Trinis believe in a certain order of things… especially when it comes to relationships. You meet someone, court them for a suitable period, and if all goes well, and you’re still together for at least two years, people start to ask, “when alyuh gettin’ married”?
Similarly, when they ask how you first met, they expect to hear scenarios like you met at a fete, a house lime, at work, in the grocery, or through a mutual friend. However, in these times when everyone and their mother are on Facebook, it makes you wonder whether people are also using social networks to find that special someone.
Some Trinidadians think that finding a date online can appear ‘kinda desperate’, and can’t warm up to the idea of dinner by computer light.
“Trinidad is so small,” a friend told me. “I mean everybody know everybody. Would online dating here even make sense?”
Some people say it’s more natural to meet someone through a mutual friend. They also fear meeting weird or psychotic people, but I think if you’re careful and use wisdom, you can make a fair assessment of people. Others feel that a person who goes online to look for love or to date has something to hide, or isn’t confident enough to meet people in person.
*Tony said, “I used to think that people who looked for love online were people who got burned and are terrified of face-to-face encounters, or they are so messed up emotionally that the only relationship they could have was (online) where there was no chance of being rejected personally by another person”.
“One thing about human beings is this – if we want to hide who we are, we don’t need to go online to do so.”
Then there’s the issue of figuring out people. A person can create this persona online, and be totally different once you meet them face-to-face. Well sure, it’s easy to hide online, but if the other person really connects with your fake self, you are going to have to put your ‘money where your mouth is’ at some point and meet up. I don’t think the usual meeting scenarios makes a person more honest, however. One thing about human beings is this – if we want to hide who we are, we don’t need to go online to do so. I’ve dated a man, who I met in person, for four months, and still knew less about him than I did a man I met online (and in person), whom I ultimately felt far closer to.
I tried online dating about a year ago when I found traditional dating pools were ‘drying up’. Many young professionals like myself are busy, and unless it’s building our career, we’re probably not going to go to every football game, jazz club or fete. My job had me working long hours late into the night, which left me zero time for socialising. The little time I had on weekends were spent seeing friends or cleaning house, and, with a schedule like this, if I do get a free moment, who the heck am I dating if I have not met anyone in the first place?
Online dating increases your options. It’s simply another way to meet people, the operative word being ‘meet’. Think of all the adventures that you can experience – the joys of smiling at that e-mail from Romeo or Juliet, the sexy text in the middle of your tiresome day, which can add a twinkle to your eye, and the joy of falling in love with someone you’d never have met otherwise.
According to one Caribbean couple, *Fitzroy and *Melissa, who met on match.com while living in the US, and who have been together for the past eight years (two dating, six married), you’ve got to be open and honest, and know what you want when looking for love online. Additionally, you’ve got to be careful, and make sure you have a lot of things in common with the person.
They also added that it’s useful to have mutual friends or acquaintances who can vouch for important factors such as someone’s family connections. Knowing the same people also adds a sense of comfort, as you don’t feel as if your online partner is a total stranger. Some people may feel the need to do background checks, but Melissa advised against it, saying that it showed that there was a lack of trust, and that you should let things happen naturally, as you get to know the person better.
“Pretence is thrown out the window.”
Another advantage of finding love online is that each person knows that the objective is to find love or companionship, so pretence is thrown out the window. It’s all about getting to know each other from the jump, and deciding whether you are compatible enough for a first date.
As the number one site in Trinidad and Tobago, Facebook is definitely the new meeting place for people. How many of you have gotten messages from complete strangers complimenting you on your looks or telling you that they saw you somewhere recently, and would like to get to know you? How many of you have made new connections that brought you new friends or romance? And let’s not forgot old flames who have reunited on good ol’ Facebook, or even Twitter.
For the interested newbie, I advise you to do your research on specific sites. Tagged.com is a free site that is not specifically a dating site, but I’ve met a few nice guys there, and on OkCupid.com. None have panned out into a relationship, but the nice dates were definitely worth it. I’ve met nice guys who I became friends with; I even met a cute English guy who loves karaoke as much as I do! Even if he stays in England, the point is, instead of having no social life I was actually meeting guys and going on dates.
Making romantic connections online may still be met with skepticism in T&T, but think about this. If you live in the West, go to school in the West, work in the West, and lime in the West, your options are pretty limited in meeting someone who may be a good match for you. As the old saying goes, there are ‘plenty fish in the sea’, so maybe it’s not such a bad idea to go fishing, online or offline.
*Names have been changed to protect people’s identity.
Author bio: Karen ‘Phoenix’ Francisco is many things – a writer, singer, songwriter, actress, filmmaker, image consultant, and motivational speaker. Back in Trinidad since leaving New York City where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Film Production and Screenwriting at Brooklyn College, you can always find her at any popular karaoke/open mic, singing her butt off.