You know it’s legit when you have to create a password for it

I had an interesting conversation with a friend over the past week (one of those ongoing email conversations that lasts several days…I love those) about online dating. I’ve been chewing on this topic for a long, long time, so I was surprised–and glad–when this friend brought it up, seemingly out of the blue. Sometimes I internalize things so much I can’t talk about them anymore. It’s good to be forced to bring certain thoughts out into the open, to give them some air as it were.

I have a knee-jerk reaction against online dating. Everything in me recoils at the very idea.

I have some (at least semi-) rational reasons for this:

  •  I hate feeding that 21st-century need to interpose a screen between myself and every new situation. We hunt for jobs online, we collect and keep friends online, we shop online,mustwe begin our romantic encounters there, too?
    • I think it also feeds the 21st-century insistence on immediacy. I want romance in my life and want it now. I’ll do an internet search and voila! It’s something we all do. Need an answer to a question? Want to know the weather? Buy a raincoat? Find a job? Discover a new hobby? Search for it online. It’s not all bad, I grant you, but there should be limits. In desperation I once punched into Google: ‘What should I do with my life.’ I’m not sure what was worse: the fact that I asked the question, or the plethora of answers it turned up (none of them relevant). The point is, we can’t use the internet for everything. We just can’t.
  • I rarely like people in person whom I met first online–especially if I like them online. No internet profile can tell you, “This person uses a peculiar laundry detergent and smells funny,” “He has bad breath,” or “He has this maddening habit of cracking his knuckles.” It doesn’t matter how well the guy writes, if the actual chemistry ain’t there, it ain’t there…and there’s no way to know that until you meet him. Which can only happen after you’ve been in touch and established some sort of emotional connection, however slight. Had you met said guy in person, you could’ve said off the bat, “Eh, not for me.” It just seems like a healthier way to go about it. Now I grant you, the emotional connection factor doesn’t seem to be as big a deal for guys, but it is a big deal for us ladies. Regardless of the level of physical attraction, a girlwill be somewhat dejected when the conversations suddenly come to an end: when she’s no longer being pursued. It’s a fact of our nature.
  • I’m extremely uncomfortable with the idea of creating my own profile. In particular, that awful “about me” section. It’s so one-dimensional. Let me tell you what I know about myself, so you and my self-image can decide if we’d actually get along.

I also have some admittedly not-so-rational reasons for my dislike:

  • What could be less romantic than meeting the love of your life via internet search? I’m not a sentimentalist by any means, but that goes so directly contrary to every good Jane Austen/L.M. Montgomery/Louisa Mae Alcott novel I was raised on, I just can’t stomach it.
  • Only people who can’t make friends in real-life situations date online. (Disclaimer: I know this to be patently untrue. Many very outgoing, fun, delightful people in my acquaintance happen to have profiles on online dating sites. But my gut reaction remains the same, and I have a hard time shaking it.)
  • I revolt against the intentionality of the dating website. This, I grant you, is a personal problem and one I’m trying to overcome.  Still, I think (especially for girls) there’s a very big difference between being open to new relationships in a general way, and being so open you create a profile for yourself and pay a monthly subscription to be pursued by like-minded men.

Those are some of my thoughts, in a rough and not-at-all-organized way, on online dating. I could post for days on this and related topics, and in fact I probably will.

Here’s what I’m not saying about online dating:

  • I do not see any necessarily moral problems with online dating, though of course there can be (as with all things).
  • I do not think online dating sites should be abolished, or that all people should get off said sites. Date away! More power to you! But I do think that those who date online have to be extra vigilant…and the ladies need to take special care to guard their hearts and emotions. “Do not stir up or awaken love until it please.” Knowing myself as I do, I know that online dating would be very bad for me emotionally, so I steer clear. Other women have more level heads than I, and don’t mind taking the pragmatic approach. (My lovely sister is a great example of this—and she even keeps  a blog about her online dating experiences, where she talks about the need to be practical and balanced in your approach. You should check it out…)

That said, what are your thoughts, oh readers? I’ve heard so many arguments for online dating, my head spins with them. I’m not really looking to be persuaded one way or the other, so please: no arguments, at least not here. We can duke it out in person. Here, I would like to hear your personal experience with the issue, whether you’ve dated online or opted not to, if you’re willing to share.



4 thoughts on “You know it’s legit when you have to create a password for it

  1. My view on it is pretty pragmatic: it’s a way to meet people. The less you put yourself out there and find or even create opportunities to meet “like-minded men,” the less reason you have to complain when you don’t meet any–and this clearly doesn’t just apply to online dating websites. When you think about it, almost ANY avenue through which you could meet Catholic guys is less than ideal in some way; you just pick the ones you can stand and do as many as you think prudent.

