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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

The Pros & Cons of Online Dating: Should You Try It?

Every weekend we spend hours getting ready, squeezing into our tightest jeans, putting on our cutest tops, straightening or curling our hair, and applying just the right amount of lip gloss—all in hopes of finding that special someone at the bar or frat party.  But in college, sometimes finding a boyfriend is just as hard as finding the perfect pair of shoes; the guy who seems like Mr. Right is never a perfect fit.  However collegiettes™, there’s still hope: online dating.  We’ve put together everything you need to know about online dating so you can decide whether or not to give it a shot.

So Many Boys, So Little Time
Online dating sites have more than 20 million people browsing their profiles a month. So when you sign up and create a profile on a dating site, you’ll be exposed to thousands of people all there for similar reasons, rather than the handful of skeezy guys that attempt to buy you a drink on a Saturday night.  A dating site is like the Facebook exclusively for singles, but when you find something you like, it’s okay to go for it and make some conversation.
“You meet people you might not ordinarily get to meet in your everyday life,” said Christina, a graduate of Merrimack College, who has tried online dating. 
Convenience is Key
Online dating is convenient. It filters out that awkward limbo phase where you’re stuck trying to decipher if a guy wants to date you… or just hook up with you.  Online dating brings the singles of the world together, and you get to decide what exactly you’re looking for when you stumble upon someone’s profile.
“There was no messy ‘defining the relationship’ talk because we both were blatantly clear about what we were looking for,” said Michele, a sophomore at University of Florida, who met her boyfriend on the site Ok Cupid.

Looking For?  Interested In?
When a guy walks up to you at a bar, there’s no nametag around his neck letting you know what he’s really looking for, or if you have anything at all in common. But dating websites help clue you in to all of this; all the information is out there to share, right up front where you can see it. 
Dating websites will ask you to list what you’re looking for when you create a profile.  Do you have a height requirement?  Do his political views matter? Is age a major factor?  Even better, you can also search profiles by your interests too.  It’s like shopping, but instead of looking for a chic handbag, you’re finding a new piece of arm candy to love.
The biggest pro is the ability to filter people based on your criteria.  In all honesty, I would first look at where someone lived, and if it was too far, they were ruled out.  Next I looked at their pictures, and if I was attracted to them, I would read further,” said Julia, a recent graduate of Boston College who has tried out three different websites.
“You know if the person has the same core beliefs and values as you,” said Mary Beth, a senior at Aquinas College.  “Like for me, I’d want to meet someone who has the same religious and political beliefs.”

With a focused search on just exactly what you’re looking for, you can screen out anyone you know you wouldn’t have a spark with.  Online dating is all about finding those fireworks. 

We Found Love in A Hopeless Place
The bottom line is, online dating doeswork, with 94 percent of users saying they found that special spark! Check out how these collegiettes™ found love with a click of their mouse. 

“My boyfriend and I met last year on E-Harmony.com. Since I only signed up for the free weekend [which means you don’t have access to complete profiles], I was unable to see what my boyfriend looked like before our date. This really helped me to get to know him before being wrapped up by his good looks. I am still happy a year later.” –Sathiyya, a senior at Bowie State. 
“I signed up for OkCupid September of 2010, just for fun. I didn’t expect anything serious. A week or two later, I got matched up with a guy named Chris. His profile picture was weird, but when I looked at his other pictures he was really cute! He said he was into sports journalism like me so I made the super awkward first contact. We went on our first date Dec. 4 and the 14th is our one-year anniversary. We are very much in love, and neither of us can believe we found true love online.”
– Kelly, a junior at JMU
“Halfway through my first semester of college, I felt like I wanted a relationship, but kept meeting guys who had different expectations. I set up an account on OKCupid. I got a message from a guy who seemed perfect for me. Over the next two weeks, we saw each other more and more frequently, until we were seeing each other on a nearly daily basis. By the third week, we were Facebook official, and by the fourth, I had practically moved into his apartment.” – Michele, a sophomore at University of Florida
As collegiettes™, we’ve all experienced those incredibly awkward moments that go hand in hand with growing up.  From middle school dances clad with braces, to tripping down the stairs in high school, to your first drunken night out in college, being in uncomfortable or embarrassing situations have become a part of normal life, lucky us.  So it’s no surprise that when in comes to online dating, that awkwardness will only continue to follow you. 
We’re all looking for someone to sweep us off our feet in a The Notebook-style romance (and preferably with Ryan Gosling doing the sweeping). Therefore, when you sign up for a dating site, you might just happen to stumble upon someone you know from the real world, especially if you’ve narrowed your search to a specific location.  While it may be a teensy bit awkward getting caught in the act, you’re both there for the same reason and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
“I wasn’t worried about stumbling upon profiles of people I knew, and in fact I have several times. It never really embarrassed me because the way I look at it, we’re all on there for the same reason, to get out there and meet people we might not ordinarily meet,” Christina said.
But the awkwardness doesn’t stop there.

