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Online Dating: What It Is, What It Isn't

January 27th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The other day, someone took to my Formspring account and asked me the following question:

Have you done online dating? Would you?

In my original reply, I said I have never done online dating, but online courting is acceptable, which some might say is only half answering the question. I didn’t really answer the second question, whether or not I would do online dating, but here’s my answer.

No. Not right now.

Here’s my reason.

There is a fine line between online dating and getting involved with a person I meet online, online courting if you will. Have I ever met someone online first, then carried on in a relationship of some sorts with them in real life? Absolutely. No shame here. It’s happened to me a couple of times throughout my young dating life. But have I ever joined a dating website like and in search of a companion, or at the very least, a great date? Hell no.

And therein lies the difference: Dating someone I met online, is a result of being social on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, more of an accident or side effect. Online dating, to me, is joining online dating services and social networking websites with the sole purpose of finding a perfect match.

Just last year, I dated a girl who I met online first. She followed me on Twitter, and would respond with things I tweeted, which caught my attention. I also noticed she followed quite a few people I knew in real life, who as it turned out, were also her real life friends. She also didn’t live but a couple of subway stops away from me. We asked our mutual friends about one another, then started exchanging emails, then decided to meet in person. Pretty soon, we started doing everything else in person too. Then, when people would ask us how we met, I’d immediately answer, “The Internet, of course!”

She hated that.

Eventually we agreed to say we met through mutual friends, which was partly true. In her opinion, and to some degree mine, it was still taboo to say we met someone online. Especially because she was a woman who didn’t need to resort to such tactics to get a date or a man, and modesty aside, I’m not the kind of guy who needs to either. We both had healthy social lives and healthy social skills, with enough charm and good looks to snatch up someone on a subway, sidewalk, or any other public domain. But here we were, two charming, good looking people, who met each other on the Internet.

Now more than ever, we can find charming, good looking people on the Internet in spades, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I pay quite a bit attention to those of the female variety. This is not to say I lurk online in search of a soul mate. Hardly the case. This is just to say, I’m not blind and I’m not anti-social online. I notice pictures on Facebook, I’ve gotten into my fair share of back and forth DM exchanges (Twitter speak for Direct Messages) with a cutie I follow.

But I also go out, flirt and meet girls in real life. My experience in the face-to-face arena is vast enough to make me feel comfortable with embracing the idea that yes, I absolutely have met a few girls on the Internet first, then got involved with them second. And anyone who is confident enough in their abilities to meet someone offline will not shy away from this fact as it applies to them.

Of course, there are those who take to the Internet to meet someone like it was their only option. Plan A is, Plan B is, Plan C is, Plan Z is a tie for Blackplanet and Friendster, etc. These people are special, and a little different than someone like me whose Plan A is always a real life social setting.

Online dating is for those who are tired of the rat race of real-life dating. They groom their website profiles to attract the opposite sex. They want everyone to know their likes and dislikes, and what they seek in an ideal mate. They put up the best pictures of themselves, and maybe even take pictures solely for the purpose of looking good online. They manufacture themselves, not to meet a bunch of people, but to meet that one special person they can grow old with, if they’re not old already.

I don’t manufacture myself online, so much as I curate myself. I am deliberate about what I share about myself online, but not so I can seem perfect or ideal. What’s important to me is my online presence accurately reflects who I really am, because if I do meet someone in real life after first meeting them online, I don’t want them to ever say I wasn’t as charming or good looking as they thought.

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  • *inquiring mind*

    “modesty aside”- boy you need too stop… Bwahahahahahaha

    Anyway, I have mixed feelings about the meeting someone online in general… There are perks, one being you get to know their thoughts and intellect before it gets physical but I’m still not into it. Maybe for those who are solely interested in finding that someone it makes sense tho… I mean when you’re looking for a job don’t you do what’s necessary to get one- send your resume out online to all the worthy prospects… why would it be different when you’re looking for a “prospect boo”? Clearly we’re just not that bent on meeting “the one” yet… Oh- and dope post.

  • Julienne

    Jozen, thanks for writing this.. Personally, the concept of actively looking for love on dating sites is a lil’ desperate (in my opinion). I honestly don’t think the guy for me would take time to join one. I question guys who live in NYC especially who join.. there are so many opportunities to meet people in person..why would you hit the Internet?

  • @NyceBryce

    I just had this happen to me via twitter over the holidays. Went from retweets to skeets in two weeks. However chick is now uber attached and has access to twitter, BBM & G chat. She’s so attached in fact that she set up her phone so all my tweets go to her cell phone as texts. Now I can’t escape her. Just gotta be careful about the amount of access we give strangers.


    Jozen, sometimes I think that you are a fly on my wall; I just had this conversation with my bestie…

    Thanks for another great post…

  • Annie

    Are you from SF?

