When the inaugural commercial dating sites were launched in the mid-1990s, they were embraced by singles who could now seek prospective partners very conveniently. But the streamlined nature of these outlets has meant they are just as valid for finding a nearby hookup as developing chemistry between those seeking longer-term partnerships. Being able to arrange ‘no strings attached’ encounters based on nothing more specific than proximity has led to a widespread notion that online dating equates to hookup culture. But is that a fair assessment? Here we examine the extent to which hookups are impacting modern relationships.
Algorithms – a shortcut or a way of establishing suitability?
Modern relationships have been impacted by how easily they can be formed in the online environment. The process of getting matched with a compatible individual can commence the moment you register with a dating resource, and long before you have even set eyes on any of the other site members. Inbuilt software – algorithms – will profile the background of any newcomer by analyzing the information they have provided when compiling their application form. This can then be compared to similar feedback from other users, with overlaps in aspirations or areas of interest being flagged up. Where people are merely seeking hookups rather than meaningful relationships, meetings can be engineered effortlessly. The advent of geolocation – relying on Internet mapping technology (think satnavs for singles!) – has meant singles can home in on other site users who are looking for a casual encounter and might be just around the corner.
But there is much more to arranging a hookup than offering site members a list of candidates who happen to be closest. The popularity of Internet dating means that websites are catering to all sorts of niche interests. No matter what your background might be, whether you are seeking LGBT romance, age-gap relationships, interracial connections, or anything else you could think of, there will be a web resource that is ideal for you. This means that modern hookups can be nuanced and exciting, and far removed from the slightly sleazy connotations casual encounters were once labeled with. If you are looking for a hookup, you now have so much choice, literally at your fingertips. You don’t have to leap at the first opportunity that presents itself.
Fakes and flippant contact
Where there has to be a warning flag raised is where the flippant side of these ‘no strings’ liaisons is concerned. Because people are interacting by prioritizing getting together with a like-minded individual as quickly as possible, rather than waiting to develop chemistry, they might be less attuned to individuals using dating sites unscrupulously. In their haste to arrange flings, they might be less discerning in terms of identifying people whose personal profiles have been hastily cobbled together – because they are fake. Those people who go online to seek partners for meaningful relationships are likely to have a more finely-tuned radar when it comes to spotting dishonest site users. Having said that, the digital dating community is robust at singling out individuals with ulterior motives for having signed up to these websites under false identities (or catfish as they are sometimes known). Even if you are a newcomer to a hookup site, the longer you spend interacting with other site users, the quicker you will be able to recognize kindred spirits, or otherwise. If you get the impression someone is attempting to get to know you better by asking questions that seem to be irrelevant, such as queries about your online banking passwords, then block them immediately, or report them to the site administrators.