“I have noticed recently that people often answer the question 'How did you meet each other?': 'Online.' Is it a problem if people get to know each other more often via the bump into real life?"
I recently read an article in The Guardian about the rise of online dating. Stanford University has been researching relationships and their formation since 1940, and the graph in the article ran from 1940 to the present day. When asked "How did you meet?", more than 35 percent of the couples answered: "Online."
Since 1995, the year in which online dating became possible for the first time, there has been a sharp increase in the number of couples who have met in this way. This category is closely followed by couples who met in a bar or restaurant (25 percent). Although I feel that they secretly fall into the same category. Because when do you first see each other in a bar or restaurant? If you've met online. Rule number one in online dating is: meet for the first time in a public place, such as a restaurant. So that you are safe and can call for help if you are sitting at the table with someone who cannot be trusted.
The categories that are mentioned less and less are: by mutual friends (20 percent), at work, through family, at school, in the church or as neighbours (all less than 10 percent). Often enough, it turns out that when people start dating online, they end up sitting down with someone who lives nearby (“he lived two minutes walk away from me!”). Or that they have mutual acquaintances. In my experience, Christians in particular have an enormous network.
One of the hobbyhorses in my dating course is that I think God is a God of infinite creativity. And that He takes endless pleasure in bringing people together in different ways. Just as a glitter ball consists of endless mirrors that all reflect the light slightly differently, so diverse are the stories of how people met each other. They all reflect slightly differently of God's creativity. They are unique, beautiful stories. That is why it is always such a nice question to ask people you meet.
Nothing wrong with online dating
Back to the original question. Is it a problem if people increasingly meet each other via the internet? I always encourage singles to shop around online, as well as keep their eyes open in "real life" and increase their chances. By being more available and being more open. And by looking up places where they can meet new singles.
There is nothing wrong with online dating; it's about the story that develops after that first meeting - not about how that first meeting came about. But the story that comes after it sometimes runs easier, more naturally, better, when you bump into each other in real life! I would say: do one thing, but don't fail the other.
Aukelien Van Abbema is a singles and couples counsellor, public speaker, and successful author, including the title Dare to Date.
Helping people with Christian dating, relationships, singleness in church, dating in church, loneliness, connectedness, christian connection, healthy relationships.