KILLEEN, TX — Online dating has quickly become the norm for singles across the country, especially throughout the pandemic. Relationship experts say the practice can be highly ineffective and unsafe.
With this in mind, a group of psychotherapists in Killeen have partnered to create Therapeutic Loving Connections to get folks out from behind the dating screen and build in-person connections.
The idea, that's now a reality, started in the mind of Angela Jourdain.
"This really happened organically. Girlfriends talking about awful dating experiences, and then when you get that conversation going with a bunch of psychotherapists, oh it gets even more interesting!” she said.
Therapeutic Loving Connections is a matchmaking service that's based in Killeen. Jourdain aims to foster healthy relationships with singles through preparation, dating, and maintenance.
Jennifer Hetzel, a Killeen single, says as far as dating goes, she has tried it all. She's even dabbled in online dating, which resulted in some mind-blowing horror stories.
“I've tried meeting people organically. Obviously with COVID, that part's a lot harder and I just haven't had any luck. One time, I showed up once to a date, and the guy had a black eye and then later on we were playing pool or something and he was swiping through other profiles on the date. So, that was fun,” she laughed.
Hetzel is one of over 2.5 million people across the globe who have tried online dating in 2020 alone. Many people find themselves swiping aimlessly for hours, with no luck.
"The odds of meeting somebody online, and knowing that you both want the same thing and being able to blend your families becomes less and less successful the older you get," said Jourdain.
With the dating world now saturated with apps, Jourdain and her team are working to cover all the bases to give clients a sense of security. Meeting up with a complete stranger is pretty dangerous in any situation, so she's hoping to ease the minds singles who want to mingle safely.
"We started talking about what would be required for a better, safer way, and the big thing that stood out to all of us at the beginning was a public records check and a criminal background check, because we're immediately meeting with a complete stranger," Jourdain said.
Criminal background checks, public records requests, personality tests, and the casual social media snooping will all pay a role in who is matched with whom.
“We take that information, we compile, we put it into a profile, and it helps us identify our client's needs. It tells us what they're like underneath everything, and how those will mesh," Jourdain explained.
Hetzel says she's hopeful these psychotherapists can help her find her match.
"It seems like people just cant find each other these days, so I thought it would be cool to try something where they know me and the other person so we can see if they could match us up. I'm most excited to just have more options, to have somebody that is doing this professionally can kind of, you know, do some of the research and legwork for me," she said.
Jourdain says she's been contacted by people across Central Texas, from 21 to 70-years-old. Relationship and marriage coaching is available as well as other coaching and dating services.
For those who are tired of swiping aimlessly through dating apps, Jourdain advises to take a leap of faith and try something new.