Oh, Donna -- I always have thoughts....
Well, ya can lead a horse to water...as the old saying goes. I'm afraid "education" and/or coercion isn't too much better than an arranged marriage. Perhaps the educatin factor could be integrated with some other subject for some degree of success. Coercion? Ain't gonna happen. Many years ago, the Church was a focal point for social activities. Those of us who have been around for awhile recall the CYO (Catholic Youth Organizations) that were packing young people in at different events -- primarily dances and sock hops. Nowadays, it's hard to get enough people to attend a Church sponsored dance or similar event. Unfortunately, secular events have largely replaced the Church-oriented activities.
The Fear Factor? I'm sure it's real, but it is disguised by other excuses. Some people just don't want to commit to much of anything. Probably not good marriage material to start with. Many who have been divorced (even with annulments) can be hesitant to take the plunge again being concerned about picking a potential loser, or just making a bad choice. This might be the group that is most likely to be admitting to such a fear. Those who are widowed can be afraid they might end up having a spouse that doesn't measure up to their previous one, or in situations where long term care was involved, a fear of a recurrence. Those who haven't ever been married could fear that their marriage won't work out. They see the statistics and people they know splitting up -- which could include their parents. Fear can involve other factors as well, such as economic stability, the need to move, and just fear of the unknown. As desperate as some people seem, they appear to shoot themselves in their feet. As bad as their situation might be, they know what they have and are concerned about having it worse. In general, they might use the excuse there is something in a person's profile that makes them keep looking.
Fear is self-defeating, and that is a problem with getting people together, whether they meet online or by some other means. If people who want to date pay their $$$ to join a dating site, they should get in gear to get their $$$ worth. People can't marry their computers. Real-life dating can be a lot of fun. It's sad to think of what people are missing by not trying it. So what if a profile isn't 100% what a person wants. We need to get real, take a chance and get out there. Even if a date doesn't lead to anything long term, it still can be enjoyable. Almost every date has more personality than an Apple, Dell or whatever brand computer people have.
If two people who fear the worst get together, they can have a few laughs about it to ease the tension. For the men, there are some very appealing women out there -- just waiting. I wish I had the opportunity and time to meet more of them, but of the several I've met, we've had enjoyable times. For the women -- well, if you're bound by tradition and wait for the guys to contact you, it could be quiet for you on weekends. No harm in an innocent "Hello" and a few words to encourage someone to get moving.
The Fear Factor is real. For those who can't completely get over it -- meet it head on. It'll get better from there.
I enjoyed this thoughtful posting of yours and when I joined I put myself out there by making contact with men I found interesting. I would say that about 99.9% of the men I contacted were not interested in me. Then I started to close myself off and only recently opened up again. With the match system and at this age, many/most have our reasons why we are unable to move. The final comment I make is that I want some say in the choice of a partner, I'm not a schoolgirl, I don't just want to wait to be picked, but with the right person I can be led.