Online dating can be a pain in the ass — there’s no doubt about it. But there’s also no doubt that it’s one of your best options for finding a date. Everything in life has its cons, but everything in life also has its pros.
We’ve pinpointed 15 of the biggest problems you could face when dating online, and we’re giving you 10 ways to solve those problems. As an old family friend of mine once said, “Nothin’ gets fixed just by complaining about it,” so this article is here to help put the power in your hands.
Problems With Online Dating (#1-15)
We’ll start with the bad news and then give you the good news. From creating an inviting profile to being charming in your messages and making sure who you’re talking to really is who they say they are — you’re going to face some challenges in online dating. We won’t sugarcoat it, but if you’re aware of them, then you know what to look for and are that much better off.
1. There Are Almost Too Many Options
The internet has an estimated 8,000 dating sites on it, and an estimated 40 million people have used at least one of them. I get overwhelmed just looking at a BJ’s restaurant menu — let alone thinking about how many sites and singles there are to pick from.
We’re living in a society where we’re given a ton of choices and have to make a ton of decisions every day because of those choices. I don’t know about you, but for me, it gets to the point where I don’t want to make any decisions anymore. Do we really need a dating site just for people who are incarcerated? Singles would be better off with fewer options that do what they do really well.
2. It Costs Money
I know that Walmart ad says the best things in life are free, but that’s not necessarily true. Yes, most dating websites are 100% free or offer free trials and/or memberships, but the best of the best require some kind of payment during some part of the process. That way, those who aren’t serious about finding a match or who are looking to take advantage of singles are less likely to sign up.
Having said that, expensive doesn’t mean first-rate. We’ve seen some sites charge almost $200 upfront, but we wouldn’t recommend them to our family and friends, which means we wouldn’t recommend them to you.
3. People Can Easily Lie About Themselves
It’s online dating — you’re alone with a laptop or smartphone, not face to face with someone. This makes it easier for some people to add a few inches to their height, take a few years off their age, or lie about something worse. There’s no one to hold them accountable except for themselves, and if the person on the other end catches on to their tricks, all they have to do is move on to the next person.
4. You’re Facing More Rejection More Frequently
What I just said about moving on to the next person applies to this problem, too. In the real world, people typically face rejection one person at a time, but in online dating, that rejection can be multiplied.
Remember, millions of singles are using dating websites, and there’s no way they could all like you. So there may be times — occasionally on a daily basis — when dozens of left swipes and no-thank-yous come your way.
5. It Creates a Tendency to Compare Ourselves to Others
Before online dating came around, we just had beautiful, funny people in movies, TV shows, and magazines with whom to compare ourselves. Now online dating is included in that mix. You’re going to see people who seem to have better profiles than you, better pictures than you, more accomplishments to brag about than you, more interesting interests than you, and so on. Maybe they do; maybe they don’t. Your head could start to mess with you.
6. Two Words: Dick Pics
You can’t talk about online dating without talking about dick pics. Several friends of mine have received unsolicited photos of an online match’s Johnson. One was even just replying to a good morning text he’d sent! I’m sure you know someone or know someone who knows someone who’s also gotten a little more than they asked for, to put it kindly. Numerous studies and think pieces address why men do this, but I’m here to simply say it’s a problem.
7. Ghosting Becomes More Prevalent
If you think those no-thank-yous can be rough, imagine starting to like someone and then they just up and vanish, never to be heard from again. Similar to the lying, it’s easier to peace out on someone when you’re not looking them in the eye or hearing the disappointment in their voice.
8. It Can Take a Decent Amount of Time
Plenty of people have found that special someone within weeks or days of online dating, but a majority of the time, it takes longer. One woman shared her story and advice after dating online for more than three years.
Online dating can sometimes feel like a part-time job — you’re working day in and day out hoping to finally get that raise or promotion. To be honest, sometimes it comes and sometimes it doesn’t.
