I did the online dating thing once. Actually, I did it a couple of times.
The very first time was 10 years ago and it led to a long term relationship with the very first man I winked at - it was all about winking back then, instant messaging was too full on and it almost screamed desperado.
After a few wink exchanges we finally started messaging, despite my profile being the outline of a light grey faceless female with long wavy hair. I was too shy and nervous to post a photo as I didn't know what kind of creeps would be looking at me, or who I might bump into on the street or, God forbid, that a friend would see my profile and know I was a lonely single who couldn't get some in the pub like everyone else at university. Having a photo back then was also seen as being too keen, and it was usually something only the men did. Kind of like the first move.
This particular guy was a professional rugby player. It certainly wasn't love at first site but once we met, I realized he was a gentleman and the master of chivalry.
He courted me for weeks with surprise breakfasts, spontaneous dates and love notes that spelled out clues leading to treats hidden around the house. Super cute.
I decided I was going to marry this man.
Almost two years into what I thought was bliss, he dumped me. Over the phone. In the middle of my student exchange to New York. Friends saw him holding hands with another girl on the street. I was devastated. It was supposed to be the best time of my life, not the best time of my life tainted with bitterness, jealousy and crazy break up emotions.
I gave up on internet dating after that and fortunately I found that special someone through friends. You know, the old fashioned way.
However, I know people who are now in my historic high heels and I'm shocked to hear how online dating has developed in a decade.
Got a photo?
You are now seen as a weirdo if you don't have a photo. It's all about the photos. If you don't have one, you may not even show up in some people's searches. Yes, there are searches now to weed out those who are not your type because having an open mind is pointless, right? Some dating websites' main focus is photos and getting to know someone's personality comes second, if at all. How shallow have we become? Sure, attraction is important but picking your life partner through a photo is not dating, it is lazy window shopping at best. Whatever happened to not judging a book by its cover? Photos are just a tiny avenue to discovering a person, and they are probably not the most accurate.
Text then sex
There is no courting. There is hardly any dating. Nudda. It's all about getting straight to the point. Either you get in the sack or you quickly figure out if this person is marriage material and will they make a good mum or dad. Gone are the days of arranging romantic dates and taking the time to hear about each other's lives and dreams. Now, it is a text message containing incomplete sentences like "up 2?" and "I'm horni." Because there is nothing more sexy than a man with poor spelling and no knowledge of punctuation.
Instant messaging gets a new meaning
People are doing it on their phones. It is no longer an intimate moment in the privacy of each other's homes. People are searching on the bus, at cafes, at work and at 3am when the pub closes its doors. This means deep thought or careful consideration isn't going into conversations. Messages are being sent on a whim, possibly under the influence of alcohol and friends, and it just doesn't seem right.
Online dating has ditched the word romantic and replaced it with ruthless. It is no longer dating, but a game for many. As Patrice Bendig wrote, no-one even bothered to message her back when she tried online dating. As this experiment shows, people will ditch you if you're not exactly like your photo. What is wrong with a polite and honest, "thanks for the interest but I'm not sure we will be a match."
I'm sure there are some wins when it comes to online dating and I like to believe fairy tales aren't always fiction, but these websites shouldn't be called online dating anymore. It's online, but where is the dating?
This match making game is denting people's confidence, it's turning people into cold-hearted, shallow window shoppers and people are choosing their life long partners based on images. What does this mean for society and future generations?