Online dating – the social club of today. In case you were wondering, online dating is the practice of searching for a romantic or sexual partner on the internet, typically via a dedicated website. Most online dating services follow the same model: you setup a profile of yourself, browse for matches, send them messages, and hope for a reply.
The topic of online dating has come up every now and then, but only in recent years has it really been accepted as the norm. Heck, even I didn’t believe in it back then. I have a post on Facebook with a screenshot of me saying something along the lines of ‘online dating is for desperate people who can’t get anyone in real life’. It’s been years since I wrote that and my perception on the whole subject has changed.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, who would do such a thing? The answer is – a lot of people. I don’t have the numbers, but chances are (if you live in a decently populated city), there are plenty of people out there using these matchmaking services in hopes of finding a suitable partner.
I’m rarely one to say ‘no’ to a challenge, so when the idea of joining a dating site to get me out of my single slump formed, I decided to do it. It’s been many years since I started online dating, and while I don’t use it anymore (I’m currently in a happy relationship), I’ve met plenty of girls and it has been a very positive experience.
Now some of you might be asking – why not just meet people regularly (or ‘offline’)? Well, I can tell you there are quite a number of benefits to online dating. Firstly, it’s very convenient. The fact that you can meet people from the comfort of your own home or during your lunch break at the office is huge. If you treat the online conversation as a screener, you can also save yourself the hassle of driving for miles to spend an evening with someone you don’t click with. It really doesn’t take a lot of time.
Secondly, it enabled me to meet plenty of people I wouldn’t otherwise meet. I’m not exactly young and my social circle hasn’t really grown in a while. I had no way to meet new people bar talking to strangers in public places (not great when those people aren’t out to meet strangers, especially when I wasn’t very good at talking to them). Online dating allowed me to overcome those obstacles. It also introduced me to people from all walks of life – people I wouldn’t have crossed paths with under other circumstances. I’ve had dates with girls that I had nothing in common with, in terms of education, lifestyle; yet we still connected because we were both looking for partners on the internet.
Thirdly, it’s a great way for people like me, who struggle to think of things to say when put on the spot, to meet people. When meeting complete strangers, I usually freeze up and have no idea what to say. Online dating eliminates this problem. You get time to think of what to say and reply. When face to face, the other person isn’t going to wait ten minutes or an hour for you to respond to a question. Whenever I got a match, I used this opportunity to build up confidence and rapport with her, so when we met in person, it was much easier to talk to them. If you can chat with someone online – you should be able to chat offline too.
That sounds great, so what are the downsides to online dating? Well, here’s a few things I’ve learned from my time spent doing it. Minus the convenience part, online dating pretty much mimics offline dating. There will be rejections. Not everybody will respond to your advances. Sometimes they ignore you, sometimes they read your messages and choose to not reply. But you know what? It’s okay. Chances are, they weren’t very interested in you and you haven’t lost anything besides the time spent crafting your introductory message.
Like offline dating, it is a numbers game. If you’ve seen a girl (especially if she’s physically attractive) using an online dating service, you’ll understand how often they get bombarded with messages. It’s not uncommon for girls to miss a message you send them or think that your message isn’t interesting enough to reply to. Like girls who get hit on in clubs, it’s not very different on the internet. You’ll just have to accept it and move on.
Not every girl you match with will end up becoming a partner – you may meet a lot more girls, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be meeting ‘the one’ right away. There will definitely be matches you don’t click or have any sparks with offline. You can just stay friends or move on. Who knows? Maybe they’ll introduce you to their friends in the future if they think you’re worth it.
The waiting game – remember how I mentioned you can take your time to craft responses? Well, sometimes you end up waiting hours, even days, for a reply to your own message. You never know if they’ve forgotten about you or they’ve been thinking of what to say, or if they’re really busy with other things in their life. Again, it’s not a problem. You can go on with your day, message other people and just respond to them in the future when and if they reply.
Online dating isn’t a replacement for meeting people in person. Personally, I treated it as a vehicle for introducing me to my match and setting up the first date. After that, it was all on me and how I acted or reacted to her when we met. This way, I got to save the more interesting topics for our conversations face to face, which made our dates better. Plus, being able to see them physically helped me steer conversations towards the right direction.
So why do I think people should try online dating? It’s a very exciting and interesting experience – especially if you’re the kind of person who enjoys meeting new people and you’ve never done it before. I’ve yet to have a terrible date though I’ve heard horror stories from the other side of the fence. At worst, your bad date becomes a funny tale you can recount with your friends. At best, you meet someone amazing and magical things happen.
Because I’ve been able to go out with so many different girls through online dating, my confidence in myself increased, along with my social skills – which has improved my life significantly (for both work and leisure). I’m no Casanova, but at least I’m not the most awkward guy at a party anymore.
If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to meet new people, an expanding social circle or the skills to meet strangers in public, online dating should be an option you should seriously consider. Be sure to stay safe and most importantly, have fun. As for writing a good profile and introductory message, that will have to be an essay for another day!