Which is Worse: Digital ‘Dating’ or Real-Life Dating?

Online dating is becoming more popular, but may come with more risks

Photo by ErnAn Solozábal on Unsplash

ast week a friend and I were watching a program called “Date with the Devil.” It was a true-crime show which, in this case, profiled a couple who had met on some dating app and she was later murdered by him. My friend said, “I wonder if that’s (online dating) better or worse than ‘bar dating’?”

Let it be noted that this friend is one of the very few people I know who isn’t “online.” He has a flip phone, can’t use a computer — it’s never been relevant to his work or his life in general — and has no desire to change that. He is technologically still in the 70s, but that’s not totally a bad thing, in my view.

I, on the other hand, have been using computers for more than 30 years. It started with learning Basic computer programming in 11th grade (early 80s) on an Apple IIe (remember those cute little boxes???); and also used them in my former life as a newspaper reporter. It was how we wrote and created our news products. Now I’m writing online, so the tradition continues.

So that combined with the fact that I’ve been a Singleton (having been divorced after two brief marriages) most of my adult life, I got lured into the idea of online dating shortly after my last divorce (early 2000s). So I said to my friend when he asked that question, “I would say they both have their ups and downs, though I think computer dating is probably worse.”

Following are some stories that illustrate why I believe this.

few days days ago I read on Medium a story by a woman writing about “horror stories” that women have shared about their online dating experiences. These stories were aired on a podcast the author (her name was Shari but I don’t recall her last name) listens to, a comedy show as it were. I’m sure some of the said “horror stories” were amusing, though Shari said bad dating experiences should not be a joke.

Then again, I feel that it helps to have a healthy sense of humor when one is swimming in the sometimes-turbulent waters of dating and mating, looking for all those “fish in the sea” hoping to catch one. My experiences with dating websites were pretty much normal, at least for back then (I hear it’s much, much awful now than when I did it, from various sources).

Shari also pointed out exactly what I’m going to write about, that is, it’s probably better, and maybe a little bit safer, to get dates in the good ol’ old fashioned way: IRL or In Real Life. Our lives are always full of choices, which include how we meet people. For whatever reason, people still choose to do online dating — I’m not one of them anymore,— and have the good, bad and the ugly meet-ups. My question is: if women keep having all these horrible experiences with online dating, why don’t they just quit?

Oh yeah, I know why, or have several theories why — i.e., getting your unmet attachment needs met, looking for a “connection” with someone, low self esteem, their feeling like they “must” have a man at their side because that “validates their existence as a woman” (whish, ladies, is complete and total bullshit) … but that’s a whole different article.

Mine were mostly meeting some nice men, several of whom I went out with (almost without exception, it was only one date), some of whom were nowhere like they represented themselves in their profiles (big surprise, eh? Not.) and others who may have been a bit, ummm, creepy, though I was quick to hit “delete” if something didn’t feel right.

article I found on the subject on the Rolling Stone website talks about a woman who was murdered in 2017 in Nebraska by a two people, one of whom she had met though a dating site and gone out with. Apparently the first date “went well” so she went out with this person again … only this time it did not go well, as she was strangled and dismembered.

People hear awful stories like this and think computer dating is fraught with grave risks. Yes that’s true, though anyone who has been there, done that also knows that what my friend referred to as “bar dating” (meeting someone in a bar and going home with them that day/night, or later on) also has it’s risks … which include rape, assault and — worst-case scenario — murder, or at the very least, heartbreak and disappointment.

And yes, I’m also very much aware — due to personal experience plus reading/hearing tons of murder stories in my lifetime— that people you meet in person can also turn out to be psychopaths tending toward homicidal tendencies. I see those stories all the time about people being raped, beaten even killed by so-called loved ones and think of how sad it is that people have to treat each other that way.

One common thread that seems to run through a lot of murders on those true-crime shows and news stories (involving people who either were real-life couples or who met online) is this: the woman refused sex, and the man then killed her and raping her, either before or after her death. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that reason; really it’s just that common!! So why are men being raised thinking they deserve sex whenever they want and the women are there for their pleasure? What the hell is up with that?

