Internet dating

The Atlantic Magazine Says Online Dating Works Too Well

The Atlantic magazine January February 2013 issueThink online dating is a shortcut to your happily ever after? Think again. Online dating experts say it may make finding find Mr. or Mrs. Right even more challenging.

Ladies, if you’ve joined an online dating site thinking your Mr. Right is just a click or two away, think again. At least according to an article in the January/February issue of The Atlantic magazine written by author Dan Slater of the soon-to-be published book, Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating.

Sure, there may be positives to online dating—which the article acknowledges—such as its convenience, the ability to screen potential suitors and make better choices.

That’s basically what the heavy-hitters in the online dating scene promise, with sites like eHarmony and touting how they’re responsible for more marriages or relationships than their competition.

It sounds as easy as join, click, meet and marry. But could that high number be because those marriages and relationships didn’t work out? Slater, who wrote The Atlantic article, suggests that’s the case.

What’s great about online dating—never settling for a mediocre relationship—is also what’s bad about it. The array of choices that allow for raising the bar may also make it difficult to settle—as in marry, not as in resigning to something that’s second-best.

The excerpt from Slater’s book published in the magazine tells the story of Jacob, a single guy who’s moved back to his home state after college and a few jobs. He meets and starts dating someone the old-fashioned way, and the relationship runs its course—possibly even lasting longer than it should.

He turns to online dating, and his life basically changes. For one, he’s got more choices than ever before, and he no longer fears loneliness at the end of a relationship because all he has to do is sign in to his account(s) and move on to the next woman.

At one point, Jacob is seeing multiple women, several intimately. But even he wonders at what point he feels comfortable settling down because the next best thing could be just a click away.

Such behavior could be typical of the online dater, as’s CEO is quoted in the article saying that most of the site’s users are return customers.

Other online-dating-company representatives put that assessment in more big-picture terms. Ultimately, technology is at odds with commitment, in that while it offers more choices for a relationship or marriage, it also offers attractive options for getting out of them.

Do you think that assessment is fair?