By Pam Wolstenholme
Mention Internet dating in conversation, and you will get varied reactions. Visions of meeting desperate women who can’t seem to meet and keep a man are common. Questions of why people would choose to meet an assortment of dirty old men looking for sex or stalkers searching for their next victim are frequent.
But just like the old wives tales that masturbating will make you blind and carrots will make you able to see in the dark, the stigma attached to Internet dating is old fashioned, outdated and fast becoming a mindset of the past. Research conducted last year by NETucation and Ramon Thomas (the publisher of this site), confirms that people using Internet dating are not the social outcasts many people in South Africa believe them to be.
It is in fact quite the opposite. Some quarter of a million people have tried Internet dating and this number is growing fast. Internet dating has become a reputable way for meeting people with the purpose of developing a relationship – be it a friendship, companionship, love or marriage. Two types of people are using Internet dating. Those who are having fun and trying out new things (mainly the younger 18-24 age group) and those more serious about it and looking to get something out of the process (mainly the older 33-49 age group). Most of people who use Internet dating have tertiary qualifications in IT, finance or admin and are earning over R10 000 a month. It sounds promising. Certainly not the dodgy demographics traditionally associated with online daters.Increasing pressure and workloads on young professionals means less time for meeting partners. People simply do not have the time to go through the traditional courtship process of wining and dining.
Online daters have woken up to this reality and have found Internet dating a suitable alternative. Another reason Internet dating is becoming more popular is people are fast becoming disillusioned with the club and bar scene. Potential partners met in this environment are rarely who they seem to be the night before. Be it the beer-goggles from the night before, or pretence on their behalf, success rates are not good enough. On the other hand, 84% of people using online dating profess to be honest when filling out their profile. Add to these reasons the high divorce rates and you are left with a lot of single people! Single people who are now offered the opportunity of meeting multiple partners and able to choose between them based on concrete knowledge of how well they fit their needs. They have the added benefit of getting to know potential partners before choosing to meet them face-to-face. This gives Internet daters the power of choice – a much sort after quality in today’s world.Internet daters are not a group of socially dysfunctional individuals who hide behind a computer out of sheer desperation for human contact. No. They are young, wealthy and worldly professionals looking for an alternative to the smoky bars and long, drawn out dinners. They are sick of having no time to meet people. They are looking to get to know potential partners first. Trying to prevent hurtling head first into unsuccessful relationships. So the next time you find yourself in conversation about Internet dating and its downfalls, remember this: It is not a question of being desperate. It’s a quick way to meet new people, and the chance to look before you leap.