It's easy to play up similarity and downplay differences—and it's understandable that some people looking for companionship tend to quickly develop a crush when someone seems to "get them" right away.Indeed, Sharabi and Caughlin found that, contrary to their expectations, the greater the similarity, the better.It appears that, in general, people who ask more before the first date have a better experience than those who wait until they meet to find out important information, possibly because they are less likely to be disillusioned.And after hundreds of first dates, who wants to waste their time finding out they didn't need to meet in person anyway?Overall, the researchers note that relationships don't go smoothly from online to in-person, confirming what many people who online date already know.
This is the first such study to look at how dating evolves over time during the transition from online to in-person dating, and future work from this group will look at factors beyond the first in-person date. The data, drawn directly from online conversation, included 1) expressed similarity, 2) frequency of disclosure, and 3) information seeking, and they rated the communication volume based on the amount of words in the emails. First of all, they found that most participants were disappointed after the first date, as indicated by having less attraction after meeting than during online engagement.
How do couples move from online dating to that all-important first date?
What online dating behaviors and factors set the stage for a successful first date, and the potential for an ongoing relationship?
When people were overly positive, exaggerating similarities and the expectation of future interactions, disillusionment was very likely; this effect was greater when communication was lower, presumably because people are able to maintain positive illusions in the absence of information about the other person, leading to a greater risk of being disappointed.
The researchers note that dating services that facilitate communication and sharing of information may be more effective.