8 Ways Online Dating Is Changing

15. October 2010

Remember the old embarrassing act of secretly logging into an online dating service, filling out a questionnaire and waiting impatiently only for the result to be “No Matches Found.” If there were any matches it was so far down the barrel that you would drown if you were bobbing for apples. Luckily, the internet is changing the idea of getting a date for everyone.

1. Missed Connections from Craigslist

Consensus will tell you that Craigslist is a breeding ground for pranks and scams, especially ‘missed connections,’ which has stuck around specifically for the pranks. Thankfully the up and downside of missed connections is that that the posts disappear forever after a certain amount of time. With those posts being deleted, so does your hope of ever finding that ‘girl in the red skirt at the hipster bar’ or ‘the funny guy wearing a John Deer shirt and flip-flops on campus.’

Luckily, there are some tools to help your missed connection be less sad and more artful, maybe even crossing over into the ‘endearing’ category. Artist, Sophie Blackall, takes well-written missed connections and paints them out with a uniquely beautiful touch on her blog. If you’re trying to get attention, take a similar route and make yours something to behold.

2. It’s Getting More Acceptable

I feel like this is mostly our resignation to the fact that the internet has left our muscles to a point of near-atrophy. According to this survey done by the Washington Post, an incredible 17% of married couples in the last three years have met online. Usually, the immediate benefits are there for those less charming than say a Brad Pitt and don’t have the exact dimensions of Jolie or Blanchet.


“They didn’t meet on the internet.”

According to “The Internet and Social Life” by John Bargh and Katelyn McKenna, it was discovered that a large number of people reported that they started a close relationship with their online date when they first met on the internet. On top of that, more than 50% of these daters moved from an e-relationship to a “legit” one; 25% became engaged, married, or lived together.

Finally here’s the kicker, McKenna and Bargh concluded that people who ‘met’ on the net ultimately enjoyed each other more than those who met face-to-face (bars, clubs, music shows) first. It’s official, you’re ruining your non-existent relationship by ‘meeting’ your future spouse in public first.

3. Virtual Dating

Imagine a brand new videogame for the biggest and best gaming console. You sit down, pick up the controller, and put on your headset. You dim the lights and turn your stereo system’s volume up. After putting in the disc, you load up an avatar made to look exactly like you (nothing new) but instead of shooting Nazi generals or killing dragons, you and your avatar are going on a romantic date.

The next step in online dating is “Virtual Dating” and has already begun development. Researchers Frost, Ariely and Harvard University’s Michael Norton did a study on people who were given a chance to socially interact in a virtual environment;(in this case a museum) during a virtual tour. They found that more successful face-to-face meetings occurred than those who just viewed profiles.

Imagine sitting down at a digital Parisian cafe. The digital graphics rendered are photo-realistic quality. It is an intimate setting, and one that even helps long distance relationships and first dates. Andrew Fiore, a doctoral candidate at the University of California has studied online dating. He has predicted that in only a few years, daters using this virtual reality will be able to add ‘physiological signs to the experience.’ One can only presume this includes the wash of dread when she flashes her smile to reveal a piece of cilantro stuck between her two front teeth.

4. Sexting (Sex Texting)

This unusual topic has its own Wikipedia. I warned you. Although it’s not technically online, it plays an enormous role in our lives, denying this could be denying our own culture. Without cell phones in today’s society, what relationship would be possible?


“What happens every time a call is dropped.”

The act of sexual texting is in fact illegal in some states depending on your age. Even then, in New Jersey and Florida the consequences of sending naked pictures from your shiny new IPhone or Droid phone with super clarity and high megapixels could ultimately result in jail time, felony charges, and having to register as a sex offender for 25 years.

A survey conducted by TRU, a global leader in research on teens and young adults had 1280 responses; from that 48% of teens and 64% of young adults reported that they received sexual texts. That’s a lot of kids and young adults that we need to reach. The only way we can make them understand is by creating an anti-sexting vampire in the next series of Twilight books. Anybody else have a better idea?

