I Can Explain… Online Dating

In a world filled with nearly eight billion people, with technology that connects us all, why does it remain so hard for so many people to find somebody to love? The truth is we all live within our bubble of friends and family and meeting new people is a challenge not easily accomplished without the aid of blind dates and/or alcohol. Thus, to compensate, the internet has given us a tool to meet strangers in a hypothetically “safer” way. But are there really plenty of fish in the online sea or is it all a waste of a good fishing rod? No need to bait your hook just yet… I can explain!

If you’re looking for an online dating site, you have quite a selection to choose from. There are a variety of pay sites like Match.com, eHarmoney.ca, and lavalife.com. Though there are issues with these sites as browsers and members often have trouble communicating and it may be hard to differentiate the two. There are also free sites like PlentyofFish.com, which I can speak to more specifically.

When you first register on Plenty of Fish (PoF), you’ll be asked to fill in your profile as well as a short questionnaire. In the profile you’ll answer generic questions like name, age, height, body type, and hair color; then there are some biographical questions like if you have children, your religious affiliation, if you drink or do drugs, and your job and education level. You’ll also have to write a brief biography describing yourself. Most are short and a solid percent start with some version of: “I hate writing about myself, but…”

Once you have a profile, you’re ready to go! You can search for people based on how they answered their generic and biographical questions or you can let PoF narrow your search to people they think you’ll get along with. Once you find someone that peaks your interest, just send a message and hope for a response. You can see who has looked at your profile and who has read your messages. As well, you can limit the people who message you based on age, gender, marital status, intentions, and other variables.

In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson broadcasts his cell phone number to the world at the Super Bowl. As a result, his cell phone rings off the hook with women calling for dates. That is PoF for women sometimes: many messages, all of the time, mainly generic, and many inappropriate. For men, it’s a bit different with (like in real life) the expectation falling on the man to make the first move.

However there are success stories. My sister is dating a boy from PoF, my ex-girlfriend is engaged to someone she met on the site, and a close friend is now happily married to her online love connection. So who’s to say meeting a stranger at a book store is any better than meeting someone over your browser? Perhaps, the future of dating is online. If you’re comfortable with it, take these sites for what they are: a way to get out of the bubble and meet some new people. If you find a shark, just throw him or her back and keep on fishing. And if you’re not sure what someone means when they ask “ASL?”, well… I can explain!

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