PrincetonSingles.com markets itself as the online dating site where "Tigers get together."
Though the site is not affiliated with the University, Princeton alums, students, staff and those who "Just love those Tigers" can create an account free of charge and browse the 46 posted profiles, or for a fee of $20 contact others via email.
There are currently 46 profiles. I posted two, one accompanied by a youthful, fun-loving, idealistic and generally unremarkable profile, the other without any comments. After three weeks, I received one response to the former. A friend I coerced into posting a profile chose to pose as a wealthy New York stock broker under the heading "Water Polo player seeking swim mate," and received no mail. Though I frequently checked the site, its "Whose Online?" page never said anyone was logged on other than myself.
Currently, 43 users seek members of the opposite sex and three seek same-sex partners, and range from those looking for longterm, committed relationships to those simply seeking sexual encounters.
Those inclined to provide more than a witty pseudonym can describe themselves using lists of choices that include eye color (among them "wild green," "dreamy blue-green" "evening black" or, thanks to the website's hazel-eyed founder, "sexy hazel"), height (options begin at 2 feet) and age (from 18 to 110).
Another section provides space to suggest "conversation starters," list "favorite Tiger sports" and complete such sentences as "I am inspired by and I feel passionate about."
The site is one of over 101 dating websites run by entrepreneur Brad Armstrong and his company White Buffalo Ventures. The sites target smaller audiences than national dating sites, and cater to numerous universities, cyclists, Latinos and even the tattooed. A combined total of 90,000 users are registered on White Buffalo Ventures' system, and 18,000 more register each month, Armstrong said.
Armstrong, a self-described romantic who paid for law school by teaching ballroom dancing to seventh graders, had used internet dating sites and decided he could grab a bite of a market that a November 2003 issue of Market News reports generated $302 million in revenues for 2002. Jupiter Research, the article states, predicts that number will jump to $642 million by 2007.
Armstrong is not alone — the plethora of Internet dating sites includes several exclusively for the alums and affiliates of Ivy League universities, such as GoodGenes.com, TheSquare.com and RightStuffDating.com.
According to Armstrong — and the pop-up ads that endlessly harass web browsers — Internet dating actually works. Armstrong's company recently received its first wedding invitation from a couple that met on its first site, longhornsingles.com, which, like the site geared toward Princeton, was targeted at affiliates of the University of Texas at Austin.
PrincetonSingles.com serves both the more traditional audience of online daters — those in their later twenties and above who are tired of local night life and eager to find another looking for a relationship — as well as University students.
Alan Guida, an East Windsor resident who joined the site looking for women ages 40-60 in the area, began posting internet profiles on several Internet sites after years of working as a matchmaker and group leader of singles mixers at his church.
"I think I'm too old to spend time standing around for hours and hours," said Guida, whose alias is Nerdyguy609 on PrincetonSingles.com. "I'm too tired of the wait and the discouragement, so I'd rather send messages."
The website also targets University students, an underrepresented population in Internet dating communities. Though students understood the appeal of the site to some of their peers, most said they would not use the website themselves.
"I'd feel like a pretty big dork if I had to go through a Princeton dating service. No, a huge, actually a humongous dork," said Will Benjamin '07.
Though students have posted profiles on the site, those contacted did not return requests for comment, or declined an interview.
Many students who received promotional emails from the website said they visited the site's homepage out of curiosity but did not post a profile.
"There's no precedent for it," Galen Laserson '06 said, explaining what appears to be a general reluctance to sign up. "I think a lot of people won't do it until they hear one of their friends has legitimately done it, because I'm in college, which is in the best place in the world to meet people face to face."
Others remarked on the advantages of a website catering to Princetonians due to the ability to research other users through campus facebooks, the online search engine and word of mouth.
"For a lot of people who are really eager to be in a relationship, but who are discouraged by the Street, then I think that Princeton Singles in a viable option for them," said USG Vice President Shaun Callaghan '06.
Others fear that students looking for entertainment would abuse the website and the trust of those looking for an intimate connection.
"It would be a good outlet for introverted people to meet other introverted people, but I would be afraid that someone was just joking and would mess up the system," Claire Meyer '06 said. "That's what things like 'Screw your Roommate' are for."
However, there are those on campus who have used other Internet forums to meet potential dates. Students have been particularly interested in sites that do not market themselves as exclusively matchmaking services, such as Friendster.com.
"People think [the Internet] is a lot of losers who don't have a life, but there's actually some pretty decent people on it," said Luc Paquin '05, who has used Internet dating sites but would not use Princeton Singles because "you can meet everyone from the school at the Street, so why bother."
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