In an editorial for Blisstree.com, writer Deborah Dunham criticized the use of dating sites to find that special someone and how demeaning and humiliating it is for people to put photos of themselves on sites, like Hotornot.com, for ranking and criticism.
Well, having found my husband and the love of my life on Hotornot.com, I can personally answer Ms. Dunhams questions and perhaps offer some insight into why people such as myself submit ourselves to the online dating game and why people use dating websites.
I first posted my profile on the hotornot.com site when I was sixteen. My girlfriend, Rebecca, introduced me to it back when social media was in its infancy. I submitted my photos just to see where I ranked and forgot about it until I left a four year high school sweetheart relationship during my college days. I updated my photos and put myself back “on the market”. Sure, I didn’t need online dating. I was always getting dates from fellow university students, friends in social circles, and random connections. I knew it didn’t hurt to expand my search beyond my university and city, however.
On the one night I decided to stay in and not go on any of the dates I’d been offered, I logged into hotornot.com and saw a message from a handsome blue-eyed Frenchman wearing a Volcom dress shirt who appeared to be at a family dinner seated next to an elderly person. To me, the photo said ‘I’m a traditional family guy, but I have a bit of edge because I’m a surfer (he later confirmed this).’ I was intrigued. He and I liked all of the same interests listed in our profiles like surfing, traveling, cuisine. He was interested in talking, he offered his number, and I called him up. Despite his thick French accent, our conversation flowed like a fine bordeaux. We talked for a month and he offered to recieve me at his home in South Florida. My best friend lived in the next town over, so if things got creepy, I could bail. Fortunately, what could have turned into a slasher nightmare was in fact one of the most beautiful, unbelievable stories of love at first sight; a reunion of the souls.
Two years to the day, we were married in a beautiful mountain top ceremony after he proposed to me during a snowboarding trip at Big Bear resort. When we tell people this story, they always say, “Get out of here!” But it’s true. It’s our love story and it happened thanks to Hotornot.com and good timing.
Yes, Mr. Juvin and I went on a few dates with some people from the site. They weren’t ideal dates because they obviously were not the right people for us, but we did things safely and used good judgement, so no harm, no foul. We signed up to meet new singles and to, if anything, have a good time with good company while passing the time. And, if we got lucky, to meet someone special.
Of course, people who are not confident enough to be totally honest about themselves are going to embellish their profiles. It’s like wearing your finest clothes and putting yourself on your best behavior when going out on a date. However, when situations get real and really uncomfortable, people can reveal their true and often worst versions of themselves and you don’t need the internet for this to happen; It happens every day in the real life dating world.
While online dating may be tougher because of the inability to read physical cues^1, the internet dating world and the real life dating world always plays out in the same way: we doll ourselves up, we act real nice and polite, we highlight our coolest interests and play down our flaws, we use all the attraction marketing tactics for locking in a date and we are ultimately put to the test when the protective layer of the A) computer screen and B) first impression is stripped away.
When it comes to making snap judgements based on appearances, lets considering the following: Men are visual creatures. They’re going to perk up when they see something they like. Men aren’t (always) idiots, either. As soon as a woman opens her mouth with something moronic to say, a guy is going to be turned off (or will put up with it until he can some physical action). Women judge on appearances, too. If a guy has a nice Beemer, a hot job title, and a great apartment we’re attracted by the appearances. However, as soon as he starts yelling at a waiter or revealing through his behavior that he’s a misogynist, we’re over him.
Simply said, we can hide behind our smoke screens of appearances until we’re put to the test. The internet dating world eventually transfers into the real world. We have to use our judgement and trust our instincts when it comes to seeing through the veneer of exterior appearances and self aggrandizement. Blindly believing in what someone tells us about who they are without allowing their actions to determine the truth is naive to say the least.
Some people can find deep, lasting love by posting a photo and short bio of themselves online. One in five people in America are in a committed relationship with someone they met on the internet.^2 In 2010, 17% of American married couples met through the internet.^3
It’s significant to take into account that millions of women who subscribe to online dating services aren’t even interested at all in finding ‘the one’ through the internet. Some women just want to see where they rate next to their “competition”, some are simply looking for random hookups, want to blast ugly men, and some just want to actually spend an hour taking a hot photo to get as high a rating as possible. Yes, women can be that shallow and cruel. Saying that every woman who creates a dating profile only to find Mr. Right (a man who also enjoys reading Jane Austen novels) is a broad generalization about the online dating world. Girls, too, just want to have fun online.
The dating world is tough and has always been so since the dawn of time, no matter how one does it. Before the invention of the internet and internet dating services, the entire process of dating, mating, and procreating has always been chock full of humiliating, terrifying, and aggravating experiences. From 17th century arranged marriages, to finding husbands through the 1950s MRS Degree, through the 1990s speed dating, to the 2000s internet dating, there will always be an older, married person who doesn’t seem to understand why young men and women put themselves through such “embarrassing” and “suppressive” methods for finding a spouse (and a good time). The short answer is: “It’s what’s hot” and if you’re not doing it, you’re “not.”