As a society, the United States is obsessed with dating. From television shows like the ABC Bachelor/Bachelorette series and Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker to the literally hundreds of online dating websites, it is a wonder anyone is single these days! Online dating has gained momentum in recent years and, according to a recent study, “1 out of 5 single people have dated someone they met on an online dating site.” However, there is some discord among singles on the relevance of online dating: those who oppose it argue it is an introverts tool in avoiding the outside world while others say it is a great supplement to enhance the chances of meeting that “special someone.” So which is better: getting out of the house to your local bar to scope out the scene or surfing the web for potential partners?
First, we have to look into the reasons why people decide to use online dating in the first place. Is it a lack of confidence or have singles finally exhausted outside venues? Of the estimated tens of millions of people who have used online dating, the top reason for doing so is convenience. Everyone is working hard because of the sluggish economy and time and money are in short supply. Take Jackie*for example; she is a twenty-eight year old working two jobs who says online dating provides more control over who she meets while also adding to the pool of men she meets at bars and clubs. “It gives me the opportunity to meet men that I normally would not run into that maybe don’t live close to me. I don’t leave San Jose too often so it’s refreshing to meet new men that live in Santa Cruz or San Francisco. I also like online dating because I get the option to weed out qualities that I don’t like in men. For example, if someone is a smoker, I can tell right away they are not for me.” Another factor is that online dating can be very cost efficient and much safer than meeting someone at a bar. According to Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist discussing online dating on Fox7 news, “Online dating is generally among people who are in their late twenties, early thirties and on
up. And they don’t feel like standing in bars anymore and spending all that money and going home alone. So they have a much cheaper, easier and safer way to do it and that’s online.” The science agrees with this statement: the highest percentage of online daters is between 18 and 29 years old. The last factor that many argue in support of online dating is that the majority of people on the websites have the same objective: the desire for a potentially serious relationship. You always hear horror stories on the definite mismatch between someone’s profile and reality. Jackie’s experience only confirmed this: “Ninety percent of the time the person that showed up didn’t really look like their profile picture.” The majority of online daters I talked to agree: online dating is not a substitute for going out and meeting people the old-fashioned way. It is a supplement for meeting people who might not be out at the same bars and clubs.
It turns out, however, that only 14% of people between 18 and 29 years old actually use online dating. So where are these sexy singles going? Bars and night clubs have recently jumped on the dating bandwagon.
Singles nights and speed dating events have made a comeback and become a major attraction for singles looking to mingle. And, according to MSNBC, San Francisco and the Bay Area is the #1 place to meet singles.
And where do the majority of people between 21 and 35 go to unwind? Bars, clubs, and other social events. Chances are the majority of people you find
online will most likely be milling around your same hang-outs. There is also no obligation when pursuing someone in a social setting. For online dating, the next step is always meeting in person, most likely out to dinner. Then if the date is a flop, there is the awkward, “what do I do now?” moment. At bars and
clubs, you are able to approach and be approached. You can talk for a while, exchange phone numbers or just thank the person for a good conversation and move on. There is no financial investment, no time wasted. Generally, there are certain types of people who go to certain places. If you hang out at a sports bar, it is very likely that you will meet people who, like you, enjoy sports and a laid back setting. Instead of narrowing down characteristics as you would in online dating, you are selecting the type of people you want to surround yourself by choosing certain places to go.
Some advice I was given through my own dating adventures is to be open to everyone. If there is someone you are interested in, try and become friends with them on social networking websites. Yes it sounds entirely
lame to ask, “Can we be friends on Facebook?” but people these days invest a lot of time in beefing up their pages. You find pictures, real pictures and you can generally learn about someone through the company that they keep. If they flash gang signs and have their jail picture as their main profile picture that is a sure sign of their…extra-curricular activities.
The truth of the matter is that dating is a process. You have to meet a wide variety of people before you know what you are looking for in a potential partner. You will always run the risk that someone is not as
serious (or is much more serious) about having a relationship then you are. Dating is time consuming and often times discouraging. Online dating is just one other source to aid in the process.