Finding love, a click away

Online dating becoming more acceptable for starting relationships

By: ALEX COOKE
@NotCookie

For Leena Godsoe, it was love at first click.

The 23-year-old Dalhousie University student began dating her boyfriend, Phil Parsons, after meeting on the dating site OkCupid almost two years ago. They’ve been living together for nine months.

Godsoe says she sometimes feels embarrassed to tell people how they met.

“I’m really good at making fun of myself, so I always switch to that mode when people ask how we met …. If you were to ask me if I think it’s embarrassing to do online dating, I’d say no, but yet I do have that response when someone asks me how we met.”

Online dating has been around almost as long as the Internet, and started gaining popularity in the early 2000s. Now, it’s becoming more and more commonplace.

According to a report in the Globe and Mail, Vancouver-based dating site PlentyOfFish surpassed 100 million users in 2015. OkCupid claims to have more than one million app installations per week. And Tinder, a mobile casual dating phone app, has made more than eight billion matches since it started in 2012.

But there’s stigma surrounding the world of online dating.

Pew, an American research institute, did a study in 2013 that showed how peoples’ opinions of people who meet online have changed over time.

In 2005, 29 per cent of the respondents said that they agree with the statement that people who do online dating are desperate. In 2013, the number fell to 21 per cent.

Godsoe turned to online dating because she is a self-described introvert who has difficulty meeting people.

“I didn’t get out that often, and when I did I didn’t know how to approach people … it’s really difficult to cross that line between, ‘I’m just talking to you’ and ‘I’m actually interested in pursuing something with you,’” she says.

“In online dating, it’s already there. That’s already the preset condition of you contacting that person.”

Danielle Muise, a 22-year-old medical administration student, joined OkCupid for similar reasons. She’s been doing online dating for a few years, and has had relationships with people she’s met through the Internet.

“If you’re shy like me and don’t go out and don’t see people, you can actually meet people who want the same thing.”

She’s been dating Van Nguyen, a 26-year-old pharmacy student at Dalhousie, for almost two years. She’s not embarrassed to tell people how they met.

“When people ask, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, we met online!’ and I get really excited about it, and I tell people because I’ve always done it and I’ve never been ashamed of it,” she says.“People think that people who are on there are super-desperate.”

While the stigma persists, online dating is becoming more accepted.

Godsoe says the main people the stigma hurts are those who don’t want to try online dating because of it.

For her, it doesn’t matter how you meet someone – as long as you’re happy together.

“I just feel like upholding a certain image of yourself, and not being embarrassed, and not looking desperate – when you compare that to making genuine connections with people, with finding someone that you can really get along with … is that not worth your sense of pride?”

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