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Students test waters of online dating

When Washington senior Abbie Diaz started looking for dates online she just wanted food.

“I started accepting dates on from anyone who would buy me food,” Diaz said. “I had no idea I’d meet the love of my life.”

Diaz, like other Central Michigan University students, used online dating sites before she met her current boyfriend of two and a half years, Bloomfield Hills graduate student Hasan Cheema.

“My roommate and I made profiles our freshman year at CMU because we were poor," Diaz said. "So we went online to try to get guys to take us out on dates.”

Diaz said she had an unsuccessful relationship in high school and found it difficult to meet people at CMU because she didn’t want to meet her future love at a bar. She’s used sites like, and

“I paid for a profile, which is more specific than free ones, and it was lame," she said. "It said there were no matches in 55 miles for me.”

Diaz said she had better luck with the free site, as she had four dates; one with a police officer, another with a fisherman who was more interested in fish than in her, the next with a man who lived in his parent’s basement and the fourth turned out to be her current boyfriend, Cheema.

Brigitte Bechtold, professor of sociology, said online dating is not a completely new phenomenon and that it goes together with everything else we do online, as we’re in a phase of virtual cultural development.

“Online is a more casual environment and shy students might find it easier to express themselves,” Bechtold said. “It’s important for young people to make sure they don’t live in a cocoon by themselves, however, and stay in the real world, rather than the virtual.”

Bechtold said there are plenty of places for students to have organic interactions on campus, like the dorms, the library, classrooms and other social environments.

On the other hand, Novi sophomore Matt Sandles, current user of sites like and, has found it more difficult to meet people offline.

“I am not the wild type by any means” Sandles said. “Most girls seem to find that boring.”

Sandles isn’t involved in any extra-curricular activities and said he’s very shy.

“Looking online opens you up to a lot of people you would not normally be in contact with," he said. "I really don’t know how else I’d meet girls."

Sandles finds it easier to be clear about intentions and what he wants in a relationship online, and is disappointed less often than in real life.

“Maybe some girls will read this and realize I have good intentions," he said.