Remember when online dating was suspicious and pervy? That's when I started. I was one of those teenagers who would look for internet boyfriends in ChatHouse, mIRC, Yahoo! Chat. My first internet boyfriend was a 16 year old Quake II tournament champion from Kansas City. When I got a bit older, I started meeting up with UofT students who lived in bachelor apartments in the Annex.
Few other girls I knew dated online back then. And certainly not as frequently or as intently as I. Once I moved to the city however, I stopped. It seemed childish to date online - how much more exciting to meet people in real life. I promised myself never to do it again.
And yet, online dating is more the norm now than not. This isn't the same as the online relationship I had with the boy in Kansas City, but more like the UofT students I met on Yahoo! Chat. Except now you can fill out personality tests and rate people and write profiles, etc. etc. You could spend hours a day checking up on all your various online dating accounts, connecting with new guys, chatting, setting up dates.
It's not for computer geeks anymore. I was at Fresh yesterday reading 1984 - or pretending to read because I was actually eavesdropping on the conversation next to me...
They were two girls in their late-twenties to early-thirties: health-conscious (Fresh regulars), professionals, regular bar/club goers, gym members (joggers), Facebook users. It's amazing how much I could glean about them based on this single conversation.
The entire evening was spent talking about online dating: PlentyOfFish, LavaLife, eHarmony... One girl's experience was that the more you date, the more refined your searching gets, and the better the guys you find.
Both girls have been in and out of relationships for a couple of years now, dating people for a couple of months here and there. They love having options. They don't want to settle down.
And there are others like them! Plans to get all the girls together every month to share dating stories. Supportive. Non-competitive. I'm curious about whether or not this monthly meeting will actually occur.
Beneath the banter, the forced optimism was palpable. These girls are braving it alone, not wanting to settle for anything less than they deserve. They're "putting it out there". But I think we all knew that try as we might... it's not really up to us who we love. Sure we can tip the scales, hedge our bets, be as cautious or as adventurous as we feel we need to be... but in the end, love happens when it's meant to happen.
Anyway, I just thought it was funny that online dating isn't childish or geeky anymore. Savvy, good-looking, smart people are doing it. But I can't help but wonder if opening up your dating arena to millions of potential partners might make things more complicated than they already are?