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Decided on online dating? Watch out for the big bad wolf! Part 1

Watch out for the pitfalls of overly-marketed online dating.

About two months ago, I took the plunge and decided to broaden my scope by venturing into cyberspace in search of a partner.

I must say, I had my fingers burnt and once bitten, twice shy.

The most recent experience left me thinking hard about this highly sanitized and overly marketed fad.

Does online dating really work?

That question still lingers in my mind as I nurse the hurt of a seemingly promising relationship that went awry after a month of what appeared so real. Similarly, I ask myself, are those “success stories” real or just engineered as part of a brilliant marketing strategy?

Right now, to me, the online dating community seems like a bad neighbourhood fraught with pitfalls and populated by control freaks, psychopaths, sociopaths and pathological liars among many other undesirable elements!

To be honest, I feel like “Little Red Riding Hood,” who did not heed her mother’s advice and ventured into the woods, falling prey to the big bad wolf in the process. I warn all those who are considering online dating that there are some strange creatures lurking in that sanitized, dense cyber forest. It is hardly a safe place for the genuine, naïve and trusting so go in with your guard up and your senses on high alert. In fact, if it weren’t a virtual place, it is the sort of hangout your mother would spank you for visiting, and that, for your own safety in future.

The downside to online dating is that anyone can reinvent themself. A pauper can pose as a rich man and Plain Jane can purport to be a supermodel. There is no way of authenticating who people say they are and such relationships hinge on trust so you have to believe a total stranger without any proof to back their claims. Unfortunately, not everyone is honest and we do not all read from the same moral code so the risks are high and it is very easy to be deceived.

In addition, people have different agendas. While some people are sincere, unfortunately, not everybody is equally genuine so it is very easy to unwittingly fall into a trap. I have heard horror stories of women who unsuspectingly fell into drug rings. They innocently travelled to meet online partners, only to be used as drug mules with drugs being stuffed into their luggage on their return trip home. Now some of those women are serving sentences for crimes they were not party to. In this age of high level crimes such as drug and human trafficking, serial killing and interner fraud, one has to be very careful who they communicate with.

Having dated a few men online over the past two months, I can say for sure that some of those online daters are terribly messed up. Perhaps that is the reason they prefer not to find someone within their locality, which should raise a red flag. Come to think of it, anyone who is willing to shop online to have a spouse boxed, shipped and delivered at their doorstep must either be extremely lazy or have some sort of social handicap. (I hope you’re not thinking that applies to me but hey) Let’s face it, really, it’s a sure sign of a problem.

I have concluded, perhaps rather prematurely, that some of these people who date online want a relationship, like to feel loved, want to give love, share part of their lives and experience the highs and lows that come with a relationship. But, and a big but at that, they are not ready to commit. So, they look for a virtual partner who has all the qualities they want and can relate with them from a distance. When it comes to the crunch and its time to meet in person and get serious, they retreat back into the safety and anonymity of cyberspace where no one can touch them, leaving a trail of heartbreaks behind them.

Sadly, when this kind of relationship ends, one can vanish without a trace by deleting their account and changing phone numbers leaving the person on the other end smarting and wondering what on earth happened. Such are the sad realities of connecting with strangers online. Further, anyone who wants to play games can re-emerge under a different identity and continue to fool around.

I had one such experience recently. I met someone online through a popular “African” online dating site. I thought to myself “Wow! Signed, sealed and delivered straight to my e-mail on my birthday. What a gift!” This man turned out to be the perfect match, everything I was looking for in a partner and he said the same of me. Naturally, the relationship took off like an eagle in flight. By the second day, we were already on the phone, chatting for hours on end. We had so much in common and were like kindred spirits. He called me his “soul mate” and could not have been far from the truth. We could talk for several hours at a time and not run out of topics to discuss. It was only when sleep crept in or a new day dawned that we had to end our conversations and attend to our daily chores. In spite of being busy, we kept in touch throughout the day by chatting online in between work.

The relationship was highly addictive and had all the qualities of something real. We were scheduled to meet in person a few days ago, which was just over a month of dating online. Needless to say that after all the hype and euphoria, he did not turn up. He was scheduled to arrive in my home country from South Africa after a business trip so as per his instructions, I hired vehicle because he felt my car was too small for his luggage. I had set up appointments and people to play golf with him and even arranged dinner for us to meet each other’s friends who were in the country. It was all well planned and highly organised. After waiting more than three hours at the airport and checking all airlines, including the ones he had not mentioned, with no sign of him in sight it finally dawned on me that this man was not coming. What an anticlimax!

As you enter the cyber woods of online dating, remember you might be like Little Red Riding Hood and a big bad wolf could pounce on you from any direction.

After failing to raise him on his mobile, I got worried that he may have run into problems and tried to get hold of his employers only to be told there was no such person at that organisation. Attempts to contact him on the phone proved futile. His mobile has been on voicemail since then and he has been ignoring his e-mails. Naturally, the realization that this was a hoax led to some humiliation, followed by slight depression although for some reason I did not feel any anger. I think he was too gentle a soul for me to be angry with. I’ve never been stood up on a date before so this was really hard for me to swallow.

