The Unconventional Attraction: Online Dating & Social Media

Can you believe that over one third of the U.S. population has tried using a dating site to find their match? It’s really not all that unbelievable considering how wired we are to the Web. But if you were to rewind, say, a decade or so ago and mention that you were looking for love online, you’d get laughed at.

In a lot of ways, it was “taboo” to search for attraction using the Web. Everyone just assumed that it was too impersonal and that a real match could only be found when you’re face to face. They said it would never last.

I’m one of those outliers.

I happened to have met my girlfriend through a dating site, but it wasn’t just the site that got things started – it also happened to be a mix of social media.

Story Time:

I had just got back from going overseas for a much needed vacation. When I returned, I realized that I pretty much lost all contact with most of my local friends because they had moved out of the area (this was right after everyone was graduating college). It also meant the girls I had once talked to were now steadily going with other guys since I never really pursued a relationship when I was in town.

So I decided to try a dating site with a social angle that would allow me see what was happening in my area but also let me get in touch with people. It worked like a mix of meet ups and dating – we found some local events that we were both interested in and that’s when things really began to click. After a whole lot of hits and misses, I finally found the ‘one’. 

We clicked almost immediately and the more we talked the more we realized we were actually part of the same social circles! I was big into going to electronic music shows and it turns out she had been promoting them in the area – what a coincidence right? Even more so knowing that she had been to many of the same shows … I had just never noticed her at the time. 

It’s been almost three years now and things are going great.

My story isn’t all that unconventional these days, though. You’re seeing it happen more often than ever before, especially since we have awesome apps like Snapchat. There’s almost zero barrier to connect with someone unlike before when you had to wait it out at a coffee shop or hope you’d get noticed when passing through the office.

Some people say that social media is ruining dating. They say that it puts too much information out there in one go, but let’s be honest: this is information we’d want to know before choosing someone in the first place, right?

Let me break down how things have really changed thanks to social media:

  • You can look back through their history and see if they’re really the type of person they’re trying to present.
  • You can set up fun dates and activities using apps, which sync, so you’re not juggling schedules and trying to find compromises.
  • You can share your life experiences with friends and family, which reinforces your connection with your SO especially when everyone thinks you’re great together.

There’s a flip side, of course, like people scripting their “game” or even using it maliciously to get money or bully others, but this happens on the fringe. There are also those fall to temptation due to digging up old flames on sites like Facebook.

But overall online dating and social media has given us a much safer, enjoyable environment to find someone special. It’s far more open than it ever has been. You’re no longer stuck behind a name (or online avatar) chatting late at night in a public chat room or on instant messenger hoping the person on the other side is who they say – it’s all out there in the open!

The Web, with the options like dating sites, and the combination of social media, which can keep things fun and engaging, are a true match made in heaven. Some will need to grind through the matches while for other it’ll just click right away. Ultimately, even if you don’t find that special someone, you’ll still find a great mix of people worth knowing.

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About Shawn Hartley

Creative technologist by day. Bowling instructor at night. VP at Corporate 3 Design in Omaha. Proud father and husband.