Within the space of a few decades, the dating industry has altered more than practically any other on the planet. The first commercial dating service was launched, without much fanfare, in the middle of the 1990s. In that relatively short period, online dating has become a phenomenon.
Upwards of one-third of today’s relationships are being initiated in the digital environment, while 50% of all adults questioned in a recent US survey admitted to being regular online daters. The industry itself generated $3 billion last year. There are many reasons for this transformation, but the main factor has been technology. New Internet innovations have run in parallel with online dating for decades, with these matchmaking resources embracing digital transformation. Here we look into how the dating industry has evolved.
Focusing on compatibility
One of the reasons for the success of this industry is because people don’t have to try too hard to track down those individuals who would make the most ideal partners. The moment you sign up to together2night.com, the information you provide during your application or while compiling your profile will be assessed by algorithms built into the site. These results can then be compared to the details already ingathered from other members. The moment there are any areas of overlap that would indicate shared hobbies or interests, these can be flagged up. Anyone searching for their ideal partner can be presented with a shortlist of viable candidates.
Choice of outlets
If the earliest examples of dating sites were based on the traditional ‘boy meets girl’ model, the diversity of content matter now available is nothing short of mind-boggling. No matter what particular type of relationship you are drawn to, popping this query into your favourite search engine is likely to produce a torrent of results. If you are looking for casual romance, different sites will enable you to contact people on the same wavelength. Other sites are geared towards long-term relationships and marriage. Whether you are interested in LGBTQ matters, age-gap partnerships, or any human interaction you could think of, there will be a website or an app that will cater to your specific tastes.
The dating industry is thriving because these outlets have made it so easy for people to touch base. If you download an app to your smartphone or tablet, you can have access to a socialising platform 24/7. While you are commuting to your place of work or study and could be flirting with other site users – from different cities are even timezones! Your choice of methods for becoming familiar with prospective partners can cover everything from texting to emailing, joining WhatsApp groups to video chatting. The sense of streamlined communication means that it can be so easy to kindle those all-important sparks of chemistry.
Engaging location services
Some of the websites that are more focused on casual dating can simply match individuals according to geolocation – tracking where they happen to be in real-time, and then flagging this up to enable liaisons to be initiated easily.
Marginalised communities, such as LGBTQ individuals now feel as if they have a safe place where they can comfortably interact with people on the same wavelength. People who might have been described as being outwith the mainstream dating community have always felt lacking in opportunities. The advent of digital transformation has completely changed all that. Members of the LGBTQ community are twice as likely as their straight counterparts to be engaging in online activities. The number of sites aimed at individuals from minority groups has expanded in recent years, and this has been such a positive for these pockets of society. They are free to engage in flirty conversations with kindred spirits in an atmosphere where they will never feel judged or looked down upon.
The advent of dating communities
There is so much more to these outlets than being platforms to arrange matchmaking with suitable singles. Online dating sites have evolved into vibrant social hubs, with some of the larger websites commanding global memberships running into millions. Anyone joining these outlets can access a treasure trove of information.
As well as being pointed in the direction of other singles, they can home in on information sources to pick up invaluable tips about every aspect of love and relationships. This is particularly useful for LGBTQ individuals who are only just coming to terms with having come out. This is a time when people will naturally feel apprehensive about going public about their true feelings. The moment they sign up to one of these communities, they will feel welcomed by the existing site users. If they have any concerns about any aspect of embarking on this exciting new journey in their personal lives, they can broach the subject with supportive members in forums or chat rooms.
Further transformations (VR, algorithms)
Another wonderful aspect of digital transformation is that this is a technology that is changing all the time. The dating industry has always embraced innovations, and exciting new developments aren’t just around the corner, they have already started to be rolled out. Virtual reality (VR) – the application of software and hardware that allows users to connect in ultra-realistic simulated dimensions by donning the appropriate headsets – has already been widely deployed in the gaming industry.
Dating sites are now harnessing VR as a means of interaction between remote clients. Simply by wearing the appropriate headgear, users can enter the dimension of their choosing, fantastical extra-terrestrial settings, tropical islands or whatever, and then get together with avatar versions of their partners. By introducing a sensory element (again, with the application of the touch-sensitive technology available in computer games or 4D cinema), the person at one end of the communication can stimulate the other via controls. This method of interaction has moved beyond the realms of science fiction and is becoming an everyday occurrence for today’s online daters!