Reggianie Francois met her boyfriend online, using dating site Tinder.
“I am from New York City so there is no guy who you meet at a bookstore and asks you out for coffee,” said the SUNY Plattsburgh student.
“Things like that don’t really happen in real life.”
Tinder, a phone application that came into popularity in late 2014, has a simple matching process — users either swipe right to match or swipe left to pass.
Francois, 21, remembers swiping right because she was intrigued by Ben Elliot’s profile picture and a simple one-line quote in his bio.
When they began talking, she became even more invested because of his gentlemanly attention and the conversations they had.
In the mid 1990s, when the first online dating site — Match.com — offered a new way for prospective love birds to meet, the practice was met with caution, fear and even scorn by many.
It has since grown into a network of 35 million potential partners, according to an infographic by FreeDating published last November at Nextshark.com
In the United States, the percentage of people who know someone who has online dated has risen from 11 percent to 42 percent since 2005, the infographic says.
And as of 2016, 49,250,000 Americans were online looking for love or at least a little companionship.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2005, 44 percent of Americans believed that online dating was a good way to meet people. That has increased by 15 percent in the past 10 years, it says.
Whether it is a romantic committed relationship or a casual date, these online dating websites have added a new level to meeting compatible people.
On the flip side, though, 23 percent of Americans agree that “people who use online dating sites are desperate,” Pew says.
‘IT WAS WEIRD’
It took Pria Bal, 23, two weeks of online dating to know that it wasn’t for her.
The Plattsburgh woman tried just one site, Tinder, out of curiosity and a little bit of boredom.
“It was weird. Basically, it was a lot of small talk or just people being very straightforward. Which I usually enjoy, because I am a very straightforward person,” Bal said.
She found that men gave her unwanted attention and asked for a sexual relationship too boldly.
According to a study called “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science” by Finkel, “computer-mediated communication” gives users a sense of safety.
Users can control who and when they can talk to someone without risk and time commitment.
Roland Barber, 34, likes that aspect of it.
The Plattsburgh resident put his online profile on Plenty of Fish.
That site, according to the eBiz MBA Guide online, is ranked this month as the second most popular online dating website, with more than 23,000,00 profiles from around the world.
He talked to 17 or more women, he said.
“I could talk to all those girls and not feel attached,” Barber said.
Many online dating sites use personality testing to help facilitate matches toward more compatible partners.
Match.com allows their users to rank attributes that they prefer from least to most important.
Another site, eHarmony.com, uses a 400-question survey that founder Dr. Neil Clark Warren developed based on his study of thousands of marriages.
But most sites use the hit-or-miss system that lets the users determine compatibility on their own. The users can create a bio that explains who they are, paired with a photo.
Bal believes people are more willing to share their information because of the digital age we live in.
“I think because it is online it gives people that may not be as extroverted a change to feel more confident,” she said. “Like test the waters. They get to be outside of their comfort zone but not completely.”
The sense of safety identified in Finkel’s study can also give people the idea to “catfish,” the act of falsely presenting oneself online, a term created by Nev Schulman director of the documentary “Catfish” in 2010.
According to Nextshark.com, 54 percent of people believe that people use false information in their profiles.
And some of those aren’t just posting a fake photo or lies about education or jobs — they go to extremes.
One high-profile case involved a star football player at Notre Dame University who developed an online relationship with a woman who turned out not to exist at all.
Manti Te’o believed she died of leukemia on the same day as his grandmother, and media around the world reported on the touching love story.
It was a complete hoax.
There’s a technique to looking for the love of your life online, Francois said.
“It’s like you’re selling yourself, depending on what you are looking for, so you are trying to promote yourself like a resume,” she said.
For her, love followed. She and Elliot have been together for a year now.
All the same, Francois believes online dating “is not the right way, but it is just easier.”