Look around at your friends. How many of them have successfully found love online? Aren't there more horror stories than not? New research has found that online dating isn't any better than meeting someone at a bar. In fact, meeting someone at a bar can actually work better because you're engaging in face-to-face conversation, as opposed to hiding behind a computer screen.
"Eighty years of relationship science has reliably shown you can't predict whether a relationship succeeds based on information about people who are unaware of each other," said Eli Finkel, an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University who worked on the study. "There's no better way to figure out whether you're compatible with somebody than talking to them over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer."
For one, looking at dating sites is really no different than perusing a catalog or spending a day at the mall. How many times have you bought something because it was pretty, didn't try it on, but when you got home realized you looked ridiculous in it? There's also the fact that, just like with shopping, your senses get overloaded with too much to choose from and according to Finkel, "they end up shutting down."
Another issue psychologists found with online dating is that the "algorithms" these sites use don't measure compatibility effectively. Since the algorithms are proprietary and were not shared with researchers, the study could only review previous literature about online dating to determine their success. "The assumption is [the algorithms] work," Finkel said. "We reviewed the literature and feel safe to conclude they do not." He dismissed the dating websites' own studies on their success as unscientific, and said there aren't yet any "objective, data-driven" studies of online dating.
Case in point: During the one week I was on eHarmony because my mother signed me up, I was initially told that, out of the millions of members, I didn't have a single match. A few days later, I received a match with someone in Arkansas who thought reading was "dumb" and "college was a waste of time." How eHarmony thought that matching me, a writer, with someone who thought reading was "dumb" was going to lead me down the road to marital bliss is a mystery.
Finkel is right. Relationships take more effort than putting up an online dating profile and hoping for the best. Online dating may be a fun way to break up the monotony of meeting people randomly in social settings, but at the end of the day, you can't feel chemistry through a computer screen.
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