Confessions of an Online Dater

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I, Courtney, am an online dater. Many of you probably find this weird considering I’m in college, a place filled with more available men than a single woman could ever dream of, but I’m finding it’s more common than you think. The truth is, people just don’t want to admit it.

I first joined OKCupid (yes, that is the name) when I was 16. I had no intentions of dating anyone from the site, I just loved getting messages saying how pretty I was. And throughout high school that was basically what I used it for. I never really found anyone attractive at my high school, or even remotely tolerable, so online dating seemed like a good idea. At least for the confidence boost.

I didn’t rejoin the circuit until sophomore year of college when my friend found a site called Plenty of Fish (we obviously joined it just for the name). My headline for my profile was “I’ma hook, line and sink ya!” Again, I really didn’t have any interest in dating someone online; it was more of a procrastination tool than anything else. (There are a lot of hilarious weirdos out there!)Besides, I was more interested in a boy from one of my classes.

When 2010 hit, though, I started to actually take online dating seriously. I set up a real profile, responded to guys’ flirtatious emails and started going on dates. I became an online dater and while it hasn’t panned out into anything serious yet, I am glad i did.

I’ve always been really busy and haven’t had time to casually wait for some guy to sweep me off my feet. Online dating sites make the sorting process one has to do at a bar easier. And who wants to date someone they met at a bar anyway? With online dating you get to view your potential suitor’s height (always least an inch less than what they say), decent pictures, and (my biggest thing) you can see how they write. Do they know how to use “there, their, and they’re” correctly? Do they use “Z’s” instead of “S’s” or, my least favorite, are they too lazy to spell things out fully (“I lyke 2 go 2 the bar, u do 2?”)

Plus, I was tired of being set up by friends; how many more blind “dates” can someone handle? (And by “dates” I mean meeting up at a party and having him grab a beer from the keg for me.) It’s not like I have a problem meeting people – I’m surprisingly nice and friendly – I just have a problem meeting the right people. You know, the single good looking guys that find my dry humor charming. I also tend to take on the role of the girl friend (not girlfriend) with most of the guys I meet, meaning no chance for romance.

And that is where the Internet came to my aid. I’ve gone on 15 dates with 15 different guys since September. I’ve met a lot of great guys, had a lot of great (free!) meals and even broadened my music collection, thanks to suggestions made by different people from the site. And along with finding potential romantic matches, I’ve also made some decent friends.

So why are people being so secretive about this? It’s a lot of fun to meet people I never would have, but online dating isn’t for everyone. Just like not everyone is lucky to bump into a random person and form a romantic connection with them. But you shouldn’t judge before you join; it is not as weird as movies like Because I Said So make it out to be. Many people are on these sites because they miss being in a relationship but don’t have time or don’t know how to meet people randomly. Or they’re new to town. Or they too are over trying to find love over SoCo lime shots at the campus bar.

AND…isn’t online dating what any girl would want? It’s like online shopping, except there are really cute guys involved and you don’t have to pay for anything. You’ve literally got nothing to lose (either people will message you or they won’t) but a whole lot to gain; online dating has made me more assertive, given me better self-confidence and allowed me to truly flush out what it is I’m looking for.

So my advice? Don’t judge before you join. You never know who else could be out there, and online dating is a great way of testing the waters.

What do you think? Will you join?

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