Is Online Dating Worth It? How to Know You’re Ready for Love

Is online dating worth it? If you're ready to be in a relationship, it could be.

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The dating scene is a bit messy right now, but was it ever truly cut and dry? People have been bickering and breaking up since the dawn of time. But something about trying to get back out there post-COVID seems much more complicated than it used to. Everyone was so eager to connect again, but now that that time’s starting to come around, things seem more chaotic than ever. Many guys might prefer trying dating apps before meeting in person, but is online dating worth it?

How Many People Use Online Dating?

While dating apps had their heyday a few years ago, plenty of people still use them. Thirty percent of U.S. adults say they’ve used a dating app or site. The most significant age group was those under 30, with 53% saying they had tried online dating. However, you’re still in luck if you’re over 30 — 57% of adults aged 30–64 have used dating apps.

Additionally, you could be more likely to find a match if you aren’t straight. Just under 30% of straight people said they used a dating app, but 51% of people who identify as gay or bisexual have dated online. Pew Research Center published this data in February of 2023, so those looking to get out there this year or in the future can still find connections on dating apps and sites.

The Real Question — Does Anyone Find Love on Dating Apps?

Apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge promise you love, but does anyone actually find it? That number is a bit smaller. Of all the people who meet and date online, 12%–33% of people who used a dating app started a serious relationship or got married. However, don’t let that low percentage worry you. After all, it takes a lot of looking around to find the person you want to be with forever. Rushing into things can lead to unnecessary strife.

In fact, there’s a hard-fact reason not to rush into a relationship online. Twelve percent of those marriages will end within the first three years and 20% will divorce by year 10. That’s not to dismiss online dating — 19% of those who met in a social setting will divorce within 10 years and 24% of marriages that started at work will end in the same timeframe. Researchers simply found digital couples had the highest early divorce rate because they wedded before they really got to know each other.

So, is online dating worth it? Yes — it’s still a perfectly valid way to connect with a potential partner. You just need to remember taking your time is the surest way to build a healthy and lasting relationship.

Why Do You Want to Use a Dating App?

One of the biggest things to ask yourself is why you want to get back out there in the first place. If you’ve just gotten out of a relationship and are already looking for a new partner, it’s probably worth pumping the brakes. You must take time to heal and learn how to be alone before venturing back into the world of love. If you don’t, you risk bringing trauma you don’t know how to cope with into the new relationship. Relying on others to fix you is never a good plan.

Additionally, avoid joining the dating scene just because people tell you you should. You may be too young, not feel ready or not identify as someone who feels romantic attraction. All these reasons are perfectly valid explanations for not doing online dating and you shouldn’t let anyone pressure you into doing so. You’ll avoid misunderstandings or potentially dangerous situations by not dating until you’re ready or staying true to yourself.

Signs You’re Ready to Get Out There

Still ready to look for love via the internet? Here are three signs you’re ready to hit the online dating scene.

1. You’re Not Still Hung up on Your Last Relationship

Plenty of people try dating on an app or site because they want to try something new — and that’s perfectly OK. But if you’re trying to shake things up because you’re still mourning your last relationship, take more time for yourself rather than jumping into a new one. Someone new won’t fix you — you must do that yourself. Once you’ve fully distanced yourself from the past, you’re ready to start looking for online love.

2. You Feel Whole All by Yourself

It’s a popular romantic idea that your partner is your missing puzzle piece, they complete you, they make you whole and so on. While you might think that’s a cute notion, it’s really not ideal for a relationship. What happens if they have an untimely death? What happens if they end things after you’ve completely tied yourself to them? It will make the coping process so much harder. Also, you might become more paranoid about them leaving you, leading to unhealthy behaviors.

Healthy boundaries are some of the essentials of a long-lasting relationship. You’ll only learn your limits and needs by spending time alone. Once you feel like a whole person all by yourself, you’re ready to start bringing someone into your world.

3. You’re Ready to Take Responsibility

Nobody’s perfect — not you, the person you’ll date, your parents or even their parents. Everybody has flaws and things they must take accountability for. You might engage in some behaviors by yourself or with your friends that a new partner finds upsetting or creepy. For example, are you typically a responsible drinker but tend to get blackout drunk at parties? Do you laugh along with your buddies as they critique the looks of every girl at the bar?

Whether you think those behaviors are OK or they’re the result of peer pressure, they can be very offputting to others. Are you ready to recognize you likely have some things to fix? Are you willing to change your unsavory habits to improve yourself? If you take offense to everything your partner brings up, you’re likely not ready to be in a relationship.

A word of caution — honesty and criticism can turn toxic. Someone telling you to clean up after yourself, you’re mean when you’re drunk or your jokes are more hurtful than funny is not abuse. However, if your partner belittles you or makes you feel less than without apologizing, that could be verbal abuse. If something like this happens, talk to them and gauge how they react. Defensiveness, deflection, blame and anger when you bring up something that hurt you are significant red flags.

Is Online Dating Worth It?

If you feel like you’ve exhausted every option to find love at a bar or through friends, online dating is certainly worth a try. However, ensure you’re ready to start dating before signing up. A little soul-searching goes a long way toward saving you from heartbreak.

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