It’s not embarrassing to meet a girl online. It’s embarrassing to meet a girl at a bar. Imagine knowing the only reason you have a girlfriend is because you met her when she was drunk and now she feels trapped. Tell that story to your 8-year-old son one day.
“How did you and mommy meet?”
“Well son, it was dollar shot night. Your mother looked so beautiful as the neon “Pabst Blue Ribbon” sign hit her while she was dancing on the bar. I got her to come down with a few shots of Jack Daniels, we went back to her place, one thing led to another, and that’s why your name is Jack.”
“Where do babies come from?”
A friend of mine said that dating on-line stopped being lame the first time a guy scored, because a guy can justify anything if it leads to women. But despite that and a study that says 17% of all couples meet online, there’s still a stigma attached to internet love. That same study only lists “work/school” and “friend or family member” as greater hook up potential. And many of the people who said one of those two were probably lying and really met online.
Whenever I hear a non-specific origin story about a couple, I assume they’re hiding an online love affair. Couples that meet through a friend will almost always volunteer the friend’s name. Couples that say “oh, friend of a friend” – well that friend’s name is probably Mark Zuckerberg.
I’m not just defending online dating because I met my wife on JDate – I had been using the internet to meet women since I was 15. As a high school kid tired of being ignored, I turned to Compuserve chat rooms to meet girls. I met one of my first “girlfriends” that way. And by “girlfriend” I mean “someone who I talked to on the phone for a month and never kissed.”
Compuserve was a few bucks per minute and existed before you could choose your own email address, so mine was twice as long as my phone number. But the principle that got 15-year-old me past (and to spend hundreds of dollars of my parents’ money) is also what drew me to JDate.
“But mom, I didn’t realize it was still connected!”
Simply put, I wanted to meet someone who could skip past the superficial and actually get to know me. Of course, I wanted that person to be hot, too.
“Captain Irony, your table is ready.”
Hot and not superficial are rare characteristics for one person to share, but they were both on my checklist. I wanted a match to have many, many characteristics, some of which I couldn’t discover if I was just approaching people in the offline world. Part of why people get so excited when they meet someone they think could be the one is the astronomical odds of doing so. Even if you meet someone at a bar, and even if you hit it off with that person, and even if you’re slick enough to get to the point in the conversation where you exchange numbers, there are still dozens of levels of compatibility that you haven’t even broached.
Online dating has tons of advantages over in-person meeting. First, everyone there is there for the same reason you are – to meet someone. A LOT of people at a bar are married and out with friends, just got out of serious relationships, or aren’t even interested in people of your gender. More importantly, you’re able to narrow down your matches before even speaking to any of them online, which you don’t have time to do at a bar. Online dating is much more methodical and scientific than offline.
And that’s where the stigma comes from – because there’s no cool factor. Online, you’ll never have a crazy origin of how you just bumped into each other, or how animal magnetism forced you to say hi. There’s just no story involving anyone who would eventually be played in a terrible romantic comedy by Kathryn Heigl and Hugh Grant.
I prefer using a more intelligent method to meet people, so I have never found anything wrong with using the web. But for anyone still worried that meeting their soul mate on a website might somehow reflect poorly on them, I offer this metaphor.
Let’s say you were offered a choice – a hundred million dollars to be an exec at Facebook or $5 an hour plus tips to work at a bar. Wouldn’t you happily tell everyone you made your millions online?