When people ask me how my fiancé and I met, I always tense up a bit. The truth is we met on the internet. As I tell my acquaintances this, I find myself going out of my way to justify our relationship and also to make sure no one sees me as pathetic:
- “We met online but we’ve spent 6 months living together.”
- “We met online but it was through his work so it wasn’t weird.”
- “We met online but we were only good friends until we met in person.”
- “We met online but I wasn’t looking to meet someone online… it just happened.”
- “We met online but I dated people in real life before that.”
- “We met online but it was perfect because I’m too busy focusing on school and my career to date someone local.”
I can’t be the only person who does this, can I? A recent commercial for a popular dating website says that 1/3 of this year’s married couples met online. Do those couples respond like me, too?
A lot of people spend a lot of time on the internet
A 2008 survey found that people were spending as many as 32 hours online per week. That’s more than 4 hours per day! If I spent 4 hours each day at the gym, no one would be surprised if I met a man (or a few men) that I would like to date. And almost 2 billion people use the internet which is, I bet, way more than the amount of people I can meet at my local gym. Bonus: spending hours on the internet is way easier and more convenient than spending hours in a gym.
Email, texting and Skype
In the “olden days”, people had to write letters to their foreign lovers. If your significant other was in Asia, that could means many months between letters. Now, our communication is instant! Sending an email is as easy as pie–you don’t even need to track down a pen and piece of paper! If you’re on the go and cannot send an email, you can make a call or text. Finally, we have Skype, the cream of the crop. Skype is the best option for people in international long-distance relationships. You can make a video call from your computer to your significant other’s computer, allowing you to see them and hear them live. Skype also offers affordable plans for calling and texting to another country.
Want to send your partner a picture? Gone are the days of filling up a roll of film, then taking it to the drugstore to get it developed, then finally mailing the photo. Now, you can take a picture with your webcam and send it via email in seconds. Most cell phones now come standard with a camera, allowing you to take a photo and send it via text message. You could keep your boyfriend or girlfriend updated on every part of your day if you wanted.
Everybody’s doing it
Millions of people use dating sites. Match.com has more than 20 million active users. OkCupid has 5 million. PlentyofFish has 23 million registered users. An average of 236 couples who met on eHarmony marry each day in America. These figures represent only a small fraction of people using dating websites, of which there are more than 1,000 on the web today. On top of that, lots of couples meet online but not on dating websites. I have known people who met on Facebook, Myspace, band websites, journaling websites, forums and many other places.
In the future
Wired magazine said it best in 2002: “Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because the right books are found only by accident.” Judging by the strange looks I often get when I tell people that my fiancé and I met online, we’re not quite there yet. Still, a surprising number of people respond with something like “Oh… my (insert distant relative here) met her husband online too!” Hopefully by 2012, those of us who met our spouses online won’t have to include all kinds of justifications. We’ll be able to simply say “We met online” because it will be as normal as saying “We met at school” or “We met at a party”.