According to that above-mentioned Rolling Stone article, many people are still attracted to online dating despite the heightened risks. Some people are as careful as all get-out and still may end up victimized (Hint: if a date seems “too good to be true,” that person may be putting up a false front. Plus, some outgoing, cheerful, charismatic people who “sweep you off your feet” just might be a narcissistic psychopaths. So beware of these types).

urthermore, an article in Sky News entitled “Dark side of online dating: Crimes rise dramatically in last five years (written April 11, 2019) said , “”Exclusive figures … from UK police forces show that 2,054 offences were recorded between 2011 and 2016. In 2011, 149 crimes were recorded; by 2016 that had risen to 676% — a 382% increase.”

“In the same period,” the article goes on, “the number of sexual crimes reported rose from 14 to 106 and violent attacks were up from 29 to 240.” Sky News reported that the main apps used by many who committed violent crimes to the people they met on them were Tinder and Grindr. To be fair,k since there are literally tons of dating sites, no doubt there have been crimes committed by people who met on other websites too.

The following statement from this Sky News story echoes Shari’s comments that online dating is indeed becoming, well, more and more nasty. “Some users (of dating sites) told me they’ve now noticed a darker side to dating ranging from an increase in fake profiles to drug-fueled sex parties.” One man was quoted in the Sky News article as saying when he joined Grindr, “it wasn’t that bad” but now has been much, much worse.

Perhaps people are using apps to suck other persons in to create their fantasy sexual scenes, however sick and twisted they may be, in which someone might get hurt … or worse. Certainly bears thinking about. One goes online looking for love, or a reasonable facsimile, and get something entirely other than what they were hoping for. Ugghhh, so glad to no longer be in that scene!!!

Pretty grim, thought-provoking and eye-opening stuff, eh? I think so. Certainly seems enough to want to share this, just so we don’t keep reading those stories about “online dating killer claims 14th victim” and what-not. It’s just tiresome. Please people, try playing it safer.

aving said all that, here are my reasons why IRL (In Real Life) dating is better than online dating/meet-ups/hook-ups:

When you meet people face-to-face, you know what they look and sound like right away. There’s no lying about looks when you can see them immediately (that is, if you have a certain “look” you want, which face it, most of us do, whether we admit it or not.).

I’m sure many of you have dealt with people who looked and/or sounded much better in their profiles than they actually were in real life. I can remember meeting a man who said his build was “athletic” and upon meeting him I saw he was pretty soft around the middle. Then again, back in the day I was a bit, er, chunky and I wrote “normal body size” in my profile. Maybe some of the guys I met were disappointed because I am “all about that bass” (thank you, Meghan Trainor, for that fabulous song!!)

Yes, it IS true that sometimes when you meet people they are “putting their best foot forward” hoping to make a good impression. That is, and always has been since the beginning of so-called “romantic love” times, part of the courtship process: marketing yourself, so to speak, in an attempt to “sell” someone on you as a “really good catch.” Sometimes this involves lying or “putting on a false face.” Some people can spot fake people from a mile away; I’m one of them. This is harder to figure out when you meet online. Truth.

Because people can be whomever they want online, it might take much longer to figure out they are lying when you meet them this way. .They can create fake profiles, make them sound all lovey-dovey and attractive to the lovelorn out there. As I mentioned earlier, if someone seems to good to be true, they probably are. I’ve heard phrases such as “love bombers” which to me doesn’t sound like a really good time. When people come on too fast. too soon it’s often a big red flag that SHOULD be paid attention to

While interacting with someone IRL, you get to see their faces and expressions, their body language, and hear their voice inflections. You also get to see if they display any of the common signs of lying, that is, lack of eye contact, looking away from you when they’re talking, and so on. You DON’T get to see this when you are looking at a flat profile on a computer screen, you don’t get voice inflections and tone from a silent text.

Meeting and conversing with people in real time is just more fun!!!

While it’s true that those in the dating scene are taking a risk (possibly a fatal one) this always has been the case. Even though computers are indeed taking over many aspects of our lives (and I believe we’re only seeing the tips of the iceberg right now) there are some things they CAN’T replace … and real, true, intimate in-person love just may be one of them. Computers can’t replace human interaction, warmth, caring and genuine connection.

Choose wisely. Your life might depend on it.

Experienced professional writer/freelancer and former newspaper reporter-turned-online writer/blogger. Thinker. “Old soul”, young hippie, empath.

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