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Friday Discussion: Internet Matchmaking

By September 10, 2010Culture, Marriage

(Last week I started a Friday discussion series to address some gray area issues I have to face continually. I appreciate those willing to discuss these issues here.  Last week I talked about using fear as a motivator in the church.  Read that post HERE.)

Today I want to address the issue of online matchmaking.

In the last few years, a large number of the weddings I have performed have been in relationships that started online. Whether through a paid service such as eHarmony or just through random or blind dates connected through Facebook, the numbers of people meeting for the first time via the Internet increases annually. I have never had a problem with this, but apparently some do from responses and reactions I have seen.

Even though the popularity of these is growing, these types of marriages are still not extremely considered “popular”. When I meet a couple that met online, for example, they appear more hesitant to tell me how they met as a couple.

I’m curious of your opinion. Does it bother you to hear that a couple met online? I even have a couple pastor friends who are single considering this as an option to meet someone. Is that okay? Should there be a stigma against meeting online or is it completely normal these days?

What do you think? Weigh in on the conversation and add to the discussion.

(Is there an issue you think I should cover during this series?)

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Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 57 Comments

  • Alva Thrush says:

    It is truly a great and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mike says:

    I met my wife on a small, Christian 'match making' site…but it was also a site with forums [meetChristians] We knew each other as active participants in the forums for a year and a half before we actually met [we were also an ocean apart]. Over time, forums can really give you insight into a person's character. We still know people there as well as we know some of our friends. The community there lives on.

  • I don't have a problem with it. I know a few people that have done it and eventually were married. I tried it once and it didn't work out so I never tried it again.

    What I like is that you can spend a lot of time getting to know the person online or by phone before you even meet. Sometimes this forces you to go deeper than just a physical attraction of meeting in person.

    To each his own and while it's not for me, I don't view it negatively for a Christian.

  • cheyhey says:

    Like everything else in the world, online dating can be used for good or evil. 😀 You have to be careful who you date regardless of how you meet. I've used eHarmony a few times with some success, but I find myself too busy to put enough time and energy into the whole dating process. At my age, it's a challenge to meet unattached, quality, christian men, so meeting online is a great tool. It can be a great first start to meeting, but you need to watch others "do life" to really get to know them… and that takes time and face-to-face interaction. Not very romantic, but I wouldn't hesitate to pay for a background check on any man I was seriously involved with. You just never know. The Lord does a great job in leading and helping us steer through the dating waters, but we (and our baggage) can often reroute us in the wrong direction.

  • Kurt says:

    After my divorce tried several on-line services and met some very nice people. I dont really enjoy the “dating” process. Over time, I have learned that my profile and selection criteria can dramatically affect the “matches.”
    I met a wonderful woman. Through the test of dating others, I have come to believe she’s the one for me. However, the timing is not right.. We are good friends. So for now, I feel I am to become the best possible follower of Christ and to be the best possible friend I can be. I have decided not to date. It is a huge relief (of burden) to me to just trust in the Lord, while sharing the desires of my heart with Him; and ask for His guidance and will in my life. People ask me how we met and are consistently amazed (or shocked) when I say on-line. I’m glad we did.

  • Kristin says:

    Ron,
    My husband and I met online over ten years ago. I was single and everyone in my church was old, everyone at work was married and having affairs, and everyone out dancing was drunk. I couldn’t get a good date anywhere. I did several online dating services, and had only good experiences.

    I had several relationships and also met several men with whom there was no romantic interest but we are still friends.

    My husband and I met and dated long distance. He lived two states and six hours from me. Due to the distance, we talked for hours each day. We met in person two weeks later. We got married less than three months from our first contact.

    Ten years ago, online dating was very new. We first told people we met through mutual friends, and later just decided we didn’t care what people thought and went with the truth.

    In ten years we have had our share of struggles and challenges. Infertility and multiple miscarriages being the main thing. We now are a happy family of four, about to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

    When God puts you together and God is the center of your marriage, how you met is insignificant.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks so much Kristin for sharing your story. You are a great couple. Certainly a good example here!

