Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Plan B of Dating

Over the last couple of days, I've gotten some really great input about online dating and dating in general from friends and blog-readers alike.  And, you all know me and know what input does to this over-analytical brain!  So once the gears had settled down a bit and I could finally decipher what I thought, I realized that my subconscious is a bit more active in my decisions than I thought.  Let me explain...

A friend of mine who recently discovered this online diary of mine shared some gems he'd learned about online dating through a slightly more scientifically themed study he'd done for school a few years ago (like an actual study, not this daily electronic attempt to make sense of this confusion that I do!).  Besides his discovery that more women smile in their profile pictures than men do and more men use negative statements like "I don't want" while women tend to use the flip of that stating what they are looking for in a mate, he shared with me that many people who are online dating view it as a last resort.  Using this year (and this blog) as a period of self-discovery, I pondered this for a while.  Here's what I came up with:

I don't think you'll ever meet anyone who will openly tell you that their dream is to meet the love of their life online, unless they're a part of some strange reality show (or To Catch a Predator) and that surely isn't the case with me either.  Although I wouldn't be ashamed to say that my husband/boyfriend and I met via an online dating site because I think that the stigma has worn off (just a bit) and thanks to clever marketing by and other sites, it's becoming more and more obvious that online dating is a primary player in the social networking market.  I do think that some still view it as an opportunity to make connections for people who have no social skills (hence the reason for all of the smiley, out-going, trendy people on the eHarmony success commercials) and I can honestly say that there are a lot of people on these sites who have probably never felt comfortable in a single social situation in their lives.  I've met a few.  I've gone out with a few.  They are out there.  Five minutes spent on any dating website and you'll instantly see that, at least as far as the male options are concerned (no bias here, just not cruising for chicks!), there is a prevalence of people in the IT and Computer Technology industries.  Nothing against those people at all (they make a ton more money than I do and thank God for them when I get repeated "System performed an illegal operation and must shut down" messages.  How the heck does the system perform a function that it itself doesn't allow?!), but they do tend, generally speaking, to be a bit more introverted and more comfortable in front of a computer monitor than face-to-face.  So, is online dating their last resort or simply a benefit of modern technology, finally allowing them a social outlet in which they can thrive?

Not being introverted in the least, I, on the otherhand, have a different perspective of online dating.  Online dating, to this Singleton, is my "Simultaneous to Real Life Last Resort."  I think a lot of people will agree with this philosophy as well.  To me, online dating is my Plan B.   While I actively try to meet people in the real world, online dating allows me access to people I may never have crossed paths with otherwise.  How many bars or singles' nights or church groups or wine tastings or other meeting-potential opportunities can I attend in one week?  I do consider myself a born-again social butterfly, but when you throw in work, commuting, friends and sleeping into that schedule, the timeframe is very limited.  Conversely, online dating allows me to flirt, communicate, connect when I have time, basically around the clock.  I can scan profiles at 3:30 in the morning if I can't sleep.  I can send emails from my Blackberry on my lunch break at work.  I can have the ability to meet people ridiculously removed from my normal circle of friends or even my normal day-to-day circumstances, spicing up the pool of applicants, so to speak.  That's kind of exciting.  I have a lifelong friend who is ridiculously prophetic (for real, you should see some of the things she's predicted and been completely accurate on.  It's kind of scary) and has always told me that she knows I'll marry my best friend.  At a few points in my life, I thought I knew who that best friend was going to be, but I turned out to be way off target.  That just means I haven't met him yet or, if I have, he hasn't reached that level of friendship with me yet.  So if online dating creates that spark in the powder keg, so to speak, I'm completely open to that.

I know this sounds overly optimistic coming from someone who has had absolutely zero success with online dating over a history of many years and many more attempts.  But, the way I look at it is, I'll always have online dating.  If all else fails, I can always count on at least being able to have the opportunity to meet someone via an online dating site, all depending on how much effort I put into it.  And that effort can run simulataneously to real world endeavors. 

Don't get me wrong for one second, my heart's desire is to meet someone in the real world.  You can't tell me that no one I have ever or will ever come across in my life isn't "the one" or have a connection to "the one."  I don't buy that.  I have a sneaking suspicion that even if I were to meet "him" through some online communication, there will be some personal connection beyond electronic, either a mutual friend, the same previous workplace or some other random commonality in the history of our lives.   I kind of feel like online dating is making me a better dater in general, all in preparation for the final "first date."  And if I do meet "him" online somehow, imagine the years of conversations we'll be able to maintain with stories about how hard it was for me to finally find him! 

