I have a deep, dark secret, one that I have kept close for the past few years. Sure, lots of people are doing it, but nobody really talks about it because it’s deemed embarrassing. I am guilty of online dating, but I am no longer ashamed.
Two really wonderful things happened to change my mind about the matter: I got over myself, because online dating is really not a big deal, and on one particularly hilarious evening, I met that long-elusive Best Guy Ever. Now I’m in a very happy relationship with a very wonderful man and have become one of those terribly obnoxious, “ridiculously in love” types I once looked at with disgust. As it turns out it happens to the best of us. However, the fact that I met my beloved out in the real world has not diminished my opinion of online dating as a very useful tool, as long as you can do two important things: keep an open mind and accept the fact that you will reject and be rejected quite frequently.
We’re all so busy and caught up in our own affairs that meeting a potential love interest is tough. We do everything online, including a whole lot of social networking, so why not include dating? And why, in this hyper-sexualized society, is online dating still rather taboo? It’s perfectly acceptable for ladies to shimmy into their shortest skirts to shake what their mamas gave ‘em, and for men and women to go out carelessly looking for their Friday night flings.
Online dating is a perfectly legitimate way to meet like-minded individuals without the daunting task of that painful face-to-face question: “Um, so, can I get your number?” It also saves us the embarrassment of accidentally hitting on someone else’s significant other, and no one wants to incur the wrath of a jealous girlfriend or boyfriend.
I am a fairly confident individual, but I always had trouble approaching a crush. Talking to boys can be so hard. I blame ICQ (the precursor to MSN) for the social deficiencies that are pretty much commonplace amongst our generation. We spent our formative years chatting up cuties over the Internet but barely speaking in person. Now we often cling to text messages instead of putting our phones to our ears for actual voice-to-voice communication. Internet dating is just an extension of all of that, as long as it leads to an actual face-to-face meeting if both parties are interested.
In my brief forays into online dating over the past few years, I learned three important things: some people are only interested in chatting over the Internet; some people are only interested in sex; there are tons of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes on these dating sites.
At worst, as long as you’re smart (and I’m pretty sure we’re all well-versed in stranger danger by now), you lose an hour of your life on a bad date and you never see or speak to that person again. At best, you meet the love of your life and live happily ever after. And in between, you meet some cool new people, have some fun dates, and put yourself out there. After all, if you’d like to meet that special someone, you’ve got to meet someone first. Which leads back to the “keeping an open-mind” thing. When dating online, it’s really easy to treat it like shopping and keep a very strict set of criteria in your head before even bothering to talk to someone, let alone meet him or her. Many people approach dating in general with that sort of checklist mentality, and it just doesn’t work. My beloved rarely uses proper grammar, which — I’m ashamed to admit — would once have been a deal-breaker for me. But who cares if he doesn’t always use “your” and “you’re” appropriately? Grammar is never going to hold your hand or make you breakfast. Like I said, get over yourself and whatever stringent requirements you may have for deeming one dateable. So, if you’re single and interested in dating, just hop on the ol’ Internet, find the site that seems best to you, and let the good times roll. Happy dating.