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Running out of options of people to drink with, date, or do on the weekends? Online dating websites might have the solution to your weekend woes.

Date: 2007-09-25

According to MSNBC.com, over 40 million Americans, or 40 percent of the single population in America use online dating services. And college students are quickly catching onto the trend.

From subscription sites such as Match.com to free sites such as Okcupid.com, online dating is emerging as the newest way to meet singles and expand your social network.

Frustrated by the lack of variety at Macalester, Alison Johnson* '10, joined Okcupid.com as a joke with her friend. "I am using an online dating service because, as much as I love Mac guys, they are either overly-confident and self-centered or they're so introverted that basically don't exist," said Johnson. "In addition, we have the three G's to contend with: gay, gross, or girlfriend."

Despite enjoying the academic challenges of Macalester, Johnson has been disappointed by the lack of diversity in the dating scene. "I was hoping Macalester could be a place where you could branch out from your group but that really isn't possible," said Johnson. "Mac is a small school, which is great for academics, but it's a Catch-22. Everyone knows each other which makes things complicated."

By taking her love life out of cupid's hands and turning it over to the worldwide web, Johnson says she has been able to meet people who are more genuinely interested in her. "I've only been using it [okcupid.com] for about a week and a half but I have already met a lot of new people," said Johnson.

And although she has not met anyone face-to-face, she is planning on meeting one of her contacts for coffee next week. "I'm excited; this is a great way to burst the Mac bubble."

Hideyoshi Coryne '10 has also found Macalester's close-knit community a difficult one to date in. "I'm gay and have trouble interacting on an intimate level with other gay guys at Macalester," said Coryne. "It really is the six degrees of separation in our community. Gossip spreads." Coryne, who has been using online websites since high school, has used the websites a way of networking as well as looking for Mr. Right. So far, his face-to-face encounters with people he has met online haven't developed into relationships.
"Some of my meetings have been really awkward," said Coryne. "But I blame the people, not the notion of internet dating."
Both Johnson and Coryne said they would recommend internet dating services. "I'm not going to say there is a correlation between how much you put in to it and how much you get out, but nevertheless, the more honest information you can provide, the better," said Coryne. "And even though you might find some interesting people who seem right, don't assume that things will automatically work out when you meet."
If you are interested in dabbling in dating via the web, make sure that you don't reveal too much too soon. Never disclose personal information such as your name, address, or phone number in your profile or in early correspondence with other site members.

If you feel you are ready to take things to the next level with your cyber-honey, make sure you stay safe when you meet face-to-face. Meeting in public, telling a friend about whom you are meeting and where, and carrying a cell phone are all important. Match.com also recommends not leaving drinks or personal belongings unattended and not asking the other person to pick you up.

From a quick hook-up or something more long-term, online dating sites offer something for everyone. And as the days get shorter and the nights get colder, online dating might be the perfect way for you find someone to keep you warm.

by Kristin Riegel





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