The phenomenon of online dating has reformed the entire landscape of dating in general. Nowadays, people meet online, through romance apps and whatnot, for a multitude of purposes within the realms of the romantic, whether it be for a quick fling or for something more intimate. The notion of dating through conventional means, as is what has been done for ages, seemingly took a backseat due to this new form of finding love. What is it about this strange experience that is not only proving to be popular, but effective as well?
Waiting on closed doors
For Danny*, the online dating experience has been a revelation to him. He’s merely relishing the benefits afforded to him through the use of online dating apps.
“I do prefer starting relationships online,” Danny says. “There’s just a lot of problems that arise the natural way. A lot of things could and do go wrong.”
“It’s in a way easier. I had a lot of time to create my responses, as everything was online. And it was easy, because I had the luxury of being able to interact through my phone.” Danny said when asked to compare the use of dating apps to that of conventional dating.
“I’m a bit of a shy guy, so I don’t know if I would have had the guts to have initiated anything [in person],” Danny said, lamenting the issues he’s had in dating real life romance. “I think that’s a benefit of having a relationship online, it’s that you can really skip some of the more [hassling] elements of [dating].”
With the beauty out of the way, he concedes that the online dating scene does come with its hardships. “The hardest part of the whole thing is matching with someone, as the whole thing is pretty convoluted. Sometimes you can go days without matching with anyone, which sucks.”
Through the use of dating apps, Danny has found and cultivated a relationship of his own, that of which he is very happy in currently. “It’s good! Of course, the relationship is relatively young, but we’re making the most of it.”
In the end, Danny couldn’t be more content with the his current relationship developed and cultured through dating apps. “Technology has helped [me] in so many ways, and I think it has helped us in allowing for people to find love online.”
Comfort in the anonymous
Mariah and her boyfriend, Shiv, have been in a long distance relationship for 10 months now. Like many couples today, their story began in the internet, in an online chat platform. Initially, Mariah had gone on the platform for the sake of having someone to converse with. “I usually go on the website during my pastime,” she says. “Because for me, people in real life are usually busy.” Unable to vent to her friends and family, she instead sought solace online where she eventually met Shiv.
Shiv hails from India which was where the initial interest started. “I’ve always been someone who appreciates the differences that people have with me,” Mariah says. “I want to learn about other people’s culture or how they do things in that part of the world.” But what became more apparent as they continued talking over the months was that what they had was more than just a friendship. “I’ve talked to lots of people online already, but Shiv was different. I was surprised that someone existed like this online,” Mariah recalls. “It started to feel like if I didn’t talk to him within the day, I’m going to feel like I missed something really huge for the entire day.”
Mariah’s friends began to notice a shift in her attitude. They’d ask her “What are you smiling about” or “Why are you so happy”. When she finally told them about Shiv, she was met with mixed reactions. “First of all, I didn’t expect positive reactions because the normal reaction would be of skepticism, because it’s online and you can’t see that person so how can you fall in love if you haven’t even seen that person.” ‘It’s just virtual, you don’t really know him or her, what if he’s not who he says he is?’, usually are the responses Mariah gets when she shares her story.
Yet despite it all, Mariah knew in her gut that the feelings she felt towards this stranger on the other side of the internet couldn’t be more real. Mariah explains that even if they’ve only ever talked virtually, they know one another better than any of their own friends and family. “That’s one amazing thing. Other people think that just because our relationship is virtual that we don’t know that person,” she says. “He could be someone else or be pretending to be someone online but when you spend that much time with someone every single day, even if it’s just online, and when you have that conversation and you have that love with one another, it really creates magic.”
Playing with heartstrings
Dating apps and social media sites aren’t the only places where online relationships can thrive. Since most have a form of in-game chat, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games or MMORPGs allow for people from other parts of the world to not only battle alongside each other in a virtual arena, but also to bond and form connections with each other. Rose* (III, BS CpE) was able to do just that with one of her guildmates in the online game Ragnarok.
“He would give me gifts and items [for the game],” Rose explains, when asked how it all began. She adds that they spent hours playing and talking to each other daily, which built up to them forming a romantic relationship. It would seem as though theirs was a traditional kind of courtship—albeit with flowers and chocolates being swapped out for virtual tokens of affection.
Even though they are no longer a couple, Rose does not blame the breakup on the fact that theirs was an online relationship. She reasons that, “While there’s something a lot more intimate about meeting someone face-to-face, attraction and communication are just as easy to develop through online platforms, so I don’t think it would have turned out any different.”
Despite the fact that Rose doesn’t see much disparity between online and offline relationships, she does concede to the fact that online dating comes with its fair share of bumps in the road. “Communication was one of the biggest challenges,” she notes, mentioning that on days when he’d be too busy to go online, there was no way for her to reach him. “The time difference was also hard to keep up with.” she adds, since he was from another country.
She does note, however, that she and her ex still play together, though they rarely communicate beyond matters concerning the game. Not having to physically be around each other apparently helps them keep their interactions civil. Perhaps an upside to online relationships is that the breakups are by far less messy?
The new trope
It’s certainly evident how large the impact of the internet can be when it comes through the mystery that is dating. Sure, the conventional means of dating will always be around, but new possibilities and ventures can be explored online nowadays. It can enable for more fluid interactions, long distance relationships, and a showcase of other forms of intimacy. The power that the internet allows for people truly amplifies that of our human connections with one another, because be it through dating apps, chatting platforms, or within the confines of a video game, love truly finds a way; even on a line.
*Names with asterisk (*) are pseudonyms