Internet couples, fess up to your friends

Stigma around online dating has decreased significantly, but many are still cautious revealing how they met.

May 1, 2013

In a recent interview with the Today Show's Matt Lauer, home and garden guru Martha Stewart admitted to (gasp!) dipping her toe into online dating. 

Stewart went on Match.com to find a potential date, but didn't get far in filling out her application.
 
"I started to laugh halfway down the page. It was, like, impossible." she said.
 

And then, lo and behold, Stewart made a live Today Show appearance Monday and agreed to formally join the online dating world.

"I'd like to have breakfast with somebody," Stewart admitted to the chief executive of Match, Sam Yagan, "I'd like to go to bed with somebody. Sleep with somebody."

These words may seem shocking coming from Stewart. But really, isn't that what everyone wants? Companionship is a basic human need, and the desire for intimacy without judgment is universal.

Perhaps that is why so many people have turned to the magical world of online dating in hopes of finding "the one."  By searching through detailed lists of potential partners, online daters can screen out the "definitely nots" and contact the "definitely maybes" at their discretion.

This process is far superior to meeting someone at a bar, realizing they are a drunken mess and not being able to get rid of them for the rest of the night. 

We do almost everything online now: from banking to shopping to intense social networking via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So why do we hesitate to admit (and sometimes, outright deny) our forays into online dating? 

Catfish and Manti Te’o have not helped the continued stigma surrounding Internet romance; but thankfully, instances of extreme deception are few and far between. For the most part, the people whose profiles you see on OkCupid and EHarmony are just as "normal" as the random people that you encounter in your everyday life, if not more so. 

Unfortunately, the appropriate answer to the question "How did you guys meet?" is often discussed ad nauseum by Internet-joined couples ("Should we tell them or not tell them?" "I guess we wouldn't be lying if we said that we met at a coffeeshop...") when a simple "We met on JDate" would suffice.

For the sake of future headaches and lots of unnecessary backtracking, it's best to be honest the first time around. 

According to this helpful infographic from StatisticBrain, 40 million Americans have tried online dating. Even more encouraging:

  • 20 percent of current committed relationships in the U.S. started online
  • 17 percent of couples married last year met on an online dating site 

Online dating is the norm for millenials in the digital age. If you've found happiness with someone that you met via the Internet, then by all means, "come out" and tell your story! Maybe your positive experience will reassure others as well, reminding them their perfect match could also be just a click away. 

Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter @leahkpickett