Online dating service
A Net dating service, also known as online dating, is an example of a dating system and allows individuals, couples and groups to meet online and possibly develop a social, romantic or sexual relationship. Net dating services provide un-moderated matchmaking through the use of personal computers and the Internet.
Such services generally allow people to provide personal information, then search for other individuals using criteria such as age range, gender and location. Most sites allow members to upload photos of themselves and browse the photos of others. Sites may offer additional services, including webcasts, online chat, and message boards. Sites typically allow people to register for free but may offer services which require a monthly fee.
Many sites are broad-based, with members from a variety of backgrounds looking for different types of relationships. Other sites are more specific, based on the type of members, interests, location, or relationship desired.
U.S. residents spent $469.5 million on online dating and personals in 2004, the largest segment of paid content on the web, according to a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and comScore Networks.
Factors in online dating experience
Online dating sites operate by the same paradigms that govern all relationships, though factors specific to the nature of online communications may affect the experience.
Positive factors include:
- Dating sites allow members to meet more people than they would without such sites.
- People can easily browse other members profiles before deciding to communicate.
- Members can communicate anonymously and with reduced fear or social awkwardness.
- The effect of geography is mitigated and members can meet people of distant locations.
- Dating sites that offer free or moderately priced services allow users to socialize with other singles in a convenient, inexpensive way.
Negative factors include:
- Some members may join the site solely to view content and are not potential matches.
- Men often outnumber women. And on many sites, any one subscriber can contact another - but in practice men usually send the first email. Therefore, women are overwhelmed with responses (many from 'bad apples' and 'players') while men are left sending several emails to hear back from women at all. Many complain of this on the popular Match.com. However, Eharmony only lets subscribers contact the few people it matches them with, which alleviates the problem.
- Members may misrepresent themselves, including their age, gender, physical attributes or socio-economic status.
- Some site members may be married and may misrepresent themselves as single or otherwise available.
- Despite modern advances/opportunities in transportation and telecommunication - particularly, of greatest importance, email - human psychology and behavior still give rise to issues which may pose barriers to relationship success when the two partners are separated by obstacles other than logistic ones, namely, a lack of interpersonal communication and stress, among others.