It's unavoidable today to separate dating and technology. Facebook, texts, and websites like Tinder are just a few of the mediums that are changing the way we date — and not necessarily for the better. "If a person is solely relying on technology, I encourage that person to think about dating the old-fashioned way and meeting individuals through friends and taking a risk," says Dr. Reece Malone, sexologist and sex therapist. While social media or digital communication is easy and fast, there are plenty of disadvantages. Here are five ways that "old-fashioned" dating — meaning face-to-face meet-ups — can't be beat.
1. Online Communications Are Easily Misconstrued
First, Malone says that communication offline is always better. Regardless of how well a person can express themselves in online messages, nothing quite compares to the information people can garner about each other through speaking face-to-face. "You get to see their body language, how they express themselves, how they carry themselves and those are traits that individuals find really, really attractive," says Malone. Text messages, emails, and texts are much more easily misconstrued, leaving people to wonder how much meaning they should put into someone else's dashed response.
2. Reality Rarely Matches the Online Persona
Scouring sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn to find information on prospective partners is a common practice. These sites and others like them can offer what seems like a wealth of information, but there's not always a way of knowing how closely it mirrors reality. Plus, people are known to make intricate assumptions based on these fragmented representations and that's a mistake. "I believe there can be less bias when you speak with someone," says Malone. He says that a person who relies solely on Googling to learn about someone else risks missing out on that person's true values, attitudes, and beliefs.
3. In Love, Friends Are More Trustworthy Than Algorithms
Meeting potential partners through friends means that there is likely some common ground, which often bodes well for compatibility. It also allows both parties to get their friends' opinions of the other person. Even just meeting a random someone while out with friends can give added perspective.
4. There's Little Romance in Facebook Posts
"There's a real difference in taking the time to write a letter of appreciation rather than writing a text message or an email," says Malone. Getting paper, writing a letter, and sending it is a good way to show someone you are thinking of them and putting effort into a relationship. If this sounds like too much work, Malone says a regular date night can be meaningful too. "Being with an individual face-to-face really shows that person that you care in a different kind of way," he says. "It's very intentional."
5. Online Dating Is a Huge Time Sink
The instant gratification of tech-based dating can make it a bit of a black hole. Being able to talk to someone at a distance — and even anonymously — is, for most people, low-risk, meaning they're happy to chat, but often don't take it to the next level (that is, meeting in person). According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center in 2013, about one-third of online daters never progress to the face-to-face meeting. This an improvement from 2005, when only 43 percent of online daters met up, but it shows that making the leap from digital to real-world can be difficult for many people.