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EDITORIAL: Relationships extend beyond Valentine's Day, online dating

Online dating on Valentine's Day underscores the need to be conscious of what we want in relationships and the apps we use

Online dating on Valentine's Day requires being mindful of what you are looking for and acting with caution.  – Photo by

Valentine’s Day always conjures up images of happy couples and relationships. In the past few years, though, as we have grappled with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, dating has become more complicated. It has been harder to go to places where you could meet new people.

As a result, online dating has become increasingly popular. Online dating offers a lot of opportunities to meet others and maybe find a relationship.

Online dating allows you to meet people easily, get a sense of what they enjoy and see a lot of potential matches. This setup is beneficial in the sense that it gives power to users to go through and choose who they like, and it can help remove any awkwardness in transitioning from a platonic relationship to a romantic one.

Especially for college students, this can be a good thing. Students can rely on dating apps to meet people in an easy, noncommittal way. During the hustle and bustle of a semester, this relaxed approach creates an alternative that can make meeting potential romantic partners less of a hassle.

The ease of online dating actually can lead to authentic, long-lasting relationships. In fact, online dating platforms have been found to make marriages stronger, as the couple knows how to communicate effectively, and people can be more upfront about what they want out of a new relationship. These statistics point to how online dating can be a powerful force in helping people find long-term partners.

Despite these benefits, there are some serious challenges to online dating. While online dating creates an avenue through which we can develop relationships, we must always be conscious when using these apps, and we must remember that we are talking to actual people.

One of the biggest challenges in online dating is that it reduces potential relationships to that of a game: We swipe as much as possible to get the greatest amount of matches, without really considering that we are talking to real people. Online dating can reduce individuals to the abstract notion of swipes.

This mentality of using dating apps as a game can seriously change our own thinking about dating and what it means to be in a relationship. Some studies suggest that apps, such as Tinder, provide users with “choice overload” — where there are so many options that they cannot decide and think they might be missing out on something better.

These things fundamentally change our view of relationships and our place in them. It is important to be aware of that possibility and to ensure that we use dating apps in a prudent manner, where we do not become too closely tied to getting matches that we forget to pursue any meaningful relationship.

More importantly, dating apps for women have different connotations. In fact, a resounding 57 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 34 who are using dating apps reported they received sexually explicit messages or images that they had not asked for.

Even more worrying is that women report more experiences of harassment and abuse on these apps. That level of danger and risk associated with using dating apps unveils a key problem of online dating.

This dark underbelly of online dating needs to be more fully addressed by the platforms, and they need to create a system where women feel safe and empowered. Bumble’s policy of women starting the conversation is a good step, but more still needs to be done to create a safe online dating environment.

Despite some of the problems on these platforms, good can still come from them. They do allow us to meet people in a new, easy way that can lead to really great relationships. They have revolutionized dating. Yet because they are so new, they require a certain level of caution among users, and they need users to be conscious that dating is not a game but, rather, a true commitment.

Valentine's Day is actually one of the best days to be on apps. While some might find love on the holiday, people should also know that they do not need to download these apps to be happy on Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day should celebrate the happiness of relationships that are not solely confined to romantic partnerships, including those that are strictly platonic or involve other loved ones.

At the core of every relationship is happiness, and that should be most reflected in the holiday, whether that means pursuing online dating or taking time for yourself.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 154th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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