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Monthly gatherings offer singles alternative to online dating

Published on

Pam Wright

Is there a stigma about online dating and being single in Sarnia?

Janet Walton thinks so. The owner of Sarnia Meet and Match has a front row seat to the challenges singles face searching for that special someone.

“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” the event planner said. “It’s hard for people to find someone because of all the game playing that goes on with online dating.”

Married people, people trolling for sex, people lying about their lives, fake photos, con artists and cyber thieves trying to steal personal data are things singles must sort through in their quest for coupledom.

It’s daunting and time consuming, Walton said. And not everyone is actively online.

What’s more, plenty of people are just plain embarrassed to be single. They don’t want anyone to know they’re searching, so posting photos on dating sites is out of the question. Walton, herself single, said she doesn’t understand where the stigma comes from, or why it’s there.

“What’s wrong with being single?” she asks.

Meet and Match gatherings are held the third Saturday of the month. Walton said they provide a safe and non-threatening venue for people to come out and have fun with other singles.

All are welcome regardless of age.

“Young people are facing the same challenges online as boomers,” she said.

Meet and Match events are held at the Quality Inn and it’s usually a 50-50 split with men and women attending in equal numbers. Activities range from trivia nights to dancing to horse racing.

A $20 fee covers rentals and finger foods. For more on upcoming events, email [email protected].

According to Statistics Canada about 16,000 adults are single in the area. However, Walton said that’s hard to quantify because census questionnaires don’t ask if the individual is in a relationship.

Still, there are plenty of single people out there, Walton says, which is why she provides a venue for them to meet in person.

“I’m offering an alternative to Internet dating,” she said. “Meeting someone face-to-face is the only way to know. You can email until the cows come home but you only know if the attraction is there if you physically see them.”

Speech, body language, grooming, clothing, and manners can all be fudged online, Walton noted.

Despite the negatives of online dating the industry continues to expand with more than 7,500 sites worldwide.

Researchers predict that by 2040 more than 70% of all relationships will begin online.

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