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Internet Dating: Wave of the Future

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Many people seeking mates do not wish to participate in the "bar scene" and are turning to online dating as a possible answer. (Donn) Internet dating is not only harmless; it is the future of strong, healthy, long-lasting relationships. Online interpersonal communication represents a new realm in finding a mate. There are many positive distinctions associated with internet dating, in spite of the lingering social stigma attached to finding a mate on the internet, though the practice is becoming increasingly popular and socially acceptable. (Hoffman)

While discussing Love, Internet Style, David Brooks says, "The Internet slows things down," but in two important ways, this is not true. Because initial interaction on the internet is relatively anonymous, selection of a potential partner is initially easier and faster; people can limit their selections to others who are similar to themselves and share interests, opinions, religious or cultural affiliations. (Byrne) Traditionally, it would take a long time to find more obscure similar interests in a person and to what extent opinions are the same or differ. However, if one were to join an online forum of a specialized interest, it would be understood that everyone in the forum shared that interest; this interest could provide a catalyst to starting a relationship. (McKenna) And with the growing popularity of online dating sites, meeting single people online is much easier than real-life dating. Someone seeking a mate no longer has to rely on friends to introduce them to potential mates; they can go online and sort through thousands of potential mates, and can sort and search by demographic information, pictures, and personality traits. (Valkenburg)

Getting to know a potential partner's "true self" is also easier online. People who meet online are more successful in communicating their true self to their partner as the anonymous nature of the communication enables self-disclosure. (Bargh) Couples communicating on the Internet share intimate details of their lives much more quickly than in offline relationships, which promotes intimacy and a feeling of closeness. Couples also may express parts of themselves that they normally would not, while maintaining a feeling of personal space. (Bonebrake) Communication between partners can be enhanced by first learning how to communicate with each other online. Face-to-face meetings happen quickly and sometimes end just as quickly. When an email is sent approaching a potential partner, one can stop and think about what they want to let the other person know and the recipient has time to think about and compose a response. Having time to formulate and edit a message as opposed to thinking of what to say "on the spot" is a distinct advantage of Internet dating. Because of the lack of superficial qualities such as physical attractiveness, a new relationship has a durable base and is able to survive and flourish once the partners meet in person. Instead of body language and other non-verbal cues used in face-to-face meetings, Internet daters use textual cues; they may leave space between words to mimic a pause, or run them close together to express excitement. Intentional misspellings, use of symbols or all capitalized letters to indicate yelling, all can



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