A closer look at how Bethel students interact with online dating
Culture | Greta Sowles
The Internet has dramatically altered dating culture for modern students. The Clarion takes a closer look at specific venues, their effectiveness, and the possible stigma attached.
Students who have dated online
While we were able to find students who have participated in online dating, all declined to comment for this story.
Online dating often has a stigma attached to it, especially in a community like Bethel. Many believe that online dating is dangerous, which may be assumed from online dating horror stories. Junior Drew McNamara had a friend who had an unsuccessful online dating experience and was embarrassed to tell McNamara about it. “When I hear about online dating, a red flag goes up, but I also hear stories that work out,” McNamara said. “I wouldn’t do it, but it’s okay for others to do it.”
Andy Quance also had a friend who graduated from Bethel who met his current girlfriend online. The girl, who was from the East Coast, moved to the Midwest around November, and Quance believes they are still dating. Quance, however, said he would never online date. “I like the awkwardness of a first date. Online dating skips that.”
Emily Anderson agreed that online dating has a stigma and firmly said that she would never do it. Sophomore Nicole Vande Zande agreed, saying, “It’s sketchy, plus I don’t think I could take myself seriously.”
All agreed that the stigma of online dating is situation specific. Seeing a draw to online dating, Michelle Rabedeaux mentioned that dating can become more difficult with age. “Outside of Bethel when you have a career, you may not be able to find someone,” she said.
Sites, descriptions and prices
ChristianMingle: Ad slogan is “Finding God’s match for you.”
The free site is directed at Christians who are looking to find other Christian friends or a life-long partner with similar values. International Director of ChristianMingle Jonathan Youssef said, “What Christian singles are looking for is a combination of the safety and security of the church with the expanded reach of the Internet. I know ChristianMingle is the only place where these two spheres coexist.” They even provide steps to successfully date, tips for safe online dating and links to Christian dating articles.
eHarmony: “From single to soulmate.”
Uses a patented compatibility system to match singles. It was launched in 2000 and is now the most trusted relationship services provider in the U.S.
According to a 2009 study conducted for eHarmony by Harris Interactive, an average of 542 Americans who were matched on eHarmony marry every day in the U.S.
It costs $59.95 for the first month.
According to a 2009-2010 study research study by Chadwick Martin Bailey, more dates, matches and marriages come from Match.com than any other site. Match.com pioneered the dating industry in 1995. It serves singles in 24 different countries. You can create a profile and send winks for free. The cost of a subscription is $35.99 for the first month.
Myrla Seibold, psychology professor and staff therapist with Counseling Services: “There’s a way of presenting yourself online that can exacerbate problems that always come up when you’re getting to know somebody. When you first meet somebody, the reason that they seem so fabulous is because you don’t know very much about them, so you project onto them all your ideas about the ideal person.
Invariably, the more you get to know them, the more they pop the little bubbles. But when you interact with someone person-to-person, those bubbles get popped faster and you’re more quickly able to see who they actually are. In an online-only relationship, you can present just the good side of yourself for a very long time and keep someone from knowing who you really are.”
Nathan Freeburg, associate dean for leadership and community development: “All the [online dating] success stories I know of, the couples met for real relatively quickly after they met online. Maybe they exchanged a handful of emails, then they met for coffee. If you use it as a way to get introduced to people, then meet for real, it can be good.”
“I have friends who have met their spouse on sites and are really happy. But I’ve also had friends who have been on those sites for years and find it exhausting because there is sort of a false community. What I fear is that Bethel students just crave that community. They’re so immersed in it here, but when they look for it online it’s not the same, and students can get really hurt.”
Myrla Seibold: “I definitely can see a potential danger for our more naïve female undergrads. They pretty readily believe whatever is being fed to them by the other person, and they very easily could be drawn into something that’s not safe.”
“There’s also a lot of naïveté about what people expose about themselves online. You’ve got to be careful what you’re posting out there, and I know there have been instances where security has had to get involved, barring from campus a few individuals that people met – only who turn out to be really unsavory characters.