By: Nazaneen Baqizada
“You’ve got to get out there.”
“It happens when you least expect it.”
“You’re too picky.”
These are just some of the things people tell 46-year-old divorcee mom of two, Alice Shaw, when she talks about her dating life. Shaw was with her ex-husband for 11 years before they got a divorce 10 years ago. Since then she has been trying a different method of meeting potential partners: online dating.
“The busier we get, the more we seek convenience,” Shaw says. “Nowadays if you ask people how they met, many, say online, there’s no embarrassment, it’s just something people do.”
At the advent of Internet dating, according to Love, Sex & Deception: The Chronicles of Online Dating by Claire Hultin online dating was considered to be for the “lonely,” “desperate,” and “socially inept.” Now, online dating has not only become mainstream, but dating apps have become more inclusive and trying to be less superficial.
While apps like Tinder are based around finding someone based on looks initially, other apps such as SinglesAroundMe are trying to step beyond this. They recently launched a “Hear Me” campaign to showcase a better app than rival Tinder to find love. The campaign promotes making a decision based on communication rather than a picture.
It’s designed to showcase a better, more humane way to meet people, where finding a good match, doesn’t just come down to how a user looks in their photo. Tinder forces users to swipe right to like and possibly connect with someone, whereas in the new app, users are open to talk to people and demonstrate their likability before a photo pre-determines their destiny.
“The campaign is trying to express that there’s more to people than a photo,” said Christopher Klotz, company CEO and founder. “I’d like to approach somebody, have a conversation, say something witty, get to know them a little better, rather than rely on a picture, which could look very hot, but you don’t know what’s under the skin.”
Carmelia Ray is an online dating coach and matchmaking expert who has helped over 60,000 singles. More and more people are coming to her to help them with their online dating profiles. She believes someone’s picture plays a big part in someone being interested in you.
“If you’re going to do online dating and want to get real results then you have to give your profile the best chance, and to do that you need to choose your best pictures, and maybe even get professional photos taken,” Ray says.
While photos do seem to play an important part in online dating apps, it seems that is so because of how similar it is to when two people meet in person and decide to take it further partly based on initial physical attraction.
“I’d say it’s really not that different than meeting someone at a pub,” Shaw says.
Apps are developing not only in being less superficial, but also more inclusive. While apps such as PlentyofFish, eHarmony and Tinder are not exclusive to particular race, gender or sex, other apps are being created to be more inclusive for women, LGBTQ members, and those who want to date within their religion. One app called Bumble, is exactly like Tinder, except girls must initiate the conversation with their matches or else they disappear after 24 hours. Another app called Grindr helps gay, bi, curious guys for dating. Religion-based apps like Salaam Swipe or JDate are dating apps for those of the Islamic or Jewish faith. Since many Jews and Muslims are forbidden to marry outside their religion, these apps are very popular in those communities.
Online dating has not only become popular but is also being used more and more by different demographics. Alice Shaw is an example of that changing demographic.
It goes to show that even if you are a 40-something with kids, you are not limited to getting lucky by meeting someone in real life. Rather, you can take control and look for it through another medium.
Shaw never thought she would ever try online dating, now she runs a blog detailing her online dating adventures.
“Plenty of people find their significant other this way,” Shaw says. “Not me alas, at least not yet.”