When you say ‘online dating’, everyone seems to have had some kind of experience with it. It’s something we’re all familiar with because (almost) everybody wants to have a relationship and the Internet makes it so much easier to achieve: you download a dating app, such as Tinder, hoping that you’ll find the love of your life. Of course some people are sceptical. They don’t believe that you can find love through the Internet because it would be ‘superficial’.

Then you have the people who ruin it for everybody else, such as the catfishes or people who trap others, like the incident a few weeks ago in Dordrecht where a group of sixteen men trapped a gay man and beat him up. The mayor of Dordrecht even warned people about using dating apps. But apart from these horrible people, is online dating as bad as people think?

Before online dating existed, people got to know each other through their family, friends, work environment, etc. (or they spent years at a bar in the hope of finding ‘the one’). But the concept of dating has changed fundamentally because of the Internet. Recent studies show that nowadays a third of marriages started online and that these marriages are less likely to end in divorce. For heterosexual couples, online dating is the second most common way they meet each other, after meeting through family or friends. For homosexual couples, online dating is the most popular and common way for them to meet. For instance, a friend of mine met his boyfriend ten years ago through a dating website.

Striking numbers, aren’t they? Despite the scepticism, the numbers show that people do find love through online dating. It’s a fantastic invention in my opinion and not only because I’m desperate to find the love of my life. The ‘conservative’ way of dating made me meet people from my direct circles. But now I can enlarge my world. Because I can come into contact with whoever I want; I can get to know people who are not in my ‘group’. These are people who might see the world differently than I do and could teach me something. I’ve had plenty of conversations online that led to fun dates where I learned new things (let’s not talk about whether they were successful).

So don’t let yourself be defeated by people who have ready opinions about online dating, or by those idiots who ruin it for everybody, like what happened in Dordrecht. The first step to love can actually start with a message!

Rocher Koendjbiharie is a masterstudent International Public Management & Policy

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