Removing the stigma from online dating

Amy Reinhardt

The pressure to find love in today’s society is growing stronger, especially for college students. When all your friends are in relationships and you’re single, you may start to wonder, “Is there something wrong with me?”

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The fact is, you may not have explored all your options.

Despite the stigma, online dating is a viable option that is often overlooked. Online dating is stereotyped as being an alternative for older people looking to settle down. While a fraction of that may be true, online dating can work just as well for the younger crowd.

Now I know what you’re thinking: dating apps foster a hook-up environment. While some dating apps have a shallower intent, most are created with the purpose of helping people meet and start a relationship down the line.

I’m a college student, and I can openly admit that I have experimented with online dating. The nine-month journey resembled a roller coaster in multiple ways: I’ve been stood up, led on and have dealt with a surplus of jerks and warded off a few creeps.

I’ve tried nearly every dating app including Tinder, OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Plenty of Fish, and the mutual characteristic was that they each allowed me to talk to a variety of men.

About eight months in I started to lose hope. I’d gone on a plethora of dates, but nothing had worked out, and my mind started to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”

Then I decided to cut my losses and deleted every app in an effort to shift my focus to meeting someone in person.

Due to the busyness of my spring semester, my social life has diminished. So one night in January I caved and created a profile on Plenty of Fish. Out of all the dating apps, Plenty of Fish probably comprises the highest diversity because over 50,000 new people join on a daily basis.

As soon as my profile was available I started receiving messages. After a cursory glance at a profile I could quickly decide whether the user was worth responding to. After less than a month I finally received a message from someone who was worth conversing with.

He was a Catholic 24-year-old single country boy who worked in Topeka, and our intriguing conversation led to a first date about a week later.

Meeting someone in person for the first time is always terrifying, so we decided on something casual: a walk in a local park, which proved successful.

It’s been over a month now and things are still going well. When we first started talking I made sure he understood that I had a busy schedule to maintain, and I’m relieved to say that he’s been more than understanding and insists that I prioritize my homework ahead of the time we spend together.

Between my schedule and his work hours, we make time to see each other during weekends. This allowed us to live our separate lives during the week without becoming overly attached to each other.

So even though you may believe that online dating is frightening, unnatural or foreign, the stigma has already started to fade.

According to Pew Research Center, “18-to-24-year-olds who use online dating has roughly tripled from 10% in 2013 to 27% today.”

I never thought I would try online dating, but now I am one of the many success stories, and it all started from creating a profile and engaging in a conversation with a guy who is now my boyfriend.