“Have you tried online dating?” We’ve all heard the question, and we’ve all rolled our eyes. The eye rolling is because we’re usually in one of two camps:
1. “Of course I’ve tried it, but it doesn’t work!”
2. “I wouldn’t be caught dead on an online dating site.”
Okay, so online dating might not be for everyone, but people we know in real life have gotten married using online dating sites, so it gives us hope that they can be useful tools for a lot of people.
Either way—if you’ve tried it and given up or if you think it’s somehow beneath you—stories like that of our friends Michael and Shelley, who met on eharmony, are worth hearing.
SR: Did you struggle with the idea of online dating?
Michael: It was a little exciting and new the first time. After the first round, I struggled because it didn’t seem much different with the ups, downs and rejection you still felt when someone wouldn’t respond.
Shelley: Yes. I only signed up after a combination of factors – mainly pressure/encouragement from friends who had done it themselves, so I finally “caved” to my desire to date and find somebody and signed up. Unfortunately, having married friends & family ask, “Why don’t you try online dating?” did not encourage me in anyway – probably just the opposite.
SR: How long were you on eharmony before you found your spouse?
Michael: Over a period of about 5 years, I used it for about a total of 10 months. The first time was about 6 months. I took a break, then the second time for about 3 months. The third time I was on 1 month (only because I found an online coupon), and I met her in that time span.
Shelley: At least 3 separate times, over the course of 2-3 years, I think? I would pay and try it for 3-6 months, then get fed up and stop. Then, I’d cave again months later and try again.
SR: Do you tell people you met your spouse online, or do you keep that under wraps? Why?
Michael: Yes, I tell them where we met. I know that meeting people can be hard, so why not encourage them to use any avenue that is open, and that a person might be open to. Most people today are so busy that it is hard to meet people anywhere else.
Shelley: We tell the real story. It doesn’t bother me how we met at all. What is ironic to me is how we became the “ultimate success story” for online dating because it finally worked, when we both had good and bad experiences trying it. After meeting, we found out we have a rather unique story – having met or almost met several times before in our lives, and we had a number of mutual friends. Now, I find it quite humorous that it took an online dating site to bring us together, after a number of almost-encounters. We believe it’s a testament to God’s perfect timing in our lives.
SR: What was it about each of your profiles that caught the attention of the other? What made it stand out?
Michael: Shelley had great images, which showed her outward beauty (yes, I am a guy), along with her inward beauty (the work she does with orphans and her love of traveling).
Shelley: As someone who loves to travel and has a heart for international missions, I was immediately intrigued by Michael’s interest in the same, which he had stated in his profile. Since that is a specific type of interest, I had not run across very many other guys (in real life or online) who shared that with me.
SR: From the time you started messaging back and forth, what was your initial dating process like? (How long did you communicate before you met in person? How many dates did you go on before you became exclusive, etc.?)
Michael: We started emailing and talked on the phone a few times about a month before our first date. We had one date, and then she left for a 3-week trip to Africa. I felt like the first date went great, so I just waited for her to contact me when she got back to get a feeling of what she thought. So, it was probably 2 dates when we both felt as if this was a long-term relationship.
Shelley: As far as I remember, it happened pretty fast. We started communicating via eharmony in June, exchanged personal email addresses within a week or two, and he called to ask me out for a first date on July 5. After that, it went pretty fast. Although we lived about an hour and a half apart and were both out of town on different trips right after we met, we communicated frequently. I think he told me he loved me within 6-7 weeks of our first date (which sounds crazy now!), but we both knew how different this relationship was from anything we had experienced in the past.
SR: eharmony is one of the higher-priced online dating sites. Do you think it was worth it?
Michael: I found an amazing woman, so yes, I feel like in the end it was worth it.
Shelley: Now, I know it was worth it because I met Michael through the site. However, it was the only site I ever tried, so I wouldn’t be able to say if it was better (or more worth the money) than another dating site.
SR: What are some tips you’d offer other Christians who are online dating? Are there things you wish you’d done differently?
Michael: 1) Be honest about everything. It is hard to filter through a lot of people on a lot of different parameters if they are not honest about anything.
2) Also, respond to people when they show an interest, and let them know whether or not you are interested (even if that means emailing them a couple of times to figure it out).
3) If you get too many requests for people you are incompatible with, then change your settings.
4) Take a break if you need to.
5) Don’t only use online… get out and meet people too.
I would probably not have done much differently. Maybe change the settings on my account, or redo the personality test (which made a difference as I had changed some over the few years I used it).
Shelley: This is a hard question for me to answer because I know how difficult all dating can be, whether or not you meet a person online. However, I would tell people to keep an open mind about online dating, and I would encourage them to not be afraid of it. It has become so much more common for individuals to meet this way, either for a long-term relationship or eventually marriage. I have never met anyone who acted negatively about how I met Michael. In fact, it’s often just the opposite – people are excited that it worked out for us! Regardless of how you choose to date, I would agree with Michael. Be honest, always. Writing an un-truth on your online profile, just like telling a fib in real life, never works out well.
While I did get frustrated with the whole online dating process on numerous occasions during my experience, I don’t think I would change anything now, looking back. I tried dating a few different guys through the site, which didn’t work out. But, because I was honest about my own information and what I was looking for, it eventually lead me to Michael. For which, I am now continually thankful.
Related: Top Dating Site Reviews
Photo credit: M Hooper, Cherie Marie Photography