Is Online Dating Gaining Popularity?


It happened again.

This time I was getting a pedicure and chatting with the lovely woman who attempted to produce something beautiful from my calloused, beach-combing feet. The conversation naturally turned to how we each met our husbands.

Her question prompted my response, “On an internet dating site,” and I grinned, waiting for the usual astonishment.

No way! You’re the third person that I’ve heard of.

I find I’m hearing that more often now. My husband and I know two other married couples who met on Christian Café. Online dating is quickly losing its stigma. Many folks are tired of the bar hopping want-to-go-to-my-place scene. They want more than one night; they long for something real, deeper and permanent.

According to 2012 statistics, internet dating is gaining popularity and producing lasting results.

Did you know that:

  • In 2007, 20 million people tried online dating; in 2012 40 million have jumped onboard
  • 10% of 54 million singles use an online dating service
  • Of online daters, 52.4% are male; 47.6% are female
  • 20% of current committed relationships started online
  • The average length of courtship leading to marriage for online daters is 18.5 months
  • 17% of couples who married met on a dating site
  • According to eHarmony, their site is responsible for 5% of all US marriages

Is it the best option?

While opportunities for meeting the person of your dreams through work, school, and social activities may present themselves to the majority of society, many people find the internet dating situation a beneficial one. Learning a little about someone from a profile or being matched to a compatible suitor offers a dating advantage that supersedes a bar scene or the constant conscious effort to pay attention to every potential single who may be in the next aisle at the grocery store.

Yes, liars and potential dangers do exist online.

But I’ve seen or met some fairly sketchy characters on a college campus, in a restaurant and even at church. There are no guarantees that you won’t meet unscrupulous people on an internet dating site—just as you might anywhere. It’s certainly not the only option; it’s only one of many. But I’m awfully glad I tried it.

Do you know someone who has met online? What’s their story?
 

Statistics provided by www.statisticbrain.com and www.eharmony.com

Safe or Scary?


Is online dating the wave of the future?

I recently met a woman who politely, yet with scrutiny questioned my decision to employ internet dating sites to meet a husband. This was after I told her about my husband and I meeting online.

Her comments went something like, “Isn’t that a pretty daring thing to do? I mean, I’ve heard such horror stories about singles meeting really creepy people on those sites.”

“Well, it’s true there are some crazy people out there,” I acquiesced, “but both my best friend and I met our husbands–amazing, quality men–online. We also have other friends who met on the same site. So obviously, not all of it’s bad.”

“What site did you use?” she asked. I chuckled internally thinking it usually doesn’t take long before someone’s curiosity overrides their previous ‘sensibility’ about internet dating.

“We met on christiancafe.com, but I also tried eHarmony. Some of the guys were not okay, but my friend and I helped each other screen them. Really, it was fine,” I assured her.

Don’t be crazy!

It’s true I’ve come across numerous sites (like internetdatingstories.com) that depict the horrors of psycho encounters with online daters, but quite honestly, most of them surprise me with their foolish pursuance of predators. What do people think when they communicate with someone? Is society so quick to jump into a relationship (or bed) that people don’t take the time to find out more about each other before running ahead to the next step?

My friends and I never considered meeting a guy unless we had developed a substantial connection through multiple email messages, first through the site and then possibly through our private email, and after a few phone conversations.

Surprisingly, only a few stories I’ve read seemed to describe legitimate complaints of being taken in by seemingly honest individuals who somehow manage to live as Jekyll and Hyde.

All of that to say that with social networking drawing us closer together from farther away, online dating is here to stay and growing in popularity (see unitedfamiliesinternational.wordpress.com/?s=online+dating+statistics for some interesting statistics). So is is safe or scary?

Using wisdom, discretion and accountability will keep it safe. When in doubt about someone, let it go; the best person out there for you is one you feel good about from the start. I posted some safety tips in an earlier blog titled Meeting Face to Face.

Meeting online can lead to great relationships and even marriage. Read through my previous online dater posts for more of our story or check out testimonials on christiancafe.com for other encouraging tales of wedded bliss.

Be safe and online dating shouldn’t be scary.

 

The Rest of the Story


I feel a sequel coming on.

I came to the point this week where I am out of excerpts from The Miracle of Us: Confessions of Two Online Daters. I can’t give away all the excitement of the ending even if you know that we made it to the altar. Suspense isn’t really the point, but after all, something needs to be left for the book. I’m encouraged by how many want to read the finished product. Pray a publisher feels the same!

The good news is that as I’ve come to the end of writing, I’ve felt that the story isn’t finished. Naturally, our story has really only begun with a mere three years of marriage completed. We were considered newlyweds by many until only a few weeks ago!

But we’ve been learning so much during those three years. Therefore, Beyond the Miracle: What We’ve Learned About Through Marriage will begin it’s writing process soon. At this point, the book’s skeleton is taking shape in my mind.

