In Defence of Internet Dating.

Maybe I’m not very romantic. But maybe that’s because a lot of ‘romance’ seems to involve a relinquishing of power and control. That’s why I love internet dating. Although it’s definitely, definitely losing its stigma, a lot of people are still weirded out by it.  It feels like it’s ok for me to do it, but the idea that they might do it is tragic, hilarious and kind of gross.

The truth is, I just don’t meet people in real life. I mean, yes, I meet people, but we’re almost in November now, and I have not met one single person in 2012 in everyday real life that I could realistically have had a romantic or sexual relationship with. I have not met anyone this year who was available, with whom there was a spark. Not one person. (If you know me and you know this to be untrue, please remind me because I really honestly cannot think of anyone)

So I look at dating and relationships and sex a bit like I look at employment: I don’t sit around waiting for someone to offer me a kickass job. I think about the kind of job I want, then I go look for it and I apply for it and I see if it works out. That’s especially how I view and value internet dating. It allows people to represent themselves as they wish, and then I can assess what they want me to know about them and see if I think it would be worth meeting. Now, I have the added bonus of being on OkCupid, which I consider to be the greatest of all dating sites because a) it’s completely free b) there are loads of hotties of all genders c) it has uses pretty sweet and reliable algorithms to determine the compatibility of each member with every other member.

I sort of ‘mated for life’ with OkCupid, and don’t feel the need to try any other sites because I’ve had such great results, but that means when I talk about ‘internet dating’ I’m really just talking about OkCupid.

It’s not always good, and I don’t always fancy them, but honestly, if you want to make yourself feel better about not doing it by telling yourself the internet is exclusively populated by weirdos and rapists then be my guest. But it just ain’t true (the first time I went home with one man, he told me he had an enhanced CRB check so he probably wasn’t going to murder me. He didn’t murder me.). Pretty much every time I go somewhere interesting, like a gig by an artist I like, or Unskinny Bop, or the anarchist bookfair, I see people I recognise off OkCupid. It’s a hive for people who are into cool stuff, and because of the matching algorithms, it’s highly likely that if you’re into one cool thing, you’ll end up matched highly with someone who also likes that cool thing. How much I like someone is often dependent on how good they are on Twitter, and most people who are really good on Twitter are also on OkCupid.

The best thing about internet dating is the ability to be extremely uncompromising with what information you give people straight away. For a nonmonogamous person it’s especially useful because you can be upfront about your nonmonogamous status. Unfortunately it’s a dealbreaker for some, so it’s nice to be able to filter out those people that, realistically, you just don’t want to be meeting romantically. Personally, I don’t want to meet anyone who isn’t a feminist, so I make my feminist-ness prominent on my profile. I don’t want people to contact me if they’re solely monogamous, so I say that you should only contact me if you’re into nonmonogamy. I have a full-length photo of me so if they hate fat people, then they don’t message me. I make it clear that I Am An Internet Person so if they’re going to be all icky about meeting someone from the internet, then they should probably talk to someone else. I’m upfront about the fact that, among other things, I’m interested in casual sex. In some cases, things that it’s extremely difficult to scope out in someone you’ve first met in real life before it’s too late, and things that I’m really grateful I can screen people for.

If you want to tell me it takes the ‘magic’ out of meeting someone, I’ll tell you that a one-night-stand with a cute Norwegian who’s only in town for the weekend is kind of magic. But more to the point: of all the people I’ve had great dates with, of all the people I’ve had sustained romantic relationships or sexual encounters with, I wouldn’t have met any of them in real life. Our social circles are just so different. They’re generally a lot older than me, and/or socialise in different ways to me, and/or are from different parts of town to me. But the internet was able to bring us together for mutual enjoyment/fucking/whatever.

It would be kind of cool if I didn’t just meet all my romantic/sexual partners on OkCupid so, er, if I know you IRL and you want to ask me out then please do that. But I’m kind of at peace with the fact that the internet is my medium. Although it’s a bit dry at the moment and I feel like I’ve exhausted the men of OkCupid (literally and metaphorically) and the women never like me very much anyway, I still have hope that the pool will refill itself.

Not gonna lie, I think it’s kind of cool that my boyfriend and I were brought together by a robot.

Image taken from Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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6 thoughts on “In Defence of Internet Dating.

  1. I have to appreciate this post as a whole. My senior year of college, I met my (now) husband on OkCupid. When I told my friends that I was dabbling with internet dating, I got responses like “are you that desperate?” or “omg, that’s gross”. And then when my hopelessly single friends would complain to me, I would tell them to try OkCupid (because really, PlentyOfFish is a cesspool of ick).

    There is still quite a stigma about online dating, but I don’t think there should be. Before I met my husband, I went on dates (see: casual sex haha) with a handful of men. It was kind of fun to get to know a lot of different personality types, all the while learning what worked for me and what didn’t. How is that a negative experience? To me, it’s not.

    Anyways, I was just stopping by, but loved your post 🙂

  2. I’ve never seen anything wrong with internet dating. I met Aaron in real life but the boyfriend before I actually met on MySpace (!) which is a total lol but also totally how I roll. I have friends from LiveJournal and blogging and Twitter… I don’t see why I couldn’t have dates from the internet, too!

  3. Love this post. I’m going to read it over a few more times and hope that my ‘icky’ feeling towards internet dating (which I have tried and now can’t stand the thought of because of embarrassment) will fade, so that I might try again and feel at peace with it. Thanks, Bethany! xxx

  4. Its only recently I have started admitting to people that DD & I met online. We use to answer coyly “oh we met through friends” and I hated that as we have NO FRIENDS. Someone at uni mentioned how compatible we are and when I openly said we met online, all of them recoiled in horror and told me how dangerous it is or could have been. DD always says meeting someone in a bar totally off yr face drunk is worse and I’m inclined to agree.

    Like you, my POF page pretty much put out there what I am like as a person; I said I was pretty much “straight edge”, I didn’t do one night stands and I had a full length photo of myself so if they didn’t like boobs and ass then they could jog on.

    I love Internet dating. It enabled me after a shit relationship to actually be in control and look for what I wanted.

  5. I love Internet dating. However it’s only since recently that DD and I have actually started admitting to people how we met; we use to answer coyly “oh through friends…” which I hated. Someone at my uni remarked how good we were together so I said we met online and was met with shock and horror! One person actually told me off about the danger I put myself in and that anything could have happened. DD always says that meeting someone in a bar, drunk off yr face in more dangerous.

    My profile read like yours and it was basically a “take me or leave me” approach. I said I was pretty much straight edge, wasn’t into one night stands and had a full length photo so they could see I was boobs and bum.

    Internet dating gave me the option of actually being in control and choosing what I wanted after a horrific past relationship. Go Internet dating! 

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