When online dating was first ramping up, everyone was super wary of it. It was so creepy -- dating someone you met over the Internet?! Only for the desperate and serial murdering types!
I was one of the online dating pioneers amongst my friends. My interest was piqued in college when Craigslist became a thing. Reading "Missed Connections" was my favorite time-suck for an entire semester. None were ever for me that I could tell; I wrote a couple just to see what would happen. Which was nothing. But that was back when we were young and wild and free with great metabolism and hibernating biological clocks, so it was all good.
Once I moved to DC and my blog took off, I tried out eHarmony, and people in my life seemed less weirded out that I was online dating, since I was active online anyway. That was in the late aughts -- not that long ago, mind you -- when singletons were still holding out for old school love. And
many most of the ones in my circle of friends got it. And bought houses. And have babies on the way. And...and...and...
...and those of us still in the Single Club feel about the same way we did in the late aughts. Good thing online dating has gone mainstream!
Except, deep down, it still feels icky. Girls still want the love-at-first-sight, he-crossed-the-room-because-he-just-had-to-meet-me thing, and guys want the option of being rejected in person. *kidding!*
While online dating and so-called traditional dating have their differences, might they be more alike than we think? Or has online dating changed the game altogether?
Bachelors Weigh In:
I get the sense women online want guys to be straightforward. I have a fun, energetic, playful personality, but I don't feel like I can convey my personality in words as well as I can in person. I put a few jokes in my profile, and I'll contact a girl and write a nice introductory message. Most of the time when she doesn't respond, I feel like if she had met me in person I could have made her laugh, and she would talk to me.
When she does respond, I try to move things toward meeting in person as quickly as possible. I don't want a pen pal; I want to meet her and see if we click, as soon as possible.
Online dating commercials make it seem like you will fall in love after the first date because you both like dogs. EVERYONE LIKES DOGS. I treat online dating as something fun to do while having a coffee at home or commuting, knowing the majority of people I meet online will not be right for me. Doing things that interest me or being introduced to people through friends are far better ways to date because your date has already been vetted by friends and you didn't have to read about the person online.
There are a lot of swings and misses. A few messages exchanged online is enough to decide if someone is worth meeting, but until you meet them you have no idea if they 1) are who they represented online or 2) if you are interested in them.
And the Survey Says...:
- I can weed out the people who clearly won't be a good long-term fit for me (due to reasons like religion) without having physical attraction cloud my judgment. By the time I meet them, I already know that they are a potential match and I just have to determine if we have chemistry.
- I think it's easier. You may get rejected, but how likely are you to cross paths with this person again?
- I think it's harder to meet people out and about in everyday life. Online dating provides at least some additional structure to the dating process.
- It's easier for men. They can reach out to girls that they'd never have the balls to approach in a bar!
- It's more of a numbers game, I think, because you're actively faced with more options and it's safer to make the first move because you're behind a screen.
- Online dating skips the warm fuzzies you'd normally get with traditional dating.
- Online dating can lead to false expectations with a date where you connect online but have absolutely no interest when you meet in person.
- On-paper compatibility doesn't have anything to do with chemistry.
- Online daters don't seem to understand that their profile is their appearance. Spell check...capitalization...photos that don't include their ex-girlfriend with her arm draped over his shoulder. If a guy walks up to you, he is going to have a conversation...introduce himself, ask a question about you. Online it seems the common way to contact someone is a message saying "Hey...what's up?" [This is] like a guy walking up to you and saying that...standing there with a look on his face that says "Aren't you lucky I decided to walk over here and talk to you?" Ugh.
According to Jessica Massa, author of The Gaggle: How to Find Love in the Post-Dating World, "traditional dating as we know it is dead." She explains that many happy couples today find love by hanging out in groups -- softball leagues, volunteer work, events within the same social circle, etc. -- and testing the waters in the friend zone instead of explicitly going on dates in the beginning. She calls this romantic ambiguity, and it's something I've observed and resisted for many years.
As a good ole southern gal, I was raised to expect the very traditional way of dating, i.e., guy asks me out, makes the plan for the date, picks me up, takes me to dinner, pays for it, gets me home at an appropriate hour, calls within three days. So...okay...this model has not panned out in my dating life, online or off. However, because romance has become so ambiguous, it seems to me that both women and men are in a constant state of confusion regarding how to move forward and who should make the move.
Matt made an astute observation that women want men to be straightforward. I know I feel that way. I keep an online dating profile, and the guys I respond to the quickest are the ones with short, to-the-point opening lines that immediately push for a first date. I receive so many messages that the lengthy ones don't hold my attention unless we're having good banter and are planning a date by the third message.
Interesting to note here, many messages I receive start with something like, "I'm sure you get a ton of messages..." Doesn't everybody? Turns out it's not the case for men...but we'll save that for the next post in the series.
In the meantime, it may be time to formally change the way we view and talk about the dating game. I love a simple dinner date, but perhaps online dating could be more enjoyable and successful if it were done in a more laid back setting, putting less emphasis on connecting and more room to just enjoy each other's company?