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This can be especially beneficial for people who don’t have a large social circle.In addition to the sheer number of people you can meet, many sites provide an avenue for meeting like-minded people. Unlike other social venues, on an online dating site, you can be fairly certain that everyone you meet is single and looking.

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But in real life, after we get to know someone and like their personality, we begin to find them more physically appealing as well (Kniffin & Wilson, 2004).

Making a quick decision based on an online photo doesn’t allow for this slower development of physical attraction and may cause us to dismiss potential mates to whom we could become attracted.

Thus, it is not surprising that shy people are more likely to look for romance on dating sites (Scharlott & Christ, 1995; Ward & Tracey, 2004). As discussed, one benefit of online dating sites is access to hundreds, even thousands of potential mates—but having all those options is not always a great thing.

A large body of literature on decision-making shows that, in general, when we have choice (Schwartz, 2004).

But this can also lead you to pass up on potential dates because with all those options, you can't help but think, "There must be someone better out there." Online dating sites can thus foster an attitude in which potential mates are objectified like products on a store shelf, rather than people (Finkel et al., 2012). Online profiles are missing vital information you can only glean in person (Finkel et al., 2012), so it can be difficult to know if you’re really compatible with someone based solely on what they have shared on a dating site.

Research shows that people spend their time on dating sites searching criteria such as income and education, and physical attributes like height and body type, when what they need is information about the actual experience of interacting with and getting to know the person on the other end of the profile (Frost et al., 2008).

Having no choices can lead to misery, but too many options can overwhelm and lead you to worry that you’ve chosen wrong.

You can feel confident in your decision about which car to buy when there are only three under consideration, but if there are hundreds, you’ll constantly second-guess yourself and wonder if you could have done better.

The same principle applies to online dating: The sheer number of potential partners creates abundant choice.