Is Online Dating a Tool or a Trap? Considering your Dating Pool


It’s hard out there on these online New York City streets

Five, maybe eight years ago, you and your friends may have been skeptical about online dating. But nowadays about 1/5th of serious relationships and 17% of marriages start online, on a dark and stormy night, searching the never ending emptiness of a Netflix queue with one hand and swiping through a limitless litany of dating profiles on the other.

A lot of people struggle with how to use online dating, and what place it should have in their romantic lives. Some people avoid engaging in online dating altogether, and depend on their social circles and going out to meet potential dates. Others use online dating almost exclusively, falling deep down a rabbit hole of digital profiles, likes, and swipes.

In either case—whether you mostly date “offline” or online—people often hit a wall in their dating life. It gets harder to meet people, you become demoralized, and dating starts to feel like a slog and a chore instead of being fun and exciting. This is especially so with online dating, where the apps can easily turn from being a tool that helps us connect with people, to a logarithm-driven robot master that enslaves humanity and keeps it enthralled to their phone.

(Because real life Skynet starts with online dating. You have been warned.)

Dating is a Number’s Game

Dating is a process of trial and error. Ideally, in order to learn and grow we need relationships in which we can learn and grow in. In order to have a real understanding of who and what we like, we need to meet and interact with as wide a range of people as possible.

While the dating pool in New York City is vast and diverse, in our own lives, we may have a limited pool of people in which we can meet potential partners. How wide or narrow that pool is has a direct bearing on your love life.

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Online Dating Expands Your Pool of People

If your social network is vast and you have a diverse array of friendships through which to meet people, you’ll have the opportunity to be exposed to different people who can have a feel for you, and for you to sense out in terms of your attraction and desire. 

If your friendship circle is more modest or very particular, then by sheer numbers, the likelihood of meeting a wider array of people of you can “click” with is going to be smaller.

The same goes for people who are more introverted, or who experience social anxiety. A wide social network or circle may not be available to them. Hence, by default, the pool of potential people is naturally going to be smaller.

Online dating can then be a useful tool, in that it can give you access to an endless sea of humans with wide ranging aspirations, aesthetics, tastes, and interests. When used judiciously, it can help expand your pool of people so you can have a higher likelihood of meeting a potential partner.

Don’t Depend Exclusively on Online Dating

Calling this “Online” Dating is really a misnomer. Ideally, these apps are technologies that let us connect to other people with whom we can go outside, on like, an actual date. 

However, we need to be wary of only turning to online dating as a way to meet people. If we live our life between work and our phone screens we ironically end up limiting the pool of people we can engage with. If online dating becomes our primary method for meeting people, it can start to take a toll on our mental well-being over time. We become increasingly disenchanted and feel hopeless, burning out through the digital wasteland that is online dating in New York City.

This is when online dating becomes a trap instead of a tool to help you meet new people.

Build a Diverse, Multi-Method Approach

This sounds technical, but is really very simple. You need to give yourself a range of choices and opportunities in your dating life. 

Go out with your friends, go to a Meetup of a hobby of your choice, build connections, have fun, and try online dating as a “supplement” to your romantic life. 

So engage in online dating, but not at the expense of building your social network, going out and taking part in activities in the city. 

Daniel Gaztambide