I may not have met my amazing boyfriend on a dating site, but this fate was not out of the question even a month prior. After wallowing in singleness for almost a year, I signed up for OkCupid during finals week a few semesters back. During my six month stint on the site, I went on more first dates than I’d been on in my 21 years prior. A handful of these first dates even turned into second, third and 12th dates with guys I had a real connection with that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. In a world that is still resisting the online dating site, I am absolutely an advocate for giving it a go.
Dating sites break down barriers. Flirting with someone in a bar or coffee shop can be scary because people go to these places for many different reasons, sometimes none of which being to meet someone new. On a dating site, people’s intentions aren’t always entirely laid out for you, but you can be pretty sure that they want to meet someone. I found this to be really comforting when I looked at guy’s profiles because I didn’t have to worry if they were already in a relationship or just wanted to make friends. It’s true that people on dating sites desire different outcomes — a long-term relationship, casual dating, a hook up — but most people are relatively straight-forward with this information in their profiles or exchanges of messages.
Sending the first message is good practice for speaking up in person. OkCupid is great about calling out people who never send the first message — more specifically girls. Ladies, guys can’t be expected to do all the work. In real life, I’ve asked guys for their numbers before, but only after I deemed their extended eye contact as an indication of interest. Online, users can see when someone has viewed their profile and some even have nifty rating systems that notify you when someone you rated highly returned the high rating about your profile. Other than that, you’re on your own to work up the courage to make the first move. His profile quotes 30 Rock and he loves cats? What do you have to lose by messaging him? Worst case scenario is he doesn’t message you back. This same confidence to determine your own destiny is bound to spill into your real life. Soon, you’ll be talking up attractive coffee shop patrons like a regular extrovert!
Learning about yourself will prepare you for more than a first date. Regardless of which dating site you choose, you’ll be faced with the task of filling out your profile. Find a balance between your strengths, weaknesses, quirks and accomplishments. Be honest and show off your sense of humor — isn’t that what you’d want from someone else’s profile? A lot of dating sites rate your compatibility with others using personality quizzes. (Who doesn’t love taking these?) The more time I spent exchanging messages online and updating my profile, the more I learned about myself. Not only did I realize that I’m a pretty great catch, but I realized what I want out of a relationship. Like I said, people use dating sites for different reasons, but don’t be afraid to change your own reason. When I started, I thought I just wanted to meet as many people as possible and get out of the house, but I realized that I wanted a long-term, committed relationship. Even better, I learned that I deserve it.
If you’ve ever used a dating site, what was your experience like? If you haven’t, would you give it a try now?