9. Scams Abound
In 2014, the FBI received almost 6,000 romance scam complaints — ranging from identity theft to fake emergencies and business investments. It’s no secret that the horrible people in the world who want to hurt the good ones — especially if they’re in a vulnerable situation such as being single and feeling lonely — ruin everything for them.
10. Stalkers, Pedophiles, Murderers & Other Predators
In addition to financial dangers you could face on a dating site, there have been reports of physical dangers as well, including stalking and murder. Also, according to Phactual.com, 10% of sex offenders use dating websites to meet people.
While a lot of dating websites verify their members in some way and/or conduct background checks, some do not, leaving all of the investigating to the members.
11. The “Grass is Always Greener” Mentality
We said it earlier — online dating gives you a lot of choices, which might not be so great if you’re prone to having FOMO. You could meet someone awesome, but “what about the others out there whom I haven’t met yet?” you ask yourself. “Is this really as good as it gets?”
I’m not trying to compare people to food, but it’s kind of like wishing you’d left room for dessert after eating too much from a buffet. You keep wondering how good the chocolate cake is and if you should’ve given up the mac and cheese for it.
12. People With Baggage Flock to It
Singles who have unresolved issues from their past love life tend to be drawn to online dating to ease the pain because it’s so easy to get started. This is especially true on sites like Tinder, where you could meet someone within minutes.
You’ll even notice it in profiles and messages. Some will have a laundry list of likes and dislikes (probably the opposite characteristics of what their ex possessed) or they’ll just flat-out talk about their ex in their About Me section or during your correspondence.
13. It Makes Us Pickier
This problem is similar to the “grass is always greener” mentality. It’s great that dating websites allow us to pick out our preferences, but there are those who tend to get carried away. You said you wanted someone at least 6 feet tall, but a nice guy you see happens to be two inches shorter. Does he still deserve a shot? You said you prefer girls with blue eyes, so does that mean green eyes are out of the question? You said you like people who are also interested in sports. However, if it’s soccer they’re passionate about instead of football, will you move on? At the end of the day, little things like that don’t really matter.
14. You Could Be Catfished
We’ve all heard of the show and the Manti Te’o story. Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone they’re not (fake name, fake picture, fake location, fake history, etc.) to pursue a romantic relationship with an unknowing member of a dating site, social media network, or similar platform. Daily Infographic reports that 80% of online daters “fib” in their profile. You or someone you know could fall for the next lie.
15. It Works Better for Some Than Others
Research shows black women often have the hardest time online dating. They’re often objectified, receive fewer replies to their messages, have to endure racist comments, and so on. Similar things have been said about Asian men. Studies and firsthand accounts say white women seemingly have the easiest time.
How to Solve Your Online Dating Problems (#16-25)
Online dating has some serious problems, but they can be fixed or at least made better. While online daters don’t have all of the control, they do have some, and that’s where the tips below come in handy.
16. Do Your Research First
It’s good to do your own research and learn as much as you can about online dating before jumping in. Check out studies, articles, and reviews of the dating websites themselves. Not only do consumers give their feedback, but so do businesses and people like us who eat, breathe, sleep, and live online dating. Our experts have been in this industry for decades, so they have a lot of insights.
17. Choose a Trustworthy Site That Will Work for You
This is a two-part tip. You want to pick a dating site that’s reputable overall, not just among online daters. You also want to pick one that has the tools you need to accomplish your goals. The studies, articles, and reviews we mentioned in the last tip will help with the reputable part; and, in terms of your goals, you’ll want to turn to the site’s pricing, user base, and features.
We’ve chosen three of our favorite dating websites, which you can see below, and they all have their unique qualities that should appeal to all types of online daters.
Match: The Best All Around
Match has practically everything going for it, and it would take us forever to list all the qualities here. However, you’ll find some of the biggest takeaways in this graph:
What the graph doesn’t tell you is Match is the longest-running dating site, having been founded in 1995, and has 30 million members who connect via cool features like matchPhone and live events.
