A truly powerful quote by a French novelist named Honoré de Balzac expresses that “Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.”
This quote truly emphasis a truth we all feel deep within ourselves – that loneliness is one of the most profound yet unnecessary human emotions. People are social creatures, more so than any other creature on earth. We crave to be with others, to be appreciated, needed, valued and loved by them but meeting people that you can truly connect with, people that are looking for the same thing that you are, be it friendship, love or a fling isn’t easy, even in our modern and hyper-connected world. To make matters worse, if you’ve just you’ve just moved to a new town – meeting someone becomes even more of a challenge. This is obviously because when you move to a new town, you’re no longer surrounded by your family, friends and all the familiar faces that you’ve become accustomed to. Your surroundings have changed and going out to your favourite restaurant or bar is no longer an option – so what’s a lonely soul to do?
If you had to go out to a bar, the chances of actually meeting someone that you’re attracted to (and vice versa), is quite slim because let’s face it – not everyone at a bar on a Saturday night is single and looking to meet someone but, lucky for us the internet has a lovely little solution for this very common problem – dating sites.
Whatever it is you’re looking for– online dating sites are the place to be to find it. Why you may ask? Well, for starters once you’ve signed up you can rest assured that everyone that’s already on there is single or looking for the same thing as you. If you happened to have come across someone that caught your eye in a supermarket you’d still have to work up the courage to strike up a conversation and find out whether or not they’re single and interested – something that most people simply don't have the confidence or courage to even do. This is also the reason that regular social media sites like Facebook don't work too well in matching people up. Not everyone on there is single and if they are they’re not necessarily going to be looking for a date. Another issue is that people simply don't like to make their personal dating lives public for all their family, friends and work colleagues to know about and so a dating site provides a certain degree of privacy which many people feel is crucial. The second reason that online dating tends to be more effective is that you will have immediate access to a huge number of single people in your area and truth is the more you have to select from the higher your chances of actually meeting that special someone. Once you’ve selected some interesting matches it’s up to you to decide how you want to proceed. You can go on as many dates as you want with people that live close by without even a fraction of the time or effort you’d have to put in to find a date on the ground. Another quite fascinating fact is that there are literally millions of people on dating sites – and the numbers just keep growing with more and more people looking for an easy and effective way to meet people. The suspected reason for these massive and ever increasing numbers is simple - dating site apps can easily be downloaded and installed onto virtually any device from a smart phone and tablet to a laptop or PC. Signing up usually takes only a few minutes and the amount of information you choose to divulge depends entirely on you – so there’s very little reason for people not to try it out. Recent studies have even shown that the “baby boomer” generation, who were born between 1946 and 1964 have began to show an increased interest in online dating. So if even the less technologically-savvy generation has begun to turn to dating sites to meet people we can definitely assume that it’s as easy to use as it is effective.
The thing about meeting someone on a dating site is that it’s practically no different to meeting someone at a bar, mall or at the gym. At first we judge them based on what they look like, things such as weight, height, facial features and general appearance are all scrutinised in less than 2 seconds and then, and only then, do we get the urge to strike up a conversation with them. Once we’ve decided we like them, we work up the courage to strike up a conversation after which we begin filling in the mental questionnaires. Where you from? What do you do? What are your interests and hobbies? Is there any difference between how this happens on a dating site to how it would happen in a video store? No. If this is true and I truly believe it to be; then why all the mixed feelings about online dating?
The main reason that some people are reluctant to join a dating site is because they feel that it takes the authenticity out of the whole meeting and dating process. They believe that it’s a set up for failure but, I strongly disagree. Most online matches that don't work, don't work simply for the same reasons that it wouldn’t have worked “in the real world” because people don’t follow up on that first conversation or date, they lose contact or simply find out that there is something on their mental checklist that the person doesn’t meet or some non-negotiable item the person violates. For obvious reasons, not every single match made on a dating site will lead to a date but after a few conversations deciding whether or not it’s worth investing the time to meet the person will be a short and natural decision. Another common issue mentioned by online-dating sceptics is safety. You don't really know who you’re talking to do you? Well the truth is unless you meet someone through friends or relatives, you’re technically taking the same risk because you still won’t “really” know what this person’s agenda is. Common sense is your best friend both in person and online, if the person is reluctant to share information, has only one or two photos that seem strange, mix up information or make a lot of inappropriate or unwanted advances and comments – you should probably stay well away – just as you hopefully would in your everyday life. Almost all online dating sites have above average security features and you can probably report and block anyone that you no longer want to engage with. I also pretty much guarantee you that you'll find a lot more “good matches” than you will “bad matches”, the difference in results are simply a matter of how much effort and consistency you put towards finding out information about each match. After only a few exchanges you will adamantly develop a list of favourite potential dates. If the feeling is mutual then you’ve got yourself a date.
