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My Name Is Chiara, And I’m An Online Dater

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Earlier this week, Jezebel posed a pretty interesting question: would you date online if it wasn’t anonymous? I guess the underlying question is this: are you ashamed of being an online dater?

An article published in AdAge earlier this week suggests that usernames might prohibit online dating sites from growing organically, the way a social network like Facebook or Twitter might (where you connect with people you know, share information, etc.).

Jezebel adds:

Not everyone is comfortable publicly declaring that they’re dating online — and using one’s real name on a dating site would be, in a lot of ways, such a declaration.

When I started working at HowAboutWe, I was surprised at how many of my friends shyly confessed to me that they used the site — “Well, just to try…” or “My friend MADE me a profile, she insisted…” In one instance, I even had a friend tell me that a mutual friend was on HowAboutWe, but I had to swear not to tell because the girl in question didn’t want anyone to know.

I’m not completely innocent of this either: the first time I ever signed up for a dating site was in 2008, when a group of girlfriends and I did OkCupid. The fact that we signed up together, giggling, somehow alleviated the embarrassment that on some level we all felt. We were doing this for fun! For a laugh! We weren’t taking it SERIOUSLY! Because, for whatever reason, taking love seriously, actively pursuing it, is on some level perceived as embarrassing. We were raised to think that love is something that just happens, like puberty.

But if I look at my life, I see that I use the internet to procure nearly every quotidian need. I sign online to get groceries, to pay bills, to buy books, to watch movies. If I want a vacation, I sign online to book it: if I want new shoes, I’ll sign online to order them. I’m not ashamed of browsing Etsy for jewelry, so why should I be ashamed of browsing HowAboutWe for dates?

My life is busy: I work, I write, I hang out with friends, I lounge about at home. I meet guys when I’m out: I meet guys online, too. I like dating enough to not just leave it to chance.

When my friends and I signed up for OkCupid in 2008, giggling and shrieking over the outrageous messages we’d send, I remember we’d all sort of get quiet and linger whenever we came across the profile of someone who, if truth be told, we’d actually want to date.

“I bet for the next generation, online dating will just be called dating.” My friend mused, and we all nodded in agreement.

I’m convinced that by the time the next generation enters the dating scene, there will be no stigma to online dating whatsoever. So I’m just gonna be the first person on that bandwagon.

My name is Chiara Atik. I get my groceries from FreshDirect, my movies from Netflix, my books from Amazon, my plane tickets from Kayak, and my dates from HowAboutWe.