Online Dating Encourages 'Shopping Mentality', Warn Experts

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Online dating has not only shed its stigma but could be killing the romance of dating by making singletons more selective and superficial with a 'shopping mentality' attitude.

Researchers from the University of Rochester in New York, discovered a boom in lonely-hearters taking advantage of the convenient and never-ending access to potential partners by 'shopping' around when looking at online profiles.

However, the pitfall of this dating convenience is that those who compare hundreds of possible dates, adopt a 'shopping mentality'.

These attitudes cause the online dater to become increasingly judgmental and picky, with their prime focus being exclusively on attractiveness and interests - just like they would if they were shopping for items on the web.

"Online dating is definitely a new and much needed twist on relationships," explains Harry Reis, one of the authors from the study. "Corresponding by computer for weeks or months before meeting face-to-face has been shown to create unrealistic expectations."

Relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr told The Huffington Post: "Romantic checklists have always been a hazard of singles searching for love. And especially so for single women who often hold to them more strongly than single men.

"These are the checklists we carry in our minds about the qualities or attributes a person "must" have if we're going to have a date with them. Internet dating comes along and simply intensifies this checklist mindset - leading to the shopping mentality highlighted by this study.

"Because a single can flick through Net profiles so quickly they start scanning for these immediate attributes and get sucked into thinking that the "next" person might have everything on their checklist. Where do you stop?

"This means potentially you write off some very compatible people. Sadly the reality is you're probably not going to meet a six footer with a GSOH, good income, is good with your mum but also hot stuff in bed. But you might meet someone you really click with if you could dump your list.

"The bottom line is such a mentality holds singles back from being open-minded about someone they might unexpectedly fall in love with."

Life coach Sophia Davis agrees. "Online dating has indeed created a shopping mentality, and I agree that we do make judgements about potential dates based on another person's interests and attractiveness.

"It is my belief however not that our expectations are too high, but that it would benefit us to be slightly more open minded to the fact that what we think we might want, isn't always the thing that is 'right' for us.

"Dating can be somewhat of a numbers game, so giving someone a few minutes of your time on the phone instead of instant chat or email, is often a lot more personal and a great insight into whether you might enjoy a 'date' with them.

"When online dating, it is important to keep in mind that although it is important to have some kind of physical attraction with a person, this can also grow once you get to know someone so don't rule it out too quickly.

"A 'connection' with someone can arise on a level much deeper than their physical appearance, and you won't know that until you engage in a conversation. Also remember that two people with different interests can compliment one another and mean that you have new things to learn and speak about so don't let this put you off. It could make for interesting conversations, and a new hobby or viewpoint.

"The last thing to bear in mind, is that there is someone for everyone, so enjoy the process, go into it positively and with the expectation of meeting your soul mate, and the chances are you won't be disappointed."

The study, commissioned by the Association for Psychological Science, analysed more than 400 psychology studies and public interest surveys to uncover the full picture of the online dating industry that attracts around 25 million users around the world.

Researchers discovered that online dating has become the second most common way for couples to meet in the US, with the first being through mutual friends.

The study drew comparisons with previous research by Stanford University in the early 1990s, which found that less than 1% of the US population met their partners through personal advertisements – the 90s equivalent of internet dating.

However, by 2005, 37% of internet users in the US had dated online and by 2009, 22% of heterosexual couples had found partners through the web.

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