Whether the outcome turns good, bad, or ugly, the truth is that online dating involves starting a romantic relationship on the internet. This is why it can also be referred to as internet dating. Normally, this kind of dating happens through a dating site, a dating app, or even social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
It usually begins by giving information about oneself or replying to someone else’s information. Unlike in traditional dating, first impressions are not characterized by face-to-face contact in online dating. When you date online, it’s possible and easy to meet your match within the shortest time and from the comfort of your home.
Thanks to technology, the 21st century has brought a lot of transformation to the world of dating. For the traditional dating approach, when a person wants to date, (s)he would have to meet the other person who has been found attractive before a date can then be fixed. Under this arrangement, there are usually certain apprehensions on a first date. The physical environment could even play a role, but in an online environment, people have the opportunity to sit back and first of all, chat with minimal or no apprehension. This allows them to get acquainted easily before meeting in person on a date.
So, with online dating, technology is invoked as a magic charm to help people catch cruise, find happiness, friendship, intimate relationship, soul mates and love as the case may be. What else can one ask for? Truly, there are success stories of online dating.
How about a short story?
Chidimma Amedu, a Nigerian man had posted on Facebook,
“I’m of age too and I am ready to say I do and I’m wasting no time. Send in your applications – the most qualified will be married on January 6, 2018. Application closes 12 Midnight, 31/12/2017,”
He would follow it up with another post that read,
“I’m serious about this oh and don’t say you did not see it on time. Good luck”
Now, wait for the cruise…
He received a couple of responses, but one from a certain Sophy Ijeoma caught his attention. They had been friends on Facebook for over a year but never had engagements with each other before the advert.
“I’m interested, just DM me… lols,” her reply read.
At first, Sophy thought it was a child’s play.
But a direct message (DM) from Amedu to Sophy’s inbox would change her trajectory forever.
The fireworks continued online and their online dating was taken to a whole new level after the unusual advert.
Interestingly, they had momentum going for them and the odds were surprisingly in their favor.
For them it was love at first sight… rather, at first message. One thing led to another and both families rehearsed a confluence that later ended in nuptial blessings for the lovebirds.
Now, you think this is a fairy-tale. Isn’t it?
Well, you may want to read BBC News of 12th January 2018 captioned, “I replied to a Facebook post and was married six days later .”
Truly, dating online has become an increasingly common way to find a partner be it through social media networks, dating sites, or dating apps. This suggests that the internet may be gradually defining the dynamics and outcomes of love and relationships. Also, there have been successful businesses that took their root from dating on the internet.
However, online dating can potentially be a source of harm. There are issues around fraud and murder that come with online dating. Fraudsters impersonate women on dating sites. These days, people go on to have fake or multiple profiles on dating sites, dating apps, and social media platforms with various sinister motives. This has led to rape, robbery, and or murder of unsuspecting members of the online public.
In 2012, it is recalled a story was told of a certain Cynthia Osokogu, daughter of Gen. Frank Osokogu (rtd), who was lured by her Facebook date to Lagos, where she was drugged and eventually killed. Trending recently like wildfire on the internet is also the shocking, yet heartbreaking true story of Tinder Swindler, a Netflix’s new crime documentary that premiered on February 3rd, 2022.
Titled “Tinder Swindler,” the two-hour film chronicles the real-life events of an Israeli serial fraudster who swindled an estimated $10 million out of unsuspecting women he attracted on a popular online dating app, Tinder. He claimed he was the son of billionaire Israeli diamond oligarch, Lev Leviev and worked in a dangerous diamond business chain. He would disguise himself under different aliases, though widely recognized as Simon Leviev, but born as Shimon Hayut.
Like sugar attracts ants, Simon would attract women on Tinder with his affluent lifestyle – characterized by private jets, designer clothes, and expensive cars – as though he truly worked in the diamond industry. Once a long-distance relationship was established, he’d ask them for thousands of dollars so he could navigate the threats of the business, especially while traveling.