More to the story.

While away on our anniversary weekend a few weeks back, I came across a card that had this quote by Irving Stone on the front:

The best romance is inside the marriage; the finest love stories come after the wedding, not before.

Wow! We thought the best part was our story leading up to the wedding. The challenges, romance and miracles that occurred before the wedding astounded us, but so much more has happened afterwards. Nitty, gritty tough stuff. Not that the struggle to step out in faith, believing we could each start over in romantic life by dating online through Skype with someone across the world wasn’t tough enough. I mean, it’s not like praying for our seven children to feel good about the whole situation, and braving immigration paper mountains was a Sunday drive. Those eleven months held some of the hardest obstacles and greatest moments either of us has every experienced.

The truth about romance and marriage.

Just as our story of online dating, long distance romance and eventual wedding bells (actually there were no bells ringing at our wedding) has portrayed faith, redemption and overcoming the impossible; our marriage continues with building a new life out of a broken past. Restarting careers in middle age, parenting at three age levels: school age, teenage, and grown children as well as being step-parents and grandparents at the same time encompass their own sets of challenges. And immigration paperwork and appointments don’t end when you enter the country. Add to that the fact that marriage itself is the vehicle that transforms our lives and there’s more of the story to tell.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us as we continue the journey. Hopefully, our story will offer hope for yours.

Isn’t it exciting and a little stressful the way life unfolds? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced through life, marriage or family?

Cricket Anyone?


Another excerpt from “The Miracle of Us: Confessions of Two Online Daters”

Brendan and I sneaked off without kids to watch a cricket match…

It appealed to my sense of adventure to leave at bedtime for a night out. I grabbed Brendan’s hand as we went outside to the car.

“Isn’t it fun to sneak out this late? Like two kids instead of middle aged parents?” I kissed him, and he gave me his “indulging Laura” chuckle.

“Silly girl. I love you. Get in. Cricket and a beer are waiting.”

My turn to chuckle. I was finally getting used to my Aussie man and his beer. Sports of any kind couldn’t be played or watched without beer. People couldn’t be visited without taking beer. A hot day required beer. At our wedding we would have ginger beer. Thank goodness for World Market making a touch of Australia available in the States.

Cricket.

A long, flat bat and a narrow, extended playing space enclosed by nets. Those were my first observations. Then Brendan proceeded to explain to me that this was the indoor version of cricket which varied from the actual outdoor game. Still, the game enthralled me with its speed and well placed batting of the ball. I found it fascinating. Trying to understand the terms, scoring and “foreign” accents proved a bit challenging, and being one of few women present added to the intimidation. But, I thoroughly enjoyed watching and learning.

I really tried not to drive Brendan crazy with too many questions, but he explained things to me as if I already understood the game except that particular question. And since I didn’t understand anything, I usually ended up with more questions as a result of his answers, not less.

Brendan tossed back a beer while I sipped on water. His sarcastic Aussie teasing punctuated minimal conversation. I was content to simply sit quietly and take in five matches in progress at the same time. Most of the time I couldn’t understand the guys’ comments or accents, especially not above the cracking of solid balls against bats and the players’ roaring cheers.

I truly appreciated the sport and would have liked more time to watch this popular, intriguing game of fours, sixes and wickets.

Brendan assured me that the outdoor version played over five days would have bored me with hair tearing tedium.

I wasn’t so sure.

Any cricket enthusiasts out there? Willing to share your experience?

Christmas in Australia


Another excerpt…

Within a couple of days, Brendan and I started talking about when we would see each other again. It was the first week of December so Christmas shopping and decorating had just barely begun, and Brendan felt a little lost regarding what to do. In the past, he had relied on his wife, who had all things for Christmas purchased, wrapped and ready to go by September. The first Christmas after her passing, Brendan had little to do as she, in her usual manner, had already completed most of the shopping and preparations, but this year he was on his own. As we discussed his situation, I offered some ideas that I had found helpful to me. I wondered if there was anything I could do for him from where I was, but obviously my options were limited. Suddenly, Brendan threw out a question.

“Do you think you would be willing to come here for Christmas?”

Heart stopping thrill and an onslaught of my own questions made me speechless.

“REALLY? Well…I…hmmm…,” I stumbled over my thoughts and words.

“That would be amazing, but I can’t be gone for Christmas. There’s no way I wouldn’t be with the kids. I don’t think I could do it. I just couldn’t.”

“I get it. I wouldn’t want to be apart from my kids on Christmas either.”

 “I mean, they are adults, and I’m not sure the boys will even be here. Chris is in Reno, and I’m not sure about Josh. I know Vici has Logan, but still she’d miss our family traditions like baking and stockings. And Ashley’s still just getting her life back together and already struggles with me being in a relationship. Can you imagine if I left her for Christmas?”

