Why Online Dating Rocks

Still think online dating isn't for you? Learn why more people than ever before are looking for low-pressure ways to meet The One — plus a few statistics that'll show you why it's so popular.

By Elise Nersesian

ong gone are the days when online dating was a hush-hush activity for desperate singletons. A recent study conducted by the advertising firm Euro RSCG Worldwide found that 53 percent of men and 55 percent of women regard online dating as a totally normal and mainstream method for finding love. So it's no surprise that the Internet is the second most common
It's rare for people to accidentally meet in real life anymore.
place to meet people (ranking just behind meeting through mutual friends) according to research conducted by Stanford University and the City University of New York in 2010. "Online dating is such a successful tool, because with technology eroding the face-to-face social scene, it's rare for people to accidentally meet in real life anymore," said Reuben J. Thomas, an assistant professor of sociology at The City College of New York who coauthored the study. Are you ready to find love online? Here are just a few reasons to get started:

1) Online dating is a pressure-free scenario
Conventional wisdom dictates that the longer you spend winking and exchanging flirty emails with a potential date, the more time you'll spend romanticizing how wonderful and perfect that person is — only to feel let down once you meet each other in real life. Talk about pressure! Well, that's not entirely true. The Euro RSCG Worldwide study shows that having an online flirtation with someone before scheduling an in-person meeting provides a safe haven for both parties emotionally, allowing them the comfort to share things that are both good ("I like you") and bad ("I'm in the process of ending my marriage") with each other that might be awkward say when they're face-to-face. And when people do meet in person, it feels less stressful than an ordinary blind date set-up, says a new study conducted by Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. Those researchers learned that when people meet their online dates for the first time, it feels like they're "meeting an old friend" due to all the correspondence that's been exchanged beforehand.

2) Male online daters fall hard
Here's good news for the ladies: Research conducted by Bath University in England shows that men feel more passionately about, intimately toward, and committed to a relationship than women do after meeting a partner online. We're not sure why, but it could be because men usually tend to be the aggressors. And a Northwestern University study found that whoever initiates contact is usually the more smitten party.

3) You're not blinded by lust
How many times have you ignored a major red flag during a date because your companion was smoking hot? Or convinced yourself that someone you barely knew anything about was your soul mate, simply because he or she was incredibly charming? Well, online daters rarely fall into this trap. Having access
We've all heard horror stories of people who met under false pretenses.
to someone's profile allows you to assess his or her personality traits objectively, before the pull of that in-person charm overrides your better judgment. In other words, online daters can judge whether a person is good on paper before becoming emotionally attached, according to Dr. Bethany Marshall, author of Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away. Granted, someone who appeals to you online can be a real-life disaster (and vice versa), but you boost the odds of finding a partner faster when you're able to assess your general compatibility (Does he want children? Do we share the same interests? Does she live close enough to me?) before meeting each other face-to-face.

4) People are generally honest about themselves
We've all heard horror stories of people who met under false pretenses; maybe he said he was 6'5 when he really was 5'6, or she said she was "in her 30s" but she's actually 43. The truth is that while some people do fib in their profiles, the lies are pretty miniscule, says a 2007 study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University and Cornell University. Scientists measured the height and weight of online daters and checked their drivers' licenses to verify each person's birth date, they found only a 5 percent deviation for weight, a 1.1 percent deviation for height, and a 1.5 deviation for age in what the subjects had stated in their online dating profiles. The study's researchers surmise that people know they'll get busted when they eventually meet someone in person, so posting serious lies are pointless.

5) Online dating works!
And finally, here are some encouraging statistics: So… what are you waiting for?

Elise Nersesian has written for Redbook, Stuff and other national magazines.
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