Online dating has made infidelity a profitable business -- 28% of the 40 million American adults who use Internet personals are actually married.

4. Despite the proliferation in Internet dating services -- few people seem to create sustainable relationships this way. Out of my wide circle of personal friends, I know only 4 couples who have met and married through personal ads. (And of those, one resulted in a divorce one year later.). Virtually all of my single friends use Internet personals -- but very few of these people seem to make it past the first date with anyone.

5. Internet personal ads are often blatantly dishonest. Every man I know who has tried Internet dating services complains that the majority of the photographs that women place are at least ten years old and that women about their age. (One guy I spoke with on the phone when I was screening prospective dates said, sarcastically, "Photoshop is a girl's best friend." Women complain that the men they meet are often married and looking for some side play--or recently separated, on the rebound and just looking for quick, casual sex -- even though their ad states they're single and "looking for a serious relationship".

6. The upside? Internet ads bring wonderful new friends into our lives who we might have never met otherwise -- or put us in touch with people we already met before ("in the real world") but somehow didn't connect with. Internet ads also help people find "that needle in a haystack" -- the one person in the world who can share a very narrow, political interest, religion, dietary preference, race, geographic region, kink or hobby.

Ayurvedic personal ads that match you by dosha? Hey, why not.

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