Sometimes looking for love takes a back seat these days-especially with demanding schedules that include working long hours and furthering educational goals. While technology is a very large factor in causing people stay so busy, it's also helping people connect more, even in the romantic sense.
Not every person who dates online is as horribly geeky as Napoleon Dynamite's brother Kip-there are some cool geeks out there just waiting for you to meet them. In fact, more than forty million Americans have tried online dating at one time or another and some have walked away very happy.
"My wife refuses to let me try it. Go figure." Bryan C Webb, technical marketing professional from Ontario Canada
Though different people swear by certain online dating websites, the number one free online dating website in the U.S., U.K. and Canada is Plentyoffish.com, run by CEO Markus Frind. Since its 2003 launch, the site has grown by word of mouth to more than 13 million page views each day. According to Frind, there's always a jump in site traffic between the day after Christmas through the Wednesday after Valentine's Day, as well as just before Thanksgiving. Singles tend to join the site around family-related holidays-anytime they're reminded of being single, Frind says.
The mastermind behind this website, Frind claims anyone in his position has to be a romantic after reading so many happy stories from users who've met someone great on his site. "It's part of the reward of doing this site," he says. (Frind, however, met his own girlfriend offline.)
Denver-based Jon Freeman, however, chose to use an online dating website to as a platform to increase his chances of finding a suitable person.
"I was a two time 'loser' having used less than intelligent methods to find the 'right person' and figured I needed a better process-the Web gave me just that ability (I know, so romantic)," Freeman says. "I'd tried other sites and even online personals, but in the end I went for the site with the most people on it to increase my odds on finding the perfect one."
While using Matchmaker.com, Freeman realized that the "percent match function" wasn't helping him so he made some minor changes-his favorite color turned from orange into blue and his pet lizard became a dog-which actually helped him meet his future wife. Within a year of their initial online connection, Freeman got married. "We finish each others sentences and rarely argue or fight. We are very much in love with each other," Freeman says, still satisfied with his online dating experience.
Brad Thomas, from Kentucky, met his wife through instant messaging and agrees that there isn't any special recipe for meeting people online. "I've never used a dating site or agency. So I think online "dating" encompasses a whole lot more than just eHarmony, virtual worlds etc. You don't need a virtual meeting "place" as such, just a mode of communication."
Thomas-who met his sweetheart in the U.S., invited her to the U.K. with him, proposed in Paris and now lives with her in the U.S.-isn't afraid to go the extra mile for love.
But even for those that never meet their love interest in person, some, like Jared Ubriaco from Florida, find online relationships rewarding. In 2007, Ubriaco was an online gaming fanatic, and after regularly playing World of Warcraft (WOW) for a few months, he realized he didn't know anything about the other online gamers, especially one female player in particular.
"Sometimes we had this mind connect," Ubriaco says about his relationship with the female player. After the two players began talking during game play, they realized they hit it off and kept in touch for more than a year while Ubriaco worked in the States and she taught English overseas.
Normal people write letters and talk on the phone, but we kept in touch through voice chat rooms and e-mails, Ubriaco says, adding that they also sent small presents to each other for holidays and birthdays. The two were, in a sense, dating.
However, after she returned home to the States, they lost touch for a few months before he found her on World of Warcraft again. Though they've still never met in person, they keep in touch through e-mail and he's been invited to visit her in Washington.
While technology is streamlining how we meet others, sustaining a long term relationship with someone only online is tough. At some point, signing offline and meeting up for a cup of coffee is a much needed next step.
Just remember, to get to the coffee phase, make sure your Internet connection is strong enough so you don't accidentally sign off in the middle of a getting-to-know you conversation or your potential love muffin might get miffed.
This story, "Dating 2.0: Looking for Love in All the Online Places" was originally published by CIO.