Common internet dating questions
It may be because expectations are inflated and idealized in the absence of more actual information about the other person: In fact, the effect is lower when there is greater communication and disclosure.
The study authors note: "Online dating is another setting where certain elements of people’s personalities, behaviors, and even physical appearances may be obfuscated at first, leading to positive illusions that are not always sustainable over time." The same effect has also been seen in marriage, where not all newlyweds maintain satisfaction after the honeymoon phase.
Yet, one-third of people who have used a dating site have never met up for an in-person date.
Lastly, in spite of the rise in online dating, only 5 percent of married couples or those in a committed relationship say they met their partners online, and 88 percent of people say they met their partners via conventional means.
How do couples move from online dating to that all-important first date?
What online dating behaviors and factors set the stage for a successful first date and the potential for an ongoing relationship?
Importantly, all other factors being equal, greater communication overall, and greater disclosure, predicted first date success.
It appears that, in general, people who ask more before the first date have a better experience than those who wait until they meet to find out important information, possibly because they are less likely to be disillusioned.
For this study, the researchers measured: 1) "anticipated future interaction," 2) "change in attraction" (from online dating to after the first date), 3) "perceived similarity" (a well-known predictor of attraction), and 4) "uncertainty" (about the other person, e.g., how well do you know them? The data, drawn directly from online conversation, included: 1) expressed similarity, 2) frequency of disclosure, and 3) pattern of information seeking, and they rated the communication volume based on the number of words in the emails. First of all, they found that most participants were disappointed after the first date, as indicated by having less attraction after meeting than during online engagement.
Furthermore, first date success was predicted by perceived similarity, expressed similarity, lower uncertainty, and greater information seeking.
Having greater communication prior to meeting, asking for more information, having the other person honestly provide it, and finding there is solid similarity before that first date make it more likely to be successful, at least in the short run. In addition to online dating, pursue conventional means of meeting people, which are still the dominant way that people meet, at least for now.
It will be interesting to see what subsequent research reveals about the long-term predictors of online dating success. At least, when going online for serious relationships, consider: 1. Especially if online dating isn't working, it is time to let your friends know you are looking, and get out and do more socializing.