A week doesn’t go by without several newspapers writing about the expanding use of online dating services. Millions of single people have, and many more millions will, use at least one online dating site in 2005. Despite the increased societal acceptance, several myths continue to persist.
Myth #1: Meeting someone long-distance doesn’t work.
So, you finally work up the courage to create a profile online, pay your subscription fee, and even upload a couple of flattering photos. Low and behold you get a few emails from some potential matches. Instantly you notice a problem: these electronic love seekers come from Houston, TX, Podunk, MO and Hacienda, CA while you sit in your Boston, MA one bedroom apartment.
For many people this is an immediate let down and elicits a common response, “What good does it do me to meet someone so far away?” The easiest and most direct answer is that it might do you a lot of good, especially if one of those people turns out to be your future spouse. Distance, not unlike other challenges that come up in a relationship, is tolerated in degrees which vary from person to person. Very few people go looking for a long distance relationship. Then again, God does not always send us gifts in the packaging we expect or even want.
Another often overlooked reason to consider people from great distances is that much can be learned through getting to know someone from a different part of the country or the world. Okay, so maybe this person is not your prince charming or princess bride, but you might learn a lot from them, and even have a pen pal or friend for life. Bottom line: Keep your options open. God works in strange ways, even online.
Not everyone is cut out for such an endeavor, but there is a certain openness that each person should possess. As Christians we understand that God can choose to work in extraordinary ways such as a great sign or unexplainable healing. But more often than not God works in ordinary ways. Thus an email from a person could be God’s simple way of introducing you to your future spouse regardless of the distance the message had to travel. In over five years of working with CatholicMatch.com many of the couples that found their spouse on our site did not go looking for a long distance romance. The openness paid off in spades, or in their cases, wedding bells.
Myth #2: Everyone online pretends to be something they’re not.
Yes, they can. That is about as succinct an answer as I can give. Some individuals also pretend to be someone else at the office, in school, the bar, and at Church. How many stories are in the news about people leading double, sometimes even triple lives? The Internet (including online dating services) can make it easier for people to pretend, but often times their disguises are revealed once you meet them in person.
Here are some suggestions that can help you screen out people who might be less than honest:
1. Ask for a reference. If the person says they are a practicing Catholic then in all likelihood they should have a good relationship with a priest at their parish. Call or email the priest at his office, explain the situation, and just ask some general questions about the person which a priest could answer.
2. After a certain amount of time of corresponding, ask for photos of friends or family. Most people have photos of the things that are important to them: family, hobbies, activities, etc. This helps confirm the image the person is portraying about themselves.
3. Google them! There is no guarantee that there will be information about them in Google, Yahoo or any major search engine but it certainly can’t hurt.
4. If you decide to meet in person, make it a public place. If you can meet their friends and family as soon as possible that is a plus, because it can tell you a lot about the person.
5. Use common sense. Be alert. Look for inconsistencies. And pray that God will give you guidance.
The bottom line: Use common sense and don’t let your emotions override basic logic.
Myth #3: Online dating sites are for losers.
Despite great progress over the last several years this continues to be the number one response. Here is the beginning to a typical conversation that I have had with hundreds of people.
Me: “Do you know about CatholicMatch.com?”
Them: “Yeah, isn’t that one of those online dating sites?”
Me: “Yes although we like to think of it more as an online community for single Catholics.”
Them: “Well that’s great, but I don’t have trouble getting dates and I am not desperate.”
Me: “Well neither are most of the people who use our site.”
The majority of people that use an online dating service are usually determined, not desperate. Just browse the profiles and photos of people on Catholic Match, or even a secular site, and they just don’t look like desperate people. As single adults many, if not most, have had a thought such as “I wonder if I will ever meet that special someone?” or “God, why haven’t I met my husband/wife yet?” Not everyone will admit to it, but these are the kinds of questions normal single people ask themselves.
The reality is that most people use Catholic Match and other sites because they are looking for something more. Our members are usually seeking someone with a deep faith and strong moral convictions. Services like ours provide single people with tools unavailable to them in traditional dating settings. I often tell people that using an online dating service merely supplements meeting people in the “real world.” Being able to look for people who have similar interests and values often eliminates those early worries on a first date when you know little about the person. The snap shot of a profile and a few email exchanges or phone calls can be a fantastic early indicator as to how successful a first date might be.
If you are single and have never tried an online dating site then I hope this article has given you some encouragement and answered a few of the more common objections. If you are already using a service or have in the past then I hope you have a renewed spirit.
(Brian R. Barcaro is the co-founder of Acolyte, LLC a high-end Internet software development company. He is also the co-founder of CatholicMatch.com, the largest online web based service for single Catholics. Brian has given talks to a variety of groups especially youth and young adults. You can email him at: barcaro@CatholicMatch.com.)
If you are interested in Brian speaking at your group, parish or event contact Kristen at Kristen@GoAcolyte.com.
This article has been re-published with written authorization of Catholic Match, LLC.
(c) Copyright 2006 Catholic Match, LLC. This article may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way without written authorization of Catholic Match, LLC.