We expose the naked truth about finding love online. By Helen Wallace
The dating game can be quite a daunting one and thanks to our busy lifestyles, many of us are finding that we have less time to do things the traditional way. Luckily, these days we have all sorts of alternatives at our disposal and we can even use technology in our quest to find our soul mate.
The status quo
Online dating is still relatively new in South Africa compared to overseas, and because there is so much about it that is unknown, many people still consider it taboo. Daters often claim they wish they could skip the people they are incompatible with and fast-forward to their perfect match. This is where using the internet and apps can help: you are able to gather enough information about someone before you decide whether or not to meet in person. But, despite this seeming like the perfect way to meet like-minded individuals, people are often still hesitant to give it a bash. Need more convincing? We bust some common misconceptions associated with the world of online dating, so you can proceed with an open heart and mind.
Myth #1: Online dating is only for the desperate
In the past, people met prospective partners through friends and family, and while many people still do, our lives have become much busier. Since we rely on the internet for so many of our day-to-day activities, why not also use this tool to look for love? It is becoming increasingly common for people to create online profiles to connect with other singles and it can save you a lot of time in the long run. In other words, you’ll spend less time kissing frogs and stand a good chance of meeting your prince sooner rather than later.
Myth #2: People you meet online are all creeps
The online dating arena does come with its fair share of pitfalls, such as people seeking only casual sex (only okay if you’re honest about it), lying about their age or using fake pictures on their profile. One cannot verify that the person in the picture is, in fact, the person who you are talking to or that their intentions are honourable. Even though tougher security measures are constantly being put in place to try to ensure authenticity, nothing is really guaranteed, and you’ll need to follow your gut to a degree – if it doesn’t feel right, move along. If, after chatting to someone for a while, you decide you’ll take the next step and meet face to face, always pick a public place and let friends or loved ones know where you are going and what time you should be expected back. When it comes to personal safety, it is always better to err on the side of caution. That said, the reality is that most of the people you will meet online are just normal folk trying to expand their social circle and potentially fall in love, just like you.
Myth #3: Online hookups are doomed to fail
Stats have shown that the break-up rate among those who have met on dating sites is lower than among other couples, probably because people are matched according to what they have in common, and also because they often take the dating process a bit more seriously.
If you’ve been looking for something lasting, signing up for online dating may be the way to achieve those relationship goals. You know what they say – if you live with an open heart, love will find its way in.
Creating a winning profile
• Choose a username and profile picture that are not suggestive, but are interesting and eye-catching – you want your first impression to be a good one.
• Fill in your ‘About Me’ section honestly and be specific about your likes, dislikes, beliefs, hobbies and what you are looking for in a partner.
• Upload pictures that show your fun side and that give people a good idea not only of what you look like, but also what your personality is like.
• Don’t give out any personal information, such as your phone number, address, bank details or where you work until such time as you have established that the other person is safe.
Sign up today
Ready to take the plunge? Here are some of SA’s most popular dating sites. Who knows? The love of your life may be a few clicks away.
OKCupid.com On this site, you answer detailed questions about yourself and are then matched with people with whom you have the most in common – a good way to find a partner with similar interests and ethics.
Tinder This free app has taken the world by storm and works by having you swipe left or right on people based on first impressions. If you have both swiped ‘like’, it’s a match, and you can start chatting.
Shela.co.za Calling itself SA’s urban dating site, Shela is free and allows you to search for people in your area. It also has a section where members can submit stories about their most recent dates.