Online dating. What once was a social scene faux pas is now all the rage. It used to be an outlet for certain types of people (i.e. 350-pounders, male pattern baldness sufferers, hideously unattractive folks, people with two heads, etc.) to meet others to date and form romantic relationships with. (No offense if you have two heads--I'm just trying to make a point here). It's amazing how time and technology can change everything.
Back in the day, people met their respective spouses while in college. Unfortunately during my four years (ok, five!) at UNT, I never obtained my M.R.S. degree. Don't get me wrong--I was very sociable. In fact, I was a member of Alpha Phi for three years and had a total blast. Met tons of people, made lots of friends, dated some, but I never met THE ONE. I assure you, though, it was not for lack of putting myself "out there."
So after college, where exactly are you supposed to meet people? I don't believe in dating someone you work with, so the office is out. Where else? It pretty much comes down to bars, church, or through friends. A bar is not the ideal place to meet Mr. Right, but sometimes, it does happen. I don't usually talk to people at church since most churches nowadays are huge and there's no sense of small-town intimacy. The friends thing? Well, most of my friends' friends are married by now--with three kids!
Do you see where I'm going with this? Online dating is the wave of the future. It's actually fascinating to think about how you could meet someone online that you would NEVER meet by chance in person. There are tons of dating sites, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been on most of them at one time or another. It was really a form of entertainment and something to keep me busy. (It was also a way to get free drinks/dinners). I've actually made some really good friends that way. In fact, I sang in one guy's wedding several months ago! I never developed a long-term relationship from an online experience, but I will say that my current relationship with Jeremy started on match.com. We've been together for a year and counting (and that's a big deal for me!)
Dating web sites do for dating what Lamaze classes do for pregnant couples...(okay, so maybe that's a bad example, but let me explain). They prepare you for what's to come. When you virtually "wink" at someone or send an email and it sparks conversation, you get to actually KNOW the person before you physically meet them. When Jeremy and I went on our first date, I felt like I already knew him because we had previously talked on the phone so much. We actually talked for FIVE HOURS the first time! I have never spent that much time on the phone with one person, and anyone who knows me can vouch that I'm not a woman of few words.
It's true that online dating is a risk--but so is dating in general. I've heard numerous guys say they met a girl online who "misrepresented" herself. I discovered that's a polite way of saying she looked like a supermodel in the photo, but it was taken eight years ago, and she has since taken on the weight and body type of a candidate for the lap-band procedure. It's all part of the game. You gotta kiss a few frogs before you find your prince charming, right?
Online dating can stroke your ego or make you want to put a paper bag over your head and never leave the house again. I have experienced both. Match.com has a feature where you can send a polite "no thanks" response instead of simply ignoring an email. Quite honestly, I'd rather be ignored than to receive one of those with the reason for disinterest being: "physical attraction." I pretty much wanted to throw myself off a bridge. I was like, "I'm now PAYING for rejection?!" I immediately called my mom and best friend for reassurance that I wasn't hideously unattractive and that I just wasn't what one guy happened to be looking for.
Even though online dating isn't as uncool as it used to be, there are people who continuously lie about how they met. I actually have a friend who got married last year to a guy she met on match.com several years ago. The story they tell people is they met at a taco stand at the mall.....TO THIS DAY, their families still think that's how they met! I don't have a problem telling people the truth--tons of people have met their spouses online.
While you may not have a super-romantic story to tell your grandchildren someday, you do have someone who you never would have met otherwise. I think that's worth it in the end because, after all, your lifelong journey together ends up becoming "your story."