Love! Why Dating Online Worked for Us.

Meeting your mate “through friends”, “in a bar”, or “at school/work” used to be the way to find true love. But, in the last decade, meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right online has exploded in popularity. According to Twitter stats, 20 percent of heterosexual couples sampled, and nearly 70 percent of same-sex couples meet online, and its growth shows no signs of abating. When Simon and Julie struggled to find “the one” they each turned to a dating site in search of love and friendship….

Simon’s story…

“My internet dating adventures started off as a bonding experience between new housemates in South London. I was 25 and new to the city. To be honest, I never expected to end up where I am today. Initially, I wasn’t looking for love. I was up for a having a laugh and making new friends. I didn’t have a lot of friends in London at the time.

My housemates and I spent a weekend creating our profiles, and choosing our pictures (Yes, I did do a little photo-shop work to “enhance” appearances!)  Once that was done, we loaded up our profiles, and pressed the ‘live’ button. We took bets on who’d get the most dates!

It was great fun sending winks to people, cheeky messages and looking through the Londoners looking for Mr. Right.  I was amazed at the standard of ladies looking for love. I’d wrongly assumed the internet would be full of desperate women. I was wrong. These girls were pretty and successful.

 I had a few chats with people. I lost interest in some. Some lost interest in me. But, one afternoon I came across a hot funny girl who caught my eye. Julie had my attention. We messaged quite a lot and then exchanged email addresses. We had a good rapport over the keyboard, but I really wanted to meet her. She had me hooked with her sense of humour. It was getting difficult   to get any work done, while I kept staring at my inbox waiting for her latest wits of wisdom to enlighten my hour.

After a couple of weeks talking to her over email, I couldn’t wait much longer and so decided to ask her to meet me for a drink. We chose a bar in North London and as a newbie to London; I spent a nervous trip up from Clapham to meet her. I was apprehensive; none of my mates had ever met a girl this way.

I shouldn’t have worried. She was just as lovely in real life as the girl I’d fallen for over email. We had a great afternoon chatting and having a laugh. We wrote to each other as soon as we got home after our date and we were soon meeting up for more drinks during the following week, then lunches together.

That first week I’d had a few more internet dates lined up, but after seeing how well I got on with Julie, I cancelled them. I was quite surprised that I’d met someone so special so quickly.  I think the amount of   emails we exchanged with each other before meeting face to face, helped a lot. We got a really good sense of each other before meeting up. Something I’d recommend anyone dating online to do.

Needless to say, despite some of our family and friends being a bit skeptical about meeting a partner online, we fell in love. A year later we moved in together, then had our first child and got married, before my career took us overseas to America. We’ve been happily married nine years now and have four lovely kids together.

I may not’ve won the contest with my housemates to go on the most dates, but I was the only one to find lasting true love. Seeing my success, quite a few of my other single friends then tried online dating, and we’ve since been to several weddings that began life as an internet date.  It does work and I’m not embarrassed to say where I met my wife. In fact, I’m proud of what online dating did for me.” Simon Hodister

Julie’s story…

I was in my late twenties when my ten year relationship broke down. Working at a women’s magazine in central London, my job was my life. Outside work, I had no idea how to re-enter the dating scene. I wasn’t going to meet a new partner at work; most of my colleagues were women, happily co-habiting, or gay. Fed up of going to friends weddings dateless, my best friend ,who was also single at the time, and I decided to sign up to an internet dating site we’d read about in a newspaper. Ten years ago, we thought this was a pretty daring leap to take.

Unlike Simon, I was hoping to find someone special online, so I was very specific about the kind of guy I wanted to meet. He had to be 35+ for a start. So, when Simon first ‘winked’ at me, I initially wrote him off. At 25, I thought he was too young. I wanted a ‘proper grown up’. However, I liked the look of him. Though it was a little obvious he’d photo-shopped someone out of his picture. A girl, probably. (I was right!)

He wrote to me a few times and there was something in his messages that stopped me from deleting him as a possibility. He made me laugh. Being a writer for a living, I was super critical of what came in my inbox. Some people sounded so full of themselves, and the ones that couldn’t string a sentence together I ignored.

I liked the fact that with online dating, I could all get all the initial get-to-know-you chatter over with before meeting someone face to face. As my job was full on, when I went for a night out with my mates, I wanted to catch up with them, not waste my night   cruising bars/clubs having ‘going nowhere’ chats with total strangers. For me, I felt I got a real sense of what someone was like, by the way they wrote to me online.

After a week or so of trawling through online guys that didn’t really do it for me, a guy that ticked all my checklist boxes messaged me. He was 36, established in his career, a homeowner and didn’t sound like a ‘weirdo’. We arranged a date.  I remember being really nervous. It was my first date in 12 years.

He took me to a fancy London restaurant and wined and dined me. He was polite. He was chivalrous. He was intelligent.  He seemed kind. He was sensitive.  He was boring. All through dinner, I kept thinking of the cheeky, silly messages Simon had sent me. I was on a date with the wrong man.

After that night, I decided to message Simon more and give him a chance, despite the fact he was younger than my ‘ideal’ man.

Simon’s emails made me laugh out loud.  And after a couple of weeks writing back and forth, I agreed to go on a date with him. I was worried and excited all at the same time. I chose a busy bar near my flat to meet him at. Yes, I called my girlfriends to tell them where I was, who I was meeting and had them call me a few times to make sure I was OK.

 I needn’t have worried. Simon wasn’t a ‘weirdo.’ He was a lovely normal guy from the Midlands, just looking to meet new people in this strange big city. He’d have probably been called ‘weirdo’ if he’d just walked up to a stranger in a London bar and tried to make friends. So it’s kind of bonkers that online dating used to have an ‘only for losers/weirdos’ negative stigma.

But, 10 years ago, meeting my boyfriend on a dating site, I was in the minority in my peer group. And it took Simon and me a while to ‘fess up to our family that that is how we met. (Our parents just didn’t ‘get’ online dating back then). Like Simon says, we now have several friends who also dipped their toes into online dating and loved it. Yes, the usual criticism of online dating is that it’s a hive of photo-shopped pictures and downright lies, but for me, the guys I met represented themselves truthfully and fairly. So much so, I married one of them! Online dating changed my life. For the better.”   Julie Hodister

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