Dating and the Internet

Long before I started blogging, most of my online interaction with people was through chat-rooms. The first room that I made myself home in was a room dedicated to cricket fans, and through that room I met a lot of interesting people. It was great- we even did a get-together in Melbourne in 2000 for the one day series at Docklands against South Africa.

Anyhow, I met one fellow from that room in Sydney. Phillip (not his real name) was a nice guy, interested in cricket, a bit too fanatical about the Penrith Panthers for my liking, but, apart from that, as I say, a nice guy. When I moved to Sydney in early 2000, we met up a few times to have a few beers, and discuss cricket, football, and this strange rugby code he loved. And one time, he suggested I come over for dinner, and have a few beers, meet his family.

It was, I can assure you, one of the more curious dinners I have been to. His wife, in the den, was typing away at her computer- in the opposite end of the room, Phillip had his computer. The kids would play in the space between. Barely a word was spoken between Phillip and his wife in the afternoon. We watched a game, had a few beers, did the lads thing, and generally I had a ball. But his domestic arrangements, well, they struck me as curious.

A few months later, I was not entirely surprised to find that Phillip had been given his marching orders. It turned out his wife had decided to evict Phillip in favour of a Liverpool (UK Liverpool, i.e., a scouser, not Liverpool NSW) chap who she had been talking to online. Phillip, however, was quite devastated by this; he had no warning.

I felt sorry for the guy, but I did point out that, well, you know, he’d not looked after his marriage particularly well. Importantly, his divorce lawyer also impressed this point on him. Normally, divorce lawyers do not, I understand, take this close an interest in their clients affairs; but, dear Reader- he married her.

Soon after he was re-married, (by which time I was talking in Melbourne), Phillip informed me that his new bride had come to the conclusion that computers were not a good thing, and that they would not be having one in the house. So I can only presume that they lived happily ever after.

Not everyone has a negative view about the Internet, and its effect on relationships. Increasingly, the Internet is becoming a powerful tool for those that look for a partner. Negative attitudes remain:

Six months ago an old school friend and I were chatting over coffee, putting the world to rights as women do. She was bemoaning her lack of success in meeting the “right sort” of men. I asked her if she had tried using an internet dating service, and the look of horror that quickly appeared on her face gave the instant answer of course not! Internet dating, she informed me, was for the sad, desperate, geeky or freaky.

But attitudes are changing, and increasingly people are willing to use these online services. Newspapers, used to fielding personals, are finding their business diminished by online dating services. The Internet’s traditional advantages come to play in a big way to make it an effective way to meet people. For women, the ability to control the process to a high degree makes it particularly attractive, and as the Net has transformed from a geek’s kingdom to a mainstream part of people’s lives, the barriers are coming down. Lavalife claims to have over 100,000 Australian members. I am not sure how true that number is, but the trend is clearly there. Gianna’s sister used to keep a blog about her adventures dating through an online dating service. (Whatever happened to her, anyway?)

But also, people do meet up in fairly unexpected ways. One blogger was asked out on a date by a reader, and ended up marrying her. Online communities where participants share similar interests can also cause relationships to happen. It is like with work- when you work with people a lot, you can really get to know them.

That, I suspect, explains the appeal of the Net – one can learn far more about a potential partner online then one can in many offline situations.

The Internet is also a boon for people into ‘alternative lifestyles’. Although society is far less judgemental then it once was, many people who have ‘different’ tastes still can feel uncomfortable revealing their identity in their day to day situation. The anonymity of the Net means that people can explore their identity in a secure environment.

Is there a downside to this social sea-change? There are plenty of horror stories- there are even websites that show what sort of responses an online ad can bring.

Sometimes I wonder if this is a trend that makes people less willing to work on their relationships- if people can ‘start again’ it may be tempting to do that rather then work to get the most out of an existing relationship. I do not know though- I have never met anyone through an online agency.

Is internet dating a good thing? I think, on the whole, it is a positive thing. Phillip might complain that the Internet wrecked his marriage, but on reflection it is clear he was not putting enough into his relationship with his wife (and her as well.) The Internet merely exposed what was already happening to his relationship, and sped up its demise. At the end of the day, though, the Internet is merely a facilitating tool. Only a poor tradesman blames his tools; we, as individuals, must take responsibility for how we use it. It can get us into trouble, but men, women and Bunyips can get themselves into quite enough trouble with not so much as a modem in sight.

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Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

A couple of sociologists from Melbourne Uni are doing a big research project on online dating. They presented a couple of papers on it at a recent conference (not publicly available online) but both were pretty preliminary. There have been some studies published from a social psych perspective, but most haven’t been on interaction where people actually take the relationship offline. It’s an interesting phenomenon, and worth exploring.

I think that the two researchers are looking for people’s stories. Their names are Milsom Henry-Waring and Jo Barraket and you can find them via Melbourne Uni.

Irant
2021 years ago

Back in ’96 I got dumped for somebody my then girlfriend met online. That was via someone she met on a chat room. I can say I was at the forefront of the internet (I’ve always wondered who was the first person dumped when their partner met someone on the internet).

Over the past few years I’ve used the online dating agencies as simply dating is a horrendous thing to go through. The end result I don’t see any different that “traditional
methods (apart from going to the pub and particpating in some degrading hooking up activity). Sure online has it pitfalls but it isn’t that different from meeting someone and exchanging phone numbers and having a few chats before meeting for a date.

I’ve had spectacular disasters and unexpected successes online dating but that also happened to me before the interent. And my fiance I met online so some good does come of it.

