I know a couple who met on an internet personals website. In fact, I know quite a few couples who did. But one half of this particular couple doesn't like to admit to anyone how he met his other half. And although he might not be alone in that attitude, I've never been able to work out why. I thought -- and still do think -- that meeting singles through online personals was fully respectable and completely credible. To me it makes perfect sense. But then I might be biased as I met my partner on a matchmaking web site. So what are some singles still not entirely comfortable with, and how does net dating measure up against the more conventional dating methods?
Does Age Matter?
I don't know why young people (i.e. those under 30) use web personals services. I imagine that they would have the energy, time, and, of course, inclination to use the more traditional routes such as standing around in clubs and bars, going to all manner of social events at work, and having an enviable network of social contacts through whom to meet partners of the opposite sex. I've always thought that young singles use personal ads services for some form of affirmation; for reassurance that they are sexy and desirable, so that they can truly shine at one of those office social events. But that might just sound bitter and twisted; a sort of "Get off this internet dating site, you're not as desperate as I am" attitude, maybe...
Web matchmaking wins hands-down when it comes to age, or rather when it comes to the more mature singles. There are no clubs for the over-40s (maybe even the over-30s); not any that aren't aimed at the desperate and destitute anyway. And when you get to your 40s you may have neither the energy nor the inclination to engage in "clubbing." There's the preparatory work (e.g. hair, nails, make-up, clothes and for the guys, showering), followed by at least two hours of standing around and making eye contact, and spending ridiculous amounts of money on drinks (which never last very long). Having done this routine many times, I always believed that once I reached my forties I would be rewarded with being able to leave it all behind. And thanks to a matchmaking website (i.e. eHarmony), I was.
What about Compatibility?
One word that anyone involved in internet matchmaking will see a great number of times is "chemistry". It's the Holy Grail of the cyber dating world -- the one thing we are all searching for. Rather than being a word to describe what we're all searching for, it's probably more used to describe what we're not searching for. "There was no chemistry" essentially means "I didn't fancy him/her." To say, after having invested a significant amount of time, effort, and hope in a photo on a computer screen and several days of emailing, that you just "didn't fancy" someone can make one feel a bit of an idiot. To say that there was no chemistry means, of course, that there was a whole lot more going on than either you, I, he, or she will ever be able to fathom. And of course it places half the "blame" on the other party.
As wonderful as technology is, the online dater won't be able to tell if there's any chemistry with his or her chosen one until they meet.
For conventional daters, on the other hand, chemistry is what it's all about. And it's right there; sometimes even before they've had a chance to take a look at their chosen one's entire face! This is where conventional dating will always win out over web dating. Spontaneity is romantic. And so is feeling an instant attraction to someone, especially when you know absolutely nothing about that person. But, conversely, (and this is said with both the experience of hindsight and with my rational internet dater's head on), it can cause you to pursue something -- or rather someone -- completely unsuitable.
There is no guarantee that you will meet someone with whom you are more compatible through an online matchmaking website than as a result of conventional dating methods. What internet matchmaking services does allow for, though, is a rational and measured response to "proposals" without being blinded by chemistry (or something similar, such as alcohol); although that doesn't mean that there aren't those individuals on these websites who don't bother reading a personal ad because they're blinded by a dater's physical charms -- or even blinded by alcohol -- and believe they're experiencing some sort of virtual chemistry. I'm sure that's happened many times.
But if you particularly want to meet other singles who likes what you like and what you like isn't what many other people like, then internet dating might just be able to help, as there are now specialist matchmaking services to cater for all proclivities.
But that's Miles Away...
Because of all the wonderful technology we now have, our world is shrinking. We can communicate easily at any time and from any place. And if you're someone who believes in the notion of a soul mate then surely, given the billions of people all over the world, you don't really think that your soulmate is going to be living within 10 miles from you, do you?
There is probably more chance -- although I'm not too sure how great that chance is given the size of some online matchmaking services nowadays -- of meeting someone who lives close to you through traditional dating methods than on the information superhighway; however, that doesn't mean that all singles you meet through the more traditional dating route will live close by. Always allow for that casual meeting with your mate John's cousin from Perth, who just happens to be passing through your neighborhood, is absolutely stunning, and undoubtedly "the one." There's that spontaneity again. On the computer of course, you would undoubtedly know where other daters lived so could choose to ignore any virtual chemistry you might feel for someone living in Australia (there's an irony somewhere in there).
Having said all that, one piece of advice that does apply to both methods of dating is that there are no guarantees. There is no guarantee that the cute guy or girl who lives two doors away from you and whom you've been dating for years having met through friends won't break your heart. Just as there is no guarantee that John's cousin from Perth will return to his (or her) homeland. And there is no guarantee that a relationship between two rational and level-headed web singles won't turn into a hot, passionate and very short-lived affair -- chemistry or no chemistry.