Can you meet ‘the one’ on the internet? Our readers say yes!
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Online daters can be seen as a pool of misfits that have been shunned by society and are attempting their ‘last shot’ at finding love. Well, not anymore.
When I first told my mum I'd downloaded a dating app she gave me a puzzled look and quietly muttered: 'Why? You're not a weirdo?'
Having been married for over 25 years, it's safe to say that my mum didn't meet my dad online - it's a world she will probably never understand. So, like many, she had adopted the belief that dating apps were for losers and rejects, and quite frankly, people who are desperate.
I believe the complete opposite.
Life is like a box of chocolates and indulging in online dating is like discovering an extra layer - in the form of potential partners, of course. A world of people you'd probably not normally meet (agreed, some for the better) are only a swipe away, meaning you can sort the frogs from the princes and princesses quickly and easily.
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Placing your fate in your thumb as you vigorously swipe right - with the occasional left - can feel like a thoughtless, vain way of choosing your next companion. But in very blasé terms, it gets the job done.
Meeting someone in real life is a dying art. Gone are the days where you'd lock eyes with a handsome stranger at a mutual friend's party, or where the spouse of your dreams would magically appear as you drop a pile of books.
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Stories like my grandparents' - who met while working in a strawberry field as my grandmother came to the aid of my injured grandfather - seem more like fairy tales now. In 2020, 'courting' only involves eyeballing your gym crush, sliding into DMs and shamelessly commenting on pool-side pics with the 'fire' emoji.
But can we really be blamed for this? We're a generation focused on excelling in our careers and travelling the world on the weekend, so it's no wonder that we don't have time to meet and date people organically.
Signing up to the likes of Hinge or Happn, Plenty of Fish or E-harmony speeds up the process and completely eradicates those awkward first steps. It is hard work, and you'll have to dodge a few potholes in the form of catfishers, ghosters and 'send nuders', but profiles soon become disposable as you figure of what you like and dislike.
I know plenty of people in relationships that seem to have 'settled' out of fear of being single - no one wants to be the last to get married, who always brings a friend as a plus one, or who - God forbid - misses their window to have kids. But with the metaphorical clock ticking loudly in the back of our minds, online dating could be the saving grace that allows us to 'shop' for what we want.
And the proof is in the pudding, as a few of our readers share their success stories with us:
Sophie says: "I met my boyfriend on Tinder. The day I was on my way to meet him I actually got mugged - he thought I made this big story up because I didn't want to see him, even though he saw the police outside! We've just celebrated our first year together and honestly his been amazing."
Kelly says: "I met my husband on Plenty of Fish. He arranged a surprise pirate wedding in Las Vegas last year on our fifth anniversary to the day we had our first date. He swept off my feet and is an avid watcher of Don't Tell the Bride - I am a very lucky and nearly 50 years old! Romance is not dead."
Liasha says: "I finally met the love of my life thanks to E-harmony. On our first date, he turned up with red roses and chocolates and we headed to town for a meal; since then I have not gone a day without him. He had imagined someone like me all his life and he says I'm the girl from his dreams. For us, every day feels like the first - so much excitement and love. Life is so simple when all we have to do is love each other."
Lily says: "I met my boyfriend on Tinder April 2016, we've now been together for three and a half years and have been living together for one year."
Paul says: "Despite having little faith in online dating, my partner and I somehow ended up finding everything in one another and even things we never realised we were looking for. If I had to sum up the online dating experience, I'd say there are many unsavoury individuals on there, but it makes the genuine users stand out much better as and when they come along. That and Lady Luck...!"
Tips for online dating
Online dating is a big step which can feel overwhelming and daunting. Here's a few tips to help you get started:
1. Stay safe. Let's get the boring admin out of the way first. Always meet in a public place where you feel comfortable, tell a friend where you're going and avoid alcoholic drinks on the first meet. It's also a good idea to have a Facebook stalk and to initiate a call or video chat beforehand. Although there are a lot of genuine people out there, it's better to be safe than sorry.
2. Be selective. Remove any pressure you feel to find a partner or to date everyone that asks you out. There's an endless amount of people on dating sites, so wait to date the people that suit you. Make sure they're ticking the right boxes, that you're having fun and being yourself - there's no such thing as 'too picky'!
3. Be guarded. Don't believe everything you read and hear. On dates, people always present their best selves (it's often unintentional). This means over-exaggerated truths, little white lies and dulling insecurities. Figure a person out for how they act and respond to you, rather than what they tell you.
4. Take it slow. It's easy to start daydreaming about a wedding after a first date with someone we 'click' with, but take the time to really get to know the person and to figure out if you'll be compatible in the long term. It will also help you to protect yourself if they don't feel it's working.
5. Learn from it. It's likely that you'll speak and date quite a few different people. But instead of branding them as time wasters or failures, try to take the positives from the meet. Reflect on what you liked and didn't like, and what you'd do differently next time.