I later learnt that there are some people who are addicted to starting and ending relationships online. They get a “high” from being in love and can actually talk confidently about their online lover without the challenges and responsibilities of a proper relationship. This gives some semblance of normalcy to their lives and relationships. While I’ll never know what motivated him to lie, I have certainly learnt that not everyone who is involved in online dating is a saint.

This raises the questions: Should one give online dating a chance or simply steer clear of it? What are the odds that one will not meet a pathological liar or worse? These are difficult questions to answer, particularly when dealing with complex and unpredictable human minds.

My advice to anyone who decides to date online is that it is not necessarily a bad thing. We should learn from other people’s mistakes but not give up just because of someone else’s unfortunate experience. Just because someone had a miscarriage doesn’t mean people should stop getting pregnant!

However, should you decide to take the plunge, “remember, not everyone is as genuine as you are, so approach the cyberwoods with caution. Chances are you are like ”Little Red Riding Hood” and “a big bad wolf” could pounce from any direction. On the other hand, there are some real, sincere people that are genuinely looking for a life partner and should you meet one of those, hurray for you. So, expect to either meet a big bad wolf or a prince because sadly, one sometimes has to kiss some frogs before the prince emerges. I can’t help but wonder though, how many cyber frogs the average person must contend with before the knight in shining armour bursts into their life!

Related links:
http://www.worldpulse.com/node/21496
http://shexpress.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/decided-on-online-dating-watch...

Comments

justducky's picture

I hear you - I'd done the

I hear you - I'd done the internet dating thing for a while, and had been stood up once or twice. But, in the end, I ended up marrying someone I met on an online dating site. We couldn't have been more perfectly matched, and I am happier now than I ever have been.

For what it's worth, I'd been doing the online dating thing for about 6 months, and had met various men and women on a couple of sites I'd frequented - it took quite a few frogs (although not all of them were terrible; a lot of them, we just didn't click) before I met my match.

It's true - be careful out there. But, also be aware that there are some great people out there, just like you, looking for the same things you are. I found one. :)

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Cheers!

Just one simple logic, sister ... when it's too good to be true ... it's not good and it's not true! And you are right, it pays to be cautious at all times. Cyberspace is full of vampires. You would not know who they are until they bite your neck! But I do agree with sister Justducky here ... destiny moves in mysterious ways, even in cyberspace!

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Matilda Moyo's picture

Thanks....

Thanks ladies for your comments.

An encouraging story (Justducky) and a stern warning (Emie). Thanks both, I value your views and will definately tread with caution. Hope everyone else out there will also learn from mine and other people's experiences, both good and bad.

Cheers!

Me/

Tripti's picture

Nice one

I really liked your post. Though i have never registered in an online dating, since such fad hasn't come here yet, i do believe that people can be cruel and it doesn't pay you to be cautious!

malayapinas's picture

Hi! just got interested in

Hi! just got interested in your post and have this luxury of my time to have some comments on line again. I just feel sad that there are women who venture to have committed realtionship on cyberspce and its really happening.

Maybe few others will get lucky and many others were not. But, for me cyberspace is a virtual reality and its really unfortunate for those who fully give their heart to their cybermate especially if they want a serious relationship. But for those who are really serious and sincere with all their heart , please don't be carried away. It's just a game that mostly people enjoy as a passing time. They enjoy making fun with feelings and enjoy fooling people especially women. You don't know who are those people you are dealing with. So, please take good care of yourself.

love,
Malaya

zoneziwoh's picture

The Myth Involve - Call to watch out!

Hi My dear Maltida - I will first of all appreciate your bravery to speak out so loudly about the Social Dating Danger. It take lots of courage to accept that one is sometimes fool by what we hear or see.

In addition to the sexual feelings exchange over the social network, there is also the friend-to-friend ( meeting new people from different part of our planet) which is also exploitative.

My dear friends, this act doesn't fall far from Mankind's complex nature and most often we cant tell which is which.
Yes! I understand, it's no doubt many people have different objectives for registering at whatever networks.

Though In this particular incident, those who connect well via this site and are those who reside in the same community (region). My little survey proves that these persons more often get serious in networking, since they have the chance to build trust among themselves, unlike person further distance away.

Thank you for sharing your experience -

zoneziwoh

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

Facebook:Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo Wondieh

Twitter | Instagram: @ZoFem

Sharese's picture

Very good post!

Thank you for this post! It definitely highlights some issues. Both of my parents met their current partners online. It is definitely best to be cautious though!

I think that Zonziwoh makes a good point about people being safest in their own region. It would be scary to travel somewhere where perhaps you didn't know anyone and not know exactly who you are getting involved with (i.e. the drug cartel example you gave).

I commend you for getting out there though- I know how hard it is to be a single woman in this day and age. Trust me :) It sounds like you are being smart though, not traveling places to meet people and not giving out too much information. It is a difficult world to navigate sometimes. I hope you stay safe, but can still be hopeful and not too jaded.

Much Peace,

Sharese

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