When Bethany Bailey, freshman English education major, first began dating online, she met a guy “through a friend of a friend of a friend,” and hit things off right away.
But once she did a background check on her new online acquaintance, Bailey found him on the sex offenders list.
“I just politely said, ‘I don’t really want to talk to you anymore,’” Bailey said.
Now Bailey gets her background information for potential online matches earlier in the process.
Bailey is not a typical online dater – she does not use mainstream, conventional websites like Match.com. Instead, she chats with guys online who she meets through friends since she is a shy person and meeting people online is easier for her.
“I guess the way I go about it is not normally a way you would want to advocate,” Bailey said, since there is more of the “danger of the unknown” factor in this approach, compared to those who use online dating websites.
According to USA Today, there are around 40 million dating website users in the U.S. alone. Sex offenders like the one Bailey met are one out of every 10 people who use online dating.
Alisha Duell, senior elementary education and middle school math major, said online dating is a way for her to meet people she would not normally have the chance to meet under different circumstances.
Duell said another benefit of online dating is that people can control the pace of their relationships and the decision to talk to or meet people in person is entirely up to one’s own discretion.
Caitlin Platt, junior nursing major, signed up for a popular dating website last summer.
“I just had bad experiences with meeting guys for the first time, so I thought maybe meeting them online might help,” Platt said.
The application process for OkCupid.com and Zoosk.com takes about two hours and involves answering written, generic questions. To find compatibility on such websites, all users answer the same questions to determine similarities.
The application for eHarmony.com, a website that claims 236 members are married each day, consists of 500 questions that rate areas of specific characteristics, wants and needs. This application takes about three hours to complete.
According to The Huffington Post, one out of every three women has sex on her first public encounter and four out of five women do not use protection.
But casual flings are not what online daters are typically interested in.
Platt said she finds dating websites to be a reliable process that leads to in-depth conversations, and she met her boyfriend of six months online. Bailey also met her boyfriend of three and a half years online.
However, online dating is not for everyone. Duell said the user’s comfort level is an important factor and that it is important to date online with an open mind and no timeline.
“I never go in with the expectation of finding someone,” Duell said.