By Jessica Suarez
EMILY REID/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Psychology freshman Anthony Rueda explores the possibilities offered by Internet dating services.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday March 25, 2003
Students go online to find dates, friends or maybe even a soul mate
Parties. Bars. Blind dates. You've tried everything to meet the right person ÷ but nothing seems to work. Maybe you'd be better off just staying at home.
Actually, that's not a bad idea. A group of new and old online dating sites target the college age demographic, taking the stigma away from using a dating service and helping those who need a larger dating pool to find the right person, as well as those who are just a little too shy to approach someone on their own.
Patience Molina, a health sciences sophomore, used an online dating service to talk to someone she had seen around the UA and liked from afar. She was too shy to approach him in person, but talking to him online allowed her just enough anonymity to make the connection.
"It was someone I had seen around Tucson, at shows and on campus. But I was just too shy to talk to him. I was browsing through some online profiles and saw his picture. That was great, because it meant I didn't have to worry about whether he already had a girlfriend. I started talking to him online, and a week later, we went out for real," she said.
Molina used Collegeclub (www.collegeclub.com), which receives more than 600,000 hits a month and has active profiles of more than 300 UA students looking for a mate. It lets users search by what type of relationship they are looking for by filtering the results by categories of religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and interests. It also offers quizzes to help students find more suitable matches. Lavalife (www.lavalife.com) and Makeoutclub (www.makeoutclub.com) also cater to younger college and post-college aged singles.
Am I Hot or Not? (www.hotornot.com) combines its picture-rating service with a matchmaking feature that helps weed out unwanted advances. When someone views a member's profile, they must get that member's approval of their profile before the site will let users contact each other.
Friendster (www.friendster.com), a new dating and meeting site, relies on friends setting up their other friends. Users are connected through a network of friends, ensuring that one can only view the profiles of members of the same circle of friends. Users must ask for an introduction if they want to meet someone who knows one of their friends.
Reid Salis, a UA graduate, says friends' online dating disasters have caused a riff in his circle of friends. He had two friends listed on Friendster who wanted him to introduce them. The rest is bad date history: the two had a terrible time together, and they blamed Salis.
"Don't ever, ever set friends up on a date, online or not," he said. "If they hate each other, they'll blame you. They'll each think you must not think very much of them for setting them up with this loser. The thing is, both of these losers are your friends."
Though all these services try to cut down on potential dating disasters, there are risks to meeting someone you've only talked to online. Jeff Wright, a business sophomore, had a bad online dating experience that has sworn him off meeting people online for good.
"I met this girl online. She sent me an e-mail and we just started talking on (AOL) Instant Messenger. After a couple of weeks we decided to meet up at a bar to hang out. We had exchanged pictures so we'd know who to look for," he said.
"Anyway, I got to the bar and I saw a girl who looked like her, but was, like, 50 pounds fatter. The picture she sent me must have been about two years old. I turned around and left, without even talking to her. I don't even think she ever saw me."
Others, however, report success with online dating. Kenlee Stubbs, an engineering freshman, has met and dated several people online. Stubbs, however, describes her first real-live date with someone she met online as the scariest moment of her life, though things did eventually work out.
"It turned out great actually. The beginning was kind of rocky because we didn't really know what to say, but after we warmed up to each other, we had a great time."
So far, searching for love online hasn't yielded a serious relationship, but Stubbs is hopeful. She is going out on a date with someone she met online this weekend.
"There are a lot of interesting people on the Web, so it's almost like going out and seeing the world."
She also had some advice for meeting and dating online.
"My advice is, don't take things at face value. Some things people tell you aren't always true. Sometimes you can tell if they aren't telling everything, but always have your guard up just in case. Oh, and the usual ÷ be yourself."
Molina, had her own advice for online dating.
"No matter what, only talk to people who live in your city. And, make sure to meet them in real life within a month. Otherwise, you'll start to build huge expectations of what the other person is like, and you'll only be disappointed when you meet them in person," she said.
Molina dated the person she met online for several months, until he graduated and moved to Los Angeles.
"It was kind of ironic, actually. We met and became friends over the Internet, but once we started dating, we decided we couldn't handle a long distance relationship," she said.
"Just because the way you met was unusual doesn't mean things won't end in a pretty normal way."