The same principle applies to online dating: The sheer number of potential partners creates abundant choice.
So if one dater doesn’t suit the bill, there are hundreds more who could be better.
Pros: Access to more people and more types of people.
I found that those who met their partners via online dating sites became romantically involved significantly sooner (an average of two-and-a-half months) than those who met in other ways (an average of one-and-a-half years). Typically, they post old photos from when they were 100 pounds lighter and 10 years younger, or they post photos that hide their body shape, which is not just a physical attribute, but a commentary on their lifestyle.
This suggests that online dating sites don’t facilitate slowly finding love the way that we often do offline. As mentioned earlier, those who are introverted or shy may find online dating more palatable than other ways of looking for love. I've had more than a few claim to love physical fitness and healthy eating, only to confess upon meeting, at which point it becomes obvious, that they actually do neither.
This can be especially beneficial for people who don’t have a large social circle.
In addition to the sheer number of people you can meet, many sites provide an avenue for meeting like-minded people. Unlike other social venues, on an online dating site, you can be fairly certain that everyone you meet is single and looking.
Thus, it is not surprising that shy people are more likely to look for romance on dating sites (Scharlott & Christ, 1995; Ward & Tracey, 2004). As discussed, one benefit of online dating sites is access to hundreds, even thousands of potential mates—but having all those options is not always a great thing.
A large body of literature on decision-making shows that, in general, when we have choice (Schwartz, 2004).
Stanford University’s “How Couples Meet and Stay Together Survey” queried a nationally representative sample of adults to determine how and when they met their current romantic partner (Rosenfeld & Reuben, 2011). Less is more: Why online dating is so disappointing and how virtual dates can help. They can be quite sophisticated AND PATIENT in hooking unsuspecting victims, before trying to reel them in.
In my own analysis of this data, I examined the age at which survey respondents met their current partner and compared this to the age at which they became romantically involved, to get a rough sense of how long it took couples to go from first meeting to a romantic relationship. Paper presented at the meeting of the Society for Social and Personality and Psychology, Memphis, TN. Luckily, I learned to recognize them before falling prey, but sometimes it's difficult to know. Moreover, as in the world at large, there are A LOT of "players" online--people who are extremely dishonest.
Research suggests that those who are socially anxious (Green, 2001) or introverted (Amichai-Hamburger et al., 2002; Rice & Markey, 2009) feel more comfortable communicating online.
These individuals may have an easier time approaching people and opening up online.
There are dating sites devoted to particular religious groups, like Christian Mingle or JDate, for example, as well as sites that cater to gay and lesbian daters. This removes a lot of the ambiguity that you face when you meet an interesting person at a work event or a party. Because of the ease and relative anonymity of online dating sites, we may take more risk reaching out to people we would not approach in person.