“You of all people don’t need to go online dating …!” We’ve probably all had people say things like that to us when we tell them we’ve joined a service like Parship. But 50% of all UK singles who are looking for a relationship are ready to give online dating a try.
It’s a bit embarrassing when your big-mouth auntie comments on your online dating efforts at a family gathering - and your best friend seems to think the Internet is populated with nutters and scammers - but one of the most common reactions to the news that you’ve joined a dating site is: “Why are you doing that?”
Are you lost for words when people say this, or do you feel the need to justify your actions? Well, there is strong factual evidence to back up your choice in looking for love online - and you are certainly not alone in your decision.
In the name of progress
In 1727 Helen Morrison became the first woman to place a lonely-hearts advertisement; it appeared in the Manchester Weekly Journal and caused a bit of a scandal - the mayor promptly committed her to a lunatic asylum for four weeks - but Miss Morrison was a pioneer. Lonely hearts columns have been part of life for many decades now, and lots of people enjoy reading them - even if they’re not in search of love! Of course, in recent years, online dating has stolen a march on classified advertising - and in the UK, seven million single people are ready to use the Internet to find love. That’s a figure that might even impress your all-knowing auntie!
Online dating around the world
Movies still tend to emphasise classic romance, often based on chance encounters, but even in the land of Bollywood, online dating is a force to be reckoned with: in India, a well-known dating service run from Mumbai is one of the country’s top ten websites. Worldwide, the dating market is larger than the market for music downloads.
[NB shaadi.com is an important service in the UK too, where there is a large Indian community, so I have not mentioned the name – why should we promote the competition?]
Matchmaking is part of our culture
If any of your friends get a bit snooty about online dating, it’s worth bearing in mind that matchmaking is a long tradition in almost every culture. In the Old Testament Abraham sent his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son Isaac - and this turned out to be Rebecca. In the 18th and 19th centuries, balls and promenades gave a social framework for the bourgeoisie and nobility to showcase their daughters to eligible men, while marriage markets remain a force in parts of modern Africa - for instance the famous Imilchil Marriage Festival in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, which every September becomes a focal point for Berber men and women seeking matrimony. In principle, online dating is not that different: it provides a virtual place for single people to find each other.
Dating with confidence
Some people seem to think that online dating is for people who are lacking in confidence, but it puts you out there ‘on the market’ and exposes you to some degree of examination, so you definitely have to be true to yourself. You also have to give away quite a lot about yourself if you are going to spark other people’s curiosity and imagination, so you can’t afford to be too shy.
Happily, online dating - at least with a service like Parship - is also very efficient. You get matched with like-minded people, so there is less wastage of effort (and of your subscription fee!) than in many other circumstances. So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself out there!