Online dating sites portray themselves in such a way that it adversely affects how communication flows amongst the users. We’ve all seen the commercials like this one where couples relay how awful being single was until they joined Site X (where “X” is Match, eHarmony, Zoosk, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, etc.), and made an instant connection with Mr./Mrs. Wonderful. While that’s all well and good and everyone is inspired by the “Success Stories,” they unwittingly portray Online Dating in such a way that people expect to find a soulmate of their own just like those regular people in the commercials.
The lofty expectation of finding a “perfect match” is problematic because it compels people to approach communication through a soulmate lens – which is an entirely unfair and unforgiving viewpoint from which to gauge anybody. As a result too many initial overtures for communication are ignored completely. What’s needed to fix this is an adjustment of expectations from the people who are involved in online dating. Remember, it’s not called Online Soulmate Finding, but rather Online Dating. Do you need to adjust your mindset?
Think back on a relatively positive relationship you had with someone who did not conform to your typical types and standards. Now try to remember how that relationship began. Most likely, it was borne from circumstances completely unrelated to dating. Perhaps you worked together and got to know each other over the course of many weeks or months with no intentions of dating. Perhaps it was a friend of a friend, or a neighbor. Now imagine if that person had a profile on an online dating site. How responsive would you be if they sent you a message? If you’re like most people in online dating, it’s likely they wouldn’t compare favorably to your Significant Other checklist, and would be immediately cast aside as a definite “No.”
So the next time a message arrives in your inbox, and you deem that person unworthy of your attention after a mere few seconds of consideration through your soulmate lens, perhaps you should reconsider. Don’t ask yourself whether or not he/she might be The One. Instead, ask yourself whether or not he/she might be an adequate date. Even the marriages between those online dating success stories had to begin with a first date, but it’s quite likely none of them had any idea they were meeting their soulmate when they arrived. There’s a lot to be said for being more receptive to possibilities.