Advice about finding love online: try POF, "Costco of humanity"
"For some reason, I couldn't stop thinking about him. I had to write him back," Marianne Gagnon-Sirianni said about her dating experience on Plenty of Fish (POF), referring to the man she met online and felt she had known her entire life.
After receiving numerous inappropriate emails, Gagnon-Sirianni was prepared to give up on her short-lived online dating experience when a message landed in her inbox from a man who seemed genuine, and whose "message made me laugh". Four years later, they tied the knot and now are happily married.
Acting as a virtual matchmaker, online dating sites are one of the most popular Internet trends of the decade. Gagnon-Sirianni is far from alone in meeting her partner via an online dating site.
"My story is quite interesting: I only had my online dating profile for one week," Gagnon-Sirianni said about making the decision to delete her POF dating profile after speaking with her, now husband, only a handful of times.
"I had a strong feeling that I had met someone who I really wanted to spend time getting to know and didn't want to waste time speaking to anyone else on the site," Gagnon-Sirianni said.
And it seems her feelings were mutual. After only a few months of dating, the man that POF paired her with gave her a promise ring and swore he would marry her one day.
"Four years later, we had the most incredible wedding and an out-of-this world reception with 200 of our friends and family. Now we are living happily ever after," Gagnon-Sirianni said.
Canadian online daters
Canadians have experienced a major increase in online dating popularity over the past few years, and it is no longer uncommon to hear success stories such as Gagnon-Sirianni's. POF claims a 40 per cent increase in membership holders over the past two year and 33 million registered users.
A cross-Canada survey conducted by Leger Marketing, found that 25 per cent of Canadians have tried online dating. If focusing on daters between the ages of 18 and 34, the percentage of young Canadians who have given online dating a try rises to 36 per cent.
With Canadians spending 74 minutes online per day, and 81 minutes a day on mobile aps, it's no surprise that people would turn to the Internet as a dating tool, particularity when considering that most young Canadians spend more time socializing online than in bars and clubs.
Advice from successful online dating grads: give it a try
"Would you rather compete with a room full of single girls, all after the same goal of finding a good guy at a bar, or form a personal connection with someone through one on one email conversations?" Gagnon-Sirianni said about her motives for joining Plenty of Fish.
"Online dating gives you the opportunity to spend weeks getting to know each other on an intimate level before even meeting," Gagnon-Sirianni said, favoring online matchmaking because of its no-nonsense dating process.
"I was able to ensure that the person I was speaking with was the right person for me, and worth going on a date with," Gagnon-Sirianni said about the beginning of her relationship with now-husband Anthony.
"The fear of initial rejection isn't as great when you don't have to see someone face to face," Rebecca Liu said about her experience with Match.com.
Online dating also offers a safe and more intimate avenue to explore varying relationship formats. Liu explained that she gave online dating a try because of a lack of dating resources in the analog world.
"I didn't really know where else to meet people," Liu said.
Liu is not alone: many find workplace romances taboo. Approaching a cute guy or girl at the library is almost more likely to creep people out than get them interested.
Dating online continues to be more openly acceptable and utilized, particularly among professionals who have become less interested in night club hook-ups and wish to avoid inner-office romances.
"I was new to the city and thought it might be a legitimate way to meet some people and possibly find someone I really liked," Wilson said candidly about also giving Match.com a try after being transferred to Vancouver for business.
Online dating skepticism
Although comfortably classifying himself as an individual who is open to new experiences, Wilson admitted that he needed a nudge to him get started with online dating, even though he had been toying around with the idea for a few months.
"A friend of mine started putting a profile together for me actually. After that, I figured that it couldn't hurt," Wilson said casually.
The hesitancy to discuss online dating curiosity, even amongst the closest of friends, is extremely prominent. Take this article for example, the majority of these lovely online dating quoters wished to have their identity disclosed.
"I was cautious telling people about my online dating because when I signed up back in 2007, it wasn't as mainstream as it currently is," Gagnon-Sirianni said about joining Plenty of Fish.
"There were a lot of aspects of online dating that made me nervous. I was skeptical of how successful it would be and anxious about meeting someone online and going out on a date without really knowing them. I am also very close with my family so I did, admittedly, worry about what my family would think about the entire thing," Gagnon-Sirianni recalled of her initial anxiety over joining the online dating world.
"I was of course nervous about trying it out because online daters are so stigmatized for being desperate or weird," Liu said about her fear of being assigned this stereotype if she openly admitted her online dating activities.
Online dating downers
"There is always that fear that people are not who they say they are and that element of deception," Liu said frankly.
She recalled an experience where first date anticipation quickly turned into regret as she sat nervously and watched a woman come through the doors of a local Starbucks. As the unputtogether woman walked over to introduce herself, Liu was shocked at how noticeably older the woman looked than her online profile exposed. Further discussion with the woman also gave way to the detail that she was also still legally married.
"There are cases where people only put information in their profiles that they feel other people find desirable, even if it is entirely inaccurate," Liu said as she recalled one of her worst online dating experiences.
Wilson commented that the effort put into creating a high-quality profile and responding to emails in the hopes of securing a date, was particularly time consuming.
"There were many times where the Internet would become another workplace," he said about the additional time that had to be put into online dating.
Although online dating may be a favourable dating tool for people who are shy when it comes to expressing intimate feelings, Wilson proposed that taking a risk and exposing vulnerability while face to face, provides a more ultimate form of gratification.
"Online, you can easily hide safely behind your computer and never have to face some of the emotionally gut wrenching moments involved when approaching someone in person. When those moments go well, though, it is a much better high than when you’re connecting with someone online," Wilson explained.
Online dating perks
Besides the effort, time, and occasional misleading profiles, all three of the online daters expressed that dating online provided perks that typical dating methods did not.
"Life is busy. People have different schedules, live in different areas and hang out in different places. Dating online is refreshing because it gives you an avenue to meet people outside your daily routines," Matt Wilson commented.
New to Vancouver, Wilson said, he was having difficulty meeting people. Bars weren't where it was happening.
"It’s a place full of single people, generally looking for the same thing," Wilson said, countering the alternate, and highly unlikely, scenario of stumbling into someone you're interested in during daily routines.
"With the Internet making hundreds of singles instantly available, you feel like you could potentially be missing out on something great if you don't take a look on the sites and see what is out there," Wilson concluded.
The key ingredient that makes dating online so desirable: the Internet provides a larger pool of people to choose a potential partner from.
"Funny enough, my husband and I grew up only 30 minutes away from each other. Between a five year age gap and attending different universities, we likely would have never met each other without online dating," Gagnon-Sirianni said.
Online dating rewards
"I would be open to trying it again," Wilson said.
"I am happily married as a result of online dating," Gagnon-Sirianni said.
"I probably wouldn't try online dating again just because I've realized that it's not my style," Liu said.
Although Liu admitted that she doesn't plan on trying online dating again anytime soon, she doesn't regret the experience. It helped her gain insights about how she functions with other people, her tendency towards shyness and her desire to go slowly at the beginning of a relationship.
The jury's still out for Wilson and the online cupid hasn't pierced him with his virtual arrow yet. "I'd prefer to meet someone in person but it can’t hurt to use the Internet until I do," he said.
Our advice, just do it. What do you have to lose? Online dating sites like POF bring millions together in what one user termed a "Costco of singles". You won't want everything you find on the shelves. You'll see a lot of yucky stuff. Lots of stuff packaged to make you want it with unhealthy stuff inside. But if you look hard enough, or just get lucky, you might find a healthy, delicious treat.