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The same principle applies to online dating: The sheer number of potential partners creates abundant choice.

So if one dater doesn’t suit the bill, there are hundreds more who could be better.

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Research suggests that those who are socially anxious (Green, 2001) or introverted (Amichai-Hamburger et al., 2002; Rice & Markey, 2009) feel more comfortable communicating online.

These individuals may have an easier time approaching people and opening up online.

A recent survey of 19,000 people who married between 20 found that 35 percent of these new couples met online, with about half of those meeting through an online dating site (Cacioppo et al., 2013).

How can these sites help you find romance, and what pitfalls should you be aware of?

Thus, it is not surprising that shy people are more likely to look for romance on dating sites (Scharlott & Christ, 1995; Ward & Tracey, 2004). As discussed, one benefit of online dating sites is access to hundreds, even thousands of potential mates—but having all those options is not always a great thing.

A large body of literature on decision-making shows that, in general, when we have choice (Schwartz, 2004).

One study of online daters found that most viewed each other as similar, and liked each other less, after than before their offline dates (Norton et al., 2007).

The sites can put too much focus on physical attractiveness.

There are dating sites devoted to particular religious groups, like Christian Mingle or JDate, for example, as well as sites that cater to gay and lesbian daters. This removes a lot of the ambiguity that you face when you meet an interesting person at a work event or a party. Because of the ease and relative anonymity of online dating sites, we may take more risk reaching out to people we would not approach in person.

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