"Ignorantly is how we all fall in love; for it is a kind of fall. Closing our eyes, we leap from that cliff in hope of a soft landing. Nor is it always soft; but still, I told myself, still, without that leap nobody comes to life." - Salman Rushdie
Love In the Time of Internet
Once upon a time, there lived a lovely princess, with no shortage of suitors. At that same time, there lived a prince, who earned the affections of every fair maiden in his land. Though the princess, with her perfect manicure and Manolos, and the prince, an utter Metrosexual and affinity for fine wines, were perfectly suited, miles, nay oceans, between them, there was little hope of ever meeting...until the the world wide web was born, that is.
Internet dating has arguably become the American take on arranged marriage. Who has time to to rely on a chance encounter? There must be an algorithm to help with this check box of the American dream! With the inertia of every day life, the metamorphosis of gender roles, and the general desire, no, compulsion towards instant gratification, Internet dating sites have found a lucrative market in a romance-starved society.
For love of the Recessionista readers (and a desire to remind myself of that life exists beyond my computer), I signed up for a short trial of one of these sites. The following represents a series of observations, concluded with some advice, should you choose this adventure...
1. Not Everyone on Internet Dating Sites is a) Desperate, b) Unattractive, c) A Player, d) A Freak, or e) All of the Above. While my busy schedule only allowed for a handful of dates from the site, all of the individuals I went out with were observably classy, witty, attractive, and VERY busy. This perhaps provides insight into why many might choose to seek love online - time is valuable and nightlife can be a crap shoot.
2. There is a Defined Etiquette to Online Dating. In my sophomore year of college, my best friend and I tried out "The Rules," a silly book that essentially promoted females playing hard-to-get until they get a diamond. A decade older and wiser, I figured game playing was not for me, but, alas, it is alive and well online. Who initiates the first contact? Is an email too bold or a wink too passive?How soon is too soon for an actual human encounter? How does one play coy through "LOLs" and "TTYLs"? I was not very good with games when we spoke in English a decade ago, and I am even worse in acronyms.
3. If Someone Asks You Out, Meet in a Public Place. I was very fortunate in my experience with online dating...every man who took me out was entertaining and a gentleman. However, knowing people who have been preyed upon (men and women!) in the dating scene, you MUST be careful, no matter how many points you match up with the person.
4. Expect Honesty, and Settle for Nothing Less. If someone posts a picture of his/herself circa 1990 and they look completely different, or they claim to be a liberal, but are, in fact, a card-carrying member of the NRA, call it out. Dishonesty is never an attractive quality.
5. Set Expectations for Yourself. I certainly have friends who have gone to these sites expecting to meet "the one." I also know friends who sign up for this type of matchmaking as a, "see, all the good ones are taken" justification for not braving the dating scene. I suggest sitting down with yourself and having a clear conversation, one on one with your heart. Are you really looking to meet someone or are you looking to date many? Are you ready to fall in love or are you really flirting with lust? There are no right or wrong answers, but doing a bit of a self-assessment in advance will help you be a more honest cyberdate.
All and all, I have heard stories of people who met online and fell in love. I have also heard stories of disastrous dates that seem almost fictional. Personally, I think Internet dating sites are as good a jumping off point as a happenstance encounter at a bar or chance conversation at the grocery store. Still, my personal bias is to have the story..."he came up to me, and I told him to get lost...he persisted" or "she laughed so obnoxiously that I turned around and immediately fell for her." Forgive me, I was an English major in college.