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Is Online Dating for you? The risks and benefits of searching for love online.
According to recent UK Online Dating Statistics, 1 in 5 relationships in Great Britain now start online and with a study published by a leading matchmaking website suggesting that by 2031 that figure could well be 1 in 2 it is apparent that most of the stigma surrounding online dating has dissipated.
We use technology in almost every other aspect of our lives, so why not harness the immensity of the World Wide Web when looking for love? What follows is a brief analysis of the dating landscape as its stands today and a rundown on the risks and rewards of putting yourself out there into cyberspace.
There are essentially two ways of playing the online dating game, the more traditional dating websites or the newer school of swiping applications. Both have their advantages and pitfalls and cater to fundamentally different demographics, traditional, established websites favour a more in depth approach with detailed profiles and cross-referencing of common interests, they focus very much on the long game and as such the longer you sign on for, the cheaper your monthly cost.
The “swiping” apps are often free of charge for their basic service and operate on the minimalist premise of swiping right if you like what you see on a potential match’s profile, receive a swipe back and you’re free to chat further. One of the main criticisms of these type of dating apps is that they tend to engineer more one night stands than meaningful relationships, that notwithstanding they could be a viable option if you are a very busy person with considerable time constraints.
As useful a tool as online dating is, and as safe as it often may seem, there is an element of risk involved with these apps and websites.
Scamming – Often in the form of an odd financial request, the scammer will spend a few weeks talking to a target in order to gain their trust, then, seemingly out of the blue the victim will receive a request for financial aid due to some outlandish set of circumstances that has befallen their new friend.
Whilst your heartstrings may have you reaching for your chequebook, think before you do, why are they asking you for money? Why would they not go to a family member or a friend first? Have they seemed overly interested in your job or income in a past conversation? As with any salesman worth his salt, a scammer will try to exploit you via your emotions, be wary, be wise.
Catfishing/ Misrepresentation – The term catfishing refers to the practice of creating a fake online identity or profile in order to pursue one or multiple online relationships. While this is a less common occurrence on the more sinister end of the spectrum, as it turns out, everybody lies; according to a 2007 survey The Truth about Lying in Online Dating Profiles 81% of online dater’s lie about characteristics such as height, figure and age.
Misrepresentation can be a serious problem that will ultimately lead to disappointment, wherever possible, verify a profile picture is current or you could find out they’ve lost a significant amount of hair since 1989.
Identity Theft – Age old advice, be careful what you put online. NEVER post your address on your profile as this can lead to a whole host of problems beyond identity theft such as stalking and harassment.
Online Dating websites require a lot of personal and financial information in order to set up an account so ensure you have an up to date Internet Security software package installed to safeguard yourself from viruses and hacking. It is also best to use a password that has no obvious association to you or a family member.
A potential mismatch – Not at all a technological or life threatening risk, yet it can be just as crushing, if not more so. A perceived online chemistry is no guarantee of real life sparks, bravado and wit are a lot easier to engineer when sat in front of a computer screen, so allow for a little awkwardness when you first meet. Take into consideration that your new match may be using an online dating service because they are shy or have been unlucky in love before, it isn’t a perfect service because we aren’t a perfect species.
Can’t hurt your chances – The predominant reason behind the popularity of online dating; it increases the likelihood of making the connection that so many of us crave. In addition to this, with the more traditional online websites you can filter out the people that you aren’t interested in based on their interests or physical characteristics, therefore decreasing the potential time it takes to meet your match!
Convenient – If you’re a single parent or you maintain a very demanding job it’s far easier to schedule an online chat for fifteen minutes than it is to hang around an expensive cocktail bar on a Friday in the hope that Tom Hiddleston or Adriana Lima offers to buy you a drink.
Save on expenses (and lengthy encounters of a tedious kind) – We’ve all experienced that one train wreck of a date where we’ve drank literal buckets of blue lagoon in the hope it will numb the pain of the conversation, and it wasn’t cheap. If you’re vetting potential suitors online, with many you’ll know immediately that they aren’t for you, saving the expense and awkwardness of an ill-suited first date.
Builds trust and confidence – As previously mentioned, many online daters use the service because of a natural shyness or previous bad luck in love, if you are one of these people then it is a valuable way to begin building confidence and trust in a relationship in advance of your first actual meeting.
It also ensures you can take your time until you feel that you’re ready for that all important first date; if it helps then think of the entire online dating process as one big trial run before the big day, you’ll be well prepared.
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