What’s good about both the Stanford study and the durability of even not-so-cool sites like eHarmony is that being proactive about connection is no longer viewed as unromantic or loserish. Somewhere along the line, enough friends and friends-of-friends started meeting cool people and even falling in love to make the “Let’s just say we met at the deli” cover story moot.
But as eHarmony’s new campaign makes clear, love — or even a really good hookup — isn’t always a simple matter of what matches up perfectly on a survey. “What if you were loved for you?” it asks. What if? What if we had a way of finding people who share our interests and like our pictures, so we could be out dancing instead of sitting at home lonely? And what if, along with all the practicality and purposefulness and monthly fees the Internet brings, it turns out we still hope, in our hearts, for something approaching magic?
A friend of mine semi-shamefully admitted to me once that she had tried eHarmony out, like she was half-expecting me to burst out laughing and flash the L-for-loser sign at her. My attitude about online dating has always been, why the hell not? Her biggest complaint about it was that “people lie” about themselves in that environment. Yeah? And? Like they don’t do that anywhere else?
More than half of all marriages end in divorce, and who knows how many serious, committed relationships don’t even make it to marriage before they dissolve. Basically, the odds are overwhelming that whoever you’re currently with is not The One For You. Of course, the biggest problem with that is the idea that people meeting in their twenties or thirties and staying together for several more decades till death does them part is normal, but anyway. The point is, most traditionally-formed relationships are doomed to collapse at some point, so why stigmatize those who want to try to take a slightly more scientific approach to dating?
Most of us probably meet our prospective partners either through work or mutual friends, which in many instances can provide a paltry enough dating pool. Shy people who don’t necessarily enjoy making the social scene are even more screwed. Whereas on the Internet, you can easily find groups devoted to whatever bizarre hobby or fetish you enjoy. Whatever constellation of traits and beliefs are most important to you, there’s almost certainly people out there who match up pretty well with them. Of course there’s much more to a relationship than how it shapes up on paper, but I can’t help but think it’s an improvement to already know you have so much common ground to get started on.