UPDATED 10/20/14 - Yeah, because this actually isn't as unusual as this news story makes it sound. You should hear the things I get to read and hear when it comes to online dating stories. Click to read.
Redhead Writing's Erika Napoletano shares her recent bad experience with Tinder here, and it just gives me reason #2,173,188 to share with you why you should avoid dating sites, and apparently if value your privacy, you should especially avoid Tinder.
Now, I know I'm going to get some butt-hurt people, and so before I begin, I'm going to start with yes, I do understand it's hard to meet people sometimes, and/or yeah, sure I've heard "everyone's doing it." Good for everyone, and let me channel the spirit of everyone's mother into my person and croak out in true medium fashion "Well, if everyone jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?!" Did I just sound like your mom? Good, I was hoping I did. ;) Because your mom has a point, and so do I - just because everyone does a stupid thing, doesn't mean you should, too. I do stupid things sometimes, and I don't want you to imitate my stupidity when I do those things. ;) So, can we all agree that going with the crowd is not a good reason for doing something? We can? Good.
Alrighty, so you may be angry with me for saying "You're asking for trouble" if you use dating sites and apps. I can already see the 10 people who had a good experience (out of the 2,400 in my Rant Room,) raising their hands to object. Well, you know, being a statistically insignificant percentage (and I'm not saying there aren't a lot of relationships that started on dating sites/apps, I'm trying to say "SUCCESSFUL" relationships from them are statistically insignificant, in my experience, and I DO deal with a lot of people in relationships, ahem,) does make you unique, and being unique is awesome, but if by the grace of God you managed to find and marry and be happy with someone from a dating site, then your relationship is like finding a unicorn, and good for you. :) It's the rest of you I'll be addressing here...
So, for starters, let's ask ourselves why do people use dating sites/apps?
1. They genuinely are introverted or lead some lifestyle which makes it difficult for them to be around others frequently, can't meet people, and this makes it easy for them to meet others.
2. They just want to get laid and are willing to ask anyone on the internet if that person is interested.
3. They just want to get laid and are willing to manipulate others into thinking it's love to get this sex from them, which they have found a treasure trove of endless "willing" victims.
4. They find themselves hugely unattractive, but like how they look (add number) years ago, and this is the easiest way to convince someone they still look that way before actually meeting them in person, then SURPRISE!!!
5. They are scary-ass desperate for someone to love them. Stalker desperate, maybe. In fact, probably. Avoid the desperate at all costs.
6. They have huge emotional problems which are easily concealed when they are not face to face with someone.
7. They have huge emotional problems which are only apparent after getting to know them for a few weeks...which is why they can't find a partner in their pool of friends.
8. They have some sort of ridiculously bad life issue that all of their friends know about, but strangers would not, but which would be a "deal-killer" for most of us. (I will also put that they might be married to someone and hiding that on a dating site, which I've unfortunately heard tell of in more than one of my clients' recounting of a bad dating site experience.)
9. They are badly socialized in some way.
10. Other (something bad, probably).
Now, of all of the above, only the first one is acceptable, really, when looking for a partner. ;) And, to be fair, this is a percentage of people who use these sites and apps - people who are not really super abnormal freaks. However, if you look at the rest of the reasons, more than one is pretty fucking scary and bad, others are "Well, if so-and-so and I were super close anyhow, maybe I'd date them" (but you're not close, this is a stranger) which probably means the largest percentage of users of these sites and apps are to be avoided.
So, - at least as I see it - when you use these sites/apps, you're basically inviting a large amount of people who are probably not good choices to choose you. You're inviting disaster.
But to add insult to that injury, from Erika's tale, you're also chancing that these folks might find out your personal info, and start contacting you via social media without your permission. In fact, some people leave phone numbers on social media. Imagine being a pretty attractive person (which she is,) leaving your number up where people desperate for attention or affection (I'm not saying she left her number up, just saying what if,) can get to it, all the while thinking you're available. Holy crap, talk about baiting your hook for stalkers. :P
Now, as someone who counsels people on relationships frequently, I assure you that my experience (even if vicariously through my clients and some friends, since I'm not the type of person who ever felt at all interested in using the internet to get dates from people I wouldn't know otherwise,) has been that dating site relationships tend to be very tenuous, and often one partner will engage a new partner on the dating site before leaving the last. It's sort of like a vending machine to some people. They get a bit bored with one, and go back and find a new one, assuming (probably not too wrongly,) that there is an unlimited supply of hopefuls. Or they find the person has huge and scary abandonment issues, socialization issues, stalking issues, or other emotional issues. Or the date that shows up is 20 years older than their profile picture. Or they just get solicited for sex.
This is unfortunate, but the price one pays for using the internet to get dates. :/ Don't get me wrong, I love the internet, but it's sort of like a scary dark corner at a carnival - sure you might find some awesome thing, but you're just as likely to get knifed by a carny if you're not careful...and when you use dating sites, you're doing the equivalent of getting fall-down drunk and taping $1000 bills to your head, and going in that scary dark corner with a carny, and then complaining you got knifed. :/
For every "success" story from dating sites that I've heard (which is now, after about ~15 years of hearing stories about them, and amounts to a grand total of FIVE out of at least a thousand,) there are far too many horrific stories (which the truly-horrifying must be at least a half of them,) and several incredibly disappointing or just mildly disturbing stories that often skew the person attempting to use these sites and apps emotional well-being for some time to come (a good percentage.)
So, my dear ones, as many of you come to me looking for love, I will pass on the advice to only use dating sites/apps or date people who use them at your own risk, and I mean a real risk. If you'd stand on a busy street corner in the city with a sign around your neck that says "Please date me and maybe love me," (and some folks would totally be cool with that,) then you should try dating sites and apps, but if that sounds like a bad idea to you, maybe you should avoid that route. Statistically speaking, the vast majority of successful relationships spring from people who you meet through shared friends. If you're willing to take the risk of showing vulnerability and hopefulness in a den of folks where there are guaranteed to be a sizeable percentage predatory and mentally unstable people (and moreso than would be in the general population, because predators are attracted to places there is a good selection of prey,) then, by all means, take your chances using dating sites and apps.
There will be no open comments on this article. I don't want to hear your defensive argument how you're not a bad person or are the exception to everything I wrote (so don't email it either.) I'm sure you're the unicorn I spoke of earlier, and that's fine. Most of us aren't unicorns, and that's why I always tell friends and clients alike to avoid dating sites and apps at all costs.
7/28/14 Also, it ends up OK Cupid uses it's users as guinea pigs. Not surprisingly, their experiements have shown that "matching people" works as well as intentionally mismatching them, and that while dating site users use looks to choose mates, it ends up having little to do with real compatibility. Well, if you use dating sites, I'm sure you appreciate them using you as a guinea pig. :P Feel free to click the link. Or this one with the same story. So there's reason number ten million to not use dating sites. ;)