photo: Janel Martinez

Anxiety started creeping in. It was almost 2:30 a.m. and I’d spent the last hour selecting a photo, detailing my interests, sharing my passions, and, honestly, figuring out if I was actually going to go through with this.

It wasn’t the first time I’d questioned whether or not I should jump into the whole online dating game. The hesitation I was encountering was the same uncertainty with which I approached dating as a whole. Yes, I date, but casually. “Bae” has always been school or work or my brand. I would remind myself, “There will always be time.” But the clock started ticking a lot louder once my 25th birthday came around and the sound was undeniable as I ushered in my 26th year.

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Less than a week after my 27th birthday, my friends and I gathered to create our 2016 vision boards. While I toiled with the idea of being in a relationship in previous years, I declared that this was the year I wanted to be in a loving, trusting, and fun relationship. I don’t take declarations lightly (I’ve declared jobs, opportunities and travel, all of which I’ve dedicated myself to making happen), so I knew I’d have to begin to take the necessary steps to make this a reality.

Another week went by and I hadn’t set up my online dating profile. Then a friend shared how, within the first week of the year, she’d made a big item on her vision board happen. Her text message motivated me to take action on my online dating endeavors.

So now I am just another of the one in five adults between ages 25–34 using an online dating site such as Match or OKCupid or a mobile dating app like Tinder, Bae, or SoulSwipe. While there once was a lot of stigma associated with meeting someone online, that’s no longer the case. Almost half of the public knows someone who uses online dating or who has met a spouse or partner through online dating, according to the Pew Research Center. Attitudes toward online dating have changed.

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I’ll admit, though, snippets from MTV’s Catfish and headlines from first-time meetings that took a turn for the worse flooded my mind before I finally pushed my profile live at around 3 a.m. By noon, I had a healthy number of profile views, several matches, and an even message or two. Yes, I’ve received sketchy communications and engaged in somewhat awkward conversations, but that can happen whether you met someone online, at a bar, or via friends.

While I’m in the very early stages of online dating, the experience has been worthwhile and forced me out of my comfort zone. Shortly after signing up, I met someone who is funny, handsome, charming, and intelligent. Our lengthy conversations run the gamut from future travel destinations to politics, and as first-generation millennials, how our experiences have impacted how we exist and operate in the world. It’s fresh, it’s new, and I’m happy. Isn’t that the point of dating?