All love stories have to start somewhere and for Kyle, Michael, Molly and Eve, theirs have all the makings of a very modern tale.
The modern form of dating via the Internet, which was once something of a taboo and often conducted in secret, is now widely accepted, with many people seeing it as a normal part of their love lives. In fact, a new study suggests that half of all couples will meet online
by 2031, as relationships that start at school or work decline.
Its popularity has grown – primarily because of how easily accessible it has become – with the rise of technology. Initiating a conversation with someone you don’t know is as easy as sending a message to a friend or family member.
There is no doubt that online dating has changed the way we meet people – it allows a convenient, fast and inexpensive way of connecting with others in close proximity. At the touch of a button you can literally find the man or woman of your dreams on the go. However, this change has divided opinion, with some arguing it has ‘destroyed love’ while others believe ‘online love is more likely to last.’
But, what if you are part of the LGBT community – where finding true love can seem hard enough already due to ‘not enough fish in the sea’ – could the internet have brought those fish together and made them that little bit easier to find?
They do say there is someone out there for everyone, and it was amongst cheesy chat-up lines and unsuitable profiles that Kyle and Molly found that someone.
For Kyle, he believes that if he hadn’t signed up to internet dating he probably wouldn’t be planning a wedding for next year – or at least not to Michael anyway! Disillusioned with the gay dating scene, which he found very restrictive, Kyle wanted an opportunity to find someone to have a conversation with that wasn’t fuelled by alcohol. He says that after the initial message online they had an immediate spark: “I remember that I was surprised at how different he was to the usual online dater,” he says. “He wasn’t looking for a one night stand and neither was I.”
After a few weeks of talking they met. “The first date ran really smoothly actually. We didn’t stop talking and after dinner we went to a cocktail bar for some drinks… ever since then, (two years on) we have never spent a single day apart.”
Molly had recently come out when she turned to the world of online dating.
She found it didn’t gave her the courage to talk to potential partners, and that eventually led to her first date with a girl. Now the two of them have now set up a home together.
She reveals: “I joined an online dating site on the recommendation of some friends. After about a week on the site I matched with Eve and we exchanged a few messages. We had the same sense ofhumour and a natural banter and flow to our conversation, which can be difficult to find online.
“After a couple of weeks we arranged to meet for a drink. Two cocktails later and we were getting on like a house on fire, bar crawling around Soho, and it didn’t feel like meeting a stranger from the internet anymore. It just felt completely comfortable.”
Molly, who had previously dated men, turned to the internet after speaking to her friends about her interest in women. “Online dating for anybody is less pressurized,” she says. “You can show the side you want to show, it’s easier to initiate contact and, perhaps reassuringly, easy to break contact too if you don’t feel you have a connection.”
“The best thing about online dating for me was that it connected me to an entire stream of possible matches and other women who wanted the same thing as me. This would have been much harder to achieve offline.”
Molly was wary of online dating before she used it. “I thought it was catalogue-ish, judging people from a single picture,” she says. “Those sites where they claim to find your perfect match made me cringe. However, I was proved 100% wrong and I know plenty more success stories from a variety of people that have met people online and are extremely happy. Not everyone has the luxury of meeting someone organically through work or friends and online dating has been a godsend to that end.”
Before speaking to Eve, she says: “I was approached by a girl who wondered if I’d like to meet up with her and her boyfriend, and another girl who was apparently just on there to make friends with all the girls. A couple of other matches had nice profiles but I’m naturally quite shy and even on a dating site I wouldn’t initiate a conversation.”
Kyle, who had used several dating sites, explains: “Online dating has allowed for more choice and more of an opportunity to meet a range of people. We can now speak to people before meeting them and committing to an evening in their company. We can have a chat, see if there is a spark and move on.”
“I don’t think you can really get to know someone on a dating site or app but it does allow you to understand what someone is looking for and ensure you don’t end up with your heart broken”
Before meeting Michael he reveals a mixed dating experience. “I had been on dates with people that had lied, people that had deliberately chosen more attractive pictures and people that were just totally and utterly weird. However, I have also met people just as strange, in nightclubs and bars. I’ve also met some really lovely and genuine people as well. I had a lot of fun. As with everything, it has its ups and downs but it is mostly a positive revelation.”
Both Molly and Kyle feel that online dating is the same experienced whether you are gay or straight, whereas offline there is quite a significant difference.
“A disadvantage of the gay dating scene is that you get approached by so many people who want to explore their sexuality or have a threesome rather than actually date you or start a relationship,” explains Molly.
“Offline I think it’s become much easier as society has become so accepting of gay couples. However, you do still (sadly) need to think twice about where to go if you want to be comfortable to flirt or be affectionate with someone of the same sex, which I guess makes it a bit harder than the straight dating scene.”
And Kyle agrees. “I think that the dating scene is much harder for gay men. Obviously, the selection is smaller, some people find it hard to differentiate who is gay and who isn’t and of course the number of gay bars is limited. Online dating and getting to know someone is more romantic than meeting someone in a nightclub… there is so much more choice and, (definitely in the gay world) it makes things so much easier.”
Kyle and Michael are now engaged and poised to walk down the aisle. They plan to marry in Malaga next year.
There is no doubt about it, whether gay, straight, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender, online dating has changed the way we find love. And there definitely isn’t a shortage of dating sites for us to meet ‘the one’ to the weird and wackier that enable you to connect directly with a Sea Captain
– if that’s what floats your boat!
Kyle says: “I would definitely encourage others to try dating online. You have nothing to lose. Have a look around and see who’s out there. If you don’t like them, don’t meet them.”
‘The One’ could be out there in the big wide world of the web just waiting to be found.
The news team for THEGAYUK. Got tips? Go to www.thegayuk.com/newsdesk to tell us something.