The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

A Shot at Love with Yang and Tcheng


Online Dating Graphic

Well, it’s almost that time of year again–Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re single or ready to mingle, the 14th of February has always been a day specializing in love, romance and all things adorable. In this spirit, two writers for The S&B tested the waters of online dating.


Photo by John Brady.
Photo by John Brady.

Confession Number One: Online dating scares me.

I have always been a very private person. I never caught on to Myspace. I didn’t open my Facebook account until the summer before my freshman year of high school. And my Twitter? 100 percent nonexistent. All that is to say, the very thought of complete and total strangers scrolling through my most personal information sends a shiver up and down my spine.

Confession Number Two: If I could sum up my dating history in two words, they would be “epic fail.”

Some people hit their peak in middle school. Others messed around in high school and found a couple of relationships that stuck. And still more found their one and only during the first week of college—cue the happily ever after. But me? Besides the awkward homecoming date and the staccato exchange of texts here and there, my dating career has been less inspired than a piece of stale toast… or even worse. I am talking soggy Wonder Bread status.

Taking all of this into account, I entered my online dating adventure with a great deal of apprehension. I know I am not alone in this feeling. To many, online dating denotes a last-ditch effort. We associate it with desperate women approaching their mid-30s and pot-bellied men living in their parents’ basement.

But here’s the thing: thanks to the digital age and the increasing popularity of applications that connect people through technology, online dating has begun to lose its stigma. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Lab in 2015, one in every five adults, aged 25-34, has used some form of online dating.

So, with endless success stories and statistics to back it up, I put my trepidations aside and dove straight into the world of online dating. 

The first thing I learned about online dating was its surprising diversity of options. Specialty dating networks exist for every audience, from Gluten Free Singles to TrekPassions (for the Star Trek lover). I, however, took on a more generalized approach. After a quick Google search, I narrowed down my options to three of the Internet’s top-rated dating networks:, OkCupid and Plenty of Fish (POF).

Both OkCupid and POF do not require paid membership, although both charge a fee for their best features. On the other hand,, which advertises itself as “the number one destination for online dating,” offers new users a 7-day free trial before charging a 30 dollar monthly fee.

Compared to OkCupid and POF, immediately felt more serious and relationship centric. While my OkCupid profile took me less than five minutes to complete, bombarded me with a string of questions that forced me to think introspectively about myself and my interests.

Even so, the process of setting up my dating profile felt surprisingly similar for all three sites. Each one asked me the same iteration of questions: “Do you smoke?” “Do you want kids?” “What are your hobbies?” etc.

Eventually, with my bare-bones profile set up and fully-equipped with the most flattering picture of myself I could find, I entered Phase Two of online dating: Date Fishing.

Within hours of opening my profile to the cyber universe, I received 15+ messages from prospective dates. The messages, which ranged from the very alluring “how u doing” to a bit more thoughtful, left me feeling overwhelmed, and admittedly a little excited.

Gradually, I sorted through my matches and picked seven messages to respond to. Most of my matches responded within half an hour and dialogues ensued. While some of the men were overly forward or just plain cocky, I was surprised by how many of them could hold genuine conversations. We talked about family, friends and favorite restaurants. And, to my surprise, at times it felt completely normal.

Now, after 72 hours of online dating, over 75 messages, and a total of 304 profile likes, I must admit that my perspective towards online dating has changed. While I don’t think I will continue to use my accounts after this article is published, I don’t have the same fear of online dating which with I started this assignment. While online dating networks may attract a couple basement-dwellers here and there, the majority of the online dating world is made up of normal human beings—looking for love wherever they can.

STEVE YANG, Features Editor

Photo by Alberto Vazquez.
Photo by Alberto Vazquez.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day (and for the sake of this article), I decided to try setting up an online dating profile or two and see what kind of responses I could get, with the hope of also overcoming the lingering stigma of online dating. It wasn’t easy to start—I was a bit anxious about privacy and being recognized, but I also wanted to realize my lifelong dream of being on, so I dove in.

So, why FarmersOnly? Well, I figured that the site would have a relatively Midwestern audience, I (rightly) suspected that many of the site’s users would also be interested in hunting and fishing, like I am, and unlike the Redneck Dating Service, FarmersOnly was free. Ever since I was a little boy, I have loved and emulated the lifestyle of Laura Ingall Wilder’s classic “Little House on the Prairie,” and looking for my one-and-only on the site seemed like a good way to start. Best of all, I didn’t have to fill out extensive personality tests or surveys either, so I could start “flirting” right away with all the lovely women on the site.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t ready for the sheer beauty and gall of the “Flirt Now” pre-set messages that I was able to send. How do you decide between, “I see you like John Deere too… want to compare tractors?” and “Which is faster: you or your horse?” Actually, FarmersOnly also has a paid subscription plan that lets you send real messages to your intended recipient, but true love shouldn’t cost money. In fact, I could see myself sitting my future children on my lap and telling them about how their mother and I met when I sent her a lovely “If you upgrade so we can get acquainted, I will, too!” message through the site.

Unfortunately, FarmersOnly (at least in the Grinnell area) seemed to be geared towards an older audience, although I was pleasantly surprised that there were a few women around my age as well. But age demographics matter less when you count the fact that I received a grand total of zero (0) flirts back. So much for that.

Now it was time for something a bit more serious. By which I mean seriously astounding, because the fine folks at eHarmony must have been shocked that somebody who ranked themselves so highly in intelligence, wit, vivaciousness, sensuality, kindness and humility had joined their site. Frankly, I think there’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn now and then. When you’re swinging for the fences, you don’t bring a Pee-Wee bat to the plate.

Likewise, I found the most flattering photo of myself for, and described my ideal woman: eye color, hair color, body shape, kids, relationship status … you get the idea. But since this profile won’t stay up for too long, I decided to cast a wide net across pretty much all categories. I thought that if I were the least picky person on the site, some good might come out of it.

But I also remember somebody once saying that personality is important, so I made sure that my profile was optimistic and concise with the timeless and elegant motto, “Live, Laugh, Love.” However, that didn’t meet the 200-character minimum, so I copy-and-pasted one of’s suggested profiles for maximum approachability and added, “I always live life to its absolute fullest and strive to cherish each moment. My idea of fun includes laughing, being outdoors, sharing an insightful conversation, learning and sharing a laugh.” Brilliant.

At this point I was worried: with the time constraints imposed by quality journalism at The S&B, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make any meaningful connections with my matches, which would essentially make my column relatively useless. If it wasn’t my wholehearted effort, was I lying to myself and others? Was I one of many fish in the sea or just a young boy at the aquarium staring at all the pretty fish? But succeed or fail, I was duty-bound to report it, so I completed my profile and crossed my fingers. Let me just say this: I know a number of close friends and acquaintances who have met through online dating, who had plenty of fun doing so, and at least three couples who have gotten married. It requires a massive amount of bravery and optimism to sign up for online dating, but finding love requires you to put yourself out there. Online dating isn’t setting up a few profiles with barebones information and loitering for two days, but displaying incredibly personal information about yourself to the world and hoping somebody like you will do the same.

After three days, my inbox (on all three websites, mind you) was continuing the historic tradition of the Aztecs, namely in the concept of “zero.” But this is not the end: with my Lunar New Year’s money having been saved up for a grand total of four days now, I was ready to embrace the Redneck Dating Service. Mudding, trucks and country music, here I come: my little paradise on the prairie.

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