A humorous and popular quote about online dating states that “Low quality, unhappy and unsatisfying marriages are being destroyed as people drift to Internet dating sites”, and this isn’t far from the truth. When we have a bigger pool of potential dates to choose from, we naturally increase our chances of finding someone that is as close as possible to our perfect match – why settle with okay when we can have awesome, right? This, for the most part is the reason that so many singles are turning to dating sites to find that special someone – because it gives them the options that they would’ve otherwise never had. The only issue that arises here is that some people set their expectations too high and set quite unrealistic goals which lead them to turning down some matches that have great potential. To avoid this it’s necessary to ensure that you give people a fair chance by getting to know at least some of the basics about them – you might find someone physically attractive but as with most things in life appearances can be misleading. For instance, if you meet someone who, like you has a strong interest in art, chances are that you will have a lot more to talk about with this person than with someone who you have absolutely nothing in common with but are physically attracted to – so know what you’re looking for and don't be afraid to find out more about people who are not “ideal” in the looks department.
Most of the people that are anti-online-dating are the very people that have simply never tried it because 8 out of 10 of the people who have, met their current wife, girlfriend, husband or boyfriend on one of those dating sites or, simply had the time of their lives and temporarily cured their loneliness while they got settled into a new town. You'll simply never know unless you’ve tried!
So how do dating sites match people up? Some of them, such as Tinder, are quite simple and to the opinion of some, use quite a “shallow” process to match people up. Once you’ve signed up you get access to pictures of singles that live in your area and If you like someone you sweep to the right and, if you don't, you sweep to the left. A match is made when both parties sweep to the right indicating that they both like each other. Quite simple, right? You may think that this sounds ridiculous but let’s face it we all judge each other based on physical appearance at first anyway!
Some dating sites have other; slightly more complicated algorithms that help match people up to the highest possible degree of accuracy. Users are asked to answer and fill in fields that gather some basic information such as sexual orientation, age, religion, race and location. All this information is then factored in and cross referenced with information given by other users. Some sites will require that quite a lot of fields be filled in which helps narrow the search and give users the most appropriate recommendations. This information also helps other users decide whether or not they think you’d be a good match for them. You can give a brief description about yourself, your interests and hobbies and what type of food, music and movies you enjoy. You can choose whether you want to limit the search to local users only or if you’d like to view people living in other cities. Dating sites are constantly working to improve and update their algorithms in order to give users a better chance of meeting someone that’s “just right”. These algorithms may not be, by any measure perfect but they achieve their purpose. The dating sites also constantly work on developing more user-friendly interfaces to make their site easy to use, save and accurate which, for the most part means that dating sites are always improving. If you’re interested in finding out how users feel about a particular site, you can find a host of honest reviews on almost every single dating site out there simply by running a Google search. I think that everyone should do a little bit of research on the sites they intend on using before signing up to avoid being disappointed after they’ve put quite a lot of effort into completing their profile. If you have any family members or friends that you have used a dating site to meet someone ask them about their experience, which site they used. They may even be able to give you a few tips on how to make the most of it.
A reasonable person would probably think, okay but what are the chances of all the information that these people give to be true and accurate? Photoshop is also a major reason for concern but one way of thinking about these things is that if they’ve stated that their “a total stunner” and they’re actually “below average”, then they’ll probably be really reluctant to actually meet up with you on a real date so no harm done really. People that are authentic and are really looking for a relationship will be honest with you because chances are high that they’re also planning on going out on a couple of dates and they’d most likely want to avoid the embarrassment of being called out on some false piece of information or impression they given. You need to follow your gut here because if someone isn’t being authentic chances are that you'll know it.
