One of the reasons online dating is so popular is that depending on which site or app you use, daters can gather information up front about the suitability and attractiveness of a prospective partner. On the flip side though, many people find dating challenging due to feeling as if they can’t trust the information in profiles. Experiences of feeling misled, used and disappointed are a turn-off.
‘According to their profile, we like and want a lot of the same things, work in a similar field and have a similar sense of humour—and yet, they were so awful to me. How could I have got it so wrong?’
‘He described himself as a religious, hard-working, family-loving vegan looking for love. Why did he ignore me after I declined to sleep with him on the second date?’
The internet has created a shift in who knows what and our ability to gather trusted information.
We used to fear being sold a lemon when we were buying a car. While that can still happen under certain circumstances, by and large, we can gather a great deal of information (including about many other items and services), making it trickier to be screwed by the salesperson.
There’s no longer, as the economist George Akerlof showed in his study of how the used-car market used to work, an asymmetry in available information. Nowadays, we can research most things and sometimes know as much as, if not more, than the seller. That, and there’s plenty of laws, warranties, guarantees and the threat of a poor rating or review. It doesn’t mean we’re ‘fully informed,’ but we’re certainly more armed.
Despite this, we still don’t know a great deal more about our compatibility with someone than we did pre-internet. We like to think we do because of the photos, the info we gather, plus the chatting before meeting up, but we don’t.