Social media and romance: finding love online
‘How did you two meet?’ ‘We met via social media.’ This answer may soon become the norm when telling others how you met your partner. Social media may be creating a relationship boom and with one in five relationships starting online according to mysinglefriend.com, does this prove technology’s dominance in the field of love? With the many methods available to kick start people on their quest for love, it’s quickly becoming the standard way of meeting your next date.
There are 15 million single UK Brits according to dating website parship.com, with 50 per cent of them searching for a serious relationship. Similar percentages are turning to dating online finding partners through websites and social media. But with positives always come negatives and if not used carefully what seems like a match made in heaven, can soon turn into a horror story.
Privacy is an issue worrying many users. Someone can have your personal details just by Googling your name. Gail McLaughlan, 35 and managing director of mysinglefriend.com, stressed being cautious online was important and people’s privacy choices should not be underestimated. She continued: “People don’t realise what they are putting out there, that leads people to be exposed. If they’re not sensible they may go on to regret it.”
An American woman, Mary Kay Beckman, 50, is suing match.com for $10million for failing to disclose the dangers of online dating after her date tried to kill her – case in point.
However dating guru, James Preece, 38, said the positives of social media and relationships all outweigh the negatives. “You can meet people quickly and contact them to arrange dates. The world is your oyster,” he said.
“Online dating can open up a whole new world for you. People are working longer hours and don’t have as much money to go out.”
Mr Preece explained people should be proactive and attend events. “You can’t hide behind a computer. Get yourself out there.”
Finding dates through social media is quick; you do not have to attend hundreds of parties to find ‘the one’. Ms McLaughlan, whose website’s success rate currently leads to two weddings a week, said: “We have got more traffic to the website from social media. Conversations on Facebook and Twitter are increasing – people are more comfortable with publicaly announcing they are doing online dating. People are happy to broadcast it.”
Mysinglefriend.com, which has about 200,000 members, works through friend recommendations. A friend can describe their single friend on the website and they get the chance to see which other single people have been set up by their mates.
In today’s age, with people leading stressful lives and having limited time, using apps is one way which allows love seekers to look for potential partners speedily. The first episode of the second series of Channel 4’s Black Mirror addressed an interesting idea about a wife rekindling her relationship with her deceased husband by signing up to an app that used all his social media posts to ‘recreate’ him. While using the app seems ostensibly comforting, the other part of me thinks it’s slightly creepy.
The number of dating apps is soaring. There are apps to help those begin their search for love and those which help sustain it once it’s started. ‘Couple’ is suited to those in long distance relationships who want to use different forms of social media such as video calling and drawing to keep well-connected to their loved one. The app also charts your relationship through a timeline. Just doing a quick internet search on the Google play store reveals at least 1,000 dating apps.
Mr Preece said: “Apps are great. It’s easier because everyone has a mobile phone. The downside is with some of the free apps there’s no one monitoring them checking if people are genuine. Apps such as Grindr are popular for gay people but not with heterosexuals.”
Ms McLaughlan also said blogs are interesting: “Watching people date and write about their experiences, it’s fascinating, looking at all the people they are meeting and writing about it in an honest way through the ups and downs that come with life and new people.”
She added social media-initiated relationships can be a positive if people are smart and know how to use the different forms of media.
“I think people and the industry can focus on the negative. It’s wonderful when people get back in touch, you learn more about them which is positive,” she explained.
She added everyone is getting used to feedback quickly after going to dates from meeting on the website – people tweeting whether a date was good or bad is becoming more socially acceptable – but more for the younger generation.
While apps have a mixed reception, Twitter does too. Mr Preece said: “Twitter is a quick way of flirting, but people don’t want to be approached on there for dating and LinkedIn is not the right market for dating.”
Yet, writer, Jamie Smith, 24 has found partners on Twitter and moved house to be near one partner, even if it didn’t work out.
He said: “Twitter is probably the most appropriate for me, but I suppose different social media sites work for different folk. Twitter works because people are open and their personalities shine through. If you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, it’s pretty easy for others to spot.”
Mr Preece said: “If you’re serious about dating, use a pay service, not social media. Facebook can be amazing to meet people but you should not be contacting others from your own profile. Use friends profile’s to introduce you – so there’s someone verifying you.”
He added: “Don’t give up. You could have a couple of bad days but your next relationship may be just around the corner.”
Whether that’s finding them online or in person through friends, it seems social media helping or hindering relationships are here to stay.
You can follow Jamie Smith on @JamieSmiff
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