#Love & Sex
Online or Out of Line
Despite the decrease of stigma associated with online dating, one reader was still catching some flack from family for looking for love online. She consulted our panel of relationship experts for advice.
I’m actively trying to find love and have been online dating for about a year now. I’ve met some nice people, but so far, no one for long-term. I’m not discouraged by this; what is discouraging, though, is that my friends and my family constantly say things like, “I wish you didn’t have to resort to that to meet someone” and “Don’t let your boss find out that you’re online dating.” There seems to still be a stigma attached to it, but I don’t understand why. So many people are doing it, but it seems like a lot of people still think anyone who has to “resort” to online dating is a freak. Why do you think that is? And what should I say to people who seem to have an issue with it? I try to respond positively, but all the negativity is getting old. —RJ, San Francisco, California
The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
RJ, I hope you’re old enough to have seen the movie Airplane, but if you’re not, you need to Netflix it immediately. The response you probably end up giving to this question may sound similar to the defensive response Captain Roger Murdock gives little buttinski Joey when he continues to insist that he’s the great Kareem Abdul-Jabar:
Joey: I think you’re the greatest, but my dad says you don’t work hard enough on defense.
Roger Murdock: The hell I don’t! Listen, kid, I’ve been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I’m out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for forty-eight minutes!
I can say from first-hand experience that online dating is indeed as tough as dragging Walton and Lanier up the court (and probably even tougher than a Turkish prison, for all you Airplane fans out there) because you have to go through a lot of people to get to one good one, but that’s true of any dating situation. The comments that your friends are making imply that there’s a right way to meet someone, and I just don’t think that’s true. Also, I’ve got news for them—this is how people meet now. Maybe they missed the ping (which replaces “memo” in this clichéd analogy), but Facebook has 90 million active members, Match.com adds 20,000 new members a day, and 50 percent of tweens—that’s kids between the ages of ten and twelve, for god’s sake—have some sort of Smart/iPhone-like device. And have you walked into a coffee shop lately? Or an elevator? Or pretty much anywhere on the planet? Most everyone’s focus is down—on their phone—as they text someone or check their email. We’ve replaced talking with texting.
So I think your answer is this: people who online date aren’t “resorting” to anything. They’re just keeping up with the times. Any stigma is perpetrated by people who’ve never done it and likely fear it. To those people I say stop judging and shut your pie holes. We all have the right to pursue happiness. And since roughly half of all marriages end in divorce, those naysayers may be eating their words soon enough and joining you in cyberspace.
The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
Tell your friends and family to get over it. Whatever. There are tons of people online dating now. And stop worrying about them—it’s your life. You hit it on the head. It’s their issue. You can say this, “I’m sorry, do you have a bunch of great, available, potential mates waiting for me? If so, why haven’t I met them yet? I’d be happy to get offline and enjoy the fact that I’ve found love. But if you don’t have anyone in the arsenal for me, then will you allow me to search for that special someone in a way that may actually work for me? Thanks!”
There’s an online dating stigma because it seems desperate, but that’s getting pretty outdated now. Single folk are allowed to always cast their hooks, in grocery stores, the gym, bars, and anywhere else. Everybody’s online for everything else these days—including many of your friends and family, I’d bet—so why not try mate searching online, too? Don’t worry, RJ. How much can you really change people’s biases? It may just be something you endure for awhile. It’s also okay for you to let them know their criticism of you is not helping and ask them to keep that opinion to themselves and wish you luck.
Good luck searching for your love online, offline, and in line. Those who have a problem with that are out of line.
The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
RJ, it sounds like you give a rat’s ass about how others feel about how you’ll meet your next love. I’d rather you put more energy into meeting this person and less into what the rest of the world thinks of your strategies. The fact is, a lot of folks meet online and you know that.
How much do let others control what you wear, eat, say, or do? It’s your life. You’re not hurting anyone, so tell them to back off. Now, if it’s a softer approach you’re looking for, well, that’s going to take more time and more inner work. Things only get to us because they resonate and hit a nerve—a kernel of some truth or unresolved part of ourselves. So I wonder if you, RJ, are 100 percent comfortable with meeting someone online? I encourage you to write down your worst fears about meeting someone this way. This will show you where you sit with it.
In the meantime, don’t give up on online dating, but don’t make it your only resource, either. There are lots of ways to meet people. Find three more ways that you can try this month. This way, if you still give a hoot when those nasty, uncompassionate, naysayers tell you what they think next time, you can tell them that it’s one of many options you’re trying and that you’re sure that they understand that you wouldn’t want to leave out any viable opportunity to meet your true love. Ask for their support, but first find your own support for making the smart move to include online dating in your repertoire.
The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
To all your friends and family who think you are “resorting” to online dating, I would say exactly this: “You bitches find me someone to date and I’ll stop looking elsewhere! But until that blessed day arrives, I see no harm in keeping all my options open.”
Seriously, RJ, I don’t understand this mentality. You are not “resorting” to anything. You’re simply dating in the modern age and opening yourself up to meeting the love of your life in whatever way you can. And your boss probably already knows about it so who cares! People have lives outside of their office/cube world. Have fun with it! They’re likely jealous that you’re dating or scared that they don’t have enough courage to try it themselves. Don’t be discouraged; be thankful that someone started the first dating site and that it’s caught on in a way that allows us to see more of our options and read about a person’s interests before meeting them on a chance encounter and stumbling through awkward conversation to uncover such things.