Online communities offer new dating options

As the stigma of meeting significant others online dissipates, web sites supplying the demand are permeating the internet like smarmy strangers crashing a house party.

The laundry list of online personals with singles in the Portland area runs long and includes,,,,,,, and It’s true, Date my Pet, a site with the slogan “Date me. Date my pet.” This begs the question of how many online dating tools are really necessary?

Beyond the specific dating sites are the ubiquitous online communities, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, Hi5 and the ever-popular Craigslist. These sites seem to be more popular among the PSU student set.

MySpace and Facebook lead the pack as the hip online profile communities du jour. Like many PSU students, senior Stephen Bekefi has a profile on both sites. “I don’t think there are enough hours in a day to baby-sit three,” he said at the prospect of joining another. “If we do the numbers on my dating success then MySpace has yielded nothing, but Facebook has,” Bekefi said, who has met a dozen or so people via the sites. He has found the Facebook folks to be friendlier in general.

Erika Castro, a freshman at PSU, prefers MySpace. “I think that MySpace is better in the sense that it has to offer more. You get a chance to decorate your profile, add in music, graphics and more opportunities to meet people,” she said. “I keep in touch with my old, current and new friends.”

Both Facebook and MySpace have options to list on personal profile page what the individual is interested in as far as using the site for dating, networking, keeping in touch with old friends and even random play. “I would also say that attractive people get solicited for romance whether they like it or not,” Bekefi said.

According to a 2002 poll, 49 percent of singles preferred to look online for a partner over the bar scene. Of the PSU students asked about using the online community Facebook to date, most said they were open to it, but used the site principally for keeping in touch with friends.

Multimedia dating has become more prominent. For example, a student may meet someone they are attracted to at a party and then continue the courtship online. “Now it seems like wherever you go everyone has an account,” Bekefi said, “so it might be easier to meet them in person and continue contact over the internet.”

Both sites have friend lists. An individual can see a prospective love interest’s social network if they are curious to see who the person hangs out with.

PSU senior Nadia Ali said she uses Facebook purely for friendship and connections. While she does not use it intentionally to date, she met a fellow PSU student. Ali said they chatted here and there before meeting each other in person. “If I come to a situation to where I like the guy and we share interests then sure I’ll date him,” she said. “I mean, why not?”

Not all Facebook dates work out, however. Sophomore Robyn Crispo said she does not use Facebook to meet guys, but her roommate does. “[She] got lucky enough to meet a horny alcoholic and some guy that smokes weed nonstop,” Crispo said. “I like to meet people in person through friends.”

Sophomore Stacy Ledbetter said she will reply to e-mails when the guy has a decent message or she is bored. “Sometimes I just talk to them with no intent of meeting them,” she said, referring to instant messaging with suitors. “But then after a while they want to meet me.”

Ledbetter, who has met three different guys over MySpace, meets her pursuers in public places with an incognito friend in the establishment. “I do not like this method of dating at all,” she said and explained how people rarely meet up to expectations. After developing an online rapport she has been shocked by unbeknownst traits. “Then they make me feel bad for not wanting to date them,” she said of prospective guys who are physically not what she expects.

Sophomore Seth Davis does not use MySpace to date, but his roommate has had four girlfriends through the site and is usually on the site until 4 a.m. “My roommate is a MySpace whore – literally,” he said.