Photo courtesy of Ashley Goins
Match.com’s homepage claims that one in five relationships start online. Whether that number can apply to college students is unknown, but the negative stigma attached to online dating is fading for some students.
Ashley Goins, a fifth-year in logistics management and marketing, met her boyfriend of more than one year on the match-making website, and said the college bar scene was one of the reasons she joined.
“I wanted to meet someone who had the same interests as me, and I knew another student that had met someone on it,” Goins said. “It’s hard to find dates out at bars that aren’t just trying to go home with you.”
According to a Northwestern University study by Eli Finkel, an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern, part of an attitude change about online dating can come from word-of-mouth. Individuals in one’s social circle, like Goins’, find success in online dating. With the growing popularity of social media sites, people share more information about themselves than in the past, which also contributes to this phenomenon.
Robert Arkin, an Ohio State psychology professor, said people are probably more honest on online dating sites than other social media sites.
“I would expect people are probably moderately honest on online dating, because ultimately they know they’ll have to meet this person face-to-face,” Arkin said. “People are probably more straightforward on online dating than Facebook, because there’s no one to check you or no lie detector test like there would be with meeting someone in person.”
Finkel’s study also said that at the turn of the millennium, college students had more negative than positive attitudes about online dating due to the fear of dishonesty in profiles, dating sites being unsafe and it taking longer to get to know a person online than in person.
Treva Jungbluth, a second-year in speech and hearing science, said though she didn’t see herself using an online dating site, the stigma is gone.
“College, I think, is a little early to start looking; you meet so many people in college,” Jungbluth said. “But if you really want to you can. I don’t disapprove of it at all, I just think online dating is more serious than casual dating, and it’s so popular now, there really isn’t a negative stigma.”
Arkin suggests part of the stigma comes from the notion that if one joins an online dating site, one has failed in the face-to-face interaction. Akua Adu-gyamfi, a third-year in psychology, said she feels the stigma still exists, but didn’t rule out trying it herself.
“I would consider using it. Why not?” Adu-Gyamfi said. “I feel like you can’t limit yourself to just your surroundings, because you may meet someone really interesting or someone you’re compatible with, but there is still a stigma. I feel like if you do that people are like, ‘Oh, you’re that desperate?'”
Finkel’s study concluded that online dating has “radically altered the dating landscape” since it began in some ways positively, and in other ways not.
Goins, who found success in online dating, suggests that students who are apprehensive about it should “just do it.”
“The worst thing that could happen is that a date doesn’t go well, but that sort of thing happens anyway,” Goins said. “You might find someone really great, too.”