CINCINNATI - Once upon a time, we read fairy tales promising storybook romance. The process seemed so simple: put up with a few evil stepsisters and eventually rock a pair of glass slippers, eat a poisoned apple and be rescued by a kiss, or wait for your true love in the shadows of a dragon while throwing your perfect, golden locks down the side of a tower.
In all cases, "happily ever after," was the outcome. However, in today’s world of, “I need that done yesterday” and the 60-plus hour work week, few people have time for the fairy tale let alone the exhausting efforts of the bar scene.
This leaves men and women swimming in the dating pool, with no rescue in sight. Except, perhaps for the lifeline offered by online dating sites.
“The rapid influx in social media use, combined with less time to actually go out to meet other people, makes using the Internet a natural avenue for finding a partner,” said Michael Sharp, assistant professor of experiential learning at the University of Cincinnati.
Ten years ago, online dating was reserved for last resort purposes only, but recently Internet romance has become quite popular and continues to grow in record numbers. About 37 percent of single people admit to using an online dating site, and more than 17 percent of online relationships lead to a long-term commitment or marriage.
Dating in 2014 (Source: StatisticBrain,com )
- Number of single Americans: 54,250,000
- Number who have tried online dating: 41,250,000
- Number of Match.com members: 21,575,000
- Number of eHarmony.com members: 15,500,000
So, can a cyber connection lead to a lifetime of love IRL (in real life)?
According to Sharp, the way people socialize in general has dramatically changed in recent years, and social media is now the way to connect.
“If we think of the Internet as a virtual singles bar (at least parts of it), we shouldn’t be too surprised that this is happening.”
While Sharp agrees that making a connection virtually can lead to a successful relationship, he did add that no online relationship is truly successful until the couple makes the effort to meet face-to-face.
As WCPO has learned through publishing our weekly "Weddings & Celebrations" column, online connections can lead to the real thing here in the Tri-State.
A case study in online love
Whether the couples meet on an actual dating site or connect through a social networks it appears that introducing yourself to someone via an online profile may lessen the overall awkwardness of dating and get things off on the right foot.
To confirm this theory, we circled back with one of the couples whose engagement we highlighted in January to hear what they had to say about online connections.
Elizabeth Quantman and Patrick Warnement met on Match.com and are engaged to be married on Oct. 11. Both are successful professionals in the Cincinnati community.
Quantman is 32 years old and works in sales. Warnement is also 32 and is a civil engineer.
Quantman said she her mother encouraged her to try online dating, and after some careful coaxing, she finally gave it a shot. Warnement had tried online dating before with no success, but logged on one last time in hopes of making a true love connection.
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After only three weeks, the pair found each other in cyberspace and became smitten almost instantly. After some friendly flirtation online, the scene shifted to a phone call; soon the pair arranged a face-to-face meeting.
Before they knew it, their online attraction had grown into love and they were making plans to walk down the aisle. While Quantman admits to a few connections prior to meeting her groom-to-be, she says none of them gave her butterflies worth pursuing the way Warnement did.
She says she would definitely recommend online dating to anyone who is still looking for love. Her groom-to-be agreed, adding that while the experience may initially leave some people feeling a bit apprehensive, a little patience and faith could help almost anyone find their true love.
Online dating checklist
Before you race off to the first dating site you can find and begin typing away with profile in mind and photo in hand, here are a few tips.
- Always be honest. While it may seem like a good idea to fudge data like your weight, height or even your job title, keep in mind that if you make a connection online this person will eventually want to meet face-to-face. It’s better to let them see the real you from the very beginning versus pulling a “Catfish” moment and possibly losing them forever.
- Be truthful about other important details, like how many divorces
- you’ve had and how many children you have. If you’ve never been married or do not have children, be honest regarding your future plans for both.
A dating site for everyone
In 2014, there's no need to limit yourself to the big ones like Match.com or eHarmony. New "niche dating sites" are popping faster than you can say, "Will you go out with me?" Here are a few: