I notice this guy. He’s really cute – blonde hair, blue eyes, a general dreamboat. He says he’s a lobbyist. I like that. It means he’s intelligent and can interact with all different kinds of people in both social and professional settings. He’s slightly older than I am. But that’s ok. He gives me his number and says he wants to take me to lunch some day – we work near each other. So I meet him for a burrito later that week and we hit it off. So we make another date.
This sounds familiar. It’s a pretty normal, everyday situation.
Yeah, I met him on OkCupid.com.
Online dating sites like OkCupid and Plenty of Fish that cater specifically to Millennials have soared in popularity in the past few years, and the trend shows no signs of abating. Even more traditional sites like Match and EHarmony have harnessed this demographic. It’s pretty simple. Gen Y loves online dating.
According to website audience profiler Quantcast, 18-34-year-olds make up a significant amount of users (between 30 and 45 percent) on those sites. And OkCupid even takes it up a notch to compete for Gen Y attention with an accessible user interface, fun quizzes and questions, and an official blog that explains the data that OkCupid compiles as advice for how to get noticed on the site of 1.2 million users.
The online creeper persona has (mostly) dissipated. I have a lot of friends – normal ones – who have found great, long-term relationships online, and those that have dated around, as well those who have the occasional one-night fling. But I don’t know anyone personally that has had an overwhelmingly negative experience with online dating in general. (Although, I have heard some horror stories – people do still lie on the Internet. It’s an imperfect world.)
Everything in our lives is online now, so it was only a matter of time before the Internet became a veritable virtual singles bar.
The major difference being, of course, is that when you’re out in the real world, it can be totally hit or miss. It’s difficult to meet people that you even have anything in common with, let alone the entire package.
But the dating websites take the guesswork out of it – without totally removing the fun, exciting, mystery part of honestly getting to know someone.
With matching by percent of things you’re looking for in another person, combined with your own personality traits, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. And it becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet of choices. Do you pick the sensitive, bad-boy musician? Or the preppy law student? What about the slam poet?
But besides making it easier to meet people, online dating has become so popular because real world dating has changed drastically, even since the early aughts.
A stereotypical dinner-and-a-movie first date can cost upwards of $100 these days. Who has that kind of money to spend on someone they may end up not wanting to see again? Not I, that’s for sure.
Purdue University’s student newspaper recently published an article about college students using online dating sites. The consensus there was that if you live in a college town, surrounded by peers, there’s no reason to be online looking for a date.
Amy Listermann, a senior, said, “I feel like in this environment and at this time, there’re so many available people, that I don’t need to branch out onto the online area.”
But what about those who don’t live in small college towns, or who have graduated and aren’t surrounded by datable people?
“A few years ago I thought that online dating was only for people who were either desperate or just old, but I was wrong,” wrote Jenny LaVelle, one of the authors of The Mad Grad blog. “None of my friends that had tried it out developed a relationship from the experience, but they did get out and meet a lot of interesting people.”
It works. At least it has for me.