My first date was with Mr Investor. I won’t lie, I was as nervous as they come. I didn’t know what to expect. I was particularly worried as I had a sneaking suspicion Mr Investor would be Nigerian. Although his name on the dating website was ‘Detrick’, he had that unmistakable Nigerian accent, albeit shrouded in enough London lingo. We met at Starbucks and my fears were confirmed, he was Nigerian. The tribal marks on his face were all the proof I needed. Somehow I had missed them in his full-length picture on his profile. He was very polite, he pulled out my chair and went to order my drink while I sat down and wondered what the hell I was doing there. I wondered if he too was a Bella Naija reader and my cover had been blown, fear grip me! He came back with my drink and we started chatting and all my earlier fears seemed to disappear into thin air. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. So I had to ask, “why Internet dating Deitrick?” He explained that had recently moved to London from Scotland (Northern UK) and found it extremely difficult to meet women because his job was very demanding and he had little opportunity to socialise. Plus he wanted to expand his search criteria, as opposed to limiting his scope to ladies from his home country, Nigeria. My fears suddenly reappeared. Where are you from Bella, he asked? Till this second I don’t know why, but the only county I could think of was Republic of Benin. He seemed confused and if I am honest so was I. I wanted to kick myself, but instead I just sipped on my drink and smiled. Benin, he asked? So you speak French? Alarm bells went of in my head and I managed a feeble ‘oui’. “Oh wow”, he responded with genuine interest, “you should give me some lessons”! I laughed and quickly asked if he had any holidays planned for the year. The rest of the date was pleasant and at the end he said he had enjoyed meeting me and would like to meet up again for dinner. I felt bad. He really did seem like a genuinely nice guy but we were obviously approaching this date from totally different angles. I told him I had enjoyed meeting him too and I would get back to him as I had a lot of work related travelling travels within the next few weeks. He shrugged and said he’d wait for my call.
I must admit, of all the prospective dates I had lined up, I was particularly excited about Mr Landscape Architect. His voice sounded so sweet on the Phone, yet he seemed to posses a manly way about him. There was just a particular way he called my name “Bella” anytime he wanted to say something, like the name meant something to him. As he was the only one of my three dates who didn’t have a picture on his profile, I had built him up in my head. I figured he’d be creative, sweet, well mannered, tall and extremely handsome. So I will admit that I put meticulous effort into my appearance for our ‘coffee’ date. I mulled over what he would look like as I paid undivided attention to the choice of my eye shadow and lipstick. I must have changed my outfit five times, until I got the perfect combination of uber-chic and casual elegance. But fate has a cruel sense of humour. Mr Landscape architect was nothing like I had imagined. In fact he was anything but well mannered. He turned up approximately 25 minutes late! I was livid. But I managed to keep my cool. Although he was quite apologetic, I was further irritated by the lack of effort he had put into his appearance. His jeans were dirty and he had either been wearing his shirt for at least 3 days straight or he had stolen it from a homeless person. Either way, my fairytale date with Mr landscape architect had turned into my own version of mini hell. And then all of a sudden it hit me, landscape architect is ‘posh’ for gardener!!! I nearly had a heart attack! But for the sake of the experiment, I decided to go beyond his looks and try and engage him in meaningful conversation. But even this proved to hold absolutely no promise. After the obligatory five minutes of “hello”, “how are you”, “how has your day been”, we just didn’t seem to ‘gel’. It’s difficult to explain, and if I am honest, I didn’t care, I just wanted to get out of there. Every conversation was riddled with awkward silences and we both kept looking at our watches seemingly begging the time to go quicker. So I finally decided to put an end to my misery and made some feeble excuse about having to meet up with a friend. He seemed relieved by this, which irritated me even more. I decided I wasn’t going to waste the effort I put into my appearance, so I went straight to see my man, where I knew without doubt I’d be appreciated.
My date with Mr Landscape Architect had left a sour taste in my mouth and I really was in no mood for Mr Hotelier. In fact, I had been toying with the idea of cancelling our ‘drinks’ date all together, but that would have skewed the experiment, I wasn’t pleased. This time I was the one who got there late, 20 minutes late. But I felt no remorse. I scanned the room for Mr Hotelier, only to see him walking towards me with a smile and flowers. “I thought you had cancelled on me, Bella”. He said as he kissed each cheek. In all of my annoyance with Mr Landscape Architect, I had forgotten just how striking Mr Hotelier had been in his picture. In fact, his picture did him no justice. He was HAWWWWTTT. WHAT! He was impeccably dressed and smelt just as good as he looked. I was blown away. I apologised for being late as he led me to our table and we ordered drinks. Mr Landscape Architect became a distant memory as Mr Hotelier and I chatted. One drink became two and two drinks became three. The conversation flowed endlessly, it felt really easy to talk to him and somehow I felt that fate was making things up to me. When I asked how he got into internet dating, he explained that he had been divorced for 3 years and decided to give love a second chance. He and his wife had similar friends, so he needed to do something radical to meet new people, therefore Internet dating seemed like the best option. We were having so much fun, he asked me out for dinner and all of a sudden I was brought back to reality. There could be no more meetings with super cool and handsome Mr Hotelier….damn! I made some work related excuse and I left with my flowers and a huge smile on my face. Two out of three ain’t bad at all!
So what’s my verdict on Internet dating? Would I recommend it? Well, in my opinion, Internet dating is actually quite similar to the conventional forms of dating we are all accustomed to. If my little experiment is anything to go by, the people who use these websites are as normal as you and I (obviously apart from Mr Landscape architect). And just like you, would go on a ‘normal’ date and decide to either have a second date or completely erase the person from their memory. The only difference seems to be how you meet the person in the first instance. But in our current, constantly expanding technological world, Internet dating seems to be the next logical step. In fact it seems Internet dating offers certain advantages, which do not exist within conventional forms of dating. And is especially useful if you are looking to expand your search for ‘the one’, beyond the confines of your day to day circle of friends. In summary I’d give Internet dating 4 thumbs up (not quite 5, due to Mr Landscape Architect)! But if you are thinking of trying Internet dating for yourself, here are some helpful tips to guide you;
1. First and foremost be safe! Make sure you exchange plenty of emails with potential dates and have a few telephone conversations first. This will go some way in helping you weed out the ‘totally crazy’ from the bad.
2. Make sure your first meeting is in public and someone knows where you are meeting any potential dates. Not everyone has good intentions.
3. Answer the questions on the websites as truthfully as possible, saying you are a size 10 when you are actually a size 14 will not prove a smart move in the long run.
4. Have an excuse handy, just in case your date turns out to be anything like Mr landscape Architect!
5. Enjoy yourself. Internet dating isn’t a crime. It’s a legitimate form of meeting prospective friends or partners, so don’t feel like you have to hide or lie about your whereabouts or who you are with.
Good luck and make sure you update me on how it goes!