Niall
Niall
2021 years ago

The internet doesn’t break marriages. They’re already busted pretty good by the time the need for companionship, conversation or just plain something-to-do comes along. How do I know this? Let’s say I’ve been there & done that. My ex-wife still doesn’t, to this day, understand why I found companionship through a chat-room. Not by design, but by default. Shit happens. The irony of the overall situation being that she ultimately met her new hubby through a Lavalife chat room.

There’s an old saying – Familiarity breeds contempt. The lesson being that marriage is not an exercise in complacency. It’s an exercise in observation, actions and reactions.

DREADNOUGHT
2021 years ago

We homos are early adopters and we’ve been meeting, dating, rooting and partnering up with the aid of the internet for ages. It is for the most part completely acceptable for guys of any age to use chat rooms, an online profile, etc to select other guys. I am a member of two sites in Australia, one in Italy and another in Norway and I don’t consider myself a geek or a freak. Nor do I have trouble meeting people out, but I use the net as a useful tool.

We often note the assimilation of internet dating into the everyday workings of gay life while it remains at the edges of hetero experience. Many gay couples concoct silly stories to answer the frequent hetero question, ‘so where did you guys meet?’ When normally they’d reply, ‘gaydar’ or ‘gay.com’ the reactions of most heteros encourages alternative explanations.

Francis Xavier Holden
2021 years ago

“We often note the assimilation of internet dating into the everyday workings of gay life while it remains at the edges of hetero experience.”

ah Dread – you’d be the only gay in the village I guess.

DREADNOUGHT
2021 years ago

Huh? It wasn’t the royal plural, we = homos.

Guido
2021 years ago

If only I had the internet when I wanted to meet girls!

The internet is great because it removes that fear of approach or rejection. You get to know each other in a risk-free situation at home, and by the time you decide to meet you have a good idea of what person you are meeting.

Francis Xavier Holden
2021 years ago

I have to fess up. I had my first date with Nabakov through the internet.

yellowvinyl
yellowvinyl
2021 years ago

I’m giving it a go at the moment. I’ve only recently moved back to Brisbane so I’m hoping it’s a good way of meeting people more generally. my initial impression of rsvp.com.au is that there aren’t too many women seeking women, but as I’m a self-identified lesbian who doesn’t mind dating bois too, that may not be a totally terrible thing.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2021 years ago

“I had my first date with Nabakov through the internet.”

Hmm, yes. As I recall, your profile’s definition of “swinging parties”, “GSOH” and “into animals” turned out to be rather elastic, to say the least.

That’s the last time I use internet dating to find lonely rich widows with heart conditions.

Irant
2021 years ago

yellowedvinyl’s comments remind me of the main pitfall of my rsvp.com.au days. That was wading though all the bloody profiles that all seem cut from the same template (though I have little experience what women write in hoping to attract other women). It usually had the classic line “I’m quite comfortable either staying at home or going out to a pub or nightclub” or some other vague twaddle. If you go by the profiles it seems that most people (men and women) are insufferably mild.

I decided to list “Swedish Stoat Trouser Stuffing” as a hobby for a sort of filter as well as a quite offbeat profile. Helped sort out for me which women were likely to be compatible (ie sense of humour not stoat trouser stuffing enthusiasts ).

James Farrell
James Farrell
2021 years ago

‘Bois’? Are we that wooden? (Excuse my innocence. I suppose it’s SMS or something.)

yellowvinyl
yellowvinyl
2021 years ago

opposite of grrrls, I spose…

Irant, I agree. also a lot of the initial emails seem very formulaic – which is fair enough I guess but you do kinda like to hear why they’ve chosen to write to you. I think the whole “romantic” thing stops people being themselves. the alternative explanation is that lots of people are really dull.

btw – I have the same profile name on rsvp as the nick I’m using for blog commenting. that’s if there’s a better class of internet dater reading blogs!!! if so, you can check me out and get around the nasty “buy a stamp to make contact” and write to me directly.

James Russell
2021 years ago

One blogger was asked out on a date by a reader

Now THERE’s a statement I never thought I’d see on the Internet.

Iran
Iran
2021 years ago

Well, I’m sure in my case Miranda Devine is just summoning up the courage to ask me out.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Irant, you’ve lost your ‘t’. Have you joined the axis of evil?

Nabakov
Nabakov
2021 years ago

Actually, Iran(t), if yer wanna seperate the sheep from the goa(t)s, “nude hang-gliding on acid” tends to work better than the Swede Stoat thing.

As Holden FX discovered.

David Tiley
2021 years ago

I thought the internet was supposed to ruin our capacity for ordinary sex?

Fumbles for unusual costume, but trips over gas mask..

Irant
2021 years ago

Errr, I was trying the Axis on for size to gain bit more blogging noteriety. However the theology didn’t suit me nor the hats and working hours.

As for the stoat stuffing, Nabakov if you were at the ’93 finals when the stoat wranglers were on strike you’d know exactly how the sheeps and goats were seperated.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2021 years ago

“…at the ’93 finals when the stoat wranglers were on strike…”

Wasn’t that when Bob “pants ferret” Hawke stepped in to broker a deal? And flew the stoats out on RAAF Hercs?

yobbo
2021 years ago

My readers are more likely to tell me to get fucked than ask me if I’d like one…

yellowvinyl
yellowvinyl
2021 years ago

trawling through today’s catch of ‘virtual kisses’ from internet dating central @ rsvp. tip for anyone contemplating writing a profile – don’t feel it necessary to mention that you went to the Dido concert.