Selective search online dating site

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's pressure for things to turn romantic quickly.

One benefit of online dating is that you know those on the site are single and looking, which reduces ambiguity.

One study of online daters found that most viewed each other as similar, and liked each other less, after than before their offline dates (Norton et al., 2007).

The sites can put too much focus on physical attractiveness.

But this can also lead you to pass up on potential dates because with all those options, you can't help but think, "There must be someone better out there." Online dating sites can thus foster an attitude in which potential mates are objectified like products on a store shelf, rather than people (Finkel et al., 2012). Online profiles are missing vital information you can only glean in person (Finkel et al., 2012), so it can be difficult to know if you’re really compatible with someone based solely on what they have shared on a dating site.

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You can feel confident in your decision about which car to buy when there are only three under consideration, but if there are hundreds, you’ll constantly second-guess yourself and wonder if you could have done better.

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.

And even though men generally contact women more than vice versa on these sites, research has shown that a sizable minority of women do reach out to men they find desirable online, suggesting that these sites allow some women to overcome traditional gender norms that cast them in a passive role of waiting to be approached (Scharlott & Christ, 1995). Shy or socially anxious individuals often have difficulty forming and maintaining close relationships (Alden & Taylor, 2004; Davila & Beck, 2002).

A recent survey of 19,000 people who married between 20 found that 35 percent of these new couples met online, with about half of those meeting through an online dating site (Cacioppo et al., 2013).

How can these sites help you find romance, and what pitfalls should you be aware of?

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