When it comes to online dating the information you give in your profile and the photos you upload will directly impact the quality of the matches that you get and also the number of responses you receive from these matches. That’s why you should try and be as honest as possible and fill in as many of the fields available to you. If you hate camping don't say that you’re an outdoorsy kind of person. If the last time you exercised was a date too far back for you to remember, than saying that you’re “athletic” is just misleading. If you can’t give an honest answer than rather leave the field blank or write something like “ask me”. Always make sure that the photos that you upload are clear and give an honest idea of what you look like. Most dating sites have lots of information and resources available to you to help you optimise our profile and help you get the best results, read the advice and guidelines, even if you don't use them. It’s also advisable to go back and update or change some of the information you’ve given, particularly if you find that the matches you’ve been presented with are inappropriate.
So how many dates should you actually sign up on? Well that number will obviously differ depending on what it is your looking for, the accuracy of matches, the success of the dates and with how many people you actually get to the meeting up stage with. Start with one site, get used to it and how it works and then decide if you want to sign up to another to broaden the search or improve the results. If you’re not happy with the site then you can easily remove your profile and try another – this can be done in literally seconds.
So you’ve found someone that’s showing mutual interest, you like their profile because you have a lot in common and you’ve even been emailing them for two weeks. The natural next step would be to arrange a meeting but since you’re new in town you probably have no idea what to suggest – so why not let them know that since they know the area a lot better than you that they make a suggestion? Ask them if they like to meet up for coffee, dinner, a movie or even breakfast and then ask them to suggest a place they like.
My advice to people is to take some time to get to know the person before attempting to arrange a meeting. You need to find out as best you can if this person is looking for the same thing as you, what their interests are and what their general outlook on life is. Some people prefer to exchange texts and emails, while some prefer telephone calls and some or other social media interaction well before they’d be willing to arranging a meeting while others don't mind arranging a meeting without much more than a couple of texts and emails. What you decide to do and how far you want to take things is entirely up to you.
There are also apps and sites dedicated to in addition to meeting potential dates – meeting people looking for friendship. This is great for anyone who’s new in town and is looking to make some friends to just hang out with. All you need to is simply state that you’re looking for friendship and chances are you'll be on your way to feeling as though you’ve lived in town for ages.
So what if you’re not actually looking for a relationship? What if you’re just looking for some fun or fling? Well good news for you is that there actually are dating sites that cater to very specific groups of people. Sites such as AdultFriendFinder, Ashley Madison and Seeking Arrangement are some of the more popular ones where people that are not looking for a serious long-term relationship go to find people looking for the same thing. This is actually another one of the benefits of online dating sites – you are simply spoilt for choice! These days you can find a dating site that caters to almost any type of person from religion orientated sites to sites dedicated to extramarital affairs – whatever you want – chances are it’s either already out there or its on the way. The popular extra marital affair website Ashley Madison which was launched in 2001 has become so popular its 22 million members come from more than 30 countries – and that’s quite a global reach for a company’s that slogan reads “Life is short. Have an affair”. This staggering number of members simply goes to prove that there is a demand for these types of services and that’s also why there are so many similar websites that aim to cater to a specific type of interest or person popping up each day.
Of course there are alternative online services that might appeal to the more discerning gentleman.. of a more discreet nature where one can also pay their way to a dinner date with a beautiful & out-going girl of their choice. Say you're visiting New Zealand for business trip, and you're stuck for company, perhaps you'd like a drink, or a bit of entertainment, perhaps more. JustGirls is an online adult directory that aggregates mostly independent escorts in Auckland, that will entertain you for an hour, or two, or more.
The important thing is to be as honest as possible and never do anything that you’re not comfortable with. Don't be afraid to tell people to back off if you're not interested but also try to keep an open mind because dating is, as it always was, quite an unpredictable undertaking for most. I always tell people is that if you’re looking for something specific than you should find a site that caters to that, get as close to home as possible and then begin exploring. I also advise that people try more than one site because you might find that one will get you matches that are much more appropriate than the other.