Online Dating In Eastern Europe

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“There is nothing in the world, neither man nor Devil nor any thing, that I hold as suspect as love, for it penetrates the soul more than any other thing. Nothing exists that so fills and binds the heart as love does. Therefore, unless you have those weapons that subdue it, the soul plunges through love into an immense abyss.”

Said Umberto Eco in his 1980 novel, The Name of the Rose. While I’ve read the book, I found it surprising that it was published only 30 something years ago. His words do sound more appropriate for the 14th Century the novel is set in.

Some 35 years later, in a world of startups, office hours and digitized feelings, where could you find love?

If China can do it, so can anyone:

A recent news article talked at length about the trials and tribulations of bachelors from rural China — who, because of a faulty system and a law that caused a huge gender imbalance. The ointment for these guys’ aching soul – and, well, loins – couldn’t be anything else than digitized.

But if rural China is so fast to embrace online and mobile app dating, how long will it take for Eastern Europe to get rid of the stigma?

Picture this.

Irina is a 28 years old professional in a big city in Eastern Europe. She identifies herself as an extrovert, but she’s very low on the extroversion scale — so low that in reality she’s probably more of an introvert. She’s easygoing with her own groups of friends (friends she’s made in her teens), but is very reluctant when meeting new people. New crowds make her feel uneasy.

She works about 50 hours every week, in a digital company, overtime included. She hasn’t been on a date in forever. In fact, throughout her professional life, she has barely any dating experience.

Once you’re over your mid-twenties you start seeing your friends settling down. This has nothing to do with geography, it’s just something that I guess is part of human evolution. Partying becomes less and less, any going out sessions implicate the friends’ other half. The circle of possibilities when it comes to meeting new people closes each day.

Internet penetration rate is high – in some countries in Eastern Europe, download speed would most likely get a ticket for going too fast, if, you know, it would be caught driving. So, when you have a download speed of about 5 mbs and an extremely cheap, cheaper than a cocktail at a semi fancy downtown bar, monthly subscription plan, it’s really a slap in the face of those less fortunate from other parts in the world where Internet speed isn’t as good, to spend all your online time watching cat vids and stalking Facebook frenemies.

But it’s easier to get used to mindless online browsing than to change perception. Change the mindset. And the mindset is the number one problem for love seekers in Eastern Europe, men and women alike.

How online dating is perceived in Eastern Europe

For example, take the following prevalent mindsets:

Only losers do the online dating dance.

I’ll be ashamed to tell my friends where we’ve met.

I won’t find anyone, anyway, too many creeps.

Dudes online just want the sex/ She must really be (insert whatever bad trait here) if she can’t find a man in real life.

How true are these, anyway?

The truth is there are a lot of losers everywhere. To some, I’m a loser. Or the beautiful stay-at-home mom who decided to spend time with her two rugrats rather than her company’s accounting spreadsheets. Or the passionate manager who doesn’t want a family, but his dream had always been climbing the professional ladder. The introvert who doesn’t like phone calls, merely texts; the extrovert who is the life of any party, but talks too much; the guy who works at the Post Office, the girl who sells cosmetics.

The list can go on, you got the idea.

Everyone can be a loser to someone else. It’s just a matter of perspective. The key is that each of us has to find his or her own perspective.

**

Another brick that lays thick on the wall built to protect against online dating is called “I won’t be able to tell our friends how we met”.

This stems from the traditional values – or more like behavior – that were one put way up high on a pedestal and never really fully disappeared. We all like to brag, maybe even more so when it comes to our kids and/or spouse. So when two old-fashioned moms get together and talk about the recent shenanigans of their offspings, you wouldn’t really want your mother to turn red and gloss over the fact that her only daughter had met her husband online. What will the neighbors say?

The mistake here is, like all mistakes that start with ‘But what will people think?!’, that neighbors don’t get to live your life. Maybe you’re a sensitive person and words can hurt you, but you’re gonna be hurt by those words for about three point five minutes. Afterwards, you’re gonna go home to your internet hubby and have passionate, angry sex, to “show them all” and possibly to make beautiful, smart babies.

And if your friends judge where and how you had found your happiness, you should think about getting new ones.

**

Dudes online just want the sex/ She must really be (insert whatever bad trait here) if she can’t find a man in real life.

I’ll be blunt. This one is a true possibility. BUT the pond has a lot of fish. And that particular dude would only want to do the naked dance even if you’d had met him in real life. Or that particular woman would still have same quirks even if you’d had met her in real life.

At least online dating gives you the opportunity to get new prospects in a matter of, well, seconds.

It’s like speed dating on amphetamine.

We live in a world where computers pretty much dictate our jobs. Depending on what you can do with a computer, the majority of your life (from deciding where to eat to booking travel) is tied to a computer. In this new reality, I think it’s time we let computers dictate who’s a better match for us in Eastern Europe too.

We need all the weapons we can get to temper that dwindling population thing. TC mark

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