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The Online Dating Game: The Good, the Bad, and the Websites

By Sarah Baker 

Have you ever thought about online dating? I did. A few years ago, I hit a rough patch in the dating game. My relationship of nearly 3 years ended and I was hitting the bar scene again, to no avail. After constant disappointing bar outings, where I met no one, I decided to give online dating a try. I was a little nervous and embarrassed at first, but I was feeling like I would never meet someone and needed to try something. Although I only tried it for a few months, it did wonders for my self-esteem. To go from no one hitting on you for months after months to having many different guys email you daily was surreal. It definitely gave me hope that even if this all didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be single forever. 

Since I’ve already gone through all of this, I decided to compile some helpful hints for those of you who might want to give it a try or are just curious. I have listed out some pros and cons, some popular and easy websites, as well as some advice from those who have already gone through this. I hope these help you as you continue on your own journey.

Pros of Online Dating:

1. You have a variety of people to talk to and aren’t limited to just the one in front of you. Whereas in the bar scene, there is usually one person that is taking up all of your time and it’s hard to get away if you just aren’t interested. 

2. You meet people who are serious about a relationship and not just wanting a one night stand. 

3. You meet people with similar passions and goals in common. This was big for me. With online dating, I was able to find people who had similar interests and similar life goals.

4. The opportunity to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time with the convenience of home.

5. The ability to screen out people you are definitely not interested in based on the information given. This is nice if say for instance, you absolutely cannot stand cats. With this, you can screen out all people who have cats from your list.

6. People tend to talk more openly online allowing you to get to know someone in a shorter time. I enjoyed this. It allows you to really get to know someone before you actually meet and makes that connection so much deeper. 

7. Attraction runs deeper because it is based on similar interests and more than just looks.

8. It’s safe because you don’t have to reveal any personal information initially. 

9. If you are shy or not the bar type, it helps you to be able to meet and get to know people with less awkwardness. I tend to be somewhat shy around people I don’t know, which makes the bar scene not work as well for me. With this, I was able to be myself without fear because there wasn’t a person directly in front of me to make me nervous.

10. It gives you time in order to think about how to start and maintain a conversation by knowing more about the other person’s background.

Cons of Online Dating: 

1. It can be unsafe because you can’t be sure who is really behind the profile. 

2. It can be hard to keep going because you miss out on going out and meeting people in real life.

3. Friends may not approve or understand dating someone online. I was worried about this at first, but after a while, I decided it didn’t really matter that much to me what others thought about how I was finding dates.

4. It’s possible you will meet someone who is not close and you need to be willing to relocate. This is also possible if you meet someone in a bar or at college, so I wouldn’t be so worried about it. You also have the opportunity to decide the radius in which you are looking.

5. It can take over your life and you can end up spending hours a day in front of your computer. I spent a lot of time waiting and checking to see if I had messages and responses. Also, most of the big websites have apps, which makes it that more convenient to constantly check.

6. You can end-up spending a lot of money if you are using sites that are not free. Some of the sites can get really expensive, especially if you use it for a long time. 

7. Some people may argue that the face to face contact wasn’t quick enough and that you don’t get to know their mannerisms and true personality. 

8. You can’t easily take a break or delete all of the people and start over. After I met and dated someone that I met through eHarmony for a while and it didn’t work out, I would have loved to have deleted all the guys and started over since I had stopped communicating with them. Since this wasn’t really possible, I just cancelled my subscription and took a break, one that I haven’t been back to.

I have complied a list of poplar sites for online dating. These are definitely not the only sites, and there are sites that can be more specific to the city you are living in. With these, you can be matched to anyone, anywhere, although you can specify how far from where you live you would like to meet people. 

With eHarmony, you answer a series of questions about yourself and they match you with people you are compatible with. You can send a smile to someone if you want to communicate but are too shy to make the first move. If you decide you want to communicate with someone, you go through a few steps before you can openly communicate. When you get to the point that you want to talk on the phone, they have a secure line you can use so that you don’t have to give any personal information until you are completely ready. To use this site, you don’t have to initially pay, but in order to see pictures and communicate better, you will have to have a subscription. 

*I have a friend who met his wife on this site, and they are expecting their first child in the fall.

With match, you create a profile and they will send you leads on people who are compatible with you. You can then ask questions and communicate with them if you are interested. If you are too shy to make the first move, you can send someone a wink and let them make the first move.  You can start your profile for free, but it does cost money to continue to communicate effectively. 

*A former co-worker met her boyfriend of 7 years on this site.

3. ("Plenty of Fish")

With Plenty of Fish, you create a profile and then take a chemistry test. They work with you to find out what you need in a relationship and what you may have done wrong in past relationships in order to help you have success in your future relationships. This site is completely free. 

*My aunt met her fiancé on this site.

4. Personal Dating Agent

Although not completely online, your initial contact with the agency is online. You fill out an online questionnaire and then meet with a personal agent to help you find someone in the same ways you might online but to a deeper degree. This can be very pricy because you are paying for a more personal service.

*My best friend met her fiancĂ© using Elove, a personal dating service. They are planning a May wedding. 

This site is more specifically for Christians looking to meet other Christians. You start by filling out a basic questionnaire. You then have an opportunity to communicate via email, join chat rooms, respond to message boards, instant message, and so much more with your compatible people. This site is completely free.

*I don’t personally know anyone who has met on this site, but I have been told it is similar to Plenty of Fish and is a good one to use.

Some friendly advice from myself and others who have tried and succeeded with online dating...

1. Take your time emailing and talking on the phone to screen people. You never really know who you are talking to, so don’t just meet on a whim, really get to know them.

2. Always meet in a public place and tell at least one person where you are. Again, you never know with online stuff. Most people are truthful, but the few that aren’t ruin it for everyone else. I made sure to tell at least two people where we were going when I was going on a date with someone I met online.

3. Take a break and start back fresh if you are getting frustrated. 

4. Be cautious of free sites, there are some that are good but people may just be looking for a hookup if they aren’t willing to pay a monthly fee.

5. Don’t overthink things.

6. Don’t write novels, keep it short and sweet. 

7. Don’t get discouraged. There is a big pool of people out there and you will most likely get rejected at least once. 

Don’t be Afraid to Give It a Go

Online dating is becoming more and more acceptable and commonplace with every generation being more and more online to begin with. Most people know someone who met their husband/wife online or who has at least tried online dating. 

However, there is still a stigma with online dating. Many people look at it in a way like it is a bad thing. They say things like, “who meets someone online?” “Only losers use it,” and “how desperate do you have to be to date online?” People who have dated online tend to use excuses as to why they do it. 

“It’s hard for me to meet people my age with my interests,” is a common excuse when telling people about online dating. I personally didn’t tell anyone at first when I tried online dating. When I actually started dating someone I met through eHarmony and was asked where I met the person, I went ahead and told people we met online. I was embarrassed at first, but then decided that I really didn’t care, I was happy with the guy I was seeing, and it didn’t matter how I met him. If you are frustrated with your current dating scene, don’t be afraid to give online dating a try. You could find your soulmate, or you could get the dating break you were waiting for. 

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