Michelle Poje

Online dating has its ups, downs

Credit: Jason Hall

Kristin J. Travis is tired of getting hit on – over the Internet, that is.

For Travis, senior advertising major, the problem began in 2004 when she created a profile on, a popular Web site that allows college students from all over the country to meet one another. The e-mails received from strangers asking for dates became so annoying, Travis said, that she eventually started her own group on Facebook called “Facebook Is Not a Dating Service.”

“My friends and I were tired of getting hit on and I thought if I started the group, it would alleviate some of that,” Travis said. “I researched the mission statement (on and it never said that it was a dating site.”

And even if it was, Travis said she still would not be interested.

“It’s a desperate measure,” Travis said. “I only date guys with confidence. If you can’t come up to me and talk to me, if you are too scared and you have to write it, then something’s wrong.”

However, Will Talley, a senior computer science major who has been involved in online dating since 2002, feels differently.

“I have so much trouble approaching girls, and then I find out they already have boyfriends or are married,” Talley said. “Doing online dating, that hurdle is so much easier, to an extent at least.”

Talley said so far he has met nine women online and been involved in serious relationships with three.

“I can understand the fears behind it, but not everyone out there is a psycho,” Talley said. “As long as you think with your head and find out as much information about the person on the other line as possible, you’ll be all right.”

And you also may luck out. The online dating craze has become a popular alternative for singles around the world who, with just a detailed profile, a small monthly fee and a few clicks of a mouse, can meet thousands of other singles without ever leaving their computer chairs.

The fad has promoted a multitude of Web sites with catchy names like, and Interested in meeting a guy who is 6 feet 5 inches tall, blond and under 30? Or a girl who loves to snowboard and is a vegetarian? Many of the Web sites allow visitors to narrow their searches to desired heights, looks and even favorite foods in order to find that perfect soul mate.

However, uncertainty can still linger for some.

“Many of them (the sites) concentrate on ‘compatibility,’ but there’s so much more to dating that ‘compatibility’ can’t solve,” Travis said. “Plus, people lie and the absence of body language and facial expression can make it easier to do that.”

According to a CBS online poll conducted in February 2003, 15 percent of all Americans with Internet access have visited a Web site where adult singles meet. The poll also determined that 67 percent of Americans with Internet access do not think the Internet is a good way to meet someone, while 27 percent accept it.

Talley, who has used sites such as, and, said he has never had any negative experiences with the online sites, but has had a few problems with some of the women he has met.

“I’ve had issues such as infidelity and rejection,” Talley said. “Basically the same problems you run into with real time relationships.”

Many of the sites promote success through real stories from online couples or free dating guides. promises to teach singles “how to find the right person in 90 days.”

Others, like Yahoo! Personals, allow seven-day trials for visitors who sign up beforehand. Almost every site lets singles search profiles for free or create their own.

And what happens when singles find that special someone? How do they make the transition from silly Internet chitchat to a serious face-to-face meeting?

“I tend to get to know as much as possible about them before we actually meet, and I make sure to ask for a picture as well,” Talley said. “Usually I don’t wait too long, a couple of weeks at the most.”

While the exact success rate of most online dating Web sites is unknown, more and more people like Talley may begin to turn to them in the future as other Web sites begin to sprout up.

But for Travis, she suggests people keep the online dating to matchmaking sites only.

“In general, I don’t think online dating works,” Travis said. “But if that’s what people are looking for, then they should join or”

Contact features reporter Michelle Poje at [email protected].