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    The Nitty Gritty of Online Dating

    Are you thinking of joining an online dating site? If so, you may be nervous about what to expect (or concerned your friends may find out). While some people may feel weird about finding romance online, the truth is that online dating Websites have been around for years and are now incredibly popular. In fact, more than 10 percent of Americans are believed to have used online dating services. If you're undecided about diving into the cyber meet market, these important myths and facts about online dating may help you decide to get in or stay out.

    7 Active Myths | Suggest a Myth
    5
    FACT: Looks matter more when trying to find dates online.

    Unfortunately, this is one of the shallow truths of online dating. People sit at their computers and scroll through pages of profile pictures, and someone is most likely to view your profile only if he or she likes your photo. Unattractive people do have a harder time finding dates through online services. When meeting people in person, people are more likely to become attracted to each other for reasons other than looks.

    5
    MYTH: Lots of cheaters use online dating to have anonymous affairs.

    There's no way to stop people from using online dating services to seek extra-marital action. However, the largest dating sites are making it easier to see which members are married. Many sites now require their members to provide Facebook verification, and a married man couldn't change his relationship status to "single" without drawing the immediate attention of his wife. Regardless, most people who use the leading online dating sites are regular singles who just want to meet people.

    3
    MYTH: You can't trust how people describe themselves on online dating sites.

    While it's true that people tend to embellish some information about themselves, people who use dating sites rarely put outright lies on their profiles. Also, most of these embellishments are about physical attributes, not interests or personality traits. Men are more likely to lie about their height, while women are more likely to lie about their body types. The way people embellish on their dating profiles is similar to how people try to oversell themselves on job applications.

    1
    MYTH: Online dating isn't as safe as meeting people in person.

    Online dating is actually safer than meeting strangers in random places. People who sign up with reputable dating sites can't do so anonymously, and you'll always learn things about potential suitors before you ever meet them in person. Also, with online dating, you never need to give your phone number, email address or any other personal information to someone who you don't know. The same can't be said of old-fashioned dating.

    -2
    FACT: The relationships you make through online dating can be very meaningful.

    More people are marrying people they meet online. An estimated 5 percent of Americans who are married or in committed relationships say they met their significant others through online dating services. Most people still meet their partners through traditional meetups, but the data shows that online dating isn't just for hookups and short-time thrills. The number of people who find lasting love on the Internet is likely to increase as online dating grows more popular.

    -4
    FACT: Most people don't view online dating as strange or negative.

    A decade ago, most people looked down on the notion of meeting people online. However, lots has happened between now and then. We're more active now on social media, and online dating Websites have only grown more popular. A recent Pew research project found most Americans to be totally accepting of online dating, with a mere 20 percent of respondents saying online dating is for the "desperate." That number will continue to shrink as more and more people find casual relationships and lasting love from dating Websites.

    -4
    MYTH: Only people who are out of their primes use online dating.

    Older adults do use online dating, but most people who use these services are between the ages of 25 and 34. That's because people in this middle-age demographic tend to have smaller social circles than people who are really young or older than 40. So if you're a young or middle-aged adult and you're worrying about being an outlier on a dating site, don't. You're bound to have many options.