Credit to how smart he was, he doesn’t ask for money the first time on a date; it’s more on the safeguarding of the name, Leviev. He’d say,
“I can’t use my cards because they’re going to track my name, so, can I use your card so I can travel under your name?”
But following arrests and serving of jail terms, Simon would later be banned on the dating app, Tinder. But his profile on Instagram remained active with over 200,000 followers. Somehow, it’s feared that more women will be eventually victimized by his swindling owing to their vulnerability while looking for love.
In Nigeria, online dating has become a clog in the wheel of progress of some relationships. Stories abound of how side chicks contracted online have wrecked beautiful marriages. Online dating has thus become an easy platform for a cheating partner, and this has led to numerous broken homes in Nigeria.
So, while online dating is changing some lives positively, it has become a thing dreaded by others. Yet despite the risks involved, dating online can be a practice that can flourish in Nigeria if properly managed. It means that helping people find their partners, relationships, and love online can still be a good business.
With 108.75 million active internet users and about 40 million smartphone owners currently in Nigeria as of 2021 , plus affordable data rates, the stage is set for smart business entrepreneurs to catch in on the gold mine as there is money to be made from revenues from the online dating market.
Sadly, it appears this may never be the case for Nigeria. With Tech-related start-up companies coming on board by the day, only a few of them have ventured into the online dating and matchmaking space.
Understandably, the challenges are not far-fetched. One is trust. It’s hardly news that there are a lot of pretenses online. People lie about their looks, age, financial situations, and location. This has dealt a heavy blow to online dating in Nigeria because there is almost no way to guarantee the safety of dating site subscribers. It’s near impossible for those sites to filter subscribers based on their intentions. This makes it a huge gamble for any Nigerian investor to take.
Marketing is also a challenge. For privacy reasons, potential investors in online dating seemingly cannot use their success stories with their clients’ names to sell their business. So, they might have to rely hugely on referrals when successes are made.
Another challenge is funding. No Nigerian investor wants to invest in online dating, say, a dating site because of the stigma and stereotype involved. Most Nigerians consider people who sign up to dating sites as those looking for casual sex. They see them as being promiscuous. They hardly believe there are genuine relationship-seeking people on dating sites. Nigerians therefore hardly know there’s a very distinct line between a dating site and a hookup site. Little wonder “runs girls” or digital “ashawos” now flood genuine dating sites and Apps in Nigeria.
But then, one could say an approach that makes dating sites charge monthly subscriptions just to filter out unserious people with bad intentions can solve the problem. However, there is still a challenge; Nigerians are somewhat opposed to paying for stuff online, especially since they have free alternatives where they can easily slide into peoples’ social media DMs to shoot their shot. This makes a subscription-based model almost dead on arrival.
Against these odds, however, potential entrepreneurs can leverage the power of the media to tackle these challenges. With well-tailored advertisements, the mindset of Nigerians about online dating can begin to change. The success stories of how contraceptives like condoms penetrated the Nigerian market using the media can be exploited in this perspective.
Also, the blueprints of successful dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony can be studied carefully to incorporate them into the Nigerian online dating market. To this end, founders of Nigerian dating platforms need to innovate in other to address the unique challenges they face. They must not relent in pushing the limit. This is because Nigeria has a population that potentially translates to a huge market for them.
Summarily, while some Nigerians believe that online dating is good, it still presents to individuals who engage in it some dangers. It’s therefore imperative that Nigerians become highly circumspect and tread with caution while engaging in online dating activities, be it for business, relationship, romance, or love. Nigerians must be street-smart and shine their eye!
About The Writer
Chukwuemeka Oluka writes in from Enugu, Nigeria. He is a passionate writer and a research enthusiast. He is also a graduate of Electronic and Computer Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He tweets @mekus_oluka and can be reached via “firstname.lastname@example.org”