By Cathy Gerig
Even in 2022, not everyone thinks they have found their best half on an online dating site. However, those who dedicate Christians are many and those who are registered are even more.
Theothokos, Jetunoo, Christian Mingle, Heavn… Christian dating sites to legion. Olivier Orna, co-founder of Theothokos in 2006, counts up to 25 offering their services at the same time. When it was launched, its site was one of the first in France. Media criticism, which viewed it as a form of incitement to communitarianism, eventually favored it by publicizing it. The idea came from his sister. “She has worked all over the world and regrets not finding a Christian who wants to marry in God’s sight”, said Olivier Orna. During World Youth Days (WYD), the young woman met many other young people in the same situation, but never had the opportunity to meet in everyday life. This is how the idea of a site was born.
Gilles Plard the Jetunoo (pronounced “I you us”) after the death of his first wife. He wanted to meet someone who shared his convictions, albeit cautiously, the role of the father was necessary. For this Protestant, online dating sites are “an alternative itinerary, which opens up possibilities beyond the traditional encounter”. From now on, “ evangelical pastors are very open, regardless of the age group of users. They understand that, in the face of the difficulty of selibacy, the Internet can be the solution ”. But users of dating sites don’t all consider their choice.
The taboo is getting smaller
“It is less taboo than before. In the beginning, for priests and pastors, there was a sexual meaning. We went out during the pink Minitel. And the fact that sites pay is an added hurdle. The business idea aroused real caution “, lined up by Olivier Orna. For members, when it comes to Internet ethics, not everyone will admit it. “In a world of competition, thinking that someone will never get married is not as easy, as being a Christian and claiming it, he continues. And to say you need a site to meet someone is like claiming you can’t do it alone. »
Sociologist Jean Viard explains this difficulty, felt by many users, through the vocation of these sites: “The idea that they have a bad and transient dimension persists. And again, the fear that what has been done on the Internet can be recovered by the Internet.” . For example, after an argument, one of the colleagues reconnected to his account to find someone else. According to the sociologist, this explains more the “shame” some feel than the fact of paying for the hope of meeting someone. “It pays well to enter a nightclub or to participate in rallies where many young Catholics from wealthy backgrounds get to know each other. On a dating site, we don’t pay a matchmaker to find us, but a subscription »illustrates Jean Viard, equating it with the entrance fee.
“It takes time to light a candle”
And it will work! Theotokos have been responsible for about 2,000 marriages since its launch. A number where unions should be added not heard of by the co-founder of the site. For Olivier Orna like Gilles Plard, dating sites connect people who are not allowed in everyday life to meet. “Once in the world of work, meetings are rare. There are friends, friends of friends… ”, summarizes the founder of Jetunoo. Sometimes, too, entertainment companions. But it’s clear that from the age of 30, new faces are rarely seen in each other’s entourages. In addition, this is the age at which both sites recruit.
“In France, the Internet is always the place for the second time after a breakup. Friends are in a relationship and, if you’re in your forties, it’s hard to find singles” , recalled Jean Viard. In addition, “It takes time to light the candle”. And at that age, it lacks a lot: “Have jobs, kids and other commitments”. Only when it comes time to retire will the situation become simpler, thanks to more outings and accompanying commitments.
The need to return to concrete
If the demand is great, disappointments can occur as well. “The virtual is accompanied by failures”, did not hide Olivier Orna. Messages can stop overnight, registrants can refine their search and thus exclude certain conversation partners or change their perspective on the couple … Returning to concrete can be quick eager. As a result, even before the various prisons saw the number of registrants at the sites jump, Theotokos began offering trips. The concept got so well received that the team launched an agency offering three stays a year among Christians.
However, over the past ten years, Gilles Plard has observed that those who are registered are declining and inclined to give the call of the sacred bond of marriage. However, there is no singing, but clichés that die and sometimes keep you from going through the commitment process. If he could speak to the people, the founder of Jetunoo would say: “There are a lot of women waiting for you, and not all of them are looking for a tall, blond pilot on the plane”. He would also whisper to them“Stop looking for a princess”. Love can create imperfection.