Docs and Online Dating: Is 'MD' the Ticket to Love?

Roxanne Nelson, RN, BSN

Disclosures

October 15, 2019

It can be a problem, contends Ress. Right now, he is still setting up his online profile and is undecided about whether to post a photo of himself. "I am a known professional in the community, and I must have treated more than 14,000 people," he said. "It is quite likely that I may run into a former patient."

The decision to connect with a former patient is also a gray area. "With an active patient, it is improper and against any code of conduct for a physician," Ress emphasized. "There should also be at least a 6-month period after having treated a patient before you should consider dating [him or her]. Otherwise, you're crossing that line."

Larry has been using online dating sites on and off for about 10 years, and he said that it is "challenging for me as a shrink for patients to see my profile."

"I had a very disarming attitude and made a joke out of it, and [the person] would make a joke and it was okay," Larry explained, when accidentally meeting up with a patient in cyberspace.

However, a stickier situation arose prior to the popularity of online dating. Larry was looking through the classified ads, and seeing an ad that appeared promising, he called the woman who posted it. It turned out to be one of his patients. "I recognized her voice, and I quickly got off the phone," he said. "The next time I saw her she asked if I had called her, and I said no. It was a little embarrassing."

But really, if patients see [their physician's] profile online, so what? They will know that their doctor is single and looking for a relationship.

Cosby agrees that getting matched up with a patient is an understandable concern. One of her suggestions is for doctors to use a niche dating site that aligns with their passions outside of work, so the odds of a patient seeing them are much lower. For example, GreenSingles.com is for people who are concerned about the environment. "There are fewer members on niche sites compared with the huge, mainstream sites [because] the pool of members is highly targeted for the common interest," she said. "But really, if patients see [their physician's] profile online, so what? They will know their doctor is single and looking for a relationship."

That's one reason why it's a good idea not to reveal anything too personal on a dating profile, she says.

Which Dating Site Is Best for Doctors?

There are dozens of dating sites from which to choose. Some are free and some charge a fee. Many are large, general sites catering to anyone who signs up, and others are narrower in focus, such as those geared toward certain religions or age groups. It also depends on what a person wants out of the dating experience because some sites are more for people looking for a casual date or hookup, and others cater to people searching for a long-term relationship.

Tinder, for example, is a very popular app that delivers a high volume of potential matches, although it does have a reputation as a casual hook-up site. Bumble, on the other hand, gives women an edge. Once a match is made, it is up to the woman to initiate conversations with those who spark her interest. Men have 24 hours to respond if they are interested.

OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, and Match.com are large mainstream sites that draw people of all ages, education levels, and careers. OkCupid and Plenty of Fish are free, although they do offer paid upgrades, and Zoosk and Match.com require a paid subscription. The physicians surveyed in this article have used a wide array of sites. Larry primarily used Match.com but also OkCupid and Jdate, a site for Jewish singles. Mieses used Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge, Bumble, and The League, and she met her fiancé on Tinder, despite its reputation as a casual/hook-up site. Schneider also used Jdate, and Prigge used Spotted and LOVOO.

There are also dating sites that advertise as being elite, exclusive, and geared to high-earning professionals such as doctors and other successful people. These include EliteSingles, MillionaireMatch, The Inner Circle, and Luxy. Some of the sites do require vetting to make sure that candidates are as successful as they claim.

"People living high-achieving lives struggle to find common ground with others and struggle with intimate personal relationships and loneliness more than most," said Catherine Feng, public relations and marketing strategist for Luxy, which puts people through a vetting process. She says that a site geared toward high-achieving people can be helpful for them.

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