By Christina Marfice and Matt Shelar
There are 54 million single people in the United States, according to Census Bureau statistics. With only 40 percent of its population unhitched, Idaho is home to the lowest ratio of single people in the nation. With the stresses of school, work, family and other obligations coupled with the numbers, it’s no surprise that so many singles, including Broncos, are taking to the web in search of true love.
Recent years have shown a rise in the prevalence of online dating, and college students have become the fastest-growing group of dating service users. Many new dating sites specifically target the college-aged set, and with hundreds of site options, many of them free, daters have access to innumerable potential mates.
“I’m just bad at meeting people, so I thought it was something worth a try. It was another avenue to meet people,” said one 23-year-old Boise male whose profile highlights his “razor sharp sense of humor.” An account holder on OKCupid.com since December, he’s dated many girls met online, some for as long as three months.
“It’s nice because even before meeting somebody, you can see if you have similar interests,” he said. “It makes the first date less awkward.”
But most online daters will contend that dates don’t always go so smoothly.
“I was expecting I was going to go meet a 5’8” blonde (with a) pretty smile but that’s not real,” said a 22-year-old male who claims to be a good listener.
“Everyone either has a kid on there or is broke or pregnant.”
To get a more personal look at the world of online dating, two of The Arbiter’s single staffers ventured into cyberspace to find dates. Read their accounts below.
When I created my first Craigslist advertisement about three weeks ago, it said something to the effect of “19-year-old male, new to the area – looking for someone to show me around .” I added the emoticon because I figured it would somehow make me more relatable and marketable to potential dates-to-be. People tend to look at the picture before reading the text. It’s only natural. Therefore, I deemed a smiley face to be a necessary means of communication, especially in a situation where I was using the internet as a dating medium.
For about three days I waited, receiving no responses. Little did I know the effect of the smiling emoticon was nothing compared to that of a picture. On the fourth day a friend advised me to post an image of myself. And after this happened I received about 15 responses, from both men and women, within two days. So if ever you delve into this electronic facet of dating, always remember that while words woo, pictures personalize. I imagine it’s harder for females to find dates online than it is for males, as only two of my 15 responses posted pictures. As far as the selection process went for these two, I chose the girl who suggested the better date idea. She proposed we go to a frozen yogurt shop in the downtown area. I don’t much enjoy frozen yogurt, but they had black coffee, so I agreed to go.
On the night of the engagement, we met in a blind-date fashion, so for all I knew she could have been a 40-year-old Russian man named Yuri with a burning (or should I say freezing?) desire for “froyo.” Thankfully, however, she looked and acted in person exactly how she had in her Craigslist advertisement: not physically or psychologically attractive. It was relief, at least, to not have fallen victim to the classic blind date “who the hell are you?” predicament. I mean, at least I had gotten into something I had pretty accurately anticipated. Craigslist had done its job in that respect.
We acted entirely too comfortable with one other right from the get-go, but the relaxed feeling was not one of authenticity. It was the sort of sensation you felt as a small child when you would tell yourself you weren’t in trouble with your parents for breaking a house rule, but deep down you really knew you were going to “get it” once they got home. Liken the situation to kissing a person while you’re both wearing masks. If you’re willing enough to press your lips against those of another, chances are you’re fairly laid back in his or her presence. But wearing a mask while doing so would add an uncomfortable element to the equation. It would take away from what makes the act of kissing so special, and we were wearing masks, alright. Isn’t that why people find dates on the internet in the first place? One can take on any number of personas when behind the guise of a screen name. But if one advertises oneself in a deceptive way, how long can he or she keep up the charade?
After several days of searching, I had had little luck in my foray into online dating. I couldn’t bring myself to answer an ad that didn’t at least display a basic understanding of grammar on the part of its writer, and for whatever reason, neck tattoos, mutton chops and a working knowledge of field dressing techniques for 17 different species of game just don’t get me going. Sorry, not sorry.
Finally, I began trading emails with a seemingly nice fellow by the name of Alex. He knew how to properly construct a sentence, and the photo that accompanied his ad was one of a pair of nice dress pant topped with a set of washboard abs. No complaints there. Plus, his ad made no mention of his children or his truck, and there was no camouflage in sight. I’ll take it.
After a few emails, we exchanged phone numbers and continued to chat via text. He was charming and suggested we meet for a hike to Table Rock, and I’m nothing if not a sucker for a creative date that isn’t dinner and a movie. His sense of humor was refreshing and kept our chat interesting, at first.
Then I received a text reading, “It’s a shame you wear your hair so short…too boyish.” Needless to say, I was put off by his rudeness and did not hesitate to tell him as much. Rather than apologizing, he asked me for a picture of my body, because, according to his text, “women who send the least photos always worry me because they have something to hide. Easier to be an ass and get a clear view than spend an entire evening with someone I’m not attracted to.”
Yeah, I’ll just let that one sink in for a moment.
I thought that would be the end of Alex. I thought wrong.
After I didn’t reply for several hours, he asked if I was still interested in meeting. Struggling to maintain my diplomacy, I told him I felt that our personalities didn’t mesh well and wished him luck in his search. He begged for another chance, saying to me, “I need a good intelligent friend/woman. Give me a chance. Let’s hang out.” This time, I was a little firmer in declining his advances. He then proceeded to tell me that he found my “aggression kind of kinky.” Shaking my head, I resolved not to reply any more.
A few minutes later, my phone vibrated again. I sighed and looked down at the screen to see a new video message. I naïvely opened the video, and was treated to a dance recorded in a bathroom mirror by the eloquent Alex. He was wearing nothing but his underwear.
Moments later, I received another text: “Did that finalize your decision?” Yes, actually. It did.
Alex and I never met. I hope we never do.