  • CHUCH ON THE MOVE says:

    I'm not to shore my self on the on line date seen cause it seems to me that you would lose the matter of fact about a person. meaning to say that first impression of a person even you your self may not be the same upon your first meeting and as we all know its hard trying to be your self let alone some one that you think this person may want. as long as I been living witch is not that long (lol) but it has always seem to me that blind dates have failed. but this is a new age and things are a lot different and a lot faster. we go from meeting to marriage to having kids or vice versa but divorce is like the thing to do so if you should talk about any thing i would check the facts about the separation that go on after meeting face to face

    • ronedmondson says:

      Yea, first impression would probably be altered a bit. Thanks for weighing in on the discussion…

  • culturesmithconsulting says:

    I bet you'd get an entirely different set of answers if you asked this in a traditional senior citizens Sunday School class.

    When Peter and I were single and dating, we weren't "compatible" according to whatever that True site is. Little did they know.

    Of course, my only issue with Internet matchmaking is when it happens when one or both parties are married… but that's another story.

  • burno159 says:

    I just heard about a friend who is in his 40's who met his girlfriend and I think soon-to-be fiance on Farmville. I've heard plenty of eHarmony stories before, but that was a first for me to hear about meeting a girlfriend on Farmville.

    I think meeting online is a legitimate way to find your spouse. If you read the stats, you know that there are thousands of people meeting online and getting married each year, and that number is growing. In regards to the lasting marriages I'm not sure, but they are out there. I think just because we don't meet many people who have met online, doesn't mean that it is not happening.

    Maybe I should start playing Farmville, who knows what could happen. 🙂

  • Larry_Hehn says:

    My wife and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary next week. No, we did not meet on line. But we have often joked that we would like to submit our profiles to eHarmony to see if they would match us with each other!

    I love to hear the stories of how couples met. With so many chances for connection via the internet today, and there being such a large community on line, it doesn't surprise me that more people are meeting this way. I see no reason for a couple to hesitate to admit that they met each other on line.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Larry. I agree. That would be a fun exercise on eHarmony. What would we do if we turned out not to be a match? Ha!

  • Esward says:

    I have counseled several couples that met on line & it comes down to what the individuals were looking for (purpose). Those looking to find a relationship -that might lead to marriage tend to be more stable than those looking solely – to get married. Those in the latter group that are online looking for a spouse tend to go to more extreme situations, generally speaking. They seem to get too soon w/o really knowing the person. As if God has given them a sign b/c their on-line profiles matched what they are looking for. I have seen couples in pre-marital counseling, that have moved half way around the country to be togehter that just met online 3 months ago.
    On the other hand some of the strongest couples I have married have met on dating sites. It comes down to their motives for going on-line, because they get what they are looking for.

  • herbhalstead says:

    I never had a problem with it – until my daughter started meeting men online! I have quite a few friends who are now married who met online. So, I always thought it was kind of novel, but never really gave it another thought. But when my daughter announced that she wanted to invite a man she met online to my church and to my house I suddenly began to fear. Who is this guy? What are his intentions? Is he a weirdo?

    I think, that it is a lot like meeting someone "offline" – you have to be very careful, do your homework, start a friendship first and see how that develops. And, just like "offline" dating, if you;re not careful, you can get hurt and others can be put at risk.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Ha! You brought an interesting twist to the discussion. Do we feel the same when it is our children meeting people online? Thanks

  • Jon says:

    On line stuff is like anything else; it has a good side and a dark side. Look at Jason's post above. On the one hand he got mixed up with someone who had serious baggage which he didn't know about until deeper into the relationship. Then, through another Internet connection, he meets a woman he marries. Think about all of the conversations that Ron would NOT be having with us if not for RSS feeds, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. I know that my personal life and crises have been helped immensely by my ability to connect with people like Ron that I would never have connected with except for things like this forum. I heard a radio program the other day that touched a specific pain point in my life. i was able to email the host and he responded with a word of encouragement. I was reading a book that really spoke to some of the issues in my life and I wrote the author; not really expecting to hear from him. Well, he wrote back with some encouraging words and an offer to pray for me. Just a couple of examples of how the on-line world can be of help.

