ZURICH - Online dating sounds so nice, efficient, and contemporary. So what if it's not romantic what is these days? Everyone knows at least one couple who met online, and the stigma of the practice has all but disappeared. It seems like online dating allows us to be strategic about our love lives, leaving nothing up to fate.
The promises made by the most prominent and respected online dating platforms sound downright fantastic. Swiss dating site Parship.ch promises that lonely hearts will find companionship within just three months. In a recent survey of 1000 couples that met through the company, two-thirds said that they moved in with each other after just one year. Just as many said that they married within two years. The consistency and speed with which Parship facilitates partnerships is a testament to the value of such dating services, the company boasts.
But it's not that simple. The Internet is by no means a Holy Grail when it comes to finding true love. Even with the help of a dating sight, the road to married bliss is bumpy. Especially for women.
Take as an example Andrea K., 38, a copywriter living in Zurich. She has been a member of Parship for three months, and many of her experiences have been sobering. Not because her email traffic sometimes stops, or because she's had a few embarrassing first dates. She expected that. Dating for Andrea has been difficult for entirely different reasons.
Women my age are toxic," she declares. "For men who want children, we are too old. For those who don't, they're still wary when women say that they don't. But if we say we maybe want children, we scare away all those who either don't want children or don't want any more than they already have.
Another Parship member, Renate W., 36, feels the same way. The sociologist finds it fitting that she attracts older men men of the same age tend to go for younger women, especially when they want to start a family. However, at 36, I have no desire to date 50-year-olds. I want my partner to be my age, or even younger. If they're pragmatic, women should look for younger men since men die earlier.
In England, the dating website www.toyboywarehouse.com addresses this need, connecting older women with younger men. The site has 26,000 members, and an amazing 70 percent of them are men who are looking specifically for an older partner.
Elena R., 33, an economist, has also been disappointed by online dating. She had high expectations for the process, but has since come to the conclusion that it's just not for her. The whole experience is too time consuming, and she finds the task of clicking through profiles to be tedious. She also thinks that she just isn't what most men are looking for.
They don't say it directly, but on many first dates men imply that they would prefer a woman who wants to move to the country and have two kids and a golden retriever. When I mention that I would never give up my job, I can tell they immediately write me off.
It is not clear if this has to do with Elenas profile or if men seeking a wife tend to be more conservative. Nevertheless, Elena sees a pattern that has been confirmed by many statistics: well-educated, successful, independent women are far less likely to find mates online. Men would rather marry their secretary than a department head.
Looking for love (and money)
The same rules often apply conversely: Urs Z. (44), a small business owner, changed his profession from manager to sales clerk when he realized that too many messages were coming from women who were only looking for money.
The online dating market, it turns out, is not so different from the usual dating world. The paradox that good-looking women are actually less likely to be approached in a bar also applies to dating websites, according to a recent survey conducted by the U.S.-based Okcupid.
The latest figures from America seem to confirm the impression that Andrea, Renate, and Elena all have of the online dating market: Women over 35 face the same difficulties there as they do in real life. Partner agencies specializing in 50+ singles are experiencing a boom. According to one study, 50-somethings are the most active on dating sites; their participation has increased 39% over the past three years. Given the number of divorces, this is no surprise. The study also indicates that women are more successful in the digital market after they have passed the child-rearing age.
The study also shows that younger singles, those 18-34, are increasingly conducting their search for mates on Facebook. Andrea, Renate, and Elena have also considered it Facebook is uncomplicated, personal, and free. But even there, daters face the same problems. The Internet, after all, is still a mirror of what is in people's heads. Just because singles now search for partners with new technology doesn't mean that traditional images and expectations have disappeared.
Read the original article in German
Photo - Parship.ch