A Match.com commercial says that one in five relationships now start online. If your experience in a university library is anything like mine, you stare at a Date My School poster in the bathroom stall while you excrete the two Red Bulls and three cups of coffee that you guzzled in the past hour. You probably know, or are yourself, someone who has tried online dating, and you’ve probably heard an array of horror and success stories. When it comes down to it, online dating is just like any other kind of dating—you win some, you lose some—no matter how much success websites claim to have.
Take, for example, the tale of the two Lisas who both signed up for OkCupid. One Lisa was a classmate, the other my roommate. Classmate Lisa had a few just-okay dates and then finally met a guy that was tall, funny, and handsome. The two decided to date for a few months before becoming exclusive, and have been happily in a relationship with each other for almost a year. Roommate Lisa, on the other hand, after looking around on the site for a few months, finally decided to go out on a date with someone. She brought him to our apartment for some drinks before they went to a bar. I invited my own date over and a friend as well, and we all setup a false, nonjudgmental, and laid back oh-we’ve-been-hanging-out-for-a-while appearance. Long story short, an hour later Lisa’s mother was in a terrible car accident (not really) and Lisa had to cancel the date after a tear-jerking phone call (seriously, the girl deserves an Oscar for that performance).
A promising feature of most online dating sites is that users get to establish what they are looking for. Similarly, they can talk with each other before deciding to meet in person. Of course, in-person interaction can be extremely different than interacting online, but the pressure of saying “yes” or “no” to a date is lessened when it only requires the click of a button.
So what are people on dating sites looking for? A common belief that makes people wary of signing up for the sites is that users don’t actually want relationships. For some, this is true. The beauty of it, however, is that most pages will list upfront why people sign up for the site. Then it comes down to whether or not that person is being honest, and, if he/she is not, how he/she will handle a situation that goes past a date.
Take now, for example, the report of a boy named Richard. Richard signed up for Date My School and did just that—dated his school. Date after date ensued for a boy who was troubled by rarely being able to get a step further than obtaining girls’ phone numbers at parties. As his online dating repertoire expanded, so did his ego—that is, until he met one particular girl who made him want to stop his search.
Some good news about online dating is that, since it has become increasingly popular, there are more ways than ever to meet people online and, therefore, more sites for you to choose from. You can now find people on less traditional sites based on specific things like what you would be doing on a date (HowAboutWe.com), who is in the area (the SinglesAroundMe phone application), what your religious beliefs are (ChristianMingle.com, JDate.com), what icebreakers you use to start conversations (nerve.dating.com), and what you’d want in a no-strings-attached relationship (benaughty.com).
While the opportunities seem endless, they also seem daunting. But once you choose a site, the rest is relatively easy. First, be honest about what you are looking for. While it’s also a good idea to expand your horizons and not be afraid to take chances with new and different people than you’re used to, you’re not doing anyone a favor by going on dates with people who you know beforehand you won’t be interested in. Be honest on your profile and be honest in person. Secondly, play the game like a good sport. Don’t be offended if others don’t respond online; just move on. If a date turns out to be no more than just one date, take something from the experience, even if it’s just meeting new people. Third, keep at it with a positive attitude, like this guy. If you look at someone’s profile and are unsure about whether to pursue him/her further, go for it. Why not? Remember, you already have something in common: you’re both looking to date and took a chance doing it on the same site.
On your first date, why not fall in love or like over the most delicious milkshake you will ever taste?!
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