EVAN: I think it’s pretty fair to say that you all like being online. I mean, if you didn’t then how did you ever find yourselves in a place where you typed the words “dr.lizard vs killer croc” into Google and found our blog? Really, the internet has everything we could ever want or need save for physical sustenance, but what about . . . love?
Today Kat and I will be discussing what the deal is with what the cool kids are calling “online dating” and that the uncool kids are calling . . . well, frankly I don’t know.
KAT: I’m pretty sure they also call it online dating.
EVAN: I’m not sure how you could possibly know that, but I’m going to give you the benefit of a doubt and assume that an uncool kid told you.
KAT: Yeah… exactly.
Truth be told, I didn’t actually meet my significant other online, but since we lived in different towns most of the time we spent getting to know one another was via emailing and Facebook. Plus, more and more people I know have met online. So I think it’s worth investigating.
EVAN: The reason I decided that we discuss this topic is because a friend of mine said very recently that she “generally [thinks] people at our age are better than [dating sites].”
How do you feel about that?
KAT: Well, I think she does make a bit of a point. There tends to be a bit of a split on dating websites (this is mostly speculation) between people who are on there to fool around (or cheat on a spouse) or people who are tired or dating and want a serious relationship.
So if your friend thinks people our age are “better than” online, maybe it’s because she doesn’t feel people are age are ready to settle down, which is fair enough. I think people do tend to think of online dating as a means to finding a life partner.
EVAN: Actually, her stance was that online dating gives people an “easy way out of social interaction.” In general, her belief is that as younger people, twentysomethings, we have a lot of options to exhaust before turning to it.
KAT: Fair enough. In some ways it certainly can be an easy out. I guess I would agree that online would be something that (at least for me) would be an option I would leave until I was older. That being said, it can be a great way to meet people if you move to a new town, for instance.
I think there used to be a lot of stigma with online dating. Do you think that’s changing?
EVAN: I think with our current culture spending so much time online, it kind of had to. As of this October almost 40% of people “single and looking” have used the internet to search for their significant other. That’s a pretty sizable amount.
In addition, 42% of American Internet users know someone who has used online dating services. With that in mind it’s hard to look down on a practice when close to half of people out there have at least tried it out.
KAT: Wow. Pretty close to half. It makes sense though. It’s something people could explore quietly while it still had a little more social stigma, but now that so many people try it, and many successfully, it seems silly to split hairs.
From what several friends have told me, there tends to be more men than women on most sites. John tried it a bit before we met and he says that, at least with PlentyofFish, it was like “fishing in the desert.” So I think for a lot of guys it can be frustrating when it’s been advertised so heavily as successful, but the gender difference tends to be so high.
EVAN: I’m going to come out and say that I’ve personally tried a few different services, and PlentyofFish really was pretty awful. You kind of had to search for yourself, which I suppose goes hand-in-hand with the “fishing” illustration.
eHarmony is the worst if you don’t want to spend money [which I never really do]. If you don’t shell out any dough then you can get matched, but you couldn’t see pictures or even communicate.
Power-reader and friend Orion convinced me to try out OkCupid, and it’s actually pretty great. You can both message and chat with people online, and the matches are pretty decent. There’s also a continuous stream of people you may be interested that displays new faces depending on who’s answering questions.
That’s all to say that, in spite of their very similar slogans, not all online dating services were created equal.
KAT: And what prompted you to try online? I know for a lot of people it’s hard to even meet people once you are out of university. A lot of us even work with people who are generally all the same gender (I work with mostly women, which would be great if I was lesbian.. or single. Haha).
But really, though, finding friends when coming out of college is incredibly difficult, and something I’ve written about before. As far as why I tried online dating it was mostly because my options were pretty limited. I know a mere handful of people in the city that I’m not directly related to, and the church I’m currently attending has yielded zero prospects.