    If I was in the market for a new wife, which I am not, where would I turn? Well, I am a Christian, so probably the bar scene is out. I guess I could try and meet someone at my church, and there are some nice single ladies, but truthfully that field is pretty small and I don't know if any of them would be right for me or if I would be of interest to them. There are some single ladies at my office, but most aren't believers so that's an issue. I would probably give the Internet a shot, simply because it increases my chances to find someone I might not have bumped into otherwise.

    And as others have pointed out, you have to be suspicious of any claims made until verified by spending serious time with that person. But that's pretty much the same routine you should be doing in the real world. The lone exception might be if you have known the person for a long time before you start dating.

  • I have some friends who met online and aren't ashamed to talk about it. In urban settings in the Northeast I've found it to be pretty common. I suppose it's better than meeting someone in a bar and it seems that some of those sites encourage you to have enough biographic information so that when you do actually meet someone you have plenty to talk about. It's almost like a conversation starter. Anyway, I see no problem with people meeting online, it's really what they do once they meet that matters.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Nathan for adding to the discussion. I believe you are right in that it's probably less an issue in other parts of the country. (BTW, I love the Northeast!)

  • I understand the risks of anonymity and false claims presented by many comments above. However, I believe those same risks apply in most "in person" meetings as well. If someone wants to be deceptive, they will. Although my wife and I met in person at the office, I think it helps those who are genuine and candid meet strong matches more quickly and easily. After all:

    Doesn't online match making just make it easier for God to connect those he wants paired?

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Ben. Yes, there are risks either way.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Also, good question: "Doesn't online match making just make it easier for God to connect those he wants paired?" I'm thinking through that…not sure God needs help 🙂 , but I do see it as a method He could use the same as He does through personal introductions, chance encounters, blind dates, etc.

      • Yeah, I thought about that after I posted. I guess my only point was not that He would ever need help, but it's just another way and from a broken, human perception, it might seem easier.

      • Jon says:

        You are right in that God needs no help. But He usually uses people and things around us. I've been encouraged by the words you've given me over this past year in relation to my marriage. I have a church home and pastors here, but God used you in a church I've never been to in a different state to minister to my heart. If a someone is looking for a marriage partner, whose to say that eHarmony might not be God's tool of choice at the moment.

  • Joe Sewell
    Twitter:
    says:

    Jon sums up my opinion fairly well.

    in today’s society, you can find out more about somebody by observing their Internet “persona” anyhow.

    I met my wife of 16+ years through a Christian “singles outreach” ministry. Initial contact was handled by regular mail. It wasn’t all that much different from any of the methods described by Ron & Jon except that we had LESS initial information to go on.

    It *is* too easy to become someone else on the Internet, so meeting in person before one makes any sort of commitment beyond that is as foolish as it would be without the Internet. Once again, though, it’s not the Intenet that’s the problem.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Joe for sharing your story. That's interesting. Sometimes I think the art of writing is lost these days and so I see some benefits to this part of an online dating relationship.

  • Melissa says:

    We should seek the Lord and prayerfully seek His will, online or not, before we begin any "dating" relationship. He will lead and guide us when we seek Him first and then listen/follow His direction.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Melissa. You are right…regardless we "should seek the Lord and prayerfully seek His will".

  • @musicgirl77 says:

    I think its not even an issue with the younger set. I asked my son not long ago if he would ever consider doing that and he said, "Sure, why not?" I think it seems weird, but I'm 51 yrs old too. But I can KINDA understand. In the old days you met people via friends, work, church or bars. Now, everyone is so busy in their own routines, don't go to church (or its a small pond in which to fish from!) and alot don't want the stigma of meeting people in bars. So what does that leave? If there's an avenue that lets one search, somewhat anonymously, other people that SAY they have the same interests……I can kinda see that.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Yes, I do think there is probably less resistance with younger people more adaptable to change. Thanks

  • rfbryant says:

    I think where you meet doesn't matter — you must be careful whether you meet them in the produce aisle at Kroger OR online. Relationships take time, honesty and respect, no matter where they start.

