As Turns 20, A Look at the Early Days of Online Dating

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

But, one of the first big online dating sites, has been around for 20 years already, which is a little staggering to think about. People have been doing this for 20 years? When Match launched in 1995, only 14 percent of Americans were Internet users, so the challenge of finding a special someone online was compounded by a technology gap.

But me? I was an early adapter, checking out my first online dating site by 1998. I was bullied into it by a friend, who emailed me with a link and told me to sign up right away. I brushed him off, said I’d take a look later. A minute later, my phone rang.

“You’re not on the site yet, are you?” he asked accusingly. I wasn’t.

“Well you’d better get on there, because I’m filling out a profile for you right now, and if you don’t do it yourself then I’m putting up this one.” Eek! I signed up.

It was actually kind of fun. I answered all kinds of questions about myself, including quirky things like what I wanted for my next birthday and what habits my potential dates could have that would be behavioral deal-breakers. Then I sat back and waited, and watched the emails come in. It was a heady experience, sitting there while dozens of guys read my profile and wrote to me, hoping I’d respond.

And if I had to describe my online dating experience as a fairy tale, it would be The Story of the Three Bears.

The first guy was too dull. Sweet, harmless, but dull. We went to see Good Will Hunting, which I also thought was dull, and never watched again.

The second guy was too rude. He spent half our time together raving about how beautiful Angelina Jolie was in Gia, and the other half being elaborately astonished that I didn’t watch Seinfeld.

The third guy, as you might have guessed, was just right, and we’ve been married for almost 14 years. We have two kids, and we love each other a whole lot. Over the years, as people ask us how we met, it’s been fun to see the change in how they respond to the answer. It used to be sheer surprise, and now I hear “Same here!” fairly frequently.

Match claims that the stigma is gone, but I’m not so sure. To celebrate their anniversary, they asked people to share their memories and success stories using #MatchTurns20.

Even with the festive graphic, turnout has been distinctly low. Maybe people aren’t as relaxed about online dating as the company thinks.

Doesn’t matter to me. I met the love of my life on a dating site, and am living happily ever after.

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