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In a recent comprehensive analysis, Northwestern University psychologist Eli Finkel and collaborators claim that online dating sites not only don’t improve, but may even hurt those seeking happiness in their relationships.

Communication Because users can engage in extensive online communication (called “Computer Mediated Communication” or CMC), prior to meeting, they form impressions that may or may not correspond to those they eventually make when they see the real person.As Finkel and his colleagues state, you may make “lazy, ill-informed decisions” because you’re selecting from such a large group of potential matches.The mindset you develop in this process can also cause you to think of a romantic partner not as a person but as someone who is easily interchangeable with someone else.Those areas are: Let’s examine each of these areas in more detail.First, a caveat—they did not look into sites such as Craiglist, sex or hookup sites, infidelity sites, sites for arranging group dates, social networking sites (such as Facebook) or online video games (such as World of Warcraft or Sims)Access Having the opportunity to examine the profiles of hundreds, if not thousands, of potential matches must surely be an advantage, right?Online dating sites promise to use science to match you with the love of your life.Many of them even go beyond the matching process to help you confront the complex world of finding (and keeping) partners.To find out how best to use online services, we first have to examine their strengths and weaknesses.Finkel and his collaborators critique the three main areas in which online dating services claim to be superior to the offline, or old-fashioned, way of meeting people in person.Their diagnostic tests seem to key in on the fundamental essence of our personalities, ensuring that we’ll be paired with the one person in the world whose fundamental essence will resonate to ours.They also promise to improve the odds of our finding that person by providing us with access to large numbers of potential romantic partners; more than we would ever meet on our own.

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