Stephanie’s Adventures in Singledom

“Woman sues match.com,” “Rape Suspect kicked off site,” and “Numerous Complaints surface about Datehookup.com.”

How many of these stories do we have to hear before someone makes these sites responsible for actions that take place due their sites? Supposedly, online dating sites such as Match.com (coincidentally) eHarmony and Sparks Networks (operator of JDate and ChristianMingle) agreed to background checks in March of last year. But if that is true, then Match.com is doing an extremely poor job since women are coming forward with horror stories of being “matched” with violent and sexual predators. The statistics of either being scammed, catfished, or “matched” with a sexual predator or criminal are outrageous:

With 1 out of 10 users being scammers and 1 out of 10 being pedophiles, or some other kind of sex offender, your odds are 20% of running into some serious trouble right off the bat. Some stats even show that 1 out of 10 pretty much quit right away, so the percentage of useless profiles are now up to 30%. Now to mention that 40% of men on this site are married., which leaves single women down to 30% of profiles in play. The good news is that if you are a man and you do go out on a date with someone you are “matched” with, your chances of having sex are pretty damn good- 33%. ( They are guys sadly that are only looking to have sex but according to Plenty of Fish, CEO, those men are put on the “bottom of the list.”

Here’s the CEO of Plenty of Fish, Markus Frind’s exact quote: “There is now a new way to check which users you have been in contact with will most likely lead to a relationship. Check out top prospects. Now you probably think ya right no one can predict that kind of stuff. Well actually we can and its really not that hard, all we do is send people that are looking for sex only straight to the bottom of the list. We track millions of combinations that will never lead to relationships and rank those very low. What you are left with are users you will most likely date. There is a 17% chance you will date the top user on your list if you have been contacted by 100 people.”

One of the things that all these sites have in common is this: The insert fear that unless you are on their dating site you will NEVER find your “soul-mate.” They tug at your heartstrings to make you believe that you mate is on the other side of your computer screen.

Research done by Villanova University, Northwestern University and Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI), back this up.

Here is a fact: Romantic relationships can begin any time and any where. You can be at school, church, a coffee shop, playing a sport, or be at a friend’s party. Sometimes though people go through stretches where they hit a rut in the romance department and freak out. Most likely when you hit a certain age you freak out more than “usual” because you have relatives, friends and even strangers giving you the sad, pathetic look because you are “single” and that automatically makes you “unhappy” or “lonely.” Lets be honest here, just because you are single doesn’t mean that qualifies you as a lonely, unhappy person, where you are going to now be the next owner of seventy-two cats to compensate for your single-hood.

This is when people turn to dating sites. Another fact is that these dating sites in no way, shape or form can substitute for face to face interaction. Yes, these dating sites can foster intimacy, but one thing that most don’t think about is just how easy it is to deceive someone using these sites.

Misrepresenting yourself on a dating site is as easy as a click here and a click there.

See, when you meet someone either at a party or at a bar, you see the person for who the person is ( look wise – no chance to use a fake picture ) and for the most part, they aren’t going to “make up a name” like they can and some do online. You can then actually get their name and do a background check on them yourself. With these dating sites, its hard to know if they are being truthful as to who they really are. Another thing that you can decipher in person that you really cannot evaluate online is another person’s sense of humor and connection. Reading a profile just isn’t going to cut it. They can “say” they are the funniest thing around since Seinfeld, but saying it online and actually being funny in person are two different things.

And some of the services the websites offer might backfire, causing users to overlook people they might be happy with while choosing people they really don’t “match” up well with due to their answers and how they set up their profiles. At a party you may have two people to choose from, where as on the Internet dating sites, you have hundreds, thousands of different suitors to look over.

There was a study done in 2000 that proved how people in a supermarket encountered a tasting booth that displayed either 6 or 24 flavors of jam. Although shoppers were 50% more likely to stop at the booth with the larger assortment of jams, they were 30% more likely to purchase one of the jams from the smaller assortment of jams. What does jam have to do with online dating? Well, online daters indeed became less satisfied with the search proves as the number of profiles they look at get into the hundreds or even thousands. This is called, choice overload where people undermine their ability to make a good, well thought out decision due to having way too many options available to them.

