It’s Valentine’s Day, which means that you can’t help but acknowledge whether you are single, attached or somewhere in between. According to Wikipedia, “the day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer during the High Middle Ages.” Since then, matchmakers have given way to Match.com and love letters have given way to emails and text messages. Since developments in technology have altered the ways in which people communicate, it’s no surprise that dating and courtship have been altered as well.
Online dating takes many forms, the obvious being Match.com, eHarmony and more recently, Chemistry.com. But for the impulsive and thrifty, mates can be found on Craig’s List, MySpace, Facebook, Yahoo! Personals and just about any online forum that allows strangers to connect with strangers. While online dating has been around for over a decade, it is still largely stigmatized. The stigma is especially present among people under 25, who describe online dating as “desperate” and “creepy.” I’m reminded of last year’s “It’s Okay to Look” campaign by Match.com, which sought to reassure intimidated but potential consumers. Among the dating websites, Match.com still remains the most popular among the 30-and-under crowd. But based on results and feedback from friends, it’s a safe bet that traditional meeting methods will continue to prevail. I know plenty of people who gave Match.com a chance, but can’t think of a single (or rather, attached) person whose experience resulted in a relationship. Most young singles still expect to meet mates in real life social settings or through the arrangement of friends.
Google and social networking allow singles to run a background check of sorts on those they’ve met. So long as the person being searched doesn’t share their name with many others, a simple search can reveal news stories, a LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, blog postings, photos and more. From search results, you can gather a person’s professional background, personal interests, education and more, providing that the source is reliable and accurate.
While methods in meeting people remain consistent, communication with love interests can take many forms. I activated my text messaging service a few years ago after a friend had suggested that my dating prospects would double when I did so. He was right. Personal enough to seem thoughtful yet indirect enough to skirt rejection, courtship would seem impossible without text messaging. Keeping in touch is also easier. Like an electronic sticky note, you can tell someone you’re thinking of them without launching into a one-hour phone conversation. Email and chat software such as AIM and gchat lie somewhere beneath mobile in the hierarchy of communication channels but offer an alternative method of connecting. Since all of these alternative channels allow users to edit responses and reactions before they are sent, messages are often more polished and less spontaneous. For this reason, however, electronic communication allows users to reveal information more comfortably and perhaps sooner than they would normally.