The Online Dating World Is a Mess

As seen on Psychology Today


Does the online dating world feel like a total sh*t show? That’s because it is. If you’ve struggled with online dating, you’re not alone.

When you sign up for online dating sites, they tell you that they are going to help you find the love of your life. They show you pictures of happy couples and share success stories about couples who met on their sites.

What they don’t tell you is:


  • How much pain those people went through before finding each other

  • How long they were using online dating sites and apps before finding the right person

  • Whether the person they found was in fact the right person, or if that couple is now divorced

  • How many of the people they dated from the site were actually single

  • How many (if any) were emotionally available

  • How depressed they got while dating and looking for the right person

  • How hopeless they felt along the way

  • How tiresome online dating got, and how many times they gave up


And that is a lot of people’s experience with online dating. For many, the journey to those happy photos is long and painful. But most people have no idea what a sh*t show the online dating world is until they’re in it. And even then, when people start to struggle to find the right person, they typically blame themselves, not the online dating sites, apps, or overall system.


I’m not saying you don’t have work to do to heal old wounds and elevate your self-worth, because we all do. However, if you don’t address the issues with online dating itself, all the self-worth in the world won’t help you reach your goal of finding the right person for a healthy relationship.

That’s why it’s so important that you learn more about the online dating world. Understanding what it really is will help you use online dating sites more effectively, and help you feel more empowered along the way.


Online dating sites and apps are designed in a way that actually makes it hard for people to find the right person and develop a relationship. I’m not suggesting that was done on purpose — though it’s true that the longer you’re on those sites, the better it is for those sites — but that is the result of the way the online dating world works.


How online dating makes it hard to find someone


These are a few examples of how the online dating world (or system) makes it hard for people to find the right person and develop a long-term relationship:


1. Matching online is meaningless.

You’re sent people you “match” with, but there’s no reason to think any of those people will be the right person for you. “Matches” are sent to you based on your location and possibly a few additional things that are essentially meaningless. Sometimes matches are sent because both of you found each other attractive. There are a lot of attractive people out there, and most of them will not be compatible with you. Attraction is not enough to make a relationship work. It’s important to know the people sent to you as matches are essentially random people. They’re no more likely to be a good fit for you than some guy walking down the same street. Go forward with communication knowing the person is a stranger and seek to determine whether he is a good fit. Don’t go forward trusting that because you matched online, that you’re actually a good fit. That false belief leads people to move faster with someone than they otherwise would and often leads to disappointment.


2. It perpetuates a fast dating pace.

The online dating world is a fast-paced, high-pressure system with a quick turnover. The constant source of people to swipe through, new matches to check out, and new messages to answer foster a fast-paced, busy system. There’s an expectation that you should meet a total stranger, go on a couple of dates, have sex, and decide if that person is right for you or not. That’s a recipe for staying single. It’s impossible to know if someone is right for you after just a few dates. Relationships don’t develop under pressure and they don’t develop quickly. Relationships take a lot of time to develop. They require an unhurried pace, patience, and space for connection to grow.


3. You’re not told that you’re walking into a sh*t show.

Online dating sites promise to help you find the love of your life. They don’t tell you how long that will take, what you’ll go through while trying to find them, or what you need to know to navigate their system effectively. If you knew that the online dating world is such a chaotic mess, you’d approach it differently. You might approach it with more caution, seek help to navigate it, or feel less bad about yourself when it doesn’t lead you to your soulmate right away. You’d be able to blame the system, not just assume something is wrong with you. If you were armed with accurate information, you could make better choices and take control of your dating journey.


Ways to make online dating work for you


The good news is, now that you’re beginning to understand more about online dating, you can learn how to make it work for you instead of against you. When I learned how to take control of my dating journey, I stopped letting the system suck me in and spit me out. Instead, I made different choices that helped me feel empowered instead of exhausted and disempowered. Ultimately, those better choices led me to the amazing man who is now my husband. And you can do the same.


These are easy ways to start taking control of your dating journey so you can stop wasting time with the wrong men, meet the right one sooner, and feel empowered along the way:

  1. Reach out to people you are interested in. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

  2. Quality time, not quantity. Spend 5-10 minutes looking and reaching out to those who interest you, and if you don’t see anyone in that time, try again the next day. Don’t spend all your time online.

  3. Don't waste your time. Operate with a "my way or the highway mentality," especially in the beginning. This will help you weed out those who aren’t a good fit for you. This is the biggest point I want you to take with you. The beginning is when you put your best foot forward. If you don’t like the foot they put forward, that’s a good sign they’re not the right person. It’s not a sign you need to be less picky or work with something you don’t like. There are many fish in the sea, and if while chatting online before even meeting the person, you’re not thrilled with them, don’t waste your time. People show you who they are very quickly, and you have to believe them.

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to online dating, but these tips will help you start taking charge of your dating life. Don’t leave it up to chance; don’t rely on the dating sites to get you to the right person; act in ways that lead you to be able to trust yourself and then trust yourself to be your greatest guide. You are the hero of your story, and it’s up to you to realize it!

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