By Lauren Roth, Spring 2011
It seems that online dating has taken over the way people meet one another. With this in mind, I have become increasingly interested in the opinions my friends, acquaintances, and colleagues have about this method of hooking up. While being a graduate student can put a lot of strain on a romantic relationship, it seems even more challenging to start one while working on a doctorate. Being single for about six months now, I have often wondered what the online dating world looks like. It’s not easy meeting people when you’re always busy. I'm sure many people reading this article can relate.
While searching for the general consensus students have about the online dating scene, people gave an array of opinions, though mostly positive. A typical response was something like, “Well, a friend of mine had a good experience using an online dating site, but I've never tried it.” Ok, yeah, sure you haven’t.
The truth is, using the Internet to meet people is a pretty mainstream way of “getting back out there.” In fact, by some estimates, online dating is now larger that the pornography industry. I also discovered that a whopping 44% of the people in this country are single and there are currently over 40 million active online dating accounts in the U.S. That’s a lot of fish to choose from. Why not have them all available at your fingertips? If you are a single student and have tried the dating websites before, then you have your own opinion already. If not, I’ll let you know what others have found.
One student at Alliant uses a free site called OkCupid.com. She loves it and has a new date just about every week or two, she said. Another person I spoke with said she met her boyfriend of three years using Yahoo Personals, which is also free. Several people at my practicum site mentioned that they know friends who started a family with someone they initially met online. In fact, of the 20 people I spoke to about their experiences with online dating, most of them had an average of three friends who had a positive experience.
Many websites are oriented toward personal demographics, such as sexual orientation, religion, or golddiggers (for lack of a better word). Some of the top rated websites are OkCupid.com, Match, eHarmony, and Jdate (a site for Jewish singles). The cost per month varies from free to about $60.
If you think it's time to meet someone you've met online in person, it's safe to meet in a public place and to Google them first. It’s alright to be a little stalkerish.
So, if school has you stressed and feeling like you might need a boost into the dating world, start browsing and go get 'em. Your other half might be waiting on the other side of the screen.