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Online Dating Rejection: 4 Possible Explanations For This

Online Dating Rejection Possible Explanations

Even though online dating is a fun and interesting way of meeting new people, everything has a flip side. With online dating comes online dating rejection. And rejection always hurts, no matter what kind, doesn’t it?

“I’m looking for someone a little older.”

“I was trying to find someone who lives closer to me.”

Attempting to date someone using a mainstream online dating site can be frustrating if you continue receiving replies similar to these—or no reply at all. Whatever type of response you get, it’s important not to take things too personally, even though it may be a little tough to get over what might feel like constant rejection. This post examines some of the reasons why online rejection happens.

Here Are 4 Four Possible Explanations for Online Dating Rejection

1. Dating sites are a different environment.

In a face-to-face environment, we generally look for some verbal or nonverbal signals or indications of interest from someone before approaching them. In an online dating environment, such indicators are absent; all we have is maybe a couple of photos and some basic facts about the person we intend to approach.

There is no way to assess whether potential dates are interested other than to message them. Therefore, initial messaging in online dating serves a different function: It’s a test of interest. The consequence is that because messaging is the only way to test interest, more messages are sent — and ignored — and being constantly rejected may become disheartening.

Related: 6 Guys Women Meet When They Date Online

2. Disinhibition.

People behave in a far less inhibited way online than in face-to-face environments (Suler, 2004). This is known as the online disinhibition effect, and one reason it might occur is the feeling of relative anonymity online. Indeed the effect may be more prevalent in an online dating environment, where people have not met the person with whom they are communicating, compared to social media, where it is likely that people are already known to each other. 

Further, the asynchronous (non-real-time) nature of the communication may foster a feeling of distance between people online. One consequence of this feeling of distance is a lack of empathy between people, perhaps resulting perhaps in a lack of concern for others, which may lead to total disregard when someone replies to a message.

3. Online etiquette.

Ghosting, or breaking off communication with another person without notice, warning, or reason, is increasingly seen as quite normal. Following a brief exchange in online dating, a person may choose to just not reply to a message. While such behavior may initially appear rude or disrespectful, it now seems commonplace in online communication.

There is good evidence that ghosting has become extremely common: A survey from the Plenty of Fish dating site (Maclean, 2016) found that 80 percent of users between the ages of 18 and 33 had experienced ghosting, with many of those who reported having been ghosted likely having ghosted others themselves. 

Some possible reasons for ghosting may include the relative anonymity of people on dating sites and the fleeting, short-term nature of the hook-up culture, which ultimately results in a lack of empathy or concern for others. 

Related: How To Deal With Ghosting: The Dating World’s Vanishing Act

4. Decision-making differences.

In terms of mate choice, error management theory (Haselton & Buss, 2000) suggests that the inherent long-term consequences to females of making an error in mate choice are greater than the cost of making an error to a male. Consequently, females have evolved a tendency to perceive male interest cautiously (an under-perception bias), while males have evolved a tendency to perceive female interest as greater than is actually the case (a sexual over-perception bias).

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Martin Graff Ph.D.

Dr. Martin Graff is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of South Wales. He has also been a visiting scholar at the State University of New York, Cortland, USA, and Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. His main research interests are in the psychology of romantic relationships, online dating, and social media, and he has delivered lectures on Online Dating and Romantic Attraction, in the UK, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Dr. Graff has currently published over fifty scientific articles, selected publications here.View Author posts