Feb13

Digitized Dating This Valentine’s Day

Posted by Madeleine Bruce

Saint Valentine is sending Cupid our way this week; will he be in digital form for you?

Online dating has exploded onto our screens over the past few years. The US alone has over 54 million singletons, with 41 million of us having admitted to using online dating websites to find our very own “The One”. I say ‘admitted’ as there has been a certain stigma around online dating; if you’ve ever seen an episode of Catfish or read much into online relationships you could be forgiven for thinking that the Internet is full of pretenders and people who may want to marry you over Second Life, but won’t make the leap to meet you face to face.

As the times move and technology develops, the dating paradigm shifts uncomfortably, as millions before you and I have found themselves doing on their first ‘blind’ online dates. Thousands of dating sites, apps and even matchmaking events have sprung up throughout the digital era, each hoping to steal the hearts (and the money) of our eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. Being such a saturated market, and with love being that unexplainable (sigh) extremity of human emotion (which many will tell you cannot be defined outside of a Shakespearean sonnet) many dating sites have gone the way of the Dodo.

As with many online affairs however, there are a few giants who’ve been running the online dating game from the beginning. There are also several breakthrough acts who are paving a path of innovation that could lead you directly into the path of your Mr or Mrs Right. Perhaps the most (in)famous of these dating little leaguers hitting the big time is Tinder. Launched in the Fall of 2012, Tinder fast became a dating whirlwind, creating 50 million matches in its first six months alone. Directed firmly towards a youthful market, Tinder is a fast-paced app wherein users swipe left or right to dismiss or ‘like’ potential partners in their area respectively, based entirely on photos of their proposed match. Although many argue that a skin-deep attraction is no base for a relationship, the stats show 49% of online daters to place physical characteristics as the most important factor in their search for love, and the popularity of Tinder serves only to back this up.

Interestingly, I heard a tale of a British man who used Tinder to travel across the US. Hitchhiker Daniel Beaumont had the genius idea of asking his Tinder matches to give him a ride across the country rather than standing at the side of the road with his thumb out for hours on end. Daniel’s use of social media and online dating must truly be a one-off, although I’m pretty sure Nev and Max of Catfish would call him out for deceiving his matches and using them for his travels.

For those who are looking for a more in-depth connection than could arguably be formed over Tinder, there are of course the dating giants such as eHarmony and Match.com. In fact, the eHarmony questionnaire has no fewer than 400 questions to ask of you; they’ll know you better than your closest friends if you answer each with honesty, and you’ll give them plenty of matchable data to play with. They say that this “means more quality dates with deeply compatible singles that truly understand you”, and with 15.5 million members they must be doing something right.

But what’s next for online dating?

Last year, the .dating domain name went on sale to the public, bringing a new dimension to the online dating sphere. The online dating industry is worth a staggering $2 billion, and though the big names still reign supreme out there there’s plenty of room for newcomers to revolutionise the dating game. If you’re looking to start out in business, affairs of the heart could be the way to go, and what better time than when Cupid’s bow is at its most active? Grab a .dating domain today and get started.

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