Online dating reaches college students

by Batli Joselevitz, Joshua Fechter and Katey Psencik

video by Katey Psencik

Hopepetersonblurred Imagine you’re out with friends one night and you see someone across the room that catches your eye. Do you walk up to them and strike a conversation? The fear of rejection is a natural instinct humans have and for some, online dating diminishes that fear. “There’s a silent understanding because on OkCupid you list what you want like casual dating or casual sex,” said Hope Peterson, a senior at The University of Texas at Austin. Peterson registered for OkCupid last December after some of her friends started using it. “I thought why don’t I give this a shot?” she said. “I’ve never been good at meeting people randomly. I’m a commuter student. I live in Georgetown with my parents so it’s hard to go out.” OkCupid is one of 2,500 online dating websites in the country and 5,000 in the world, according to online dating magazine. eHarmony is another internet dating site that boasts one of the highest success rates. Bily Estrada, a culinary student at The Art Institute of Austin, uses this service.Bilyestrada “eHarmony helps you start a conversation,” Estrada said. “The lack of my social life, with work and school it’s hard to maintain… I can do [online dating] on my own time. I think I’ve done enough of the fling stuff. I want to find something meaningful.” Clinical psychologist Dr. Neil Clark Warren launched eHarmony as an online tool to match men and women for long-term relationships according to the eHarmony website. “Based on data on 19,131 marriages from 2005 to 2012 by Harris Interactive, couples that met on eHarmony had significantly fewer breakups than couples who met via all other methods combined,” according to an eHarmony press release. Estrada signed up with eHarmony in early August. “I was skeptical at first because you’re paying for this [service] and not guaranteed anything, it’s like a gamble,” Estrada said. Estrada said even though results are unknown, online dating makes talking to people easier. “Going to a bar there’s girls everywhere…you don’t want to go up there and be let down,” Estrada said. He said that after being in a serious relationship for four years, he “felt like the awkward guy, I didn’t know how to act socially.”. OkCupid is a free online dating service that was acquired by in 2011. Peterson said when she registered with the service, she was skeptical because she’d heard paid services were better. “People are actually serious about it,” Peterson said. “I was kind of skeptical because I heard that with online dating sites you just get messaged by weirdos.” Estrada said he’s been on two dates that were “misses –they made it seem like an interview on the date. There was a lack of interaction. A person I went on a date with, their ex called and she was on the phone with him for 10 minutes. I was like ‘this is really weird’,” Estrada recalled. 71 percent of people who use online dating believe in love at first sight, according to “I’m just trying to find a spark,” Estrada said. “I think there’s someone out there to make you better. That’s where that person comes in.” ijgseiorstory and graphic by Batli Joselevitz dangersofonlinedating title= by Katey Psencik [youtube=]Video by Joshua Fechter

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