Online dating has come a loooong way from its early dial-up modem days. But while we're mostly over the paranoia that looking for love online is only for total freaks and weirdos, some are still attacking the practice for something else: Being the bane of monogamy's existence! In an article in The Atlantic, journalist Dan Slater tries to convince us -- mostly through quotes from dating site higher-ups -- that "online romance is threatening" commitment and marriage. Because, apparently, having so many awesome partner (or hookup) options at the press of an app means we're more likely to have Teen Mom-length relationships.
Slater poses nervewracking questions like, "What if the prospect of finding an ever-more-compatible mate with the click of a mouse means a future of relationship instability, in which we keep chasing the elusive rabbit around the dating track?" Valid point, but the answer isn't what his article would have us to believe. And I should know.
After all, I'm marrying a guy I met online. After dating a LOT of guys who I met ... online. I'd say at least 50 percent of our friends who are now married or about to be met online -- on sites like JDate or Plenty of Fish. And yes! We've all decided to actually take the plunge, put a ring on it, and head down the aisle in order to build a life together. As opposed to have 24/7 access to an endless string of empty, drunk hookups, or as some might put it, "chase that elusive rabbit around the dating track." Shocking.
But, um, not really. Here's the thing ... Yes, online dating provides everyone with more extensive access to potential mates. But does that mean we all have to run around like an excitable child in a candy store? Only if you're about as mature as one. In other words, I'm pretty sure most people who use online dating as an excuse to avoid long-term love would still be commitaphobic if the year was 1985 and the dawn of online dating was still at least a decade away.
If you're too childish to realize you're with someone amazing, and you should marry them, it's not a dating website's fault. To argue that the mere existence of online dating -- and the idea that we don't have to worry about "mate scarcity" anymore -- is causing people to pass on marriage, cheat, or divorce more readily drives me nuts. Because that concept is a lame attempt to take the responsibility off of us. It gives us free rein to act like Neanderthals. It's not "Jacob"'s fault that he can't commit. He's just way too distracted by all those pretty shiny random chicks' profiles on OkCupid! Puhlease! Sounds like logic that would only fly in a frat house.
But of course the biz folks behind online dating sites are going to want us to believe all of that. They aim to feed our deepest insecurities and neuroses about lifelong commitment and finding The One and worrying that The One we've found isn't good enough ... so we end up back on their site and make them wealthier! But those of us who actually want to have a serious, committed partnership that enriches our life know better. We're the ones going online to look for love and upon finding it, signing off -- for good.
What do you think? Is the increasing availability of many potential partners at the click of a mouse causing the death of marriage?