Growing number of married couples met onlineWritten by Jay Hathaway | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who has ever braved the dating scene can testify that a lack of compatible mates seems to simply be part of the game. With the exception of those rare, love-at-first-sight, it-was-just-meant-to-be scenarios, matching up with one’s ideal counterpart can be a challenge. It’s no wonder, then, that online dating would eventually catch on.
But just how much may come as a surprise.
About 35 percent of couples married between 2005-12 met online, according to a recent Forbes article, citing a survey led by John T. Cacioppo of the University of Chicago. That’s a staggering number, considering that online dating was until recently considered a bit taboo.
Angi, a former Toledoan who prefers her last name unpublished for professional reasons, moved to Columbia, Mo., to attend graduate school in 2006. However, she found herself in a tough spot for trying to date in an unfamiliar locale.
“I was crazy busy with grad school and hadn’t met very many ‘good’ guys in Columbia,” she said. “I had gotten in a car accident. I was on serious pain meds and found that I couldn’t study once I got home from classes and work. So I created an online dating profile on Match.com to give me something to do.”
Eventually, she crossed cyber-paths with the man who would become her husband.
“I ‘winked’ at him on the site, [but] it didn’t match us. He sent me a message and we sent emails back and forth for a couple of weeks before our first date. Interestingly enough, we didn’t talk on the phone except the day of the date to make arrangements.”
Long story short, dating went well and they lived happily ever after. But Angi said a momentary lapse in confidence almost stopped things before they began.
“We both almost canceled that day. It’s quite funny for me now looking back on it.”
Online dating has some advantages over more traditional means, Angi said.
“It provided a convenience I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I didn’t have time to go out and meet people. I also didn’t want to date the 25-year-old law student I met at a bar. I could chat a safe distance away from people before I decided whether I wanted to meet them in person.”
For some, the option to choose someone who shares a similar spirituality or worldview is of high importance. Alyssa Stanton of Monroe, utilized ChristianMingle.com to meet her fiancé, Ethan Hatt.
“To be honest, I just wanted to network a little and try something new,” Stanton said. “I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what kind of guys were in my area already, and I wanted to see if there was someone more compatible with me.”
In Stanton’s case, things moved along quickly. She had only been registered with the dating site for three days before she met Hatt.
“We began emailing, and then became friends on Facebook,” she said. “[That] turned into hours-long Skype sessions. Our first date was about 10 days after we started talking.”
Tanner Myerholtz and Leandra Espen of Oak Harbor also met online, and are now engaged to be married — although both had to go through a bit of trial and error to find each other.
“We both met a few crazies before we found each other,” Myerholtz said. “I met a couple [girls] whose pictures were lies, and one of them turned out to be a blackout drunk.”
“I met a few who just wanted to be friends, which is weird,” Espen added.
Myerholtz summarized the process of how he finally met Espen.
“We met each other’s criteria, so I messaged her, and she messaged me back, and that was the beginning of the end.”
He added that, while he was excited and a little nervous about meeting Espen in person, he did not want to make any lavish plans, having learned his lesson from previous dates.
“I didn’t plan anything,” he said. “I planned dinner, and that’s it. But we ended up hitting it off.”
Like most online dating encounters, their first meeting took place in a public place. For the second date, Myerholtz picked up Espen at her home for a proper date.
“We ended up going to dinner and a movie, followed by quite a few dates after that,” Myerholtz said.
The couple agreed that among the advantages of online dating, simplicity is one of the more appealing aspects.
“It just makes it easier,” Espen said. “I think that people know what they want when they’re ready to settle down.”
Settling down was something that Leah Myers of Genoa knew she wanted right after high school. However, when she decided to give online dating a try, it was 2003 and had not yet risen to mainstream use.
“Back [then], it had kind of the stigma as the kind of place you went as a last resort,” she said. “I wanted a partner, somebody who was going to be a really supportive person. Even though I was young, it was something I knew that I wanted.”
Leah explained she had dated “a few guys” to no avail. A friend suggested they both sign up at what was then a new website, Cupid.com.
A decade later, Leah has now been married to James, the man she was eventually matched with, for nine years. Their story is a promising testimony for online daters — even though Leah initially paid little mind to her husband’s profile.
“He looked like a nerd in his picture,” she said. “I didn’t even look at his profile. I looked at his picture, and I just thought, ‘No, I’m not interested.’ But I looked at his profile a couple weeks later, and he described himself as everything I’d been looking for, so I decided to initiate contact.”
The pair began exchanging emails, but it was six weeks before they met in person for a date.
“I was nervous, in the sense that it was this first date with a girl I really liked,” James said. “[But] we had spent several weeks getting to know each other through emails and phone conversations, so I felt comfortable with the connection we’d already made.”
“We actually had exchanged emails for so long before we met in person that I felt like I had known him for years by then,” Leah added. “We had so much in common, and we actually had some mutual friends, so I really wasn’t nervous when it came to actually meeting him in person.”
James and Leah emphasized that freedom of choice is likely why online dating has become so popular today.
“There is a community of people waiting until they’re older to get married, or relocating to different areas,” Leah said. “It takes a little bit of the guessing game out of dating.”
She added that the website intuitively knew exactly what she was looking for in James.
“I couldn’t have picked him better myself.”