In the last month the surprise engagement of two of Nigeria’s top celebrities, BankyW and Adesua Etomi, broke the internet and gave us all a reason to believe in love and marriage again. It also seems to have raised the question of the viability of online dating in Nigeria, West Africa and among other African nations. Online dating is a very popular means of meeting prospective partners in the western, world but has been very slow to take root in Africa and African communities in the diaspora. However, over the last few years there has been a rise in the number of successful relationships known to have started online and transitioned to happy marriages.
Today we would like to share our 7 top tips for successfully meeting people online. This includes traditional social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as dedicated networking and dating sites like SuruLereLove™
Be open to the idea
There is no point going in half-heartedly. It’s all or nothing. You have to first of all make yourself comfortable with the idea of meeting someone online. Before you open our DMs, or sign up to that dating site, we recommend that you first make peace with whatever personal barriers would ordinarily prevent you from going through with dating someone who contacts you online.
For some people it would mean convincing themselves that there’s nothing wrong with the answer “we met online!” when asked, “where did you meet?” Some people may feel that online dating is a sign of desperation, and that if they were popular enough, or pretty enough, or just plain GOOD enough, then they would be able to find a date the traditional way. But this is just not true. The world has become a global village, and for the first time in the history of humanity, the potential dating pool for a young man living in Lagos, can realistically include a woman who lives in Nairobi or Helsinki or Mumbai. The limitations once imposed on us by distance, borders, culture and time have been almost completely erased by the internet.
But you don’t even have to think that far. Only a few decades ago, you could live in Ibadan and there could be someone living in Eket, and even though you both were perfectly matched, you would never meet and never fall in love, simply because you did not have a common social circle or were never in the same place at the same time. Those days are gone. Your social circle could conceptually be the entire globe, and now there is a very good chance that you both could be on the internet at the exact same time.
Position yourself to find and be found
So you are at peace with meeting your partner online? Great! Now it’s time to position yourself!
For some people it can be very simple: Unlock your Twitter, change your Instagram from private. Make your DMs accessible to people who do not follow you. Don’t stop there: Follow people you find interesting, accept follow requests, be interesting enough for people to want to follow.
For someone else it might mean signing up to a dating service like SuruLereLove™, creating a profile, answering the personality questions truthfully, and keeping an open mind.
Understand that unlike traditional dating, the online world has only a very small window available for you to create a lasting impression. Determine how you want your DM (Direct Message) or your message or your profile to stand out from the sea of others that are available. Be creative, be witty, and be funny. Be whatever you need to be, but make sure that you remain true to who you are.
Trust your instincts
It is okay to be picky online! If something doesn’t sit right, or raises your suspicion, then don’t ignore it. As with traditional dating, there is a lot that we are completely in the dark about, when it comes to the personality and intentions of the person we are meeting online. Sometimes all we can go by is our instincts and intuition, and often times that is all we really need! Look out for people who are pushy and are not prepared to give you your space, people who seem “too good to be true” and people who are trying to scam or exploit you.
Your instincts can pick out a person who will not be a good match, long before this fact becomes apparent. Most of us can testify from experience that in hindsight we always seemed to know that that ex who did us bad was going to be no good.
Do your due diligence
Just as you would with traditional relationships, due diligence is extremely important if not more important online. Ask questions. Ask them over and over again, until you get a satisfactory answer. Research the person online and offline: Can I find information about this person online? Does their online persona fit with what you observe offline? Do their social media personas match? Who are their friends? How do other people who know them feel about them?
Meeting people online often means taking their word for who they say they are. Do yourself a favour and go beyond what you are told, or what you can read from their bio or tweets or dating profile. People will always put their best foot forward, (and sometimes that foot is wearing a borrowed shoe).
It can take time to cut through the many layers of civility or pretence to get to the real person, but as the Yoruba say, Suru l’ere. Patience has its rewards!
Don’t take rejection to heart
Meeting people online is not for the overly sensitive. This is because a small percentage of your attempts to communicate with someone online, will probably go unanswered or unacknowledged. Hopefully articles like this will help to change that, as Nigerians, and Africans as a whole, become more open to the idea of online dating. Until then though, be prepared for rejection
There are millions of DMs sitting unopened on several phones all across the world tonight. Some people have a few, some have tens, some have hundreds, and you might even have one or two yourself!
Let’s all take a moment to think about the DMs that are on our phones, but have remained unopened. If you are anything like me, you did not ignore them because you were wicked or proud or unkind. You should think about your unopened DM, unread WhatsApp message or unacknowledged invitation to connect on SuruLereLove™ in the exact same way. It is most likely that they did not ignore you out of malice. There’s probably a very good reason why your DM will stay unopened. Dust yourself off and try again. (Preferably somewhere else)
The beauty of meeting people online is that there is a staggering amount of variety. The trouble is that if you are not absolutely sure of the exact thing you are looking for, you can come out of the process holding the wrong person’s hand. Be intentional: Know what you want. Be purposeful: Set out to achieve it.
Determine for yourself what you are looking for on a dating website or app, or what kind of person you would entertain in your DMs and private messages. Create a clear picture in your mind of the things you do not want, and will not accept. This is very important to do even before you open the first DM or get matched with the first date. You must know what you want before you discover what is available, if not you may end up choosing based on what you see and not based on what you need.
Remember, “If you go to the market with a pocket full of money and no shopping list, you will return home with two baskets full of items, only to find that you forgot to buy the most important thing!”
Protect your safety online
It is important that we put this here. Don’t be lured into a false sense of security. Cyberspace can be dangerous. You want to make sure that you are doing everything possible to keep yourself safe.
There will be a handful of people who see a person’s willingness to put themselves out there, as a sign that they are gullible. Prove them wrong!
Beware of Scammers. Anyone you meet online who asks you to send them money or buy them a gift or make any form of financial transaction is a scammer. Never part with your money. Ever!
Beware of Playboys. Ladies watch out. They may never ask you for money. In fact they might be the ones spending it on you. But in the end all they want is your body and are not interested in the rest of you, the “you” that really matters.
Beware of Gold-diggers. Gentlemen, don’t be caught sleeping. Some chicks are out here trying to find love, while some others are trying to make that money. Don’t let your emotions get the better of your head. You don’t have to spend all your money to prove that you are interested in someone.
Don’t disclose passwords, don’t give out personal details. If you choose to meet in person, make sure you choose a neutral public place. Take a friend with you. Let another friend (or two) know exactly where you are going, and how long you will be gone for.
And finally don’t forget to carry vex money (Vex Money is a colloquial Nigerian expression, used to refer to money carried by a lady on a date, that ensures she has enough to pay for her meal, or transport herself home if things turn sour.)
Olamide and Aisha Craig are the founders of SuruLereLove™, a black owned online dating + matrimonial site that
seeks to connect people of African descent. SuruLereLove was created to introduce people and start relationships, and is committed to helping its members find life-long-love.
Find them on social media @SuruLereLove and online at www.comingsoon.surulerelove.com/signup