When you meet someone online, it is inevitable that when you finally get together, things could be a little uncomfortable.  Do you live up to what they were expecting?  Does he look better in his picture than in person? What if we’ve already talked about everything we have in common?  According to statistics, most men lie about their age, height, and income in their profiles.  So if you’re expecting a 6’4 millionaire, you may want to dial back your expectations a tiny bit. 
But don’t let your racing heart and sweaty palms get you down.  If it’s meant to work out, the conversation will flow and everything will settle into place.  And if it doesn’t,it wasn’t meant to be, and you now have a funny ‘OMG most awkward date of my life’ story to joke about with your friends.  
“After exchanging a few messages on the site, we agreed to meet up for coffee that weekend. We talked for hours and totally clicked,” Michele said.
“It can run more smoothly when you are communicating with someone through a site beforehand, especially if you keep up a conversation for at least a week or so before getting together. That way you can get some basic information out there, talk some things out, and still have material to talk about when you first meet,” Christina said.
But remember collegiettes™,first dates are inherently awkward, no matter where you meet the guy.
Mixed Signals
We’ve all seen a 20/20 special about the dangers of the Internet, and when it comes down to it, the World Wide Web can be a scary place.  Anyone can hide behind a picture of a smiling, buff guy.  That’s why, on any dating website, it’s important to be careful.  Don’tgive out personal information like addresses and phone numbers (and never social security numbers) until you’re 100 percent sure you’re comfortable with a person; one in 10 people on dating websites are scammers.  However, dobe open to the idea of connecting with someone you meet online—not everyone is out to get you, just be cautious.
Depending on what website you register with, the clientele may not be what you are looking for.  As college students, you may get wrapped up in a dating world where everyone’s priority is to get married.   For me personally, the idea of marriage is so far out of my mind, that any guy looking to settle down would definitely be a ‘no’ in my book.  So it’s important to pick a site where the customers are interested in the same kind of relationship as you are.  For college students, you’re more likely to find someone that fits your criteria on OkCupid or Date My School.
“I am on a free site so the clientele reflects that somewhat. You have to weed through the bad before you get to the good and sometimes it feels like you might not find a match. It can be discouraging,” Christina said.
The Social Stigma
Online dating isn’t just for middle-aged divorcees looking for a second shot at love… or just some action.  However, the idea of finding someone on the Internet hasn’t exactly been fully accepted by society, which discourages some collegiettes™ from signing up.
“The one downside to online dating, as far as I can tell, is the stigma that comes along with it. Whenever people ask [my boyfriend and me] about how we met, I typically say we met at a party. I’ve told my closest friends how we met, but that’s it,” Michele said.
However, for the most part, we spend so much of our time glued to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+ and every other social media website that they essentially do that same thing as a dating website: they connect people with one another.  At the end of the day, if you’ve met someone that you love and who loves you back, there’s no reason to be anything but happy—there should be no shame.
So collegiettes™, have we swayed you into trying out the world of online dating?  Check out the some of our top dating websites to try out!

  • OkCupid: Not only is OkCupid free, but it was also listed in TIME Magazine’s 2007 ‘Top 10 Dating Sites’. The website matches users based on member-created quizzes. As of September 2010, the site has over 3.5 million users.
  • Match.com: It is free to sign up on Match, but there are restrictions if you are not a registered, paying customer—the monthly fee is $30. However, with 15 millions users, the chance to meet your ‘match’ is significantly higher.
  • Zoosk: Zoosk is the largest socialonline dating community.  Users can access the website through a Facebook application, download it onto their phone or onto the desktop of their computer.  Zoosk is $19.95 a month for a three-month subscription.
  • eHarmony: eHarmony focuses on the science of matching people together.  The company operates eHarmony Labs, a relationship research facility, where they investigate compatibility and publish advice for the site.  eHarmony is $39.95 for a three-month subscription, but also offers a one-week free trial for new members.
  • DateMySchool: DateMySchool specializes in bringing college students together.  It’s absolutely free, and all you need to sign up is an active school e-mail address, which also makes the website safe. 


Jamie is a recent graduate of the George Washington University where she majored in Political Communication and Journalism.  While in school, she interned at several magazines and online publications, wrote for Her Campus, and contributed to her university's newspaper, The Hatchet. Her work has been syndicated in The Huffington Post, USA Today College, and Reader's Digest. Jamie loves boy bands, anything with a little wit and sarcasm, and of course, diet coke. She is currently pursuing a career in magazine journalism in NYC. You can follow her on Twitter, @jamieblynn