by Ted Slater on 11/28/2006 at 11:00 AM
Singles for millenia have rightly turned to others for help in their search for a mate. Parents, matchmakers, friends, pastors and other "agencies" have been eagerly enlisted to facilitate marriages made in heaven. It's nothing new.
The "agencies" currently in mode include online dating services such as eHarmony, Match.com, ChristianSingles.com, Relationships.com and others.
Let me be honest. When I hear a commercial for one of these services, I bristle. I cringe because I believe they promise too much, providing a false expectation of how relationships develop. Here are some specific dangers I've seen in online dating services:
1) They make singles think that if they do all the work up-front, selecting "just the right person for me," then the rest of the relationship will be a breeze. We've discussed the dangers of "soul-matism" in depth on Boundless (here, here, and here, for example), pointing out that sometimes people marry, experience some struggles, determine that they haven't married their "soul mate," and then divorce and go on to look for that "soul mate." The truth is that even when you marry "the one," relationships require sacrifice and hard work to succeed.
2) They make singles fear that if they haven't intentionally considered their "29 Key Dimensions of Compatibility," then they may be missing something. The truth is that happy marriages have been taking place since Adam and Eve; while there's some value to knowing who you are and how you can best serve someone in marriage, you are not falling short by being unaware of all those dimensions. In my more cynical moments, I sometimes wonder if the founders of these online dating agencies feel they've missed out on "the one" because they didn't have the proper tools available to make a wise and informed decision about whom to marry.
3) They seem to bring out the worst in some men. I've heard many stories from disillusioned single women who've been "matched" with a guy, and that guy leads them on for a while, and then just dumps them in favor of another one of their matches. As Jerry Seinfeld said, "Guys don't want to see what's on television -- they want to see what else is on television." Because there are many more women than men in the dating databases, they can afford to be more cavalier in their online dating interactions; eDating services seem to facilitate that.
I could go on, but I'll stop. Candice addresses these and other concerns in an article she wrote for Boundless, "Browsing for a Mate." I'd be interested in hearing what experiences some of you have had with eDating sites: whether you've found it a positive or negative experience, whether you've found a spouse through one of them, and how you see them affecting the dating scene.