Online dating is old news – the internet has been around long enough for technology to bring millions of people together every day. But what have the most significant changes been over the past decade? Well, statistics show that 1 in 5 couples in this generation admit to meeting each other online. Now, I’m no expert on love and relationships, but this is a pretty significant percentage.
I’m also aware of the concerns that a lot of people have when it comes to meeting people online: How can I trust them? Did they lie about their age? Do they have a secret life? Are their pictures photoshopped? I believe that most of the same questions could be posed when meeting someone in real life, as well. I mean, do guys really know what a girl in a dimly lit bar or restaurant looks like without all that makeup on? It’s almost as easy to deceive someone on a first date as it is on the internet, in my opinion.
Safety is also a top concern for many women, as well. For all we know, the cute guy we met online could be a serial killer or rapist. Thus, the appropriate measures must be taken beforehand. Most of it is common sense, too. Personally, if I were single and looking for dating opportunities on the internet, I would try and be as cautious as possible. A few helpful tips?
1) Make sure they’re real. Ask for photos, phone calls, a link to their Facebook, etc. Make sure that you can identify their name, face, and voice. Suspicious activities may include excuses as to why they can’t send you pictures of themselves, or lack of friends on social networking sites.
2) Tell a friend. Some women might find mystery and adventure romantic, but at what cost? Tell someone that you trust that you have plans on meeting someone new, and to check in on you via text throughout the date.
3) Meet in a public place. Your safety should be a priority, be it online or in person. If first dates don’t typically happen in ones apartment, why should meeting your internet crush for the first time be an exception?
Putting all risks and danger aside, I can also see the benefits to online dating. In this day and age, it’s just plain convenient. We’re all constantly connected to the internet – checking for updates on our cellphones, surfing the web through our laptops, etc. The way I see it, why limit your dating pool to the people you meet at your school, workplace, or neighborhood? Meeting other singles online, especially when you’re a busy working woman, can actually be a very practical thing to do. It doesn’t limit your options.
Now, I want to compare online dating now to how it was ten years ago. Remember online chatrooms? How about MySpace? Or even AIM/MSN/Yahoo instant messaging? Those are a thing of the past. A minority of the people in my age group use them anymore. One reason I think they fell out of favor was the ability to change your identity as frequently as you desired, be it “hotbabe45” or “latinaprincess82”. I feel that people wanted a more intimate connection to the people they met on the internet.
The solution: Facebook Chat. As of 2011, Facebook has a total of 500 million active users. Don’t believe me? Check out their statistics here. Although the chat feature still has a ton of bugs to fix, it pretty much made any other instant messaging program obsolete with its release. It doesn’t get any more convenient than opening up a list, where your online friends/acquaintances are alphabetically sorted, and sending them a quick “hello ;)”.
Many other websites are completely dedicated to making the online dating experience much easier for older single people – such as Match.com, eHarmony, and OkCupid. What I’m interested in the most, though, are sites like Craigslist. Although only a small section of the website is dedicated to posting personal ads, I believe it’s the most active. Not only does Craigslist filter classifieds by location, but also keeps the poster’s personal information anonymous to prevent harassment. The sharing of phone numbers or e-mail addresses is left completely up to the discretion of the original poster.
Technology has also advanced to the point where we’re not limited to text-chatting anymore. We can now go onto various ChatRoulette-inspired websites, and video-chat with various singles – instant gratification, you know? What surprises me even more, though, are the introduction of websites like Ashley Madison, where individuals who are already in relationships/marriages are looking to cheat or have an ongoing affair.