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dot.com datingfinding your right someone online avoiding the liars, losers, and freaks
By les parrott leslie parrott
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Les and Leslie Parrott
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMyth: Online Dating Carries an Embarrassing Stigma
People hear success stories, try it for themselves, shed the stigma, and later proudly announce: "We met on an online dating service."
It started with the very first couple to ever meet online. The year was 1982 when Chris Dunn met Pam Jensen on a CompuServe CB Simulator program. Computer users nationwide were able to be connected in an early version of a chat room. After a few months of virtual chatting, Chris flew from New York to Chicago to meet Pam face-to-face. People said it wouldn't last, and even Chris's father thought it was a joke. But a year later, Chris and Pam exchanged wedding vows.
Their courtship and wedding were featured on numerous television programs and in newspaper articles, including a New York Times story titled "Of Bytes and Bulletin Boards." That was more than twenty-five years ago, and Chris and Pam are still in love and happily married.
These days, of course, a couple falling in love online is hardly newsworthy. But Pam and Chris were charting new territory. "At the time," Pam recalls, "computers weren't as pervasive in our homes and our daily life. To a lot of people, especially my parents' generation and their friends, it seemed very alien, a very suspicious concept to even be communicating like that."
Today the couple lives on the north side of Chicago. "If it weren't for the way we met, I think we could be any other married couple," says Chris. "I've always adored her. She adores me. It's very easy to love my wife."
That part may be easy, but from the start, Chris and Pam had to put up with a great deal of suspicion from others. And so have a lot of other couples who have sometimes felt compelled to hide the fact that they met online.
It's Called "Stigma"
"How did you two meet?" The question was posed to a group of newlywed wives at a Sunday school function.
Going around the circle, each took a moment to tell her romantic story. Then it was time for Tracy to speak up: "We met over the Internet."
There was a moment of silence.
Then the teacher commented, "Really! Why would an attractive, outgoing girl like you need to resort to such drastic measures?"
That's "stigma"—a socially discrediting means of classifying others as going against the norm. It's an undesirable stereotype. It conjures up disapproval, disgrace, and shame, and it's based on uninformed impressions.
This Sunday school teacher is a perfect example of someone who perpetuates an uneducated social stigma of online dating. But truth be told, the above exchange took place more than a decade ago. Today, these misinformed impressions about online dating are few and far between.
So if you're embarrassed by an out-of-date stigma of online dating, you've somehow gotten stuck in a fleeting notion that died out years ago. Yes, it used to be that finding love online was looked at with suspicion. But so was nearly everything else about the Internet. After all, this newfangled mechanism is not that old. It was only August 6, 1991, when the first Web site was built to explain what the World Wide Web was and how you could own a browser and set up a Web server. What? Most people scoffed at the visionary idea of using our computers to buy shoes, download music, or book a hotel room. So why in the world would anyone look to the Internet to find love?
Of course, that was then. This is now. And today, the stigma of online dating has all but vanished. Everyone knows someone who has found the love of his or her life online. Even well-known celebrities talk about using matching sites to find love. We do enough marriage seminars in churches around the country to know that in every congregation there are couples who proudly identify themselves as having been matched online. Sure, some uninformed holdouts still insist on perpetuating the stigma, but their numbers are dwindling quickly.
Your Grandmother's Internet?
If you're looking for evidence that online dating has all but shaken off any remnants of embarrassing stigma, just look at the generation before yours. You may think that some older people rarely even turn on a computer, but you'd be wrong. We all know how popular online dating is for younger generations, but—are you ready for this?—the fastest-growing group to use online dating sites is single seniors.
When seventy-year-old Hilda Gottlieb's husband passed away six years ago, she was determined not to let her loss get the best of her. So she turned to online dating.
"I was 64 when my husband died, and I knew I was not going to be alone for the rest of my life," Gottlieb told the Palm Beach Post.
Gottlieb stumbled upon the profile of then-seventy-two-year-old Marv Cohen and decided to e-mail him. That e-mail led to an in-person meeting and an eventual romantic relationship. They have been enjoying doing things together ever since.
The point is that online dating these days is viewed as socially acceptable even among many of the people who were perhaps the most suspicious of it a few short years ago.
Online Dating Is Now Hypermainstream
"The stigma [of online dating] has definitely dropped because people are advocating for it, talking with their friends [about it], sharing stories with families," says Lija Jarvis, director of a large survey study on Internet dating. Another study, conducted by the research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, shows how quickly online dating—in existence for less than two decades—has revolutionized the way people find and pursue potential mates.
"It does seem to have displaced all other forms of dating," says Susan Frohlick, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Manitoba who has studied online dating. "I would say that it's been in the last five years that it's become hypermainstream."
So if you are embarrassed by a passé prejudice against online dating, do your best to move beyond it. Swallow your irrational pride, and the outdated stigma you're holding on to will disappear.
Any remaining stigma about online dating you may still hold is only going to weigh you down in this process. So here are some tips for getting beyond it.
Talk to fellow cyberdaters: If you think that dating online means you're doing something reprehensible—something that's simply not done—you need to talk with some of the millions of others who are doing it. The more you talk to others who are dating online, the more you will see how normal it can be.
Talk to some dot-com-dating success stories: Just as talking to some online daters may help you see this process for what it is, so will talking with some couples who have found their soul mates online. You'll find them in any church. Just ask around. Nearly everyone knows someone who has gotten married as a result of meeting online. Ask some of these people how the process was for them. If they are like most online matches, they will be thrilled to tell you their stories and relate their experiences.
Check out online dating books: If you need further evidence of how mainstream cyberdating is, peruse the relationship section of any major bookstore. You'll see countless books on finding online love. In fact, there are so many that some are even directed toward specific groups, such as baby boomers or widows and so on.
Excerpted from dot.com dating by les parrott leslie parrott Copyright © 2010 by Les and Leslie Parrott. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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