OurTime: Good for Mature Men and Women
If age is important to you in dating, being around people within the same range can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel on the site and how successful you are on it. This is why we recommend OurTime for singles aged 50 and older. Here’s what you need to know:
BlackPeopleMeet: A Favorite Among Black and Biracial Daters
In our 15th problem, we talked about how black women appear to be at a disadvantage in online dating, but sites like BlackPeopleMeet are here to change that. The site is specifically dedicated to black and biracial singles (other ethnicities are allowed to join, though).
BlackPeopleMeet gives you one less thing to narrow down, so you can spend more time focusing on preferences like career, lifestyle habits, values, and beliefs.
18. Get Offline As Soon As Possible
The best way to lure out a catfish or scammer is to arrange an in-person meeting as quickly as you can. If he or she keeps putting it off and giving you lame excuses, you have your answer. If the person in question agrees to meet, you should still take some precautions. Meet at the set location instead of having them pick you up or you picking them up, and let a friend know where you’re going to be.
19. Keep Your Private Information Private
If an online match is asking you for your personal information, such as your address and/or family members’ names, very early on, that’s a red flag. They don’t need to know that stuff yet, so politely decline but keep it in the back of your mind that they asked. Also, someone you don’t know asking for money is another thing to look out for. No matter how pitiful their story is, don’t give in.
20. Listen to Your Instincts
Experts have proven that trusting your gut really works, so if you ever get a weird vibe about an online match, don’t ignore it.
Another good tip is to ask your friends or family their thoughts about a situation. They can give you a fresh perspective and tell you if you’re overreacting or if you’re right. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
21. Block and Report Suspicious and Abusive Members
You should never have to deal with harassment, so if someone won’t leave you alone or is threatening you, every dating site allows you to block and/or report them to the customer support team. If the behavior doesn’t stop or gets worse, you can continue to work with the site and also report it to your local authorities.
22. Give People Who Aren’t Your “Type” a Chance
It’s OK to have certain dating preferences, but being overly picky, as we mentioned before, could actually do more harm than good. Picking out people on a dating site shouldn’t be like picking out fruit at a farmers market. We might put apples back in the pile if they have a spot, but people deserve more of a chance than that. Remember, this isn’t a game, even if it is fun, and we’re all humans with feelings.
23. Be Smart About Your Money and Takes Breaks as Needed
A majority of dating websites will automatically set your paying membership to automatically renew, so you should keep an eye on that. If you decide you want to cancel but forget to pay before the month is up, you’re SOL. As we said, some services will charge you as much as a cable, internet, or cellphone bill, and the cost will add up if you don’t stay on your toes.
Take advantage of the free time a dating site gives you to explore and test everything out. You can upgrade if you decide it’s the one for you, or maybe you won’t even have to. A free dating site may provide you everything you need.
If you haven’t had the kind of luck with online dating you were hoping to have and feel like you’re going crazy, take a break from it for a while. Whether it’s a few days, a week, or a month, take whatever time you need. Online dating will always be there, and you’ll probably come back feeling refreshed.
24. Don’t Take Rejection Personally
Our kindergarten teachers teach us that not everyone is going to like us, and that’s true for online dating. The rejection isn’t a personal jab at you — he or she just wasn’t that into you. You’ll be doing a lot of rejecting as well, so take it all with a grain of salt.
25. Remain Positive
I’ll admit I can be a pretty pessimistic person, but you’ve got to have a positive attitude when you’re online dating. Do whatever activities make you happy on a regular basis so you don’t get bogged down by it all, and check in with your confidantes whenever you need a pick-me-up and confidence boost.
Got 99 Problems, But Online Dating Ain’t One!
I love online dating, and my team loves online dating. But we’re not oblivious to the fact that it can be a real pain sometimes. We, along with so many other people, are working every day to highlight the problems with it and solve them. This article is just another step in that direction, and with your help, we’ll all see the light at the end of the tunnel sooner rather than later.