Having recovered from my first cyber-induced heartbreak and learnt some lessons about online dating, the time is ripe for part 2. Besides, I owe this to those who read part 1. The past few months have been, ummmm, interesting – coloured with some laughs, fun and pain. One might ask why I still bother with the quest for love after the misfortunes. That’s a valid but poignant question but let’s just say this: 1. I’m an optimist and 2. I really do believe love is waiting somewhere out there. Honestly speaking, what is life without hope and a few risks? After all, there is nothing to lose and perhaps love to gain should something work out. Besides, to learn to ride a bike, one falls a few times. So, to find love, one might need to encounter a few heartbreaks. Hopeful optimist that I am, I keep waiting and searching and hoping…
Drawing from my experience with online dating, this installment will focus on the rather interesting men I’ve met online. It will also provide lessons learnt to the online dating community. I mean, let’s face it, we are a “community” of sorts, right?
These men ranger from the generous benefactor to the pretender. Let’s take a closer look at some of the interesting characters I’ve met during my search for love.
The generous benefactor
This man will dote on you or give you the impression that that is what he is doing despite the distance.
The generous benefactor is just that, offering whatever he can “spoil” you with in cyberspace. He always has a solution to your problems. In fact, he is the solution. Whatever you want, he will be. Interestingly, this man thinks money can solve all problems and he is always eager to “help” you with money. This man purports to be well-oiled and will search for every opportunity to send you money. In fact, you’ll find in the final analysis, all your discussions boil down to one thing – money! No matter how much you try to avoid that topic, he will redirect the conversation to finances. Whether your conversation is a light chat about a button falling from your blouse and embarrassing you in the bus, or your grandmother falling ill, the conclusion is always the same. “How much should I send you?” he’ll ask. Of course that means you have to share your account details so he can “transfer the funds.” Of course you’ll never know if he is as well-oiled as he claims because you won’t risk sharing your account details.
Never, under any circumstances, divulge your banking details to anyone. In fact, be very wary of such “helpful” people because chances are they want to help themselves to your funds. As discussed in the last article, online, paupers can pose as billionaires. Rich people don’t usually advertise how rich they are, neither do they have to stand on the mountaintops to proclaim it to the world. Realistically speaking, chances are, this guy is not rich at all so don’t be fooled. I have seen the least attractive men with the prettiest Barbie dolls. Yes, sometimes money can buy love so its highly unlikely a rich dude with the world at his feet would be paying a 20 something dollar monthly subscription to a dating site for a bride when access to money offers broader and better options. Besides, a man who thinks money solves all problems is likely to be a problem himself. Remember, to this guy, life is probably like a game of monopoly – none of the money is real and not a single cent is being spent in real life so you can both shop until you drop – but alas, only in your imagination!
As the name implies, this person is obsessed with you and cannot imagine that you actually have a life. He expects you to live for him, to be online whenever he is and to answer your phone whenever he rings, regardless of the time he calls. He cannot imagine that at some stage you will need to go to the toilet, work, eat and meet other people. This man expects to be the centre of your life and becomes livid when he has to share you with your other obligations. It’s a bit frightening that someone can be obsessed with an individual based on the pictures that he’s seen and a voice he has heard on skype.
This person suffers from Severe Attention/Affection Deficiency (SAD) and hopes you can give him all the attention he needs to cover up for what he is lacking. He’ll make you feel guilty about giving attention to anything that is not him or remotely associated with him. Naturally, he’s high maintenance and will sap your energy.
I have a friend who would get random calls from a guy she’d met online just to check on her. He would demand to know who she was with, what they were doing, when they would finish, why they had met and how long they would take etc. He did not understand that sometimes she had to attend meetings that included male colleagues or even attending social gatherings. His obsessive behavior became a source of embarrassment for her, particularly at work-related events.
Steer clear of a man like this. He is obviously very insecure and needs to work on his insecurities before he can engage in a meaningful relationship. If he can sap your energy from such a great distance, how on earth will you survive when he’s at close range? Remember, you are entitled to an enjoyable quality life, some aspects of which may exclude him. If he can’t handle the fact that you do not live in a vacuum then you are at high risk of becoming a hostage in the relationship.
This character can be quite amusing and highly entertaining. It would be funny if the person was not delusional. I met someone who was obsessed with celebrities. Sometimes his landline would ring while we were in mid-conversation on his mobile phone. He’d excuse himself so he could answer