Our grandmas married the boy next door. Our moms dated a guy she met at work or in school. Us? Some go old school and stick close to home, others still marry their college sweethearts or their Jim Halperts, but more and more of us are turning to the world wide web of first dates, hook ups and love that is online dating. We could’ve just stuck with good ol’ fashioned dating but as someone who lives on her laptop and stays on top of the news, I know online dating and the use of apps is where we’re at as a culture so that’s the focus this week as we kick off a month that’ll cover this, crushing as an adult, being in a relationship, the dreaded break up and even worse the curse of being dubbed “forever alone,” or blessed – depending on how you look at it.
According to Match.com, 40 million Americans have signed up and are on some dating site or app. Which wasn’t always the case. There used to be this sort of stigma attached to meeting your spouse like that. BlackPeopleMeet even made a commercial featuring a couple that was trying really hard to cover up how they met only to find out their friends met on the same site, phew! What was once this taboo way of life is now as normal as The Simpsons being on at any given second of the day somewhere in the world. Thank goodness because there are numerous positives to seeking out love on the internet.
The Boomer’s Guide to Online Dating notes how “dating is a numbers game, and online dating has the best numbers.” Because not all of us look like Scarlett Johansson or Chris Hemsworth, when we go out – we don’t have a long line of potential lovers waiting for their chance to pounce. That’s where online dating varies. While you may meet one or two people when you’re at the bar, you could meet way more than that swiping on apps like Tinder. Also, when you meet someone out in real life, you have absolutely no background info on them. Which today, is scary. If you can’t lurk their social profiles ahead of a date – you’re lost. Hey! Let’s not pretend I am the ONLY one who has investigated people before a date…Boomer’s also states online dating “has better choices” in that case because you can get a feel for the potential date way before you say yes to going out. Of course losers are going to fall through the cracks but again, numbers game baby – you have to take the bad with the good. Disney is great, but princes don’t just come around if you wait long enough in your tower.
While I am all for people dating online, there are some negatives that make people hesitant. Going back to Boomer’s, people view this way as unromantic and unsafe. Which I can see. Everyone wants their meet cute to be a scene out of their favorite romantic comedy. Whether it’s when you had to write an article about losing him in 10 days, met him while his class was on a field trip in your office, or you were his wedding planner – you want an adorable story for your wedding toast that’s not just, “Well, I swiped right, sent a nude and low and behold we actually connected.” Grandma doesn’t want to hear that story. Well, yeah she doesn’t but don’t let Nora Ephron and all that she’s influenced bombard you with what’s romantic and what’s not. So what you met online? Are you a great couple now…then who cares. Then there’s the idea of safety. This is when you have to be an adult and smart about things. Don’t meet a stranger in the middle of nowhere and perhaps don’t go home with them if you get a creepy serial killer vibe when they order bread sticks. Just think before you act and you’ll be fine.
Some also think dating in real life offers more actual results than online because when people are online, all they want to do is hook up. Yeah…when you meet someone online at 2am, there isn’t wedding bells in the air. This is another situation where you have to be smart about it. If you’re looking for a serious relationship and the person you’re interested in starts getting sexual within a few messages, they are looking for the opposite of what you are. So close that one out and move on. No harm, no foul. You just have to move onto the next which is very easy seeing there are 40 million people out there using the same method you are.
For the naysayers who are still not convinced, Aziz Ansari said it best in Modern Romance that the only way online dating works is when you actually take it offline. If all you ever do is log on to see who is nearby like you’re playing Pokemon GO, you’re never going to catch a single thing, but you can find solace in knowing you have a Charmander by your side at night. Meeting in person is the only way you’re going to find out if you’re a true match or not. So those who have all these dating profiles but are still single, umm, how many dates have you actually gone on? It may be 2016, but we are far from the virtual reality Jamiroquai sang about. So swipe right and actually set a date to meet!
Meeting people in real life has as many highs as it does lows, and so does online dating and it’s a back and forth argument of which way is best – but in a time where we’re constantly connected to our phones and computers, dating online seems to be a growing norm we cannot shake. It increases the number of potential partners and gives us initial insight into who people are before we meet them, but it can also be viewed as unromantic and unsafe – which in both cases are easy fixes. Which is also the case with if online dating works, which we just noted – it only works if you actually take things offline.
We’ll go back and forth between the good and bad as I tell the tale of the 21st century cupid and also talk about the horrors (and comedy) that come from MTV’s Catfish.