    Now, if that relationship started online, stayed online until the date of the nuptials…. I might have a few things to say.

  • Tom Jamieson says:

    Hey Ron! Great thought-provoking post! I have a family member who met her spouse online and they have been married for three years (and dated for nearly three years before that). I think this is a legitimate way to meet online as long as the normal and customary precautions are taken (which should be taken even when meeting someone through more "traditional" methods anyway). Just another example of generational progress and the further use of social media.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Tom. You are right…there are "customary precautions" all beginning relationships must take.

  • Brad Harmon says:

    I've never used a matchmaking site. I was hitched long before they were available. I'm not sure that I would have used them even if they were though, but not because of any stigma that may be associated with them. I'm intrigued by how deep their compatibility matrices are. It's likely to be more thought than the average person puts into the decision to date someone though. I just preferred to know someone in person a while before I ever started dating them.

    Matchmaking has been around for quite some time. Every time I see one of these commercials, I hear "matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match" from Fiddler on the Roof go off in my head. One of these companies claims that 1 on 5 relationships start through online matchmaking now. That seems high, but what do I know? When it comes time for my son to start dating and find a mate, it's hard for me to get excited about him searching online for the right girl. If that's how God leads her to him though, so be it.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Hey Brad. Thanks for your input. I don't know if the statistics are true or not either, but I do know that they have increased for me in the weddings I perform. It could be people are talking about it more readily also.

  • JasonWert says:

    I have good and bad stories about online dating. I met a woman through eHarmony that claimed to be a solid Christian, had good values and we were "matched on 5,482,909 points of compatibility." After dating for a while, she kept trying to force herself on me sexually and get me to be rough with her physically. Finally she dumped me to go back to her ex-boyfriend…who just got out of jail and routinely beat her and forced her to have sex. It is a little blow to your ego to lose a woman to an ex-con spousal abuser rapist.

    On the plus side…my wife and I met online and we have no problem telling folks about it. We didn't meet on a "dating site" but rather on MySpace. We were friends first and friends for a few years before we took the plunge into anything more than that.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Jason for sharing your story. Wow, that's quite a story on the one encounter. Glad it worked out well with your wife!

  • Jon says:

    I think that it can be a valid way to meet people. There's a man in our church whose wife left him after three children and probably 15-20 years of marriage. He's remarried now to a woman he met on eHarmony and they've been married a number of years and seem quite happy.

    There is a downside or danger that is more prevalent in this type of meeting than in others; some level of anonymity. Yes, you have to provide information and a picture and the best sites probably try and protect their clients as much as possible, but truthfully I can say I am a Christian, but you don't really know. I suppose there's the same possibility in the real world, but someone who isn't a Christian probably isn't going to spend huge amounts of time inside a church involved in things. Like anything else, you need to be protective of who you are and what you are and take the things the person on the other side says about themselves with a grain of salt. So overall, one may have to be a little more paranoid about the person or persons they are meeting until such time as more in depth contact can confirm things.

    Having said that, I met my wife at work. But even though I worked with her every day, it wasn't until the relationship got more serious that we really started sharing some of the more intimate "secrets" of our lives with each other. So in one sense Internet dating isn't a lot different than real dating.

    And these sites are perhaps a good way for those who might be to shy to venture out to have a chance at meeting someone.

    Bottom line is that I think meeting someone through a legitimate Internet site is fine. In one sense it's not a lot different than someone setting you up with the other person, or having a chance encounter on the street or even noticing someone at church that perhaps you've not noticed before.

  • At the church I serve at there are two families who met via online. One couple has been married for 6 years and have two children and the other couple has been married around 5 years with 1 child and another on the way.

    I would say that it does work in some instances.