  • Kimberly

    I enjoyed this post very much. I was expecting something different, but what you shared helped to make sense of my current relationship. I met him on Twitter when he responded to something I said about Mike Vick getting signed to the Eagles back in August. We quickly struck up conversation and found we have a lot in common. Except for one thing: we live 1700 miles apart. We continued tweeting, then DMing, exchanged cell #s, and eventually began Skype-ing (video calling) to see where this attraction was going. After almost 3 months we finally met face to face. And now we are a long distance couple.

    Like you, I don’t consider this to be online dating. We just happened to meet online. If it was not for the internet, we surely would never have crossed paths.

  • *inquiring mind*

    “Went from retweets to skeets in two weeks.” or don’t f’ a stranger- bwahahahaha

  • Reecie

    This is interesting that you write this today. I’ve done the former a couple times and with my current SO I like to say we met thru mutual friends as well. I do think there is still a stigma attached to saying you met someone online. And since it wasn’t thru a dating site, I don’t think we ever online “dated”. We truly did know some of the same people prior to being friends, and then being in a committed relationship.

  • Whitney

    I have never been a fan of on-line dating. I recently signed up to see what was out there and I heard a few people say some ok things about it. Even though Chicago is a big city, if you have grown up here, most of the time you travel in the same circle so after awhile you start to see the same people over/over. I have found on line dating is not that different, I feel like all the club rejects are on-line now, the ones that hit you up are the same ones you steer clear from on any given day. So my trial run is over. @ least I can say I gave it a try for conversation purposes. I guess its one of those catch 22 things!!

  • Alisha

    I agree with your last statement. Honestly, back in the day, I complete an E-Harmony profile (only to get my dating composite, which was completely inaccurate). I’ve never actually gone through the process of putting a picture up and communicating with people. Why? Because I’m too cheap. Supposedly, online dating is better because while there’s a cost, you “cut the fat” and communicate only with potential matches. Negative. I’ve done lurking on Black People Meet and it’s just like the club, except the cover charge is double. People lie more over the Internet than they do/can in person. We’ve all seen people with relationship statuses that say single, but everyone knows he/she is damn near married. Catch 22, indeed.

  • Tia T

    I am on just about every social networking website there is. Yes, all of. Not, because I want to hook with guys but also to reconnet with people of my past. Well at least some. So my favotie one of all now is Facebook. I am a single with so many things to do as to where I can’t get to the nearest lounge every week or the sport bars where the men actually hung out on Sunday to get my flirt on. Yes, I am looking for that “speical someone” so I see nothing nothing wrong with keeping all my options open you just never know what you will stumble upon. It’s the same thing as meeting someone in a club, lounge or work. Regradless to where you have to get to know them.

    Jozen, this should work well for you at least you don’t have to worry about taking anyone out for soup as your getting to know them. You can eat your soup in bed.

  • Codie Elaine

    Like a few others, this post wasn’t what I expected, but I did like it (as always with you, Jozen) BUT I don’t agree with your assessment of online dating, Eharmony and such. I don’t think it’s being “tired of the rat race of real-life dating.” In online dating – from what I understand – you are putting out what you want, in most cases I guess, a relationship, and the other people are putting that out as well. The alternative – meeting someone out in the world – they may not have a clue what they want and then you’re stuck trying to figure out “where it’s going” or whatever. With online, 2 people know they’re there to meet someone they hope to be in a relationship with. That’s clear. Fewer questions. I haven’t done it, but I have thought about it and that clarity of purpose is the reason why. Just sayin 🙂

  • brendadc

    Interesting post. I don’t see the big deal with online dating. I just see it as another way to meet people in addition to being out and about in public. It really helped me when I moved to Houston a couple of years ago and didn’t know a soul. While I haven’t met that “one” online, I have met some great guys and we’re still friends to this day. While there are some shady folks on there (oh, the stories I could tell) – that’s everywhere. While I’m kind of over the online dating thing now, I wouldn’t rule it out in the future.

  • Netreia

    Great, great post! I really needed a descent man’s opinion on this. I enjoyed this read so much b/c I personally have been having this conversation with my friend and myself. Is online dating worth the effort? Is there a difference in the scene & online dating? Is it a rip-off and so on. But, I like the idea of ‘Online Courting’, meeting online then getting to know each other offline, but not letting ‘Online’ be the only choice.

  • LumbarPuncture

    Very interesting topic…

    I signed up for online dating and actually met a few people on a couple of sites. People who use this method always get the side-glance but despite what some may think, perfectly normal people use those sites. Did I sign up because I was desperate? No. Did I sign up because in real life I have no social skills? Nope. Could it be that I am actually an ogre masquerading as a human in hopes of getting laid? Believe it or not…nope!