This has been proven that when looking through thousands of dating profiles becomes painful, this starts to decrease their level of interest and it might also undermine making a relationship work once offline.

eHarmony and Match.com claim that their mathematical formula really identify pairs of singles who are especially likely to have a successful romantic relationship. With that said, how do they know how two people will interact once they have been matched? Do they check marital stability and marital satisfaction, not only marriage itself after two people from their sites get hitched? What are divorce rates for sites Match and eHarmony? Do their claims that “1 in 5 relationships start online,” and “We’ve conducted years of extensive research and know what makes relationships last,” true or are these dating sites all part of an elaborate hoax pulling at a person’s heartstrings?

No federal regulatory authority currently exists for online dating. With that said, here is something that most people don’t realize about dating sites and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission)

The FTC prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising in ANY medium. Claims must be substantiated, especially when they concern safety. I mention this because in part, the FTC prohibits companies from using consumer testimonials as a means of bypassing actual scientific evidence. Testimonials aren’t reliable scientific evidence, something that dating sites have posted on their sites to make users “believe” that they have proof their sites actually work.

Furthermore, the FTC and FDA’s job is to ensure that the claims a product or service makes are substantiated and with these dating sites using disclaimers when it comes to user safety and no government governing these sites, a user’s safety both emotional and physical are being put into jeopardy. The government agencies are not forcing dating sites to abide by the same rules and guidelines as other products and services are “forced” too. As an example, here is the disclaimer that Match.com uses since both the FTC and FDA refuse to force match.com and other dating sites to keep their users safe.

Disclaimer: You assume full responsibility and risk for your use of the Website and the service. Under no circumstances will match.com be responsible for any loss or damage, including personal injury or death, resulting from anyone’s use of the Website or Service.

My investigation suggests that with the potential serious consequences of getting involved in people’s love lives, I could argue that the standards that should be required by all online dating sites should be high, but sadly they aren’t. As I continued to pry into how dating sites make claims and operate, I came across a fascinating study done in 2005 by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. (3,215 American were surveyed)

74% of single Americans seeing partners have used an online dating site.

29% believe that online daters are desperate and a whopping 66% believed that online dating can be dangerous.

Another study done in 2006 by Madden & Lenhart, had results that actually proved the opposite that eHarmony and Match.com state. Remember, Match.com stated that 1 in ever 5 relationships start online and eHarmony claims that their study of how relationships work and that singles have been prescreened on 29 Dimensions of Compatibility (that they claim are scientifically proven.)

In this survey 38% met their partners in real world settings such as work or school, 34% through family and friends and 13% in a nightclub or bar. Only 3% met through using the Internet.

In more ways than one, eHarmony’s relationship they have with their users is extremely condescending. They don’t allow you or anyone to search their site for a partner. Instead they tell a user, here are 15 people we found for you. So in a twisted way they are putting users on blind dates that they actually pay for. The actual success rate for eHarmony is less that 10%.

As for Match.com they gather information like hobbies and interests the same way that Netflix does. They do not gather any information that is related to what will make a user happy in a relationship.

As this investigation proves, online dating sites claim that people will achieve better romantic outcomes only using their site instead of the conventional real world dating. But sadly what every site has failed to recognize is that there really is no way to successfully predict that a relationship will last, especially when the most crucial information is not collected:

A) Individuals Characteristics of each partner which include personalities, attitudes and if each partner is relatively stable.

B) Quality of interactions – This can only be measured in person, not online. This includes how well the couple will communicate and also support each other.

C) Unforeseen Circumstances: This includes stress, financial problems, cultures, family issues, etc.

With this said, users beware that the only ultimate way to know if a relationship is going to last, is actual face to fact interaction.

In closing I just want to ask family members and friends to stop pressuring their single loved ones to “find someone.” When you pressure someone to be in a relationship that they aren’t ready for or shouldn’t be in you are doing more harm than good.

Divorce, heartbreak, anguish and disappointment are just a few things you could be forcing your loved one to go through, not to mention, they could be putting their emotional and physical well being on the line if they attempt to use a dating site to achieve what you want them to achieve, a relationship.

Some people are better off single, happier single and not everyone is destined to be in a relationship. That is have life goes. I think dating sites don’t get that either, since all they care about is making money off single people’s misery. If a single person can deal with the fact that they are single, don’t you think you can too? I’m not saying that being single is my choice right about now, because I would love to be in a relationship. I just know that I don’t want to be “pitied” into getting myself into one because people think that is what will make me “happy.” If you can’t be happy while being with yourself, how do you expect to be happy in a relationship?

Being single doesn’t mean you can’t find any one or you’re not good enough. It just means your protecting yourself waiting for the right one.

In the end, it’s wiser to be single, than in the wrong relationship.