In the past, when it came to dating, you would meet people through friends, in class, at work, or at parties, clubs, bars, or other social events. In today’s world of technological advances, however, meeting that potential Mr. or Ms. Right may actually be right in front of your eyes, staring back at you from your very own computer screen.
Yes, times are changing, and the traditional means of dating are being replaced by the virtual ones. As a graduate student at Temple University and a young female in my early 20s, I have even tried internet dating. I had to be persuaded to do it (by mom!), and I have had a variety of experiences – both wonderful and not so wonderful. It turns out that there are many others like me. In fact, there are millions of people utilizing online dating sites, such as Match.com, America’s Singles, and J-date, which is specifically targeted to Jewish singles; many participants are college students and young professionals.
In addition to the dating sites, online social networks, such as Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook, provide online communities for making other types of social connections, as well as love connections. Just like the dating services, you just post a profile and picture, and you suddenly have the ability to communicate with your current friends or make new ones.
According to Dating Match Makers.com, more people today are realizing the benefits of internet dating because members are able to search for, talk to, and have the potential to meet many more singles. In fact, over 80% of people who participate in online dating sites have been on a date in the past month compared to only 20% of those who do not utilize these services.
In fact, according to Jacklyn, a customer service representative for Match.com, one of the most frequented online dating services, millions of people join internet dating sites. Match.com, for example, has over 12,000,000 members.
In Jacklyn’s view, “People just have to put themselves out there. There is someone for everyone. I met someone from the service, so I believe in what I do.”
Many young people these days are following her advice. From their experience, what are the benefits to utilizing online dating, and how does it compare to traditional dating?
“Internet dating gives you confidence in talking to someone since it’s not face to face at first,” Dave Weiss, a recent Temple University graduate who has tried J-Date and Yahoo Personals, says. He continues, “In person, on the bar scene, you have to build up the courage to talk to someone.”
Marnee Raisman, a Penn State-Abington graduate and Temple University graduate student who has been a member of J-Date, MySpace, and Friendster, agrees. “It’s more relaxed than traditional dating. You feel more at ease when you’re on the computer rather than getting all nervous in person, especially if you’re shy.”
Dave Rosenberg, a graduate of Bucks County Community College who has tried J-Date, Match.com, and America’s Singles, adds another benefit. “The advantage of internet dating is that you have a brief description of who you’re going to meet. At a bar, you don’t know anything about them.”
Although there are numerous benefits to online dating, there are also drawbacks.
Rosenberg mentions one particular drawback: competition from other site members. “When you’re responding to someone, it might take a week to get together with her because other guys have responded to her.”
Raisman agrees. “You could even be dating a guy your friend went out with without even knowing.”
Marnie Fleishman, a senior at Temple University-Ambler who has been a member of J-Date, feels, “When you meet someone in person, you get a sense of their emotion, but on the computer, you don’t.”
However, the most common complaint of online daters is this: “Just who is behind the screen?”
According to Weiss, “Online dating is the simple and easy way to meet somebody, even though it can sometimes be misleading. Some of the people behind the screen are not who they seem to be. You really don’t know who you’re talking to.”
Fleishman shares this experience: “This one guy looked so good in his pictures, but not in person. Also, there was just no conversation.”
It seems that most people who have tried online dating have had a variety of experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly. What tips would they offer to others considering it?
Raisman offers this piece of advice: “Just be upfront. Talk on the phone first, and then meet at a public place.”
Fleishman suggests, “You should meet in a group setting rather than alone.”
Weiss advises, “Don’t set your sites all on one person on the site. Experience all it has to offer. My best experience, though, was meeting my girlfriend!”
And, you may be wondering, how did my online dating experience turn out? Well, let’s just say that Weiss’s girlfriend is me!
So, what are you waiting for? True love may be just a click away!
To find out more about the services mentioned or to become a member, go to:
www.datingmatchmakers.com (site featuring articles and information about online dating and other love and dating topics)
www.match.com (general dating service)
www.jdate.com (dating service aimed at Jewish singles)
www.friendster.com (service linking members through networks of friends)
www.myspace.com (service used to communicate with friends, family, and classmates, or to make new friends)
www.facebook.com (service connecting college students from various schools)
Other services you may want to try:
www.jpeoplemeet.com (dating service aimed at Jewish singles)
www.loveandseek.com (dating service aimed at Christian singles)
www.christiansinglesdating.com (dating service aimed at Christian singles)
www.interracialdatingcentral.com (dating service aimed at interracial daters)