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The Pros and Cons: Online Dating

So you tried the bars and got a couple of whiskey-fueled makeout sessions. You tried being set up by mutual friends and got some new Facebook friends. You tried dating at work and are now updating your résumé. Time to try the internet. But first, consider this:

Pro: Dating’s fun! Or at least, it should be.

Con: Only it’s not. It’s fraught with uncertainty, crossed lines, sexual mishaps, unrealistic expectations, and broken dreams. Sowwy.

Pro: Online dating has been around long enough now that you can match your site up with what you’re shopping for. Marriage? Try eHarmony. Slightly serious hook-up? Try Match. Good times with a sprinkling of WTF? OK Cupid‘s your poison. Looking to shut your mom up? I think JDate is that way. Black and wanna meet black people? You’re gonna want Black Planet. White and wanna meet black people? Afroromance is for you. Gold diggers, I haven’t forgotten about you — check out Wealthy Men. You’re welcome.

Con: You have to make a profile. Hope you’re naturally gifted at summing up your entire life in a few adjectives separated by commas, because that’s what we’re looking at here. Don’t make it too long or everyone will know you have nothing better to do than talk about your likes and dislikes on a Saturday night. Don’t make it too short or they won’t get to see the real you. You want to make it witty, because everyone loves a sense of humor, but not like you’re trying to be witty, because no one likes wink-nudge girl. And you want to be specific, because we’re looking for someone who really GETS you, you know? But not too specific because most people don’t love 18th-century colonial architecture AND Maya Angelou. I mean, people say they do, but not really.

Pro: You know what’s more relaxing than spending an entire Sunday hungover, in sweats, on the couch, eating Mexican/Chinese/Italian, talking to your girlfriends about what happened last night and watching reality TV marathons? Spending an entire Sunday hungover, in sweats, on the couch, eating Mexican/Chinese/Italian, talking to your girlfriends about what happened last night and scrolling through dating profiles.

Con: The goddamn profile picture. No matter how good your profile is, your picture is eleventythousand more times important. Don’t believe me? This is what they’re saying inside when they look at your picture:

– If taken in the bathroom mirror: This is the line for on-line dating. The MySpace line is over there.

– ECU of a single feature: You’re hiding something.

– An errant hand around your shoulder or a side of a face: What kind of person crops their best buddy out of a picture? The kind of person that crops love out of their life after the third date, that’s who.

– An avatar, album cover, or picture of something that’s not at all you: Don’t get all “don’t judge me for my looks” on me. You’re on a dating site. Judging is what we do here. Next!

– Posing in a bikini: Oh good, you’re DTF. Wonderful.

Pro: You know that one picture that someone you love took of you when you’d just found out some awesome news or did some kick-ass thing at work, or maybe you were traveling and you’re all glowing and the lighting’s perfect and you’re not wearing that much makeup because you forgot all about it that morning and yeah girl, you look TONED at that angle, you been doing pilates? Here’s a great home for it.

Con: I don’t know the percentage of people who post profile pictures of themselves from five years, two inches of hairline, and 20 pounds ago, but that number is HIGH. Watch yourself.

Pro: Unlike at the bar, where staring at anyone for more than six seconds can get you beat up or roofied, here you can stare all you want. Stare until his image is burned into your brain, and feel free to imagine if he’ll go well with that sundress you just bought, and in your passenger seat, and with your faces squished together in a photo booth.

Con: So we’re at the point now where everybody does it, right? Damn near 2012. Our entire lives are spent with our nose in a screen, and 90% of us at least have a dormant Friendster profile. So why are we still making up “how we met” stories and laughing awkwardly/adding the “actually” modifier to “they met online”? Because there’s still a stigma, that’s why.

Pro: Just when you’re scraping the bottom of a Ben & Jerry’s pint and complaining to your cat about how you’re sooo bored and you’ve met everyone worth knowing in this dumb city a million times over, and you’re gonna start looking for a place in [city college BFF lives in] tomorrow… ping! Well, lookee there. You met someone new!

Con: Coming across anyone you work with. You’ll end up sitting across from Pam from accounting in a strategy meeting and only seeing “MBA ISO BBM 4 sum PDA, NSA” plastered across her forehead.

Pro: Great alternative for those who don’t have time to go out every night in the hopes of “meeting someone” (blech).

Con: Do you have time to deal with that one guy that you went out with that one time, and is now phone/email/Twitter/Facebook stalking you? Because he exists, in every single city, on every single site. And he’s more initially attractive than you’d think.

Good luck in out there in the sexy jungle, folks.  You’re either predator or prey.

Previously: The Pros and Cons of Dating Old Money.

Allison Davis is a writer and TV producer living in San Francisco.

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