July 14, 2011

"Love: Digital Style" Contestants #3: Carla and Mike

About Us
Mike and I aren't your typical "young couple." Meeting online late July 2010 on SinglesNet, we had a whirlwind romance that led me to change many of the plans I had made for the future months. New to the Chicago area and only there for a short 3 months, Mike convinced me that extending my stay in the Windy City to give us enough time to grow and develop something long-lasting would be worth my time. Unsure of what to do, I let things run their course and work themselves out, hoping to be steered in the right direction. In one year, Mike and I have seen each other through dramatic life changes (unemployment, career changes, family loss, etc.), are currently dealing with temporary long distance, and all throughout choosing to put the relationship in the decisions we make moving forward.

What made you use an on-line dating service?
I was new to the Chicago area (moved there for an internship) and was really just looking to see what kind of guys the Chicago area had to offer. I had used dating sites before and had pretty decent luck meeting guys so said why not try again in a new city?

What made the site you used attractive to you? (Price, number of members, etc.)
I was on two sites at the time (Plentyoffish and SinglesNet). I was attracted to both of them because they were free and had a lot of members in the Chicago area who seemed pretty interesting. Actually, correction, if you chose the free account with SinglesNet you weren't able to communicate with members who also had free accounts but could contact those with paid accounts. Mike had a paid account and as soon as I saw him I swooned so hard I couldn't help but send him over a message. Was very happy when he responded the next day.

Was this your first time using on-line dating or were you a "pro" at it?
It definitely wasn't my first time but I wouldn't necessarily say I was a "pro." My past experiences with online dating were positive so signing up to another one wasn't that big of a deal for me. I'm also not a shy or heavily guarded person and it's easy for me to open up to people and be myself around them with little to no awkwardness. Online dating just kind of fit into my lifestyle.

What attracted you (or your mate) to your profile? Who contacted whom first?
HIS EYES!!! I definitely contacted him first as I had just signed up to SinglesNet and didn't see anyone else who interested me as much. I also read on his profile that we had similar interests and the tone in which he wrote gave me a good sense that he had a funny personality. A guy that could make me laugh with written words is a definite WIN. His profile was also different from the others as it detailed what he specifically was looking for and what he could bring to the table in a relationship, far different than the profiles who featured little to no content and just an okay picture.

How long did you communicate before meeting in person?
Don't judge me! I contacted him the night I saw his profile. He replied back the next day and we exchanged numbers which turned into an almost 3 hour long conversation that same day. We didn't meet the next day, but probably one or two days after that. 

When and where was your first date?
Our first date was a BLAST! He met me near where I was staying at the time in Downtown Chicago and, since I had mentioned I was new in town, gave me a personal tour of the city. We walked down Millennium Mile for a bit towards Navy Pier, caught a movie at the IMAX theatre there, took a cab over to the Sears Tower where we took the elevator all the way to the top floor to get a better view of the city, and then went to Giodano's Pizza to have some Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It was a long exhausting day come to think about it but well worth it.

How did you know this would be more than just an "online" date and something more?
Honestly, it took me a while. Mike was younger than me by a year and still in school while I had already graduated and was ready to start my career. I also wasn't sure if I would stay in Chicago after my internship ended at the end of the summer. I'm originally from New York which is a much bigger city with greater opportunity and somewhere I could live rent free until I found a job back at home with my mom. The boyfriend I had before Mike was long distance and it wasn't something I was willing to go for again especially since neither of us showed any signs of making moves anytime soon. 

However, I tell people when I talk about Mike and I that God has a way of intervening in our lives to make things work out. Towards mid-August I started applying for new opportunities and was afforded a job (not the best job but something to help pay the rent until I could find something better) and a decent-sized furnished apartment at a GREAT price. I guess what made me try to make Chicago work in the first place was the way in which Mike fought hard to break down any doubts I had or any barriers I tried to put up against us taking things to the next level. He said to me one night, "Carla, just try to make Chicago work for a bit longer and I'll work at making our situation, whatever it turns out to be, work but I need more time to do that." The hopeless romantic in me gave in. 

A year later and I recently moved back to New York this past June for my dream job in Public Relations at a global PR firm and Mike is preparing himself to move to New York around late August/early September to pursue a career as an Air Traffic Controller at Vaughn College of Aeronautics (a dream of his he had put on the back burner for quite some time). 

Would you recommend on-line dating to others?
It's not for everyone and I understand that but if you can go into online dating with an open mind and an open heart, the results can be phenomenal. Too many people are so guarded and have a stigma with dating or finding someone online. It shouldn't be that way and if you can get over that then I more than recommend it. 

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