You want to meet someone in BIO101 or the creative writing club. You want to meet someone in the break room, when you’re both eating vending machine dinners. You want to meet someone at the local coffee shop, or book store, or bar – but you meet them online.
According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 50% of adults ages 18-29 have tried online dating, and 20% of those adults reported entering into a serious relationship or marrying a person they met online. And this number is on the rise: in 2013, only 3% of American adults reported entering a serious relationship through online dating versus 12% reporting in 2019.
And with COVID restrictions making it even more difficult to meet someone at a social event, dating apps have received a surge in activity. According to Fortune, OkCupid had a 700% increase in dates in May 2020, and Tinder recorded 3 billion unique swipes in one day of March 2020 – the highest number of swipes recorded since the app was launched.
Evidently, there is no reluctance for young adults to seek connection online, so if legitimacy is determined by popularity, online dating earns that point. But considering the emotions beyond the numbers: When you find someone you could love, does it matter how you meet them?
Wi-fi is just another place to spontaneously meet. It’s not as physical; there is no locking eyes or slowly making your way across the room. There’s no heart-racing risk. It’s a few pictures and a short description. It’s a text conversation that hopefully turns into a phone call.
But a date is a date. You meet him in a Price Chopper parking lot (a neutral space) and he takes you to the art museum and then to an Irish pub for dinner. You drive around and talk for hours and then, when he drops you back off at your car in the Price Chopper parking lot, he kisses you in the front seat of his car.
There is no lack of romance. It is romantic. You don’t miss out on anything just because your story started on a laptop. And as the relationship evolves, doesn’t it matter less and less how exactly you came together? The odds of crossing paths with someone online are just as likely as meeting someone at a bar. Whether it’s fated, or an algorithm, or just a completely random set of circumstances, the end product can end up the exact same: meeting someone with the pretty blue eyes that you fall hard for.