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Internet dating: instant love or instant disappointment?

By Suzan Broadbent - posted Monday, 3 November 2008

The other day, I received an interesting email from a friend. He was absolutely delighted that his girlfriend and he had survived a week in their relationship. Being his friend, I was happy for them and proceeded to ask how they were going to celebrate this momentous occasion. Romantic dinner? Movie? Walk under the stars? Picnic at the zoo?

As it transpired my friend had apparently conducted this relationship wholly on speed dating over the internet.

Man ... that was fast. It usually takes over a week for me to get a reply from a wink. Within the course of one week and one day, my mate and his girlfriend had gone from a wink to dating; and pretty serious at that.


So I wondered; what constitutes an internet date exactly? Old, albeit corny, lines won’t suffice: “I see the stars in your eyes”. Well actually it was the glare of the sunlight on the camera. “What a beautiful night for a walk ... want to join me?”. Actually it’s 40C in the middle of the day here. Walking? No thanks!

Exactly what intimate moments are shared? I mean you can’t even offer your date a Mintie, let alone a kiss or cuddle.

Yet for all of the drawbacks one might perceive of not having an actual partner to have and to hold, internet dating appears to be increasing in popularity. In fact internet dating shares are the only shares that have not folded in the recent stock market debacle.

So, why?

Internet dating is a virtual reality. We have virtual pets, virtual parents and virtual partners; all able to be turned off and on at the press of a button. You don’t like nagging? Great - don't log in. You feel like staying in and chilling out? Well you don’t have to worry anymore about your girlfriend or boyfriend spontaneously appearing on your doorstep ready for a night of dancing! Feeling like an undisturbed weekend away with friends? Fine, just leave the laptop at home.

Internet dating allows you to be in control of a situation before any situation even occurs. Upon registering for a website you often get to choose your potential partner’s hair colour, (or whether they should have any), their social habits, height, age, and even interests. Gone are the nightmares of discovering on your wedding night that your partner has false teeth because now you know before you’ve even met.


Internet dating allows you to parade yourself before a smorgasbord of potential significant others without the pain of rejection. You won’t know just how many millions were put off by your downturned eyelash or other such physical imperfection because they just don’t respond and silently move on. In fact, you could take a camera shot from a more flattering angle and pretend the imperfection doesn't exist at all. That big nose; try airbrushing your photo. Do you want to look 10 years younger? Post a photo you took 10 years ago! Or, perhaps even someone else's photo entirely. The possibilities are endless. Internet dating allows you to be who you want to be, unhampered by reality.

This new dating medium also appears to provide a painless and hassle free way to date. Whatever you would like to happen, can happen in the safety of your own imagination. Imagine watching a movie and your internet date has put his arm on the back of your chair and then it slides down, and down ... and there it is around your shoulders and next thing you’re holding hands. You and your partner are cosy in the safe, comfortable, confines of your imagination.

What would you like to be watching together? One a “chic flick” ... one a thriller ... or are you watching a classic love story? Sound of Music? Lion King? Casablanca? Imagine how smoothly the old romances would have gone if internet dating had been invented. The Captain could have asked for someone who likes children, enjoys wealth, opposes the Nazis, and is willing to climb every mountain. But wait, I’m not sure he would have typed in nun as his potential partner's occupation. And maybe the lovely Maria might never have logged on in the first place. As for Narla and Simba, well, lions can’t even read let alone type!

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About the Author

Suzan Broadbent is a student, a teacher, and a lover of all things good!

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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