5. Ghostwriters / Date Outsourcing

Have you ever browsed a social networking site and saw a profile that literally blew you away with a perfect picture, perfect quotes, and perfect everything. Literally, this girl or guy is spot on for you. You have to contact this person with immediate action.

Well, turns out that profile was possibly created by Ghostwriters to draw you in. According to a CNN article, Virtual Web Assistance sites are now offering social networking ghostwriting. This means they sit down (with a price of anywhere between 4 to 100 dollars an hour, with a 30 dollar average, even a high end price can get you 2 dates a month guaranteed) to create and maintain your dating profile for you.

Think of it as your own personal Kim Cattrall.

“The most inappropriate picture of Cattrall was used for this article.”

This is a big-cost, big payoff type of deal. One of the ghostwriters, Scott Valdez stated, “When a guy is less attractive, [as long as]. . . he has a lot of other things going for him, he can still attract a woman.” Translation— money can buy even the fugliest dude love, which is a lesson we all learned from “Millionaire Matchmaker.”

6. Hybrid Dating

The scene— you’re in a bar, all alone but dressed to kill and across the room is a good-looking guy with shades and a button down long sleeve shirt. You’re thinking to yourself, “I gots to get me some of that.”

Your plan of attack is limited. Should you walk up and make a fool of yourself? Nah! Not you, the woman of modern hybrid dating. All you have to do is buy the guy a drink and send over a personalized dating card. The front of the card says a cute phrase like, “My heart is deeper than my wallet.” On the back of the card is a code and a reference to your profile.

If the potential prey isn’t completely creeped out from any physical or social interaction, it will bring him to your profile where he can send you a message. If you think this sounds amazing, it comes at a price of 25 big ones, but there isn’t a fee for your potential new boyfriend (or girlfriend.)

Of course, Ms. Cheek (the founder) probably stole the tactful approach from a second grader’s note that read, “Will you be my boyfriend? Circle yes or no.”

If this gets popular, it means big trouble for the giants at Match.com and eHarmony.com, who essentially run a monopoly on the ‘pay-to-date’ scene. Let’s cheer on Ms. Cheek for her audacity to challenge the system, no matter how absurdly forward her new approach may be.

7. Online Dating Scams

Have you been contacted by a Nigerian Prince lately? Probably not, but you’ve a higher chance if you’re part of an online dating site. Dating frauds are becoming more disguised, and for those who prey upon online daters, it is all about posing as your dream partner. This is a sad truth for some people, the scammers prey on individuals with a low self-esteem, a poor image or just the very lonely.

One such scammer sent a middle-aged woman Theresa Smalley, a box of chocolate candy, a teddy bear, and a balloon that said, “I love you.” And really, what woman can resist sentimental helium?

“This is like crack to woman.”

MSNBC’s story gives all the unfortunate details of Smalley’s story, as well as other sad tales. The pinnacle of the article is a quote from Donna Gregory whose job title is almost comically long –Supervisory Internet Crime Specialist of the FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center.

Gregory tells us, “We’ve even seen them take as long as a year [to seduce a mark]. Con artists will hunt for people’s weaknesses, find out what they care about and then go in for the kill.” So watch out for scammers!

8. Niche Dating Sites

The internet is taking huge leaps in favor of the fetish lovers. The “one” really does exist and they share your interest of whatever crazy fetish you’ve gotten into this week.
“Normalcy.”

Some niche sites even advertise that you should cheat on your real life spouse. AshleyMadison.com offers a ‘dating’ site for people already in a relationship and actually looking to find an affair. The world we were familiar with is crumbling, and not delicately.

But despite all the horrible internet car wrecks, there are a slew of amazingly great ideas out there; There are dating sites for Geeks and those with hearing impairment, even three sites specifically for rich people— millionaire match, wealthy men, and millionaire mate.

The online dating culture is a large one. People are impossibly hopeful about finding their true love, their true fling, or true affair over an impersonal and sometimes unfathomable distance. It is this hope, this optimistic traversing that has made online dating of the largest social networks on the planet. Ranging from countries to continents, to unique sub-groups and cult-like niches, online dating has worked its way into our culture. So keep dating and keep looking forward, because the internet isn’t going to stop.

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