by Dr. Lorin Bradbury
Question: When looking for a spouse, do you think online sites such as “eharmony.com” really work? They’re based on the premise that you’ll find someone that is compatible and matches your likes and dislikes.
Answer: I know very little about these sites, but just the thought of dating an unknown person would be very scary to me. I found some information from Pew Research on web-based dating sites, so I will share it with you. I also will give you some of my own thoughts toward the end of this response. The following paragraph is a nice synopsis of the opinions of American who used dating websites:
On a broad level, online dating users are more likely to describe their overall experience using these platforms in positive rather than negative terms. Additionally, majorities of online daters say it was at least somewhat easy for them to find others that they found physically attractive, shared common interests with, or who seemed like someone they would want to meet in person. But users also share some of the downsides to online dating. Roughly seven-in-ten online daters believe it is very common for those who use these platforms to lie to try to appear more desirable. And by a wide margin, Americans who have used a dating site or app in the past year say the experience left them feeling more frustrated (45%) than hopeful (28%). (https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/06/the-virtues-and-downsides-of-online-dating/)
I don’t know enough about these websites to either recommend or discourage their use. The most I could say would be to proceed with caution. It’s true that some of the websites are psychologically based, providing a minimal level of testing to suggest compatibility, or lack thereof.
On the other hand, those sites are a business with very little to lose when marriages and relationships fail. The point I found most interesting was that 60% of the respondents who had used the sites found their experience positive, but 73% believe most people using the sites tend to lie about or embellish their presentation. In any dating/courtship relationship, if you don’t believe the other person, or don’t tell the truth yourself, the potential for a successful outcome is not very good.
I would like to offer some suggestions for any dating/courtship relationship:
First, if you have been in a marriage relationship that failed, take time to heal before you even consider dating. The old saying is to not get into another relationship “on the rebound.” There are very few failed relationships in which the fault is totally on the part of one person. It’s worth the money to invest in a counselor, psychologist, or marriage and family therapist with whom you can explore what happened in that failed relationship. Examine your fears, need to control, need for affection, etc. Examine unrealistic expectations.
Second, set your standards high before you go looking. Make yourself of list of basic expectations, including the religious faith of the you will potentially date. Find a confidant with whom you can share the list and review the list after you begin dating. Be sure the confidant is willing to be objective and it’s important you listen when that person cautions you.
Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]