What do you think, Singletons and Marrieds?  Is or was online dating your last resort?  Did/do you feel like you've tried everything else to meet your soul mate and online dating is the only thing left?  Or does it complement your other strides towards Coupledom?


  1. Hmmm, good questions. I had always dated guys that I either went to school with or worked with. Every time there was a break up it made it akward to be in the same room with that person. I already had a fairly large group of friends and no one caught my eye that I wanted to date. Online dating was something that I kind of did as a fluke. I just wanted to see what it was like and a month later I met my husband on Yahoo Personals. I really didn't expect much from it at all and wasn't putting all my eggs into that basket. When I do tell people we met online it can be a little embarrassing depending on who I tell but for the most part I don't care to tell people our story.

  2. That's an interesting approach too...makes me think of another question along this same topic. For anyone currently single who has never tried online dating, what's stopping you? And I don't mean that in a "it's so great, why aren't you doing it?!?" kind of way; I mean it as in what mental roadblocks have convinced you not to do it thus far?

  3. In this day and age I do not see anything wrong with it. Of course you have to be careful about meeting up with someone for the first time...but if you think about it, shouldn't you be cautious about meeting anyone for the first time? Kyle and I were set up on a blind date and to me that is kind of almost the same thing (even though the friends who set us up went on the date, it was a double date...). I see nothing wrong with meeting someone online and I really do think it's a lot more common than it used to be!

  4. Until recently, I would have said online dating was, unfortunately, an only resort - as an introverted grad student (who has plenty of friends, and a busy social life - just none of which has ever led to dating), it's just about the only way I've met anyone to date lately. Thus, I assumed that when/if I meet someone special, it would be online.

    And yet, I finally had a friend set me up on a date (in real life) recently. It was just as blind a date as online dates are, it was a set-up of convenience (she and her bf both had single friends who wanted to date) more than a set-up born of an overwhelming sense that the people in question were meant for each other - and yet, I'm enjoying dating this guy more than any guy I've ever met online.

    It seems counter-intuitive to me - online you can pick your requirements and tailor your dates to your preferences; set-ups are just luck of the draw (except you have mutual friends, which may or may not mean anything). But like I said, I'm more in to this guy than any of my online dates.

    So, as someone who would have said online dating was the first line of offense - I'm beginning to rethink that perspective. Maybe you have the right attitude, that it's preparation for other dating. (Although I'm about to be a bridesmaid for a friend who met her fiance online, so...)

    So, I suppose moral of the story is I don't have any answers - but you asked some good questions!

  5. I think part of the problem with online dating is that we really don't know what our perfect mate is. We can dream up this perfect mate, but in real life there is no perfect mate. If we got this perfect man, could we live up to him? I think I would have a hard time listing what I am. If you ask four people to fill out the online dating list about you, do you think they would all be the same?
    I've always heard that opposites attract, so who knows. Your Mr Right is probably somebody right under your nose.

  6. I totally agree with cavenderchronicles! I had been looking into online dating a little, but I only signed up because they were having a free weekend. A friend convinced me that I should at least try it, and I knew I wasn't meeting any "datable" males in real life, so I forked out for a three-month subscription. Never in a million years did I think I would end up meeting my future husband online! I am a firm believer that when the time is right, things will just fall into place--whether it's online, through mutual friends, or randomly at the grocery store.

  7. I would definitely say it's a Plan B, or maybe Plan C. It's an option I do while I don't have time or when I'm not finding other people out there. I wouldn't say I was like "Oh cool there's this thing called online dating." It was the shameful thing to do before. Now, it's not that bad, but not the preferred method to meet that special someone.

  8. I wouldn't say it is my LAST resort. It is just another avenue I am using to try and find someone to share my life with. I work in a predominately female oriented field so my pickings at work are slim. I am not religious so there are no social gatherings I attend where people are looking for partners. I am also no longer in college where I am constantly surrounded by men and more apt to go out to a bar trying to meet someone. Most of my friends are married or partnered up and so are all of their other friends. I think of online dating as expanding my applicant pool.


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