  2. While I haven’t personally dated online (I met my husband before I got around to that!), I know a lot of people who have. My brother met my sister-in-law on AOL Catholic Chat, before online dating even existed. One of my closest friends met her husband on Ave Maria Singles. Another good friend met her husband on Catholic Match. I also know people who aren’t a fan of online dating, and others who have tried online dating, with limited sucess.

    What I take away from all this is similar to what Sylvia said. Online dating is another way to meet people. It has its strengths and weaknesses just like other avenues do. You’ve already pointed out some of the weaknesses…the intangibles about a person that you simply don’t know until you’ve met them in person. But on the other hand, online dating might also allow you to get to know a person’s beliefs, priorities, and dreams faster than conventional dating (and possibly before there is a physical attraction), which may allow you to meet more people that would be potential long term fits. I know this was the case in my brother and sister-in-law’s situation, where they spent a long time talking about matters of faith and priorities before they even met. Yet, on the other hand, this, too has its dangers, because you can run the risk of falling in love with a person who you only know on paper, before you’ve met that person in person.

    One more thought on this topic. D.C. is increadibly blessed with 3 large, vibrant dioceses, with active young adult groups, and many like-minded, young adults out there. It’s relatively easy to meet other young adult Catholics. Not all areas of the country are like this. In some places, it’s difficult to meet someone your ago who is both an active Catholic and believes all the teachings of the church (never mind whether they have anything in common with you). Online dating may be welcome gift for those who come from these areas and want to meet a faithful Catholic, without having to traverse the country in order to do so.

  3. My perspective is as one who has come at this several ways. I have tried a few different sites, timidly, and on and off at different times in my life, when I wasn’t interested in any of my acquaintances or when I lived alone in a strange place and just wanted a friend. I’ve tried long distance, or only communicating with people I could meet in person. Being open to all kinds of folks or searching only based on criteria I tried to guess was my “ideal.” I’d even tried opening myself up to dating cafeteria Catholics, or women with kids. (Fewer diaper changes in my future is appealing, let me tell you.) My approach was always an attempt to merely give my profile the basic 411 about me and encourage the rest to come out over lunch or coffee, or just be friends first, but I did try being light-hearted or straightforward, or just “normal” (whatever that is), rewriting my profile diligently every so often. I wasn’t wife hunting per se, and never wanted to come across that way, which is one thing that irks me by just being on a dating site. However, the two biggest problems I have with online dating are these:

    1) It seems the people you hit it off with or develop a mutual interest with are never nearby. Which most often leads to things petering off.

    2) You are right; meeting online is not romantic at all. Bleh.

    2.5) It also can make you feel like you might be desperate sometimes.

    Aside from that, I’m also not convinced there isn’t something wrong with most of the people who have to resort to going online, in some way or another, that sets them apart from the rest of the populace who meet in person. Sure, you can show me many examples of that not being the case, and despite my diving headlong into it at some point and not being self-conscious about it, I always ended up feeling weird about it eventually.

    And so, that is why I don’t do it no mo’.

    Besides, I think a real man boldly goes where few men dare to go. And that’s right up to a woman to say hello.

    That being said, I do enjoy the adventures of the dating blog you have linked on your own, it helps me pass the time of day more interestingly when I finish my work too early.

    Unrelated: I also feel the need to criticize those who clearly think about it or bring it up but never try it.

  4. I tried two online dating sites, about a year apart. First one was that annoyingly advertising company who promised to use something like a “13 point system to match you to ‘compatible people’.” eHarmony, I finally remember. I didn’t meet anyone, not a single date in a 6 month subscription. I think I only got like 2 messages total! That was a total waste of $30 I think…

    A year later I tried, I had more luck there and did go on a couple of dates. I met one interesting person that I spent some time with, but it didn’t work out. On average, I found the quality of people I met through young adult events and at my parish to be higher than the random people that ‘liked my profile’ online. This was my experience.

    Also, after some time of getting no messages and wondering why, I spent time looking at other profiles of men. I seemd to sorta be on the bottom half and it hurt my self esteem a little. I looked at guys who were more handsome, had cooler sounding job titles, had travelled more than I, read more interesting sounding books, etc. After a while I just sorta gave up even checking the online dating sites because it usually did not provide a lot of positivity to me.

    I always thought it would be different for girls, because I think it still is (though less so now) more guys that girls on those sites. So, any girl’s odds are a little better than mine to recieve messages and correspond with more than one guy.

    I agree, it all seems a little forced, but if you think your vocation is dating and marriage, you do have to work at it a little. Everything you pursue in life, jobs, friends, material goods, and vocations require a little bit of ‘forcing’. There is almost always some sort of uncomfortable situation before acheiving what you are striving for.

    I wish everyone a fulfilling and abundantly graceful Lent!

    (oh, and btw, I met my wonderful wife at a parish Young Adult Holy Hour 😉

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