Psychological Effects of Online Dating


Online dating and social networking is a billion-dollar business. Many people are turning online to find love, romance and connections. The field is relatively new, and long-term psychological studies are inconclusive, however numerous short-term studies have yielded a wide range of results, both positive and negative.

Real World Interaction

  • Due to the ease, security, anonymity and comfort associated with online dating, those who engage in it can sometimes be prone to skirting real world interaction. The comfort that an online filter provides can make a person less likely to approach another potential love interest in the real world. For example, a person who engages in online dating may be reluctant to approach someone they find attractive in other situations, because of the immediate potential of rejection and perceived pressure to impress. This can breed a cycle of insecurity and discourage the user from taking real life personal relationship risk.

Self Image

  • Self image has a lot to do with online dating in many facets. A person can be anyone online; post the best picture and embellish their online personality. The person may start to believe that this persona is who they are and lose touch with their essence. In addition, when a potential match finds out that they are not quite who they seem to be, there may be rejection, which was based on false expectations.

Perception Of Online Dating

  • While the perception of online dating is changing, it can still be an embarrassing for some people. The social stigma attached to those who engage in online dating can affect the self-esteem of the dater; especially if those in their peer group do not support them or have negative perceptions of it. The person may begin to feel less desirable because they have "resorted to online dating." Those with a stronger or well-adjusted sense of self-esteem and self-worth, and those who are supported by their peers are unlikely to have those feelings.

Distorted Perceptions

  • Online dating sites have thousands of profiles. As a result a dater must reevaluate their criteria for selecting a potential match. This is especially the case for women, who receive a disproportionately high number of suitors when compared to men. The stricter criteria that daters are forced to adopt can alter perceptions of potential romantic partners.


  • For some, online dating allows them to be themselves. They can let others know instantly about perceived imperfections without facing rejection. For example, someone with a disability may choose to let others know right up front about who they are and not fear being rejected because of it. When that person makes a connection, both parties know what to expect. This can be liberating for some who may have negative images about their body.

Decreased Connection

  • For others the online world can be addictive and their online personality can take over. The user may spend hours online and lose touch with their real world. In extreme cases this can affect their work, health and personal relationships. A distorted sense of reality can emerge and users may spend countless hours online.

Social Bridge

  • For those who suffer from social anxiety or shyness, online dating can help open them up to a world that they may not have otherwise experienced. Online dating can ease a shy person into making a connection with someone else and they can control the progression of the relationship at a speed that is comfortable for them.

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  • Photo Credit B2M Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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