I’m Lauren – welcome to my first post. If you’re thinking about online dating but you’re unsure whether it’s right for you then don’t worry, we have you covered. There will be plenty of information and different perspectives to keep your mind ticking so watch this space… (check out my ‘about’ page for more info!)
But, before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s look at the general evolution of dating. How have we got to where we are now?
Going back to the very beginning…
Believe it or not, dating hasn’t always been as exciting, or perhaps complicated, as it is today. In fact, it even used to be called ‘courting’ – forget all this ‘dating’ malarkey!
Taking it all the way back to the 19th century, courting was a term to essentially describe an aim towards marriage. In the words of Amanda Stiver it was “a serious family business proposition” – not fun and relaxed as dating is today! Many people had very limited choice, if any, on who they would marry, meaning that true love wasn’t the reason behind the decision (quite sad, if you ask me). Instead, a woman’s choice would be made by her parents depending on aspects such as a man’s financial status.
“Courting wasn’t something young people did merely for a good time; it was a serious family business proposition” Amanda Stiver
Even when the choice had been made (before marriage commenced), it was likely that couples would be unable to go out together in public if they were unsupervised. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Well, it certainly is for me as I sit here recalling all the times I’ve been on a casual date with my boyfriend, or we’ve just popped out to a 24-hour supermarket for some chocolate at midnight… oops.
Anyway, probably beside the point.
Changes in the 20th century…
In the early 20th century, courting soon became ‘dating’. Along with this new term came a large amount of freedom in comparison to traditional courtship. Yay! People were now allowed to make their own choices on who they wanted to be with, meaning dating became far more about “youth culture” and falling in love (oh how I love, love). The 60s also brought a massive change in, dare I say it, sex. Without getting into too much detail, people could now freely make love! No rules or need for marriage. Just pure freedom!
Fast forward a few years…
Now, this is the important part. Just as it seemed dating had hit its peak of choice and freedom, the digital age emerged and changed the dating game for good.
Thanks to the creation of the internet, 1995 brought the launch of the first ever online dating service – Match.com. People could now browse online for people they found attractive or that they wanted to get to know romantically, all on a website for this specific purpose. I mean, what? It wasn’t even like there was a limited choice – by 2002 there was a whopping 26.6 million people registered and looking for love!
Next up was the creation of eHarmony in the year 2000; a service more advanced than Match.com, looking at individual’s specific interests and not just the simple notion of like/dislike – as if that wasn’t already enough! At least it made it easier to find ‘the one’… and to ‘friend-zone’ people for that matter (yes please to hiding behind a screen!) Talking of hiding behind a screen; smartphones were introduced in 2007 which advanced all this online dating malarkey even further – it allowed for people to take their dating life out and about, all contained on one small phone display. It, of course, also meant the creation of many more dating sites. Due to the founding of popular dating app Tinder in 2012, the term “swipe right” has become common vocabulary amongst teens and millennials today as members could swipe right for people they like.
Fast forward right to present day and there are now over 8,000 dating websites! There is no doubt there is something to cater for everyone – for example veggiedate.org which is purely for vegetarians… madness.
Of course, even today, not everyone finds their partner online. I know many people, including myself in fact, that have met their partner in the old-fashioned way (although not quite 19th century old-fashioned I have to say).
The notion of dating online – for better or for worse?
The real question, then, is whether the digital impact on dating is a positive one. It’s safe to say that the dating game has had a positive turnaround since the 19th century. The evolution of dating has carried with it so much more choice for so many people, but have we gone too far? We all know the Internet can be a dangerous place, so is it really worth it?
Want to read more? Come back on New Year’s Day for a new blog post all about online dating manipulation!
Or, if you just can’t wait, follow my Twitter in the meantime: https://twitter.com/virtualloveblog