Specialized dating sites make it easy to find your soulmate online
“Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth. By you I was properly humbled.” Mr. Darcy sure knew how to woo Elizabeth Bennett. He was the stud who fell in love with the commoner, and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t like that? Considered one of the classic romance novels, and later, films, Pride and Prejudice was a tale that, along with Gone With the Wind and Casablanca, began the domination of the “chick flick.”
The stories are relatively standard: boy meets girl, boy and girl don’t like each other, boy and girl overcome obstacle, boy and girl fall in love, a new obstacle comes in the way, until it’s resolved with a final kiss.
Unfortunately, I have not seen John Cusack outside my window with a radio, nor has Heath Ledger sang a rousing rendition of a Frankie Valli tune on the bleachers of my high school. So, what does this mean? Chick flicks disappoint us. How does one cope with his or her lack of a love life? The same way one copes with lack of a social life: the Internet.
No, I’m not talking about Internet porn — although if that’s what you thought, I won’t judge.
I’m talking about the ever-growing popularity of online dating. Whether you’re just testing the waters on Match.com, or looking for someone a little more tailored for your liking on ZombieHarmony, there seems to be a dating website for everyone. It’s been estimated that more than 120 million people worldwide are currently using some sort of online dating service. In this fast-paced, technology-driven world, has online dating become the preferred method of attracting a mate?
Online dating expert, bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online and Ithaca College alumna Julie Spira explained one reason for its popularity is that it is more convenient.
“It’s available 24 hours a day, and there’s critical mass — as more than 120 million people worldwide are logging on every month to find love online,” she said. “Those who tend to be shy offline are finding love online.”
Statistics can attest to the success of online dating. A study by Match.com revealed that 20 percent of people are in a relationship because of online dating. eHarmony claims they average 542 marriages every day. Now, people can go to their computer and find a website more catered to their specific interests such as ChristianMingle, CougarLife and even LoveBitten, for those who may be too into Twilight.
At first, it would seem as though some of these sites take the concept of online dating and turn it into a bit of a mockery. The clichéd desperation that online dating used to connote shines through with the emergence of these spin-off sites. Spira does not believe these to be a mockery, at all, and that many of these individuals have probably belonged to a larger site such as match.com.
“Just like you won’t read one book on a subject, you’re more likely to join more than one online dating site,” Spira said.
Julie Fishman, author of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags, warns that while it would be an advantage to have an easy outlet to find someone with similar interests, it could lead to an eventual disinterest.
“You want someone who compliments you, not someone who’s the same as you,” she said. “The former ensures a balanced relationship and the latter leads to boredom.”
So, what are the limits of online dating? Who should be allowed to participate on an online dating site? There are very few restrictions with these “niche sites” that have popped up. If you’re a schizophrenic, you can go to No Longer Lonely. Have an STD? Head over to STD Friends and you’re positive to find a match. But what if you’re a young girl or boy who has just been looking for love in all the wrong places? Though the notion of teens finding a mate online is not one to be dismissed. While many experts will agree that it should be generally discouraged, it does happen.
Molly* had a nearly two year relationship with a boy she met on the website MyYearbook. She admits that it was a bit nervewracking at first, but when she initially met him in person, she was well-prepared.
“I went with a friend to meet him and his friend and planned out ways to escape if something went wrong,” she said. “We also brought knives in case they tried anything.”
She laughed at this story in retrospect, at the time she assumed it would be better safe then sorry. Despite having a long-term relationship, she insisted she won’t do it again, because “when people are looking for something, it doesn’t [usually] work out.”
With the growing popularity of online dating, it is not farfetched to believe that in the future, it will only see a growth, with exponentially more people joining online dating communities. Fishman attributed this to the declining economic state.
“With the economy in the dumps and the unemployment level rising, people need someone to lean on more than ever right now,” she said. “Online dating is a relatively cheap way to meet people far beyond your normal social circle.” She added that now that the stigma of online dating being “a last resort for nerds” has been shaken, it will only increase from here.
While this may be depressing for girls hoping to have the “time of their life” and be swept away by a rebellious yet charming Patrick Swayze, for the rest of the world, true love is one click away.
* Names have been changed.
Rachel Maus is a freshman cinema and photography major who is making her own Buzzsaw dating site, BuzzLuv. Email her at rmaus1[at]ithaca.edu.