    People have various reasons as to why they choose to go the route of online dating. Personally, I am in a demanding pre-professional program and I pretty much eat, breathe, and sleep school. Yeah yeah yeah I hear people say things like try studying in a coffee shop or in a bookstore to meet like-minded individuals but let’s think about this: Would you *really* approach someone who is reading out of stack of notes 3 inches tall and looking through a book titled “Pathologic Basis of Disease”?….probably not. Since I had to move to a new city, 99% of my friends are also in my program and in an effort to move outside of my circle, I decided to try it. As luck would have it though, I ended up meeting someone outside of the online world and no longer have use for those sites I originally signed up for.

    I think the quality of people you can find on some sites generally reflects people you meet out and about. I’ve interacted with the desperate guys, the cocky ones, men who felt the need to flash their wallets, shy guys, and the man who would be awesome if only there was a spark of chemistry both online and in person.

    wow…this was way longer than I anticipated. Back to studying for me…and I can’t wait to see what you think of next 😉

  • Val

    Retweets to skeets … love it, lol!

  • Tiffany In Houston

    Agree with Lumbar. I am engaged to a fine young man (that I met initially via Facebook) and he and I both had tried online dating before we met each other. I know several E-Harmony and couples. I think busy professionals don’t rely solely upon online dating if they are smart. It simply becomes another tool to expand your circle which can be very smaller and the older you get even tinier.

    I think your wording was a bit clumsy to suggest that one has to resort to “tactics” like online dating, as if the individual considering it is somewhat deficient because they hadn’t been meeting people the good old fashioned way. Seriously???

    Folks resort to “tactics” when they hit the club/lounge/networking event as well. Game is game, whether cyber or in person. You can meet “the crazy” in the grocery store.

    To the young lady upthread who was questioning whether to online date or not: do it because you feel comfortable doing so. Take the same precautions you would had you met a dude at the Best Buy. But most of all, do you. A date on Friday night beats making love to your couch any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    Nice post Jozen, I’d been lurking around and this was the perfect topic to introduce myself.

  • ebonifire

    ok, so now i have a question. you clearly are no where as near to into her as she is to you, why not block her from everything? i’m assuming the RSS feed is a little flattering and you still wanna hit? help us with this NyceBryce. why keep the lines of communication open?

  • Kita

    Funny I should read this after my friend told me all about the joys of online dating. Why didn’t you write this last week? lol. I created an online profile after listening to my friend tell me about how wonderful and easy it was to meet single men. How online dating was the answer to a busy professional woman who didnt have time to socialize at local hangouts. After posting my profile (which I had to create to view other’s profile)I realized that my chances of meeting a soul mate online was probably just as a good as me winning the next mega million lottery. But I was willing to give it a try. Well need less to say I deleted my profile after a week of getting “hey sexy” emails..I didn’t have a picture posted so how they know I’m sexy is amazing. My friend still remains hopeful that her soul mate is an email away. Me on the other hand is quite okay with being single and knowing that my mate will come when he’s ready.

  • Trisha

    “I think your wording was a bit clumsy to suggest that one has to resort to “tactics” like online dating, as if the individual considering it is somewhat deficient because they hadn’t been meeting people the good old fashioned way. Seriously???” Way to break it down Tiffany. That is a wonderful point that you made. Whether you meet someone online or in person the person is still selling themself and fine tuning their tactics. I am a professional woman (OT) and I meet people on a daily basis. I realize that I need more options. So in order to expand my circle of prospects I have started a profile and will do online dating. It’s a new year and it’s time to do a new thing. No shame in my game.

  • Val

    I have two friends who met each other on, turned out they had similar educational backgrounds, interests, personalities and lived a few blocks away! they ended up getting married two summers ago. I was friends with the guy first (from college) and he tried his darndest to get me on…needless to say, i didn’t have as much luck as he did. also, i recently dated someone i’d met through a social networking…i’m not necessarily opposed to it, but i think it sounds better in theory than it is in actuality. I’d say be VERY careful. It’s easy to get caught up in someone’s online persona, or who they appear to be or want you to believe they are on their profiles, skip the actual “getting to know you” part b/c you’ve “followed” each other for so long online and think you know each other when you really don’t and/or may not even be truly compatible

  • UrbaneDame

    I agree with Lumbar – the variety of men on online dating sites is just as full as the men we meet in person. There are the ones who look good on paper, are full of it, too fine for their own good, creepy, etc. So whatever your preference more power to ya.

    I do wish, however, there was some type of site for online “pen pals”. It would be cool to be able to have consistent meaningful convos with ppl outside your normal social circle, or the off chance of linking up with FB friends of friends. Something that takes away the pretense of trying to holla. Because “Hey sexy” is just tired in person, in a text, and online.

  • Sunny

    I met my current man, of almost 10 months (in 2 days), of which we lived in two different cities, now he lives where I am, online. I stan for it. Just be careful. 😉

  • Sunny

    I agree with everything you said!

  • sistah1

    I have done online dating. I think its as viable a way to meet people as going out to a bar hoping you connect with somebody. I tried it about a year ago, and I think I’m ready to give it another chance. Why not?

    I do think there used to be a stigma attached to it, but I think that’s slowly changing.

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