I have become even more of a proponent of online dating. It’s not just that some of the happiest couples I know met online, it’s that it presents a fantastic side-step to the aggravation of trying to date in “real life”. For a geek like me, I appreciate immensely the practicality of being able to scan through someone’s profile ahead of time to get to the common ground rather than having to go through sometimes painful exchanges across a table in a dimly-lit pub.
I often say that online dating is for two groups of people – those who lack social skills and those who lack social opportunity. (There’s a third group that lacks both, but that’s a topic for the Friday Guy.) Me, I (mostly) fall in to the latter category, and I generally try to select for people who also fit there was well. (I will overlook social graces for the sake of … well, a few things… but that’s another story.)
The “lacks social skills” people are the ones who are generally personable – once you get to know them. The problem is that in social settings, they freeze up, clam up, or start shouting, completely obliterating the chance to know anything about them. They are the ones that need a built-in ice-breaker, and this is where the internet is a fantastic thing. When you connect with someone via an online dating site, the questions and formats are designed to help facilitate the whole “getting to know you” thing. The ice breaker happens before you ever meet face to face, and if you’re lucky, you’ll arrive at your lunch or dinner date ready to carry on the conversation that you started in IMs or emails.
The “lacks social opportunity” people are folks who just don’t get out much. That’s not to say that they’re all introverted shut-ins. Sometimes
we they have such incredibly busy schedules that finding a social situation in which to meet people is well-nigh impossible. Their time is so valuable that the prospect of having to take two or three dates just to figure out if someone is compatible is daunting and unpleasant, and this will keep them off the streets and out of the market, sometimes indefinitely.
There are, of course, plenty of people who overlap these two areas, and that makes online dating even better for them.
The wonder of the internet is that we can easily scan through profiles and find out if someone is worth the effort of getting out of our comfort zones. On many sites, you can search for keywords or set up filters to show us the folks that are most likely to make it to first base. And it’s not like we’re just talking about life-long soul mates and wanna-get-married couples. Those who are in it just for a little fun and games can find what they want, too, without having to worry about the doe-eyed professions of undying love after the first romp in the hay.
Perhaps the most basic description of why online dating is really the best method for meeting people in today’s culture is that it cuts through the torturous crap and limitations of seeking out partnership in a localized environment and opens up whole new ranges of opportunity in places you wouldn’t normally have thought to look. When we have existing social settings – work, church, school, specific clubs or pubs we like – we’re limited in the kinds of people we’re going to meet, and that means that our potential for growth and being introduced to new things is greatly diminished. When we meet someone online who likes some of the same things we do, they can introduce us to whole new genres of music or movies we’ve never heard of, and that just makes our experiences as humans richer.
It’s a more efficient and effective way of doing things. I’m not saying that everyone and their dog needs to get online to date, but I am saying that the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Over the next few days, stay tuned in because I am going to go over the classic Dos and Don’ts of online dating and how make your profile the kind that gets the best kind of attention – no matter what kind of connection you’re looking for.