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Dating in the 21st century

Is much different than dating was in the previous century. There are many ways to meet people, but with our busy schedules, finding the time to meet your soul mate can be difficult. Dating has evolved over the past few decades to accommodate our fast-paced, high-energy, lifestyles. According to the US Census Bureau, the number of single people 15 years of age and older has increased by at least 1 million annually since 2000. So the number of available singles is increasing in number, but as a single woman, I know it's getting harder and harder to find single guys!

Some of the more innovative dating methods used today include online and speed dating. Both reduce the amount of time needed to devote to dating, which is key in society today. With the time limits placed on people by increased hours at the office and time spent on the road sitting in traffic, less time is available to invest in finding a date. So to get around these time limitations, 21st century daters put their social life on the fast track!

Online dating starts with finding a website you are comfortable with using. All sites have a couple things in common. Participants are required to fill out a profile, answering basic questions such as age, sex, race, and personal preferences. Some of these include things like smoking and drinking preferences, what you think of as the "perfect" date, hobbies and interests. These surveys allow you to screen out people who don't meet your basic criteria.

After the survey is filled out, it's time to post a picture and start searching for someone you might be interested in meeting. Each site has a method of contacting other dating site members, typically via email or an instant messaging system. At this point, the dating turns to the more traditional method of meeting in person, complete with sweaty palms and nervous chatter
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Speed dating is a bit different in that the initial meeting is face-to-face instead of from the safety of a computer chair over the Internet. Speed dating typically starts by signing up for a location. The location, date and time are set by the speed dating coordinator. Generally it occurs in a restaurant or bar, somewhere that serves alcohol to soothe the nerves of the participants!

Before the dating begins, daters fill out a profile of information and are assigned a number. The "dates" are fast-paced, usually limited to five minutes or less each. In that time, the daters ask each other questions and try to get to know the important facts about the person across the table. When the bell rings, the men (generally) move to another table and the next date is underway. After all daters have been introduced, the formal event ends and people either leave or begin to mingle.

The advantage to this method of dating is knowing the basics about everyone in the room and also being immersed in a pool of singles who are also looking to meet someone. This takes a little of the pressure off the daters in the room. At the end of the dating session, the participants give the organizer a list of people they would be interested in meeting again. These lists are compared and contact information given out to participants if both parties are willing to go on a "second" date. At this point it's up to the daters to make further contact and proceed with traditional dating methods.

Although times have changed, really the bottom line is the same. We want to meet someone and share our lives with them. Finding time to do this can be difficult, but speed dating and online dating give us an edge. We can meet many potential mates in a short period of time and then it's up to us to follow up with those we are interested in seeing further. If your are interested in dating, but don't have the time to meet someone, consider trying one of these dating methods.

Sonia Fischer is an author.
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