Online dating: Is it worth it?

For the last 15 years, online dating has slowly made its way to the forefront of the singles scene. Once considered to be nerdy and weird, dating sites are now one of the most common ways of meeting potential love interests. And this newfound popularity has caused constant debate over the age-old question – is online dating really worth it?

A new study, released Monday in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, came up with this answer: We still don’t really know. Well, thanks guys!

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The report analyzed 400 academic studies to see whether online dating causes a noticeable shift in the way daters seek matches and whether it actually helps or hurts daters. Their conclusion is what millions of online daters have been saying for years – dating sites, like Match.com and E-Harmony, have significant pros and cons.

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While the study showed that these sites do succeed in offering access to a much larger dating pool, it also found that they can overwhelm users with too many options. In order to find a prospective mate, daters must click through hundreds of profiles. In fact, the average online dater spends 12 hours a week doing just that.  And even if you do manage to narrow down your choices, you still run the risk of having a not-so-great experience in person. After all, an online profile will never be able fully capture an individual’s personality, no matter how detailed.

So, what is a single person to do? If you decide to join an online dating site, you have to know that you’ll only get results if you put in the time and effort…and even then, the results might not be exactly what you hoped for.

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That being said, there’s no reason to stop trying, especially if you don’t mind kissing a few frogs in order to get to your prince. I have a family friend, who met her now-husband on an online Christian dating site. After talking on the phone and chatting online with him for a only couple of months, she decided to move to Arizona to marry him. The first time they met each other face-to-face was in the airport, right after she stepped off the plane. They've been married for over a year now and have a four-month-old baby boy named Eli.

See? There is such a thing as a happy ending.

Do you think online dating sites work?

Image via Liliane Ferrari/flickr