Dating in the Age of the Internet

Charles Rosasco MA, MFT, CIRT –is a psychotherapist whose been practicing for over fifteen years in the Beverly Hills / West Hollywood areas of Los Angeles. He provides individual, group, and couples therapy with an emphasis on imago relationship work, humanism, life coaching, and psychodynamic theory from”

Dating online has become both a great success and a great curse for the current crowd of singles. Back in the day before the internet (for those of you who remember) dating required an ability to harness the art of flirting and seduction. People had to be able to “give someone the eye” or “make a move.” Bars were full of cruising. There were even, “singles bars.” These places were turned into an iconic movie, Looking For Mr. Goodbar, with Diane Keaton. In the movie Keaton spent night after night hanging out in on a bar stool, sometimes having one-night stands, and generally trying to find a man. She meets with utter failure and even danger in her late night escapades.

Speed dating, while sometimes still available, is largely a thing of the past. Speed dating is just as it sounds. A group of singles is organized in a large room. Each person has a few minutes to interact with every potential mate for ten minutes. They then secretly cast their interest in another single with a yes or no ballot. The organizer then matches potential couples who both checked the “yes” box.

Back in the old days there was a lot of talk about, “You’ll never meet anyone sitting at home.” Well, those days are over. Now people can sit home and scroll, swipe, or get matched with literally hundreds of potential partners. In fact today the vast majority of dating happens on line. For many the reasons are obvious—you have a profile that can tell you what you’re getting. Do you want children? Into sports? Wine tasting? Like to travel? Are you sober? Low key? Outdoorsy? How much money do you make? Sometimes you can even find out if a potential mate has an STD. That’s a lot of information compared to going in blind with, “Can I buy you a drink?” Further, you have the safety of not getting rejected face to face. Someone not responding online can be a lot less painful than someone saying, “No I don’t want to dance.”

Still, while many people have found love online, the opposite is also true. Online dating is sometimes more addictive than anything. There can easily be an attitude of, “The grass is greener somewhere else” with the plethora of potential dates. An “I don’t want to settle” attitude can turn into an endless array of misfires with one coffee date after the other. Worse, some people have turned dating sites in hook up sites. While they may have good intentions going into the online scene, they can end up being sexually addictive in the process. People often report scrolling through fifty or more potential dates in a single sitting. The tendency to objectify, become non-committal, and get addicted to emotional hits from others expressing interest can leave people perpetually single and frustrated. Still, like it or not, online dating is here to stay. Here’s a few tips for being successful online:

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1. Join serious minded dating apps. Steer away from apps that have a “swipe” feature or allow people to post ads for sex.
2. Limit responding to two or three ads a day.
3. Have safe coffee dates in public places. This is especially important for women.
4. Get good pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words is especially true in the online world.
5. Have a three-date rule. Do not engage sexually until after at least three non-sexual outings.
6. Respond at a slow steady pace. As in real life encounters people can get scared off by someone who is too eager.
7. Have fun and take it lightly. Don’t personalize people who “ghost” you (disappear) after having responded. Everybody has fears around dating and intimacy. They can be on full display in the online day.
8. Don’t ignore the real world. Keep your eyes open to the man or woman across the crowded room who might be trying to catch your eye.