Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dating is so 20th century (and how about marriage?)

Two recent articles on online dating sites both think that internet dating is changing courtship and marriage, by making it too easy to meet people.

The NY Times focuses on dating culture, and suggests that internet communication itself may remove some of the signaling that used to take place when dating was more formal, and the fact that multiple people can be dated contemporaneously may work to reduce investment in each date:  The End of Courtship?

"Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of “asynchronous communication,” as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it’s more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.

“I’ve seen men put more effort into finding a movie to watch on Netflix Instant than composing a coherent message to ask a woman out,” said Anna Goldfarb, 34, an author and blogger in Moorestown, N.J. A typical, annoying query is the last-minute: “Is anything fun going on tonight?” More annoying still are the men who simply ping, “Hey” or “ ’sup.”

"Online dating services, which have gained mainstream acceptance, reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. Faced with a never-ending stream of singles to choose from, many feel a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), so they opt for a speed-dating approach — cycle through lots of suitors quickly.

"That also means that suitors need to keep dates cheap and casual. A fancy dinner? You’re lucky to get a drink.

It’s like online job applications, you can target many people simultaneously — it’s like darts on a dart board, eventually one will stick,” said Joshua Sky, 26, a branding coordinator in Manhattan, describing the attitudes of many singles in their 20s. The mass-mailer approach necessitates “cost-cutting, going to bars, meeting for coffee the first time,” he added, “because you only want to invest in a mate you’re going to get more out of.”
"THERE’S another reason Web-enabled singles are rendering traditional dates obsolete. If the purpose of the first date was to learn about someone’s background, education, politics and cultural tastes, Google and Facebook have taken care of that."

Meanwhile, in The Atlantic, the concern is that as it becomes easier to meet people, the incentive to work to maintain existing relationships may be diluted: A Million First Dates--How online romance is threatening monogamy

"The positive aspects of online dating are clear: the Internet makes it easier for single people to meet other single people with whom they might be compatible, raising the bar for what they consider a good relationship. But what if online dating makes it too easy to meet someone new? What if it raises the bar for a good relationship too high? What if the prospect of finding an ever-more-compatible mate with the click of a mouse means a future of relationship instability, in which we keep chasing the elusive rabbit around the dating track?"


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