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Online dating is a multibillion dollar industry but professional matchmakers say it’s more for those who know how to follow their hearts and minds. So, what should you consider when setting up a new relationship in the interconnected online world?
Online dating is popular and Australia is just catching up.
With over seven million unmarried or divorced Australians according to the last Census, the online dating industry boasts that as many as 4.5 Aussies are going online to find the right match.
Tiffany Villaluz, founder and director of new app DateMyFriend admits that the internet world isn’t always safe.
She says her app asks friends to verify and write your entity first, before sharing it with the rest of the world.
"Giving people that sense of confidence that somebody actually has somebody that’s willing to vouch for them. It gives them that feeling of genuine people on the site and it’s also for the reason that it’s really daunting having to write your own profile. When I was online dating, I really struggled with how on earth I’m going to describe myself.”
Having helped over fifty thousand individuals of Caucasian and Asian backgrounds over the past three decades, Contact AJ’s founder and matchmaker Katherine Wei is sceptical of the online dating scene.
She says many of her clients have had to ‘kiss several frogs’ through online dating before coming to her for advice.
“Online dating to me is a play game. You’re a computer. You know? It’s no personal touch and people use online dating first, I have no issue with that, I think people can try if that’s what they want it. I encourage them just be careful and cautious. Most people come back to me after they tried a few times and they said ‘oh, you know, it’s so random and it’s so time-consuming’. You spend hours, weeks, days, months, some people years on it, it didn’t get anywhere. Very emotionally draining and some people tell me they lost hope of finding love because of online dating.”
Wei believes that getting a date is just the first step to a long-term happy relationship which many desire.
“It’s difficult to find the right date to start with and just imagine…you know…afterwards.”
With more and more online scams associated with internet dating, Villaluz warns that seekers should be cautious when it comes to giving out one’s personal information such as mobile phone number or financial information to potential suitors.
“So they try and get you off the platform straight away so that they are directly communicating with you and it’s no longer on a dating platform cos scammers quite often will start straight away with finding out about your work. What sort of family you have? You know…whether you have a house or subtle questions to try to work out whether you have a bit of money behind and pretty soon they will start to tell you stories about somebody in their family that’s sick that they need to get out of the country because of civil unrest. They will try to get your sympathy and your help basically.”
Loneliness is a vulnerable place Wei cautions against.
She is adamant that one should find love by starting with knowing ourselves as individuals.
“Majority of the men and women they don’t have enough in themselves to understand opposite sex so for a woman you need to know what men like what it’s all about and what they’re looking for…you know…men into categories too and women too so who are you yourself and what types of men suitable for you so not many people can analyse that for themselves therefore they fall into wrong types of candidates.”
Psychotherapist and relationship counsellor Melissa Ferrari says resilience is one thing we need to develop before confronting the challenges of seeking a partner.
After all, dating is complicated in itself.
“Building resilience that rejection may happen and understanding that quite often that rejection may not be something personal. It may not mean that you know the person doesn’t find you attractive or that they don’t like you. It might mean that for the other person, it’s not a good fit or the relationship doesn’t feel right or whatever it might be.”
Ferrari says she has nothing against online dating since it does open up new possibilities to the kinds of people you can choose from even though navigating the virtual world may be daunting for mature users less familiar with technology.
“I think it’s easier in terms of being able to widen the net a whole lot more. You can meet people that you may not run into within your own community or within your own neighbourhood or within your own job and so I think it’s really good in that sense, you can put out your feelers, you can actually ask more for who you want and everything’s now set up around compatibility.”
Wei, on the other hand, sees online dating as a game. She advises sensing real chemistry first before deciding whether or not to invest more of yourself in the modern era where time is money.
“So you two people meet up you don’t say, ‘okay, I love you, you love me, let’s move in, let’s get married. It’s not like that so you have to be able to be friends and to be able to have the attraction physically, mentally, emotionally, so I call the first stage dating casual dating then I see if there’s spark or possibility to lead to the long term.”
In the online world where everyone has to learn how to sell oneself to stand out from the rest Melissa Ferrari suggests giving online dating a go with the convenience of filtering out the things you like and don’t like in the other person before taking a more serious approach.
“All of those kinds of things are great because it does filter all of that out. What we need to remember when you are online dating is that you aren’t getting those real nuisances of being in the presence of a person and being able to experience how you really feel. Basically, being able to meet somebody more live or in person.”