People most often seek others with similar backgrounds, interests, likes and dislikes -- "he also loves Sushi" or "she is a Giant's fan too." Whether these algorithms work or not -- ah, if only love was as simple as basic math -- the process of creating a profile as well as investigating others' can help users feel proactive in their search for companionship.
Being able to narrow or expand the pool of possibilities at will is especially empowering for women, who often prefer ruling out incompatible matches even before they begin.
Profiles provide users with information about available partners in ways that once was impossible in real-time interactions.
Whether a connection is made or a romantic relationship develops, the very possibility of one can ease a sense of isolation.
Online daters tend to spend a great deal of time texting, messaging or having back-and-forth phone interactions before ever setting eyes on each other.
For some, like Manti Te'o (the football player involved in an online dating scam), live interactions never take place.
The age group I'm referring to is the late 20's to late 30's crowd, and I would imagine the younger crowd may be included here also due to what the current pattern of interaction on dating sites has evolved.
The common experiences that I am talking about are like this: a woman goes online to find a partner and receives a message from a man, usually short but they are now beginning to range from one sentence to several paragraphs.
The guy represents to the woman that he is interested in a relationship and after talking (in most cases up to two weeks, but that would be at the high end and closer to an outlier) via messages through the site, texts, e-mail and sometimes phone calls, they agree to meet.
They don't necessarily set out to have a romantic relationship, a sexual encounter or even a close connection.
They don't obsessively count the number of replies, nor do they get fixated on responding to the ones they receive.