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Friday, 4 May 2018

Benefits of online dating

Online dating has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Usage of dating apps are souring; it's said that one in five couples now meet online. I understand that not everyone is a fan and many prefer 'traditional dating.' However, I think online dating has many benefits and positives to it. I met my ex and current boyfriend via dating apps - both wonderful kind guys. Here's why it works for me and could for you.

You're open to meeting way more people. In your day-to-day life there's only so many people you can meet. If you work a lot or are at uni, it's tough to be introduced to new people, particularly if you're very focused on your work and don't have much time for socializing. After being at work/uni it's easy to want to come home and just relax, and so there's a limit to who you can meet. Yes, lots of couples do meet in the workplace or at uni, but that all depends on chemistry which brings me to my next point.

You'll both want the same things. Once you sign up to a dating app, you're automatically saying you're open to a relationship. In my 'offline' life I've met and liked guys who have only wanted to be friends or haven't been ready to be in a relationship. (Sad isn't it). You can like someone but not really know if they feel the same, whereas on a dating app that 'uncertainty' is gone. If someone's profile states that they're interested in being with someone, you know straight away there's potential. And if you're not interested, you can swipe left or not respond or unmatch with them. There are apps where you can change the settings too; on OkCupid you can state whether you're looking for dating or hook-ups, which increases your chance of meeting someone who wants a similar thing.

It's simple. All you have to do is flick through your phone, look at people's profiles and message them. You can do it on the loo. There's no hassle of whatever people do in the offline world. You see someone, think they're cute or have a nice description, and message them.

You're going to meet anyway. Lots of people say that they don't like dating apps because they want to see the person face-to-face rather than meet them online. Thing is, dating apps are just a platform in which to meet people. When you meet someone and talk to them for a few days or weeks or whatever, you're going to meet up with them if things are flowing well. You might go on a date with someone, meet them and then think 'this person isn't for me.'

It's easier if you're an introvert. If you're someone who isn't super outgoing and is shy about talking to people, dating apps can make things easier. I wouldn't say I'm an introvert per se, more an ambivert, as I am generally confident talking to people but I have bad anxiety and feel more comfortable around close friends (as most do). Because I'm in AA I don't drink, so there's no chance of me meeting a guy at a bar or club as I don't go to them much (unless it's to see a gig). Even with hook-ups I find it easier to use a dating app.

You can meet people you wouldn't meet otherwise. Say you live in Newcastle and get a dating app where you meet a great person who lives in York. It's less likely you would come across that person simply by living because you probably wouldn't go to York much, if at all. With dating apps there are people all across the country you can meet; if you live in a small town it might be harder to find someone, so by going online there's a whole range of people you just wouldn't bump into down the pub.

You can set preferences. There are apps like Tinder or Bumble where you just see a person's face and description and decide if you like or not. On or OkCupid, you can set preferences to say what you're looking for in a partner. OkCupid is based around answering different questions around lifestyle, dating, sex, religion, politics and so on. If you're religious and would prefer to be with someone as such, then when you set those as your preferences you are far more likely to be matched with people who fit that criteria. We all connect better with those who have a similar lifestyle and life outlook as us. By setting specifically what you want, you're almost guaranteed to find a suitable candidate.

Dating apps are accessible. Anyone can use them, many are free, and they take seconds to download into your phone. They're user-friendly and can make finding someone that bit easier.

Naturally, you should never obsess over being in a relationship (coming from experience). The best chance you'll have of meeting someone, be it offline or online, is when you feel comfortable with yourself and your life and are looking for someone to add to that and compliment your life, not 'become' your life or 'rescue' you. I do think online dating is a simple and practical way to meet somebody, especially if you don't have much luck offline. If you prefer traditional dating that's totally fine, but there's no need to knock those who have had great experiences online.

A few apps I could recommend (I've only personally used Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid):

Tinder - is one of the most popular and used by many, particularly younger people. Is associated more with hook-ups, however lots of people - myself included - have met romantic partners or made friends via Tinder. I think it's becoming less 'defined' as a hook-up app and is more just something people use to talk to each other.

Bumble - slightly more 'upmarket' than Tinder as people are more inclined to use it for relationships and isn't as common. Also, what makes Bumble unique is women HAVE to message men first, or the other person's profile disappears within 24 hours. This is a great way to encourage women to message men and not expect them to do all the work.

OkCupid - one of the best in my opinion and where I met my current boyfriend - you answer questions based on the different categories and are shown partners with whom you have a high compatibility percentage with. The more questions you answer, the more likely you are to find someone similar to you.

Grindr - specifically for gay and bisexual men. Mainly used for hook-ups far as I'm aware.

Plenty of Fish - Has many users and can be used for dating or hook-ups.

Coffee Meets Bagel - Is specifically tailor-made for relationships; is not really used for hook-ups. Only lets you see people who have liked you.

Happn - Shows you people who you might walk past with in your life, and allows you to connect with them. Is tailored to those in the same location as you.

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