Navigating the Web of Love
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 02:02
There is an online dating site for every kind of person: Christians, farmers, convicted felons, vampires, sea captains, people looking to have an affair, beautiful people, ugly people and decidedly average people. But even with all of these options, dating — especially as a college student — can be hard, whether one wants a long-term relationship or a quick one-night stand.
Between seemingly widespread fears of both commitment and rejection, navigating the romantic waters of Georgetown’s dating scene sometimes proves difficult. In search of calmer seas, many students are now looking to the Internet to meet their next sexual partners.
Tinder, a smartphone-based application launched last January, uses a person’s Facebook page to create a profile that contains one’s name, age, profile picture and personal interests. Combined with one’s geographic location, users can view the profiles of those nearby — taking sexual orientation into consideration — and anonymously mark those profiles of people whom one would like to meet. If two people both approve of the other’s profile, a chat will form between the pair and they can take it from there. Since its founding a year ago, Tinder has made one million matches, according to an article by TechCrunch.
Mike, a 22-year-old senior whose name has been changed because of the nature of the subject, decided to quit using Tinder after one week because of the low success rate of his romantic encounters formed on the application.
“I chatted with three or four people, but only one conversation really went anywhere,” Mike said.
Mike also noted the potential downside of trying to find a romantic relationship through the Internet, especially in a small community like Georgetown.
“[There was] growing population of girls on campus who had seen me on Tinder … which could potentially make things awkward if I saw them around or actually met them,” Mike added.
Tinder is not the only service that takes advantage of the information on your Facebook to make matches; Bang With Friends lets a user choose which of his or her friends one wants to hook up with. Much like Tinder, the application keeps the information anonymous until there is a mutual attraction. In the case of a match, an email reading, “You’ve got a bangin’ match! Your friend [insert name here] wants to bump uglies with you!” makes its way to one’s inbox.
Bang With Friends was built by three friends, whose identities remain unknown, at a California university. In a Jan. 29 interview with The Daily Beast, the founders anonymously discussed the conception of the application.
“One night, we were shooting the shit about how online dating is broken,” one creator said. “What a lot of people want is just to skip all the shit and get to the sex.”
BWF is not the first service used for one-night stands. Grindr, a social networking application specifically designed for gay men, has grown immensely since its public release in June 2012.
According to its website, Grindr is the most popular all-male, location-based social network, with more than four million global users.
Grindr is very popular within the Georgetown gay community.
Pete, a 20-year-old junior whose name has also been changed, explains how, like all dating applications, Grindr has an array of users.
“You find a really interesting mix of people [on Grindr],” Peter said, “There are plenty of normal, nice guys and then you have … the guy who offered to pay me so that he could give me oral sex.”
But contrary to popular opinion that Grindr is solely for gay men who are looking for an easy hookup, Pete claims to have met platonic friends through the application, too.
“I spent a weekend in New York and wound up hanging out with someone I had chatted with online. … We went to a bar and talked — nothing sexual there,” Peter added.
While traditional online dating services are more common with generations older than college students, some students are already taking advantage of such matchmaking services.
OkCupid, the largest free dating website in the United States, reports that 10 percent of its seven million active members are aged 18 to 24 years old, compared to 27 percent in the category of 25- to 34-year-olds.
Overall, connecting with dates through online services has become less taboo in recent years, with up to 17 percent of marriages resulting from dating websites, according a 2010 article in The Washington Post. Online dating has become the third-most common way in which two people initially meet and become married.
Some college students like Monica, whose name has been changed, are skipping the smartphone applications and carving out romantic lives on OkCupid.
“I was really fed up with college guys, so I made a profile [on OkCupid] on a whim to see if I could meet someone more mature,” Monica, a 21-year-old junior, said. “I had gone on three dates with guys who had graduated and were working in D.C. by the end of the month.”
For Monica, the appeal of online dating was the ability to meet a wider range of people than she might on campus or at a bar.
“The kind of guy I want to date isn’t hanging out at Tombs or Rhino on a Saturday night,” she said.