Are all relationships going to start online?
2 experts and 3 parents have answered
I don't think all relationships will start online, but I do think online communications will play a bigger and bigger part. Just like the telephone (waiting until after 6pm so calls were cheaper!) played a big part when I was a teenager.
If we think of the main ways adults meet their partners - at work, through friends, through hobbies like sports - all of these are facilitated if not dominated by online tools. Networking with colleagues and business associates happens online more and more, emails can become friendly and so on. It's easier than ever for different social groups to overlap via Facebook walls and event planning, and hobbies will often have online communities catering for them, with opportunities to socially interact.
Technology helps shrink the world. Were I not very happily married, perhaps I would make friends with someone in another country via a shared love of something and a social space online. And romance could blossom. (I reiterate: very happily married!) So the opportunities to meet an even wider range of people are vast. It's exciting, I think. But no matter how my kids end up meeting their future Mr and Mrs Rights, nothing will replace the first nervous trip to the cinema, unsure whether to hold hands!
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Yes, but maybe not technically. Another way to ask this question might be: would you date someone who didn't have a verifiable online social profile? Would you date someone who wasn't on any social networks? For whom there was no internet record? It's an absurd question ten years ago but not so much today. Who doesn't have an email address or LinkedIn or Quib.ly or Facebook profile? Who isn't participating in the Great Chatterfest that is Twitter or Google?
Upon meeting someone in RL (that's "real life" for those of you who still have one), isn't your first inclination to go online and scrub the petabytes of data at your fingertips and pull up every known picture and mention to find out if a) they've ever been convicted for murder; and b) whether their Last Known Partner was more or less attractive than you? Of course!
Whether or not you exclusively meet people online or at a pub or while dumpster diving or in a holding cell, the relationship doesn't really start until you've gone two levels deep on their social graph and dug into their Klout score. If social networks haven't changed the way we meet our significant others, they've at least become our preferred method for vetting them.
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It’s not quite Logan’s Run, but more and more relationships are starting – and often times continuing – online. A significant proportion of those involved are (of course) young people. With the increased prevalence of dating sites and social media, those numbers are only going to increase – for better or for worse.
Think about it – so much of our (and our children’s) social interactions take place online, it’s only natural that their young adult romantic entanglements will begin in the digital realm when they reach that age. And that’s nothing to be scared of – whilst, yes, there are inherent dangers with the anonymity of online communication, there’s arguably as much danger meeting a stranger in a bar.
For the sceptical, there are benefits to meeting people online – from their dating site (or Twitter) profile you can get a good handle on what you have in common with a person, how they like to present themselves and how they handle themselves. For shy and retiring types (such as myself) it also removes the awkward stumbling block of going up to people you’ve never met but you fancy from afar.
Of course, there are dangers, too – from extremes like online stalkers to more simple misrepresentation. But much more common is just how bad break ups will be when you can go on Facebook and be reminded of everything you and your ex did, whilst being constantly updated on their current relationship status.
Easy as it will be to meet people online, getting away from them is a whole other matter.
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And the question is often couched pejoratively, as though it were something inferior.
I must admit, though, three years ago I would have been in that camp - making distinct distinctions between 'real life' and that other thing. I have come to realise real life is whatever plays a part in one's life.
No, I don't think all relationships will start online - although that will become more and more the norm, I believe. But, as in the offline world, all relationships are to be managed carefully and with a good dollop of common sense no matter their origins.
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Speaking as someone who met her husband online 24 years ago (yes, that's before the World Wide Web existed), relationships have been starting online for a while. Let's face it, relationships start anywhere people with like minds gather, and online is as good a place as any to find people who like the same stuff as you.
That said, there are still plenty of opportunities to meet people offline as well, and I don't think that's going to be completely replaced by online interactions, so whilst I think more relationships will start online, I don't think they all will.