Using websites and apps to find a partner is becoming a centerpiece of dating for people in the technology age.
But people aren't just using traditional dating sites like Match.com and e-Harmony.
Now many people are also using smartphone apps and other dating sites targeted toward a younger crowd who might just be looking for a date for the night instead of a long-term partner.
Some of the most common dating/hookup apps include Tinder, Blendr, Zoosk and Grindr, just to name a few. OkCupid is a bit of a hybrid between your typical online dating site and a place for something more casual. You'll find people who are looking for a spouse, some who want casual sex and dating, polyamorous people, couples, etc.
The significant prevalence of these sites and apps shows a greater acceptance towards casual relationships, friends with benefits and sex just for the fun of it.
Dating sites can be especially useful for people who have limited time or who don't desire to go out to bars to meet people. Hookup apps are useful because you can be out in a social setting and browse profiles from other people near you who are interested in what you might be offering. Many people have profiles on multiples sites, which helps round out the experience.
I spoke with several different people in Santa Fe who have tried online dating and apps, some more successfully than others.
Celia Kessler, 24, has lived in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. She has tried online dating in both. She met her boyfriend Steve on OkCupid, and they've been together for a little over a year and a half.
"When I lived in Albuquerque in 2011, I was on Match and I only went on a couple dates and they were terrible," she says. "When I moved to Santa Fe, I didn't use anything for a while and then I had this weird desire to try again, and someone told me about OkCupid…I was browsing and I talked to a couple people, but I was feeling hopeless again. Then they matched me with Steve and we started talking, and we went out and that was it."
Kessler says using dating sites in a small city is a mirror on what it's like to date the old-fashioned way in the same city.
"You could be on Match in Albuquerque, and within a few days you could probably browse everyone on there," Kessler says. "It feels pretty small, and I think it might be more functional in bigger cities. But dating normally in a small town also feels like that."
Depending on the site or app, users are asked to provide personal information. Tinder is simple because it's just a short paragraph and pictures. On other applications and site, you might spend more time filling out your profile and answering questions.
There's still a prevalent stigma against people who use online dating sites and apps.
"I think it's just another tool that you can use, especially in a small town," Kessler says. "It's easy to run into the same people if you go to the same bars every week. So it's not like you're solving that problem. But you can meet people you wouldn't have time to meet in real life. If someone is skeptical about it, there's nothing weird about because we all use social media all the time, and this is just another platform."
Hunter Riley is a Santa Fe native living and working in Albuquerque. She is the store manager of Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center.
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