When Haylie Gauthe Peterson created a Tinder profile in 2015, it was mostly for fun. She had recently ended a long-term relationship and wasn’t looking for anything serious. Occasionally, the dating app would match her with potential partners, but she never felt strongly enough about any of them to continue the conversation or meet in person.
Then she saw Tyler Peterson’s profile. Tinder showed they had several mutual friends on social media, which made Haylie feel more comfortable about him. They started chatting. Tyler asked her on a date. Still hesitant, Haylie kept making excuses to avoid him.
But she was impressed when Tyler remembered a passing comment she made about being off work on an upcoming Monday. He called the night before, asking again to go on a date. This time, she agreed.
“I was really nervous. I was going to think of a reason to cut our lunch date short,” Haylie said. “Once we got together, both of us had the best conversation ever. Neither of us wanted it to end. We ended up going to a movie and going out to get drinks. What was supposed to be a quick lunch date didn’t end until about 10 p.m.”
Farrah Reyna, a Lafayette-based development coach and communication expert, said many successful relationships that begin online involve people who took a more relaxed approach.
“All of the success stories I’ve worked with are couples who had no expectations and just went in to have fun. They let it happen organically and didn’t try too hard,” Reyna said. “The key is, don’t take it too seriously in terms of trying to be perfect. Also, never put a checklist on people. There’s no perfect person, and you may fall in love with someone you didn’t expect.”
Over the past 20 years, the explosion of internet availability has made it easier than ever to connect with new people. Wifi connections can be found in most businesses, homes and public places. More than four billion people now use the internet, compared with about 361 million in 2000. Internet speeds have changed tremendously as well. Back in 2000, dial-up connections were the norm. But today for example, Cox offers internet speeds of up to 1 gig in all households.
This internet growth has led to new and faster services. People still use email, but instant messaging programs like Skype and Facetime have emerged in the last two decades. According to the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Americans own a smartphone, meaning these programs are in the hands of millions of people almost 24/7.
This volume means it can take a little more effort to stand out. Reyna recommended that those trying online dating are honest and transparent in their profiles, know their expectations and make sure they are emotionally ready to date.
“Online dating is tough because it can create highs and lows,” Reyna explained. “You meet a connection, things are going well and you establish that face-to-face date. Sometimes people’s expectations are too high, and that can bring disappointment. It’s important that people are ready for the emotions that come with that.”
LaTaoya Jett wasn’t thinking much would come of the eHarmony profile she created in 2014. She had just gotten out of a “horrible relationship” and was frustrated by the dating scene. Then a friend who met her husband on eHarmony suggested LaTaoya try the dating site.
“She kept telling me, ‘You don’t go out. You go to work and home and the store. The chances of you meeting somebody is slim to none,’” LaTaoya recalled. “I knew she was right. I was still somewhat embarrassed because I had this thought it was for desperate people. But she convinced me, so I decided to give it a try.”
Meanwhile, Talton Jett was living in Texas when he got a promotional email from eHarmony. He had dabbled with the site previously, but nothing had come of it. Talton wasn’t meeting anybody of interest when he went out with friends, so he decided to give online dating a real try this time.
Reyna suggested people research and choose one or two dating apps or sites that best suit their personality and expectations. More than 1,500 online dating platforms are now available, a massive growth from when Match launched in 1995 and eHarmony began in 2000. Some dating sites are more general in nature, while others are geared toward specific audiences, including people looking for same-sex relationships, casual relationships or someone who shares an intense career focus.
“It can be addictive, so it’s important to not let it become a distraction or a bad habit,” Reyna said. “Set aside certain times during the day to check messages or your profile. Try to avoid doing it at work. Set boundaries for your interactions. It’s just a healthier way to approach it.”
Thanks to eHarmony’s icebreaker and dealbreaker questions, LaTaoya and Talton soon matched and began exchanging emails in early 2015. Those quickly turned into hours-long phone calls where neither one wanted to hang up. In a twist of fate, they learned they had grown up two streets away from each other in the New Orleans Gentilly area.
After a few weeks, Talton traveled to Baton Rouge to meet LaTaoya in person for the first time. It was then that the two knew this was something special.
“It was just like a divine connection,” LaTaoya said. “I felt so close to him. I had thought that I was done with dating and didn’t want to bother with a man, but once I met Talton, all of that changed.”
Soon, Talton received a job offer in Louisiana. He accepted, and he and LaTaoya moved in together. They were engaged in August 2015. They married in December 2015, and surprised family and friends at their wedding by announcing they had legally married before the ceremony.
Today, the Jetts live in Baton Rouge with their infant son, Jeremiah. Meanwhile, Haylie and Tyler Peterson tied the knot in September 2019 and are happily settled in Central.
“I tell people to just go for it,” Haylie said. “Although we did have mutual friends, I was living in Clinton and he lived in Brusly, so I don’t think we would have crossed paths otherwise. We joke about it, but it really did change our lives.”
Cox doesn’t want distance to be a love deterrent. That’s why the company is organizing simultaneous pop-up Smart Dating events in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Your dream date could be just down Interstate 10. Find your connection by registering online at onlinedating.cxmla.com. The events will combine the latest in video tablet technology with speed dating on April 8 in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette. Food, drinks and prizes will be there – and possibly the love of your life. But you have to act fast – only 20 slots are available in each city. Follow us on Twitter for more information: @CoxComm @MyCheekyDate @domaincos @LaVerandaApartments @waypointmanagementservices