I tried to make it feel right in my heart, but I had never been away from them at Christmas, and I just couldn’t bring myself to be okay with it. It was one thing to have them move away as adults or share time with me and their in-laws, but quite another for me to toss away all of our special family time.

“What if I came now, but then flew back home in time for Christmas?”

Brendan agreed, and we checked out flights. Christmas is in the middle of summer there so tickets aren’t exactly cheap, but when we found a reasonable deal that would give me an almost two week visit we snatched it up.

“What do you think, darling? Can you be ready to leave in three days?”

I laughed. Me? The crazy non-traveler?

“Only by God’s grace and a miracle! But I’d better start right this minute.”

My mind raced with all the things I had to do here, whether I could get enough accomplished and what shopping I could do in Australia.

“I’ve got to tell the kids, finish shopping, pack and find a ride to the airport. Thank goodness we have a lot of Carol’s wedding stuff already done. Will you book the ticket?”

 “Doing it as we speak, beautiful girl.”

“Wow, Brendan! Nothing like jumping into the next step. Here we go! I’m so excited. And a little panicked! I love you. Talk to you later. Bye.”

I took a deep breath and grinned with a tear in my eye.

“Carol!!” I called down the hall. “Guess what? I’m going to Australia! In three days!”

Backtracking Continued…


Last week I recapped the many issues that Brendan and I faced as online daters. If you recall, we dealt with relationships, work/business challenges, children and housing. I also mentioned…visas and immigration; the dreaded, ominous monster and left it for another time. Well, the time has come Marvin K. Mooney. (For those of you Dr. Seuss fans, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)

Ahh…the world of immigration. It’s a touchy subject these days so I’ll limit my comments and concerns to my first hand experience without the political slant thrown in.

After Brendan proposed, and since we had already decided that he was to move here, we figured we should find out how that could happen legally. We genuinely (and ignorantly) believed that since America and Australia are friendly countries–they are actually on a list of countries for which you don’t need a special visa to visit–it would be an easy process for Brendan to move here, marry me and set up house. How wrong we were!

At first, when I looked for information, most of what I found addressed illegal immigrants and what to do after someone had already been in the country longer than his or her visa allowed. Everywhere I looked, I was informed about protocol if I had broken the law; the assumption being that I had, but I wanted to know what to do to avoid breaking the law. That was where the difficulty came. Imagine that…

I finally uncovered that first I had to apply for a fiance or a K-1 visa using an I-129 form, and of course a K-2 visa for each of the children of the fiance of a U.S. citizen, in order for Brendan to have permission to enter the USA to marry me which he had 90 days to do or they would kick him out.

Ok. Fine. A little more complicated than we expected, but still doable, right?

I did some more research to determine how long the process may take since we hoped that Brendan could arrive in time for Carol and Brian’s wedding at the end of February. Then we planned to be married at the beginning of April; after leaving Carol and Bri enough time for a honeymoon and to settle in before attending us at our wedding.

I cried when I found out that most fiance visas take anywhere from six months to two years to process. Seriously?? I was stunned to find that because hundreds of thousands of immigrants apply each year in California, the wait time has gradually been extended longer and longer, and for some it has taken years. I couldn’t believe it. Surely that couldn’t be true! But yes, the more research I did I discovered story after story of couples who had been waiting that long. I finally quit reading immigrant blogs and forums. It was just too depressing.

Once again, we felt like God said to trust him and proceed, so I printed out the papers and began filling them out. Along with multiple copies of birth certificates, Brendan’s late wife’s death certificate, my divorce papers, forms with all our names, addresses, birth dates, maiden names (mine, not Brendan’s – but yes, his mother’s!), every place we had ever lived, a signed statement about how we met and that we were legally available to marry each other, photos to prove we actually had met in person, copies of the stamps in our passports to prove we had visited each other to meet in person and all the same for each of the children. Oh,and I forgot to mention the form stating that I made enough money to support Brendan and the children, which I didn’t. In quadruplet. With a fee. A large one.

I confess that for a moment, I completely understood why people move here illegally. And I also wondered how in the world with all of this paperwork, any terrorist could ever get in! Of course, on the forms, they do ask if you are a terrorist or have ever engaged in terrorist activities. Give me a break! If someone were a terrorist do you think they’d admit to it on paperwork for the government issuing them a visa??

By the time we gathered all the paperwork, filled it out, mailed what we needed from Australia and checked with an immigration lawyer (thank goodness we did!) to make sure we had filled out everything correctly since some of the wording is pretty ambiguous, it was late in January and our hopes of Brendan getting here by the end of February were quickly diminishing. Still, we proceeded, trusting that God had a plan and mailed all the paperwork in with the check. Of course. It barely fit in the manilla envelope.

Believe it or not, that was just the first batch of papers. Then we began counting the days.

More to come next week….