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Successful Online Dating: Proving the Stigma Wrong

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

As proven by reality shows like MTV’s “Catfish,” churning out content season after season, online dating is becoming more and more common.

Spencer Downing, a senior in human development and family studies, and Ryan McGinnis, 22, met in July on the dating app Plenty of Fish. In December, McGinnis and Downing moved in together and currently reside in a place of their own with their cat.

“I was sick of going to frat parties and meeting guys like that,” Downing said, when asked why she first downloaded POF. “Plus, there were no guys in any of the classes in my major.”

According to Downing, she had been messaging McGinnis for two days before they met in person for their first date. Downing said she made it “official” with McGinnis over text, when he asked her to be his girlfriend.

“If you and the other person connect, online dating moves faster,” McGinnis said. “You can get a summary of a person before you start talking to them and weed out the red flags. In two minutes, you can get to know two months’ worth of information.”

Honesty is key because it makes no sense to talk yourself up in your profile and then disappoint your date when you finally meet face-to-face, according to McGinnis. It is unwise to send something in a message unless it is something you would say in person, McGinnis said.

“You know more about personal preferences, like, ‘I prefer not to be kissed until I’m married,’” Downing said. “It’s less awkward if you don’t have to try and figure that out when you’re telling your partner goodbye for the night.”

Use whatever site works for you, Downing said. It is most effective when you list accomplishments and anecdotes in your bio, not just personality traits, such as “I like long walks on the beach,” according to Downing.

“Online dating works,” McGinnis said. “Yeah, you won’t find your perfect man or perfect woman within two hours of setting up your account. Keep up with it, but don’t be on it all day.”

According to McGinnis, it is really not that much better to meet somebody in a bar because nobody walks away from those interactions thinking, “That person is telling me 100 percent of the truth.”

Downing said the same thing, that you have as much a chance of meeting a liar at a bar as you do online, and you can run a background check on your significant other if safety is a concern. According to Downing, she feels stigmatized when she tells people how she and McGinnis met.

“Both our profiles were family-oriented and we both knew, coming into this, that we wanted something serious, not a casual hookup,” Downing said. “I’m glad we met online because we wouldn’t have otherwise met in person. I never thought I’d move in with a guy.”

The Statistics of Online Dating

According to the findings in a 2013 Pew Research Center report, published April 2014 in The Gazette:

  • 21 percent of respondents on an Internet poll agreed that “People who use online dating sites are desperate” (this was 29 percent back in 2005)
  • One in 10 American adults has used an online dating site
  • 38 percent of single people actively looking for a partner have used an online dating site
  • 23 percent of online daters met a spouse or long-term partner through a dating site

This article was produced for College Avenue’s Love, Sex, and Relationships issue.

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