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Five myths about online dating that might keep you from finding love online

Finding love online is hard enough without letting unrealistic expectations get in your way.
Finding love online is hard enough without letting unrealistic expectations get in your way.
Svilen Milev,

More than one-third of couples who got married between 2005- 2012 reported that they met their future spouse online. The stigma around online dating has lessened in recent years and more of us are turning to cyberspace for help in making a love connection. Here are five myths about online dating that can sink your chances of finding your perfect match:

1. Myth: I have a better chance at finding love if I just keep searching through profiles.
Fact: Online dating is not like mining for gold. You need to know what you’re looking for in a partner and stick to the profiles that best match your relationship goals. Researchers have found that sorting through thousands of profiles can not only leave you feeling overwhelmed, it actually increases the odds that you will make a selection error by focusing on attributes that are not important to relationship quality, such as physical appearance.

2. Myth: I should initiate communication with as many people as possible to increase my chances of finding a mate.
Studies of online dating patterns suggest that people who use a “shotgun” approach tend to get the greatest number of responses from people who are generally less desirable in terms of looks, educational attainment, occupation, likeability, etc. Be selective about who you contact in order to increase your odds of finding someone with whom you are truly compatible.

3. Myth: Online dating gives me a better chance to find my ideal partner.
In a research study of more nearly 15,000 online daters, investigators found that most people tend to initiate communication with the most physically attractive and socially desirable people regardless of their own physical appearance and social desirability. In other words, most online daters are drawn to the hottest most successful singles even if they do not match them in terms of looks, educational attainment, income, likeability, etc. The authors of the study also found that the hottest most desirable singles respond most often to people who are equally as hot and desirable. So instead of focusing on that Kate Upton look-alike, or Brad Pitt’s long-lost twin brother, look for people who share your interests and values.

4. Myth: I should wait for people to contact me, that way I can screen out the ones that I don’t like.
Taking a passive approach to online dating is the best way to remain single. Both men and women who initiate communication online are more successful at connecting with other singles. Men in particular are more likely to connect with a desirable partner if they initiate contact online, largely because women still cling to the traditional notion that men should initiate a relationship. Women who wait for men to contact them often complain of a lack of “quality” men available online, but those who take the initiative to let a man know that they are interested are far more successful at landing a date.

5. Myth: Online dating is my chance to explore relationships with people I would not otherwise date.
Opposites simply do not attract. Social scientists have known for decades that we tend to gravitate towards people who share our same personal characteristics and demographic profile. Studies of people who have long-lasting marriages have demonstrated this tendency to be true, and the same observation can be made in online dating. People are most likely to continue communicating with individuals who are most similar to themselves.

If you have decided to try online dating be sure to know what you are looking for in a partner, keep your expectations realistic, and don’t be shy about sending a “wink,” “flirt,” or even a message to someone you find attractive.