It’s 2016. A lot has changed since I first tried online dating back in 2001. Yes, you read that correctly—2001! Back in the “old days,” online dating had a stigma. It was supposedly for those who weren’t able to find a partner using traditional means. Today, online dating is as much a part of our culture as Netflix or hummus. Even Alanis Morissette uses the line “It’s like swiping left on your future soulmate” in her comical remake of the song “Ironic.”
1. Expand Your Circles
Let’s say you get up in the morning, go to work, grab a drink with a friend after work, and then head home. You’re only associating with your co-workers and your friends. Unless your workplace gets fresh faces all the time, it’s hard to meet new people. For that simple reason, online dating is a great way to see—and be shown to—people whose paths you don’t normally cross. Think about it. Sites like Elite Singles have 5 million members, and with 18,000 new daters joining weekly, your dating pool is limitless.
2. Practice the Art of the First Date
They say that you should have a practice interview before you go in for your dream job. The same is true with dating. A friend once wrote to me:
I started dating someone a few weeks ago. I was a lot more comfortable going on dates with him because I’d been getting a lot of practice. Everyone knows the old adage that ‘practice makes perfect’. It applies to dating. Online dating helped build up my confidence and comfort level with guys.
While every date may not lead to a trip down the aisle, each will fill your toolbox with useful skills to apply next time. 3 million new messages are sent every day on Zoosk and a big percentage of them lead to Zoosk.
3. Learn More About Yourself
Going on dates helps you define what you’re looking for in a partner. Maybe you realize that you don’t actually care if someone has a graduate degree. Or, maybe you realize that a shared ethnicity is something that’s more important to you than you had previously thought. Dating online (and dating in general) teaches us a lot about ourselves. Match.com gives you the option to define “deal-breakers”, ensuring that potential dates have the characteristics that you value most.
4. Take Control of the Dating Process
I don’t believe in the saying that good things come to those who wait. My philosophy is that good things come to those who put in the hard work. In the case of online dating, the “work” comes in the form of writing a profile that lets you shine and messaging people of interest. Take part in your future and go for it.
5. Don’t Break the Bank
Think of all the nights you’re at the bar buying drinks and hoping to meet the right person. You could instead be going online for a fraction of the cost. Sites like Zoosk and Match are free to browse, and then you sign up for a monthly fee of no more than about $30 (subject to change) to message people. Buy eight lattes or meet the love of your life? The choice is simple.
6. Screen For What You’re Looking For
Let’s say you meet that cutie at a bar. Unless she’s wearing a Post-it note with her stats, you likely don’t know anything about her except her name and the fact that you’re attracted to her. What if it’s important to you that your future partner shares your religion? This is something you can screen for online but not “IRL” (in real life). Or, let’s say you want to meet a fellow busy professional from age 30 to 55. Then Elite Singles might just be the right site for you. After all, over 2/3rds of their members hold college degrees.
7. Have Fun
Who says dating is a drag? In fact, there are people who get addicted to online dating. I’m not saying you should take it that far (quite the opposite), but take some pleasure in looking at profiles of attractive people, clicking, swiping, and entertaining the possibility of meeting someone wonderful.
8. Why Not? You Have Nothing to Lose
With all of this technology at your fingertips, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to use it. So get online!