The world is out there

Dating websites have become one of the main means of searching for a soulmate, due to their increasing popularity/availability, the corresponding online marketing strategies, and the indisputable fact that most of us already know some couples that met through the Internet.

These virtual platforms offer evident advantages to single women and men looking for a long life partner to start a family with. This is especially true when their situation includes circumstances that make searching for love in real life difficult, for instance, spending their days in a "home-car-work-car-home" routine, or moving to a location where they do not know anybody.

The growth of social media and Internet dating means we use more and more the virtual spheres to interact with others or initiate a love relationship. We can access information and make most of our shopping and daily life arrangements online; therefore, we scarcely leave our homes, and opportunities to deal face to face with real persons are more limited.

This can have a detrimental boomerang effect, making us less socially skilled or even utterly unable to interact "normally" in real contexts. It could lead us to close our eyes (and our hearts) to those who are around, or to the possibility of meeting new people in the real world. It could even lead some of us to be under the illusion of living in two parallel worlds.

Online dating websites are a means to contact other people, not a virtual second home, nor a space for recreation and amusement. They are not a supermarket either, even though we are allowed to compare and choose among profiles. Christian singles must have the conviction that the web can help them find friends and start a relationship, but life takes place in the real world.

Before Internet and social networks were born -yes, there was such a time-, parents used to complain that their kids talked for hours on the phone -which was not mobile- with the same friends they had just seen at highschool. Nevertherless, they knew for certain that such friendships were sustained by real frequent interactions.

Nowadays, interpersonal relations are strongly mediated by the web: we all work with people we never met in the flesh. Sometimes we make friends online and get to know them in person, so that they become a part of our lives. But love is different. Falling in love through letters -those archeological messages handwritten on paper, even before email existed- may have happened, but it has been repeatedly described as something exceptional that rarely stood the test of reality.

Courtship, engagement, marriage and family life are processes that occur in a real context. Therefore, we must benefit of all resources within our reach, Christian dating sites included, to find the desired partner, but must never stop cultivating face-to-face social contacts. This way we will not get out of the habit of interacting with other human beings in a natural environment. The world is out there, so plant your feet firmly on the ground and explore it.

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