It just seemed like the reasonable thing to do. Right now my time on OkCupid has resulted in one (1) friend, and that is more than I could have ever hoped for. Honestly, if that’s all I get out of it I’d be pretty satisfied.
KAT: I’ve actually heard that a lot, finding friends via online dating websites. Especially for friends who had moved to a new city where they didn’t know anyone. I think it’s also such a great way to break through the strata that tends to divide cities into various groups as well. I mean, how often do we go to a new area even in the city where we live just to encounter new people. I never really do. That’s part of what making online connections means for me. Finding people you have stuff in common with that you never would have connected with otherwise.
So what do you think of dating cites that cater to a specific group. A religious group for example (I’m looking at you ChristianMingle. Stop advertising on my Facebook page!)
EVAN: They’re not for me, personally.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a little disheartening as someone who wants to find a significant other of the same faith to wade through match after match that reads Atheist or Agnostic. Even so, I just think that sites like that aren’t my scene. I haven’t tried them out personally, but insular Christian communities like that are off-putting to me, and I’ve just assumed that the dating sites are pretty much the same.
Here’s a question for you, and the perfect opportunity for the two of us to answer for our respective genders: If you were looking to date in a city with few connections, how else would you do it?
KAT: You mean other than online?
KAT: Well, a club or community of some sort. Church works well for a lot of people. I’m not so sure I would want to use something like a dating site targeting only Christians, but sometimes getting involved in your faith community can be key in meeting someone.
Obviously I’m a bit proponent of school… or rather school conferences, because that’s where John and I met.
EVAN: I hope you realize that I’m going to embed, with your permission, a picture of the two of you, happily married as you are.
KAT: Oh boy.
EVAN: I realize that I asked that question assuming that we’d have highly varying answers, so let me try again: How do you think this search differs for men and women?
KAT: Ah. Right. Well, honestly I think they are pretty much the same as far as the searching goes. There might be certain things that are easier for a girl (for example that society still tends to put the pressure on the guy to initiate) or easier for a guy (it’s more culturally acceptable for guys to be older when they decide to get serious, whereas I’ve had girlfriends be told they got “crazy eyes” as they got older), but ultimately searching for a life partner can be difficult for anyone, regardless of gender
What do you think? Does the search feel a lot different as a guy?
EVAN: I think it’s the whole “initiating” thing. I straight-up asked a girl a few months ago if she would see a movie with me, and I had to put my hands on my knees and take several deep breaths before I could ready myself. That stuff’s super hard, man. And then she said no, she was seeing someone.
One great aspect of dating websites is that everyone on them is single. You never, ever have to worry about chatting up somebody who is already dating.
KAT: Yeah, no doubt. I can see how that would be terrifying. And how meeting people online feels incredibly more safe. Not to keep harping on my own experience, but the majority of the dating experiences I’ve had involved opening up emotionally by messaging online. I had already met the people in person, but the actually relationship building happened through emails. I think it’s a great way to create an intellectual connection with someone before the physical attraction part starts messing with your head.
And, with dating websites you don’t have to worry about getting shot down, which happens a ton in real life.
EVAN: I mean, people can ignore your messages, but that is really, really easy to get over.
KAT: Haha. True dat.
Well, I guess we agree that online dating cites are pretty beneficial then, even if just for making a friend.
EVAN: Indeed. Dating sites have the Culture War Reporters Stamp of Approval™, which only requires 2/3 of the writers.
KAT: Haha. Gordon will be so thrilled.
EVAN: He knew what he was getting into when he signed up.
KAT: Maybe we could make him an account to test his aromantic-ness.
EVAN: That is . . . that is the best idea I have ever heard. I’m going to hope he never reads through this and, well . . . we’d better get started.
Readers, please let us know what you think about online dating, because I’m pretty certain you have some thoughts on the subject. Let us know! Also: thank you for reading.
KAT: Thanks again for joining us at Culture War Reporters, please let us know what you would like us to explore in our next discussion.