Dating is hard — almost every person on the planet has been on at least one bad date in their life, and the majority of people have probably dealt with even more of these second-rate dates. Between dealing with creeps at a bar and relationships with someone who could have been “the one” going bad, it’s a wonder why anyone chooses to date anymore.
However, when you do meet a great new person, the feeling can be magical. Those butterflies in your stomach, the overwhelming urge to giggle every time you hear his or her name and the excitement of seeing that person again can be almost euphoric. It can make you believe in love again.
So, what happens when you don’t want to meet that special someone in a dingy bar, but you do want to experience the beginnings of a budding romance?
Enter online dating — the 21st century’s gift to everyone who’s ever been on a bad first date. As we creep closer to the 2020s, meeting people through online dating websites and apps like eHarmony, Match.com and Tinder has become increasingly popular. Approximately one in four couples meet online, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
To understand how online dating experiences differ from in-person encounters, Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine conducted a survey of men and women who met their significant others online, and this is what we found:
Everyone who uses online dating sites has different reasons for doing so. For some, dating apps give them an opportunity to meet new people after moving to a new place. For others, meeting new people in social settings can be difficult. Whatever the reason, more and more people are finding love online.
For Alyssa, who met her boyfriend using Tinder, it took some convincing to try online dating.
“I originally didn’t want to try online dating. I was really hoping to meet someone on my college campus, but that ship sailed with a bad experience after dating someone I met at a college event,” she said. “My friends were the ones who convinced me to make online dating profiles … they suggested Tinder and I was nervous about it, but I tried it and eventually found my current significant other.”
However, just like with in-person interactions, dating online isn’t always easy. Dating apps like Tinder, which generally seem to be geared toward short-term relationships, come with problems of their own. Any kind of online chatting allows for some level of anonymity, which can lead to some unusual encounters. Jenna*, like many people who try online dating, met some people who were not quite what they seemed before she met her boyfriend.
“I talked to a guy for a few weeks who I got along with really well. We liked the same movies and music and had the same opinions about a lot of things. He made me laugh and was very intelligent so when he asked to meet, I immediately said yes,” she recalled. “I should have said no. He was very loud, had no etiquette in public and at the end of the date, he asked me how well he did! He said he must’ve done well because he didn’t drop any racial slurs. Then he asked me to come over to “watch TV”, promising no “funny business” unless I wanted there to be, along with a creepy wink. I promptly said no thanks and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.”
Even with experiences like this, most of the people surveyed would recommend using a dating app to those who are interested in meeting new people.
“I’m very glad I used [an online dating service], since I met my husband” said Christina, who met her husband online nearly 10 years ago. “I doubt we would have met otherwise because we didn’t have any mutual friends, nor did we go out to bars a lot and we worked in very different fields.”
Even though many people would recommend online dating, there are some stipulations that many of the people surveyed would recommend.
“Be upfront with what you’re looking for,” advised Alice*, who met her boyfriend online four years ago. “There are plenty of people out there that use dating sites for hookups, to cheat on significant others, make friends or make lasting relationships. Always make sure you’re on the same page before you get in too deep.”
Whether you choose to meet people in-person or online, finding someone to share your life with can be a difficult task. But with an open mind and Internet access, meeting “the one” is getting easier every day.
*Some names have been changed per request of participants.