Finding love online is trial and error

The holiday season is almost upon us, and that means love is soon to be in the air. Expect repeat screenings of romantic Christmas movies designed to make you pine for someone to share hot chocolate with by the fire. And because of the inevitable desperation that comes with the closing of yet another year, expect your standards to drop and your patience to wither.

Forget meeting the opposite sex in bars, coffee shops or on the Row — there is an easier way to find Mr. or Ms. Right Now. It’s online dating, and, as much as you hate those TV commercials, it’s not as terrible as you think.

Just as the Internet offers a solution to almost every other one of my problems, it’s making being single a lot more entertaining. Online dating is quick, private and, surprisingly, fun. But as you may have noticed, not all dating websites are created equal. There are hundreds of networks out there, ranging from traditional matchmakers to special interest sites to genuine porn.

How do you choose which to register at? The same way you find love in the real world: trial and error.

Lots of dating sites pride themselves on their ability to “read your mind” and pair you with your soulmate. Certain sites, however, achieve this ESP by making you take questionnaires longer than your midterms to find your perfect match, culminating in a detailed analysis of your personal and relationship style.

Answering questions like, “On a scale of one to seven, how important do you think it is to take time and smell the roses?” may seem tedious, but sitting through eHarmony’s extended personality test can give you a (free!) spot-on character breakdown.

Sometimes, it’s even weirder —, the website whose commercials claim to help those rejected from other dating sites, begins its personality test by asking you to describe your right hand.

And, eHarmony’s biggest competitor, is quite the opposite. All it takes is an email address and a bit of personal info to get started, and initial matches are based mostly on your location. But don’t count on them being good looking either — that only happens once you pay the subscription fee.

One of the best things about online dating is there is no pressure to take it seriously. In fact, it’s hard not to laugh at the concept of digital love when sites exist solely to pair “beautiful women and successful men.” The site is called Diamond Daddy and, as if the concept weren’t absurd enough, users are asked to list their “best physical charactoristics [sic].”

The Internet is a big place, and thus other special interest sites with more politically correct goals do exist. JDate is a place for Jewish singles to congregate, and upon registering, users get to specify their religious commitment — or willingness to convert — and kosher preferences before browsing potential lovers.

Say one day you quit creating fake profiles and actually manage to find the love of your life. The in-person meeting is the next step, and although online dating has been generally proven safe, protecting yourself is still a concern.

When meeting SmileyGuy012 in person, you should exercise caution: find each other in a public place, don’t let him or her pick you up, and, because some people are just plain twisted, be wary about leaving your food or drink unattended. Bear in mind that if your dream date refuses to talk on the phone or provides inconsistent information, he or she may be more of a nightmare.

If you are unsure about using the web to foster a relationship, don’t stress. Chances are your potential partner is just as skeptical about the system, and he also doesn’t want his body to wind up in a trash can the next day. While I can’t promise you won’t die of awkwardness, your risk will likely pay off — a Science Daily study found that 94 percent of couples who had been talking through email and then met in person went on to see each other again.

One thing that remains unappealing about online dating is its monetary cost, as paying a monthly fee to find true love is quite the downer. Just keep in mind that love is greater than money, and write something just as romantic on your profile — the ladies will eat that stuff up.

Jen Winston is a junior majoring in communication. Her column, “The Memeing of Life,” runs Tuesdays.

1 reply
  1. Steve M
    Steve M says:

    I loved the old days when you just went into the stacks in the main library and wondered about until you met someone interesting. Or if that didn’t work, there was always the basement bathroom of VKC.

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