Valentine’s Day: Checking in on the Lake Tahoe online dating scene | SierraSun.com

Valentine’s Day: Checking in on the Lake Tahoe online dating scene

Amelia Richmond
Special to the Tribune

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — A recent Match.com article reported 40 million Americans now use online dating services, representing about 40 percent of the total population of singles in the U.S.

But does online dating work in mountain towns? Tahoe-Truckee locals have varying options, which we share below anonymously due to the sensitive nature of this story's topic.

THE BAD

A 30-something female in Incline Village reported she tried dating online in the region, saying it was tough.

“Online dating expands the pool of potential partners, but it limits it at the same time.”Christian PedersenLove Works for You co-founder

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"I found the men I met online to be cowardly and too shy to approach women," she said. "The men seemed to have difficulty making plans. I met a lot of unambitious men."

She noted her female friends in their 20s-50s had similar experiences.

"A friend ended up going out with a man who turned out to be homeless," she said. "Actually, that happened a couple times to various friends."

A 50-something male on the West Shore, on the other hand, said the local women he meets online are all very busy and independent, lamenting it is often a challenge to get them to commit to plans.

He summarized his experiences on Match.com, OkCupid and Tinder as "a lot of work for not a ton of reward," but added it hasn't been painful and has been a learning process.

A benefit of dating at Lake Tahoe, continued, is that dates usually consist of fun activities like mountain biking — though he added the strategy has landed him in the "friend zone" with a few women.

THE GOOD

Other Tahoe locals painted a different picture when interviewed, sharing stories of how they successfully met partners online.

One 40-something female in Incline Village happily described meeting her partner in her first 20 minutes on Match.com.

A 50-something male, also in Incline Village, summarized his online dating experiences as "pretty good."

He turned to the Internet 10 years ago over to find a partner while raising two young children as a single father.

"I don't have a good radar for identifying interested singles," he said. "Online dating eliminated the guess work. It was a huge relief."

Since, he has met two partners online: one on eHarmony, and another through Match.com after the first relationship ended amicably many years later.

"I found the experience to be very easy," he said. "My goal was to meet a partner. And for me, it worked. I met two wonderful ladies online."

His advice?

"Like anything else, you get what you give," he said. "If you're honest and putting yourself out there, you're more likely to get honest answers."

He also advised steering clear of people who are trying too hard to impress others with their profiles.

A 30-something female in Tahoe City, who met her boyfriend on the dating app Bumble, agrees that the Internet can be helpful to meet new people.

"I think online dating is a good tool once you're ready to get back out there," she said. "I was able to meet people I might not have met otherwise — even though we'd often end up having several mutual friends."

Her advice for singles is not to confuse being lonely with being ready to date.

EXPERTS WEIGH IN

Christian Pedersen and Sonika Tinker, husband and wife relationship experts and cofounders of "Love Works for You," located in the Sierra Foothills in Meadow Vista, Calif., believe dating sites and apps can be useful to find someone with whom to go on a date.

Still, they caution singles not to waste a lot of time doing the actual dating online.

"Online dating expands the pool of potential partners, but it limits it at the same time," said Pedersen, noting singles often risk missing out on rich and meaningful relationships by being too selective online.

In a New York Times oped last year, comedian Aziz Ansari and sociology professor Eric Klienberg further advised against being too picky in the early stages of online dating.

"We are horrible at knowing what we want," they wrote. "Scientists working with Match.com found that the kind of partner people said they wanted often didn't match up with what they were actually interested in. People filter too much; they'd be better off vetting dates in person."

Pedersen and Tinker advise singles to get out there and date as many people as possible, without focusing on trying to find "the one."

"We see people trying to decide if they are going to marry or divorce the person in front of them on their first date," said Tinker. "We recommend people go on a lot of second, third and fourth dates — even if they're not totally taken with someone from day one."

ONE OF MANY OPTIONS

At the end of the day, Pedersen reminds singles that online dating is just one of the options that exists to meet potential partners.

"All of the ways couples met before the Internet still exist today," he said, noting that cafés, libraries and especially local "Meetup" groups are great ways to meet people.

Organized through Meetup.com, Meetups are groups with shared interests that get together in person. Local Meetup groups in the Tahoe area currently cover a broad range of interests, including outdoor recreation, craft beer, board games, French language, metaphysics, meditation, swing dancing and cooking clubs.

Still, no matter where you meet, Pedersen and Tinker's final advice leading up to Valentine's Day is simple and universal: "Whether you're on a first date or in a committed relationship, get your focus off what is wrong with the other person, and get it on what is right about them."

Visit loveworksforyou.com to hear more advice and learn more about "Love Works for You."

Amelia Richmond is a North Lake Tahoe-based freelancer writer. Email her at amelia.s.richmond@gmail.com.

The hit list

A quick-hit list of online dating sites locals are using … and what each is best for.

Bumble.com

Smartphone dating app where women initiate contact

Best For: Women tired of getting too many matches

eHarmony.com

Paid online dating website built on compatibility

Best For: Highly customized matches

Hinge.co

New smartphone dating app that matches singles who share mutual Facebook friends

Best For: Meeting friends of friends

Match.com

Paid online dating website with a large database

Best For: Getting the most possible matches

Meetup.com

Online network of local groups

Best For: More organic relationships

OkCupid.com

Free online dating website

Best For: Seeing detailed personal preferences

Plenty of Fish (pof.com)

Free online dating website

Best For: Free access to a large dating pool

Tinder (gotinder.com)

Popular smartphone dating app

Best For: Entertainment