Eyes lock across a crowded room. The world stops as you spot him (or her) and you just know – right then and there – that this previously unknown person is the one you’re meant to be with. Music swells as you approach one another and witty banter continues throughout the night. The rest of the world disappears and suddenly you realize you’re the only ones left at the bar/party/eating establishment/café. You part with many promises of meeting again. The typical Hollywood “meet cute” has just occurred.
When you’re getting married it seems that everyone inevitably asks “How did you meet?” And, clearly, they all expect something along the lines of what I mentioned above. I get it – how cool is that sort of story, right? It totally validates you as a couple and makes a great tale for the future grandkids. And sure, my fiancé and I have many, many adorable stories about our romance. Sometime I’ll tell you about the prophecy foretold to us on our second date and you’ll be “awww”ing and saying “that’s so sweet” liberally throughout that tale. However, the story of how we met – I mean, actually, originally learned of each other’s existence – is no such cutesy-pie anecdote. Quite simply, we met online.
I don’t really know what it is about meeting in this way that still, in today’s world of social media and smart phones, has such a stigma associated with it. Is the fact that you met your life partner at a bar or work or through a blind date set up by a friend of a friend (of a friend) really a more valid way to do things? Based on the reaction I get from so many people when I tell them that I met my future husband on Match.com (which I have later learned is not considered as reputable as a site such as eHarmony, which chooses your mate for you based on 190,352,034 different variables of compatibility. Because, of course, a computer picking who you should date is more legitimate than choosing for yourself), there is still the widely held belief that you only meet serial killers and socially impaired, unemployable nerds with thick glasses and Spock t-shirts online.
But here’s the truth – I met the love of my life after less than a week of online dating.*
*Okay, so this is the part in the commercials that would have that little disclaimer that reads “Results not typical.” I have many friends who met their significant other online (and all of them seem to be well adjusted non-axe murderers) and I don’t think any of them did it quite that quickly. But, nonetheless, you can’t argue with results. After all, these sites give you easy access to thousands of singles in your area who are looking to meet someone else as well. Chances are that at least one of them will spark some sort of interest in you.
Compared to spending every weekend getting all dressed up and going to bars where you strain to hear bad pick-up lines between deafening techno beats, setting up an online dating profile is easy. You write a little about yourself, post a few photos and click some easy to understand boxes like “age,” “political views,” “smoking habits,” “religion,” “pets,” “hobbies,” etc. and you’re done. In my case all I did was post my bio one night after work and shut down the computer. The next morning I logged on to find 84 new messages waiting for me. Okay, some of them were not so clever one-liners and comments about my appearance. And, worse still, there’s a button that’s similar to the “Like” feature on Facebook that allows you to show interest in someone without saying anything at all (because I am interested in dating a guy who can’t even think of one single sentence to write me). However, I almost feel like those stupid comments and “likes” were equivalent to what one finds while prowling the bar scene. Instead, most of the guys who wrote to me on Match were, in fact, nice enough guys who made an earnest effort to talk to me (and I could actually hear them, not to mention judge them on their spelling and grammar). And, better yet, you can tell pretty quickly who you have legitimate things in common with and who seems to be less your speed – it’s all there in their profile.
And, unlike meeting someone in person, rejection is super easy. You don’t have to tell them to their face, you can just ignore their message. Which is what I did 99% of the time. In the end of one week I had hundreds of guys who expressed interest (and, better yet, I didn’t even initiate contact with anyone at all – I only spoke with people who reached out to me. That little “new” symbol they put next to your profile when you sign up is like a homing beacon that alerts guys that there’s new blood on the site and they take that opportunity to pounce). All I had to do was pick the ones I wanted to meet in person. How perfect is that? It’s window shopping at its finest, with lots and lots of options. Because, let’s be honest, when was the last time you got asked out that many times in one week? And, if you had that much interest, would you settle for going out for that excessively sweaty guy at your gym in the ultra-tight shorts who talks with a heavy lisp?
In total I went out on three first dates, two second dates, and a whole bunch of dates with one particularly handsome and charming professor after that. But, if you think that’s the end of the story – girl goes online, girl picks a guy out of a few hundred options, they have great dates and live happily after – then you’ve definitely been watching too many rom coms. It didn’t quite go quite that simply between us. In truth, after meeting online we did not start dating – that didn’t happen for another year or so ... actually I have Facebook to thank for getting us together. Hey, we’re real people here – and that’s how real love stories start. Nonetheless, we’d happily agree to be featured as a success story in a commercial. After all, Match.com has lead to more relationships and more marriages than any other site – or so it says on tv, and tv never lies.