Dr. Gisella Tellys

The Advantages and Challenges of Online Dating

Online Dating: What are the Advantages and Challenges?
Tips on How to Convert Online Scenery to a Face-to-face Contact

As Melinda Gates once said, “The most important person in your life is who you marry”. Not that I’m encouraging you to marry a billionaire (although it might not be a bad idea after all), but perhaps her main point was that the person you connect the most in personal life will end up playing a huge role in your life; that includes your professional life.

Online dating, being one of the most commonly used dating venues for millennials (and maybe older generations too), might make a good contribution to this matter. But is it better than conventional offline or traditional dating?

Online Dating and Its Impacts

Online dating has altered both the romantic acquaintance process and the compatibility matching process. Rather than relying on friends, family, or community leaders to select which singles to be compatible, it gave you the power to “decide your own fate” through computer-mediated communication. It offers remarkably convenient access to potential partners.

Computer-mediated communication has given you the ability to assess the compatibility with potential partners before deciding whether to meet them in real life, or not. Collecting certain “data” might allow you to select candidates who might not fit the bill of your ideal “happily-ever-after” narrative.

Besides the advantages, online dating might mitigate some challenges. Three-dimensional interaction has been replaced solely by two-dimensional displays. How do we fit ourselves into a 500 words bio?

Humans might have this “evaluative mindset” when it comes to online dating. This assessment-oriented mindset might hurt and objectify potential partners; it might even undermine your willingness to commit to one of the “applicants”.

With the rise of “swipe culture”, most of the apps will fail to address the importance of: How two partners will grow and mature over time; What life circumstances they will face; How do they cope; How the dynamics of their interaction will ultimately promote or undermine romantic attraction and long-term relationship well-being. Let alone the relationship satisfaction and stability.

The traditional norm of dating that will result in marriage has been replaced by the fluidity of intimate relationships of all kinds. User’s identity drives their motivations for engagement in an online dating app. The main motivations are: relational (love, casual sex), intrapersonal (self-worth validation, communication), and entertainment (the thrill of excitement, trendiness).

Ways to Make Online Dating Sites Work for You

According to Susan K. Whitbourne, Ph.D. from Psychology Today, there are several things that we can pay attention to:

1. Setting your priorities
Have in mind your criteria for what you are looking for in a partner. This means that you should give some thoughts to the most important qualities that you value in people.

2. Use a site that fits most with your interests
Choose a site that maximizes the chances of finding the type of person you are looking for. Larger sites might attract more potential dates, but because they are so generic, you will have fewer chances of finding someone with qualities that you value.

3. Do not substitute online communication for the real thing.
Try to meet or video-chat with your potential partner earlier, before we crystallized an inaccurate view of the other person.

4. Be realistic
People who believe that the perfect soulmate is out there somewhere may overlook a perfectly reasonable match or avoid giving that person a try.

5. Do not assume that the personality tests are perfect
Matching algorithms do not seem to be better than ordinary offline dating methods. Have an open mind toward someone who may not fit to the equation, but may otherwise be an excellent partner.

6. Beware of online liars
Trust your gut instincts, if you feel the responses give you the “off” feeling. There are subtle ways to spot a liar.

7. Do not let a negative outcome affect your self-esteem
It is disappointing when a budding online relationship fizzles, but that is okay. If this happens to you on a repeated basis, please consult with a trusted friend or a therapist to find out where you can fix those mistakes.

8. Write your own profile truthfully, clearly, and as unique as possible
To make sure that you find a compatible partner, make sure that they can find you. If you fudge the truth, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and wasted opportunities.

Converting Online Contact to a First Date

But after all, dating online is not that bad. It is essential to remember that online dating is best used as a way to meet new individuals for the ultimate face-to-face contact. Keeping that goal in mind will prevent you to get drawbacks from the limitations of online dating. A systematic review in 2015 gave us the idea of converting online contact to a first date:

1. Initial interest, best captured through:

  • Desirable screen name.
  • Attractive still picture.
  • Fluent headline message.

2. Attracted to browse into the profile, a description of personal traits increased likeability when it:

  • Showed who the dater was.
  • What they were looking for.
  • Stayed close to reality.
  • Simple language, with humor, added.

3. Most successful in obtaining a response from the potential date when they:

  • Short personalized messages addressing a trait in their profile.
  • Rhymed with their screen name or headline message.
  • Extended genuine compliments.

4. Online communication was most effective in leading to an in-person meeting if there were:

  • Genuine interest.
  • Reciprocity in self-disclosure.
  • Mimicry of body movements in video communication.
  • Avoidance of criticism.
  • Humor.
  • Uncertainty about whether there was a likeability.
  • Early move from electronic chat to date.

In the end, pursuing a romantic relationship is not an exact science. You have to go out and get it. Be honest with ourselves: know what we want, set that goal in mind, and always remember to love and protect yourself first.


  1. Finkel EJ, Eastwick PW, Karney BR, Reis HT, Sprecher S. Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science. Vol 13.; 2012. doi:10.1177/1529100612436522
  2. Khan KS, Chaudhry S. An evidence-based approach to an ancient pursuit: Systematic review on converting online contact into a first date. Evid Based Med. 2015;20(2):48-56. doi:10.1136/ebmed-2014-110101
  3. Sassler S. Partnering across the life course: Sex, relationships, and mate selection. J Marriage Fam. 2010;72(3):557-575. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00718.x
  4. Sumter SR, Vandenbosch L. Dating gone mobile: Demographic and personality-based correlates of using smartphone-based dating applications among emerging adults. New Media Soc. 2019;21(3):655-673. doi:10.1177/1461444818804773
  5. Whitbourne, S. K. Eight ways to make online dating sites work for you. Psychology Today.

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