If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that my new book Make Your Move takes a dim view of online dating. Now a new survey on post-COVID-19 romance is raising new red flags about the dating-app generation’s quest for love.
According the dating survey featured in People magazine, singles report that it now takes, on average, five months before they feel like they are in “a comfort zone” with new romantic partners. Top signs of a comfort zone include: sleeping in the same bed, being naked around one another, revealing deep secrets, and sharing personal details from childhood.
Five months may sound like a lot, but this does make sense to me. There’s so much predatory behavior in the online date-o-sphere that it behooves all daters — especially women — to take their time, do some fact-checking and make sure Robert the handsome hedge fund manager isn’t actually Billy Bob the dangerous ex-con.
Here’s where the survey lost me: “Interestingly enough,” People reports, “half of the respondents believe people can reach the comfort zone solely through virtual dates — without ever meeting in person. [Also] 38 percent said it’s actually easier to get to know someone when you’re not face-to-face.”
The article framed these findings as progress.
I beg to differ.
No, it is NOT easier to get to know someone online than face-to-face, and there’s a boatload of science to prove it (as I show in the new book). Sure it might be easier logistically to chat online than meet up in person, but that is very different from actually getting to know someone.
In business, everyone realizes networking and customer acquisition are more challenging via Zoom than face-to-face. Why should establishing personal relationships be any different?
“Humans communicate even when they’re quiet,” explains National Geographic writer Julia Sklar, in an April 2020 article on so-called Zoom fatigue. “During an in-person conversation, the brain focuses partly on the words being spoken, but it also derives additional meaning from dozens of non-verbal cues, such as whether someone is facing you or slightly turned away, if they’re fidgeting while you talk, or if they inhale quickly in preparation to interrupt.
“These cues help paint a holistic picture of what is being conveyed and what’s expected in response from the listener. Since humans evolved as social animals, perceiving these cues comes naturally to most of us, takes little conscious effort to parse, and can lay the groundwork for emotional intimacy.”
With text and FaceTime, it’s too easy for people to disguise flaws and mask intentions, which is why is why dating apps have become such fertile ground for cheaters and scammers.
It’s also why nobody should be disclosing deepest secrets or sharing personal stories about childhoods — nevermind sharing intimate photos and videos! — with someone whom they only know online.
It is a recipe for heartbreak — or worse.
Give the People story a read, and then let me know in the comments below if you agree!