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Scientists: Online Dating Is Destroying Love

What scientists are learning from online dating isn’t all sweetness and roses for long term relationships…

I realise our Online Dating Help blog is probably not a place where you’d expect to find an article about how destructive online dating can be to something as elusive as “real love” but after reading these two articles recently on The Guardian and The Telegraph it got me thinking. Are they just painting ghosts on the walls and scaring everyone with their talk of doom and destruction or is there any truth behind these rather ominous sounding claims?

Scientists have recently taken a look into online dating. Why? Because suddenly online dating has become so popular that it’s arguably the second most popular way of meeting your future partner.

One in five relationships between heterosexual couples are born on online dating sites, and it increases to a mindblowing 70 percent if you look at gay and lesbian couples.

Naturally scientists want to find out what is lying behind the drive and they’ve discovered a whole lot of stuff which isn’t very palatable indeed.

Close Encounters

First of all, let’s take a look at the first article. The author claims that the reason why online dating so frequently fails to deliver is the fact that many users aren’t really looking for a long term relationship – or even short-term relationship or a good old-fashioned date for that matter – but just sexual encounters.

And that is not the only problem plaguing those that flock the dating sites in hope of finding their true love. Apparently the huge choice offered by online dating sites creates another problem as it makes it impossible to choose from the vast amount of profiles that essentially look and sound the same.

As the author of the article points out, referring to a sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann: the liberty we enjoy these days, seeing sex as just another leisure activity has changed our views on marriage and monogamy. Pleasure is the goal these days – and the less hassle that you can get with it, the better. Kaufmann calls it the “hypermarket for sex”. Online dating is nothing but just means to that end but while most dating sites “sell” love – what people come looking for in reality is sex. And those two things should not be confused. However that confusion often arises from the muddled waters of online dating.

Another great French philosopher, Alain Badiou is the brain behind the whole idea that online dating is digging a grave for real love. In his upcoming book In Praise of Love he criticises online dating sites for creating a false sense of security – for making “wild promises” that finding love online will protect you from disappointment. But in fact, the scientists argue, isn’t online dating just doomed to disappoint users forever as it tries to mingle two opposites – sex and love.

The author calls it the “new philosopher’s stone”. Kaufmann suggests people who frequent online dating sites have to learn how to love on strictly temporary basis, otherwise there will soon be no love left in the world.

Serial Daters

The other article, by Telegraph’s science reporter Sarah Knapton, suggests that online dating is just turning us into gluttons or serial daters if you like who are never satisfied with what they get and just keep coming back for more.

Quoting a prominent UK divorce lawyer, she claims that online dating involves a lot of greediness – choice makes us think that someone better is just a click away, she says and compares sexual attraction to hunger. She too refers to a lot of different scientists both in UK and US who are pointing out that online dating can make us not only greedy for more but also more picky, more judgemental and more hungry for sex.

So… if that is the case – and who can argue with the learned men and women who have surely put in countless hours of scientific research? – then what is the point to it all? Are we all doomed to live in a loveless society full of sexual encounters that might satisfy our physical needs but totally disregard our mental and emotional needs?

I think not. I think we need to be aware of the problem and if you read the articles carefully I am sure you too will find yourself nodding along to a lot of arguments made there. That doesn’t mean however that we have no hope. We just need to approach online dating with open eyes.

We need to be aware about the drive that brings us – and others – to those sites. We need to monitor our own behaviour, we need to work with our relationships and we must never-ever get complacent, thinking that if this fails, someone new is just a click away. I think that is the moral of this story.


About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+



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