In a recent article in The Atlantic which you’ve probably seen by now, Dan Slater blames online dating for “threatening monogamy.” According to Slater, dating websites make it so easy to find compatible matches that guys keep going back for more dates, for more girlfriends, again, and again, and again…
While that certainly speaks well to the efficacy of online dating, it’s hard to imagine that men, that anyone, could possibly become so enthralled by the process of online dating as to choose it over a solid relationship. Because, let’s be totally honest (and I’m saying this as someone employed by a dating site): online dating itself isn’t that fun*. I mean, dating is fun! But when you’re truly in the market for a relationship, online dating itself is only enjoyable as a temporary means to an end. You go online to find a relationship. (Another example: Grindr isn’t fun as an app; Grindr is fun as a means to find someone to have sex with, and sex is fun.)
What we’re really talking about here is sex. The prospect of sex with someone new is what can really entice someone away from a relationship, not the prospect of crafting a new “Hey! I saw on your profile that you like ___, that’s awesome!” first message. And sex is something that you don’t really need to go online to get.
And if you’re in a relationship with someone you really like, with whom you’re compatible, with whom you have great sex, with whom you can laugh and communicate and weather the bad days and travel and talk about anything, and you’re lured away from that by the enticing prospect of an OkCupid date? ….
…then the problem isn’t online dating, it’s you.
In which case, yes.
Online dating makes it easier for shitty boyfriends (or girlfriends, though Slater didn’t try to argue that point) to eschew monogamy.
But maybe that’s a good thing.
(That said, still very much looking forward to checking out Slater’s book, Love in the Time of Algorithms.)
Chiara is a staff writer for HowAboutWe and author of the upcoming book Modern Dating: A Field Guide.
*Obligatory editor’s note: Do we think online dating can be fun? Yes, of course — and that’s what HowAboutWe is all about: posting a date that you really want to go on, and getting offline without getting caught up in endless messaging. To Chiara’s point, do we think everyone should online date forever, even if they’ve found a happy relationship? Definitely not!