Online dating no longer carries the sort of stigma it used to. Ten years ago, when people asked John Pliniussen and his wife Marion how they met, the Ontario couple would lie and say it was in a coffee shop. Now they have no problems saying they met on a dating site and online dating is increasingly seen as a normal way to meet new people.
According to data culled from Reuters, The Washington Post and other sources, 40 million people in the US have tried online dating at least once. A Leger Marketing survey conducted on behalf of QMI Agency suggested that a quarter of Canadians had participated in online dating, including 36% of Canadians between 18 and 34. And it’s not just North America where online dating is on the rise. 15 million Indians and a staggering 140 million Chinese have used an online dating service.
It’s a worldwide phenomenon but, unless their interests specifically lie in meeting people of a different nationality, most users are probably not looking for a date half a world away. Even another city within the same country can present problems. Traditional dating sites such as eHarmony and match.com do of course allow users to search and filter potential matches by their location. There’s a new breed of dating sites however that take things one step further using geolocation technology. This allows users to make their current location visible by using the GPS technology in their smartphones and other mobile devices.
Sites like Badoo and the Complete.me are at the forefront of a new wave of dating websites that combine elements of traditional dating sites and social media networks. Social dating sites allow users to build up a network of contacts and to interact with them in a variety of ways, from direct messages to games and interactive content. This can offer fun ways to break the ice and the opportunity to really get to know any potential match.
Many of these sites are also starting to make use of geolocation technology. Mobile devices which are GPS-enabled are becoming ever more widespread and affordable. GPS technology is frequently used for maps and directions while apps can also find you the nearest gas station, cinema or Chinese restaurant. More pertinently for dating sites, GPS can also be used to pinpoint the location of the phone or mobile device.
More and more people use their phones to access online sites and services and this fact, combined with the geolocation technology, has opened up a new opportunity for the new breed of dating sites. Badoo has apps for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Facebook while other dating platforms such as Zoosk and okcupid (which has been described as “the Google of online dating”) can also be used on the move.
Geolocation allows users to find potential dates based on both where they live and where they are at any given time. Its use in online dating is still a relatively new development but it looks set to be an important one.