For Christian women still waiting for Mr. Right, online dating has increasingly become accepted as a way to meet potential spouses. Only 20% of churches in America have a group dedicated to singles ministry. As a second resort, women are turning to the internet to expand their horizons. In 2012, an estimated 40 million Americans gave online dating a try. More and more people are finding their spouse via online dating services (ODS). It has been estimated that 1 in 5 married couples met online. Since dating is not in the Bible, it’s a grey area that needs to be navigated with wisdom. There are dangers and pitfalls in using this method, so here are some important points to consider to see if online dating is a wise path for you.
If you have unrealistic expectations – don’t online date.
- You probably don’t think this applies to you, but consider most people approach internet dating with higher expectations than with traditional methods, which may stifle the process of getting into a relationship. Your expectations might be so high who you’re looking for doesn’t exist. No human being will ever meet all our expectations.
- Internet dating is designed to play off preferences. There is nothing wrong with having preferences, but if you only get into a relationship defined by your terms, you might be driven by selfishness.
If you’re not known for having discernment don’t – online date.
- Beware: Online stalkers exist.
- People misrepresent themselves. Some will post younger, older, thinner, or more muscular pictures of themselves. It’s easy to lie online.
- People exaggerate personal qualities or marginalize weaker traits.
- You must be able to maintain a healthy level of skepticism.
- You need to be careful. Since dating sites require you to submit personal information, you need to be highly selective about what is printed online. Don’t submit anything you wouldn’t want plastered on a newspaper headline.
- Dating sites don’t give you relevant information about character. Height, hair color, and personal interests don’t inform you how a person communicates, solves conflict, where they are spiritually or what they really believe. This is learned through personal interaction. Successful long-term relationships are based on information you can’t learn online, yet many people make decisions based on superficial statistical data about a person.
If you have a tendency to get emotionally attached in dating – don’t online date.
- Electronic media has a tendency to build false intimacy and build it quickly. Every time you have an electronic exchange through an ODS, email, or text, your emotions develop an attachment to that person and your heart quickly follows. The thrill of receiving a correspondence, the high you get when an electronic contact is made, or the drop of disappointment when you don’t see a message in the inbox is like a roller coaster. Dragging your emotions through an up and down drama isn’t healthy, nor does it help you be discerning or make wise decisions.
- It’s necessary to use caution and self-control when communicating to not reveal too much information about yourself too soon.
- Online dating takes time. Depth of character cannot accurately be assessed online or even on the phone. Many people rush into making permanent commitments too early in the infatuation stage before they have an accurate assessment of the person. Those who have recently become single or people who have been single a long time are especially at risk. Single women in their mid-30s are particularly vulnerable as the “biological clock” is ticking and impatience or anxiety as for why God hasn’t brought “the one” starts to set in.
- Most internet matches do not lead to long-term relationships. After trying out a couple, there can be a temptation to feel discouraged, depressed, or defeated. It can take a long time to find a truly suitable match. Even then, there should be a real life, off-line relationship and interaction to truly know the person. Unless, of course, you are looking to have an online marriage. In that case, you should be trolling Second Life instead of Christian Mingle.
Have you tried online dating? What was your experience? What advice do you have to share with us?