Center for Shared Insight, PC

Why is online dating so confusing?

September 15, 2020
Posted By: Kristen Hick, Psy.D.

Online dating. It seems like the perfect way to meet an ideal match while being efficient with your time, selective with your choices, and intentional with your approach. Especially if you live in the suburbs or don’t go out much, it appears that online dating would be an excellent way to meet someone you have a lot in common with. But online dating is not without games, confusion, and ghosting. Digital communication makes it oftentimes more difficult to understand true intentions and can lead to a very confusing dating experience. 

In this post, we share reasons that online dating can be a frustrating experience and what you can do to improve your odds of meeting someone who is a great fit online.

Different Motives

One of the most significant reasons that online dating is so challenging for many is that there are a variety of motives or goals that people have for joining online dating platforms. From casual “situationships” to long-term committed partnerships, expectations, and needs aren’t always aligned as you look through profiles. 

Oftentimes, creating a profile is a reaction a person has to being unhappy in a current relationship or even as a result of feeling lonely and wanting to fill a void. The intention of creating those profiles could be simply a distraction from the everyday struggles of life. General curiosity or “fear of missing out” on other “potential partners” also drives people to online dating. Online dating is non-committal, you can disappear if you want to, and it’s non-confrontational. These reasons also make it difficult to create an authentic connection.

Words vs. Actions

If you meet someone online, you may experience discrepancies between their words and actions. For instance, a person may write that they desire something serious in their profile, but after talking with them, you get the sense that they are prioritizing their single life far more than acting like they want to get serious. This can lead to confusion and frustration as the relationship progresses. Oftentimes, people do want to get serious (consciously) but they lack the tools to really make that happen due to unconscious limitations, often including their attachment style. Maybe they can’t say no to their buddies or don’t want to prioritize the time commitment of dating. Remember that people speak from their conscious intentions and act from their unconscious ones.

Creating an Authentic Experience

While there is no foolproof way to create an authentic online dating experience, or perfectly align your needs with the ideal match, being forthcoming with your dating goals can help. Add your dating desires to your online dating profile (from casual dating to looking for long-term partnership), add helpful information like your love language, or even information about what types of relationships work well for you. Be as forthcoming as possible based on what you know about yourself and your dating preferences to improve your chances of finding an ideal fit. An example of how to write this in a profile might be:

“Looking for a long-term monogamous partnership, not necessarily marriage. My love languages are words of affirmation and quality time. The best relationships for me include spending weekends together and maybe one night a week, while leaving space and time for individual interests and hobbies. I connect best with positive individuals who have a growth mindset and enthusiasm for nature. Must like dogs (I have two of them!)!”

Be yourself and don’t be afraid to convey your wants and needs right upfront. The right match will appreciate your clarity and will likely even find it refreshing.

Next Steps

While a profile can say a lot about a person and their dating goals, it’s essential to assess how their actions during the early stages of dating match up. If you are noticing that there is a discrepancy between their stated goals and actions, you may want to bring it up with them or decide that it’s not a good match. Take it from us - continuing to date someone who doesn’t align with you will usually end is heartache.

If you are interested in getting more fulfillment out of online dating and creating more authentic connections in your life, the team at Center for Shared Insight can help. While online dating can be hard and confusing, having the opportunity to talk through your specific experiences with a therapist can provide a third-party perspective on the challenges, and our team can recommend approaches to help foster a more authentic online dating connection. 

Call us today for a free consultation.

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