Love is a fundamental human need as suggested by Maslow’s ordered list of needs. Many people have taken solace in the use of online dating to meet a potential partner, while some use these online dating for sincere purposes, others might have ulterior motives that can inadvertently cause harm to others using it. In many cases, finding love in the shallow pool of our social circles could be almost impossible taking Nigeria as a case study.

It is hardly news that people pretend to be what they are not online. It is not uncommon to have people lie about their looks, financial situations, and location online as this is the situation of online dating in Nigeria. Knowing this, coupled with the tales of “catfishes” fraud and in a few cases, rape and death as a result of the so-called ‘relationship’ that started online- has made people more cautious of online dating.

The legendary Nigeria trust issue has to be subdued to ensure the safety of online dating subscribers which could be a daunting task. Oh really, how do you filter people based on their intentions? Simple, you can’t. And so meeting people online will always continue to be a gamble. A gamble that only a few would be willing to risk or take, because of this the influx of swindlers can’t be checked to lead to activities opposed to the main aim of the dating sites.

Many dating sites around the world charge their users with weekly, monthly, or per annum subscriptions to filter out unserious people with bad intentions. On one hand, Nigerian dating sites cannot afford to charge their members like others most because Nigerians are still averse to paying for stuff online, most especially when there are free alternatives.

On the other hand, running a free dating site or charging users in Nigeria next to nothing would just only attract people looking for other things like hangouts and hookups as it is already seen with “run girls” taking over the popular dating sites here in Nigeria. Making people looking for a serious relationship to be less inclined to sign up. There have been a lot of arguments on the safety of using dating sites here in Nigeria, while some believe it is safe, others believe it’s not safe and advisable. Here are some of the reasons why some avoid online dating in Nigeria:

Fraudulent purposes; it’s not a new thing hearing hackers taking over some of these sites as they find them a good target just for their business to bloom. Oftentimes do we see victims of their scheme online giving reports of how they fell and got their money and other things swiped off. Hackers majorly do this job, they can do different things with just getting one’s profile. They can get control of one’s camera to spy on someone, spy on other conversation and if luck were to fall on their sides they can get hold of sensitive information and use it to get money off victims pushing them to pay to avoid further embarrassment by exposure, they can also find out where the victims reside, they can get one’s credit card information from one’s details alone, one should already know what follows after that.

Safety: not everyone on the dating site wants to date, some are there to rape, kidnap and even kill unsuspecting victims. It is difficult to ascertain what someone you can’t see wants even if they give you all the assurance that they are up to something good. Through this online dating, so many have gone missing or reportedly been killed and raped. You can meet people who don’t have your interest at hand and that’s a bad omen for anyone. So many bad cases of victims that have been killed through dating sites by luring them to come over from distance and having them killed for whatever purposes known to them. So many serial kidnappers and killers are lurking on such sites to get victims that are willing to do anything for love.

Addiction: one can get addicted to the use of online dating applications and this makes one get used to shallow validation and conversations. Most of the online dating platforms taking the ones in Nigeria as a case study do have an addictive quality about it, which is not good for one’s mental health. In a nutshell, in getting addicted one’s mental health also is at stake.

Nigeria dating sites are yet to even make a significant contribution to the “dating industry” due to several constraints take for example the founder of a popular dating site in Nigeria “Frendite” has listed funds as a major challenge. In his words “getting investors is our biggest challenge”. They need a lot of funds to keep the servers running. Bugs Fixes, maintenance, and upgrades cost a fortune. He made it clear also in the difficulty of getting even Nigeria investors to invest in the site which has led them Presently out of business for such reasons and others. Apart from financial constraints which is a general challenge during startups, let’s examine other reasons why the dating sites have failed to scale in Nigeria.

Bad user experience: it’s not strange to know that a bad user experience can kill a great startup. The typical Nigeria dating site is an embodiment of a bad user experience. Imagine the homepage of a dating site for Nigerians covered with stock photos of a white couple, a major turnoff to start with. They are also characterized by dull layouts which are usually unattractive, leading one to write off the platform completely. These impact negatively on conversation and retention making fewer people sign up on the sites.

Trust: a major reason why dating sites struggle to scale in Nigeria. The majority of Nigerians are not oblivious of the fact that there are scammers in every nook and cranny of the country ready to defraud unsuspecting victims, lover finders online majorly being their targets. These alone scare a lot of people looking for real love. There is no trust in the sites and all-knowing how it can be overturned by scammers for their use. So many fake profiles out there is a major turnoff also, leading to less trust. Some, based on the experience of how they’ve been swindled wouldn’t want to make such a mistake again.

Social Media: the existence of social media has also greatly reduced the need to go to a dating site to look for a partner when one can just virtually come across different People easily. Social media is easily the biggest completion for dating sites. Now and then, we read stories of people who found real love on social networking sites. Although dating sites are of great help to find a particular match to suit one’s taste compared to the over-populated social media.

In general, the idea of dating online in Nigeria is seen as an effort that yields most times a sorry situation. So many hungry folks out there looking for who to swindle to feed his or her pocket from “innocent” and unsuspecting victims. The high influx of swindlers into the dating industry has discouraged many potential sites that would have served their purpose to die. Some now see dating sites in Nigeria as a scammer’s tool.

With the invention of the internet came the ugly, good and bad. There have been prosperous businesses, firms, lasting relationships, and even beautiful marriages that came from the internet. There also have been serial killing, theft, scams, serial rape cases, and other social vices which also came from the internet.

Despite some discouraging factors, some dating sites in Nigeria have proven to indeed scale. They’ve tackled the issue of trust to the bare minimum by making intending users jump multiple hurdles to join. Through this, anyone who is not committed to finding a date would not go through the ordeal of filling out an extensive questionnaire. Their algorithms also work so well to tailor user-profiles and activities to their matches. This is why they have recorded a very huge success rate over the years. To scale through dating sites in Nigeria, founders of Nigeria dating platforms need to innovate to address the unique challenges they face.


About the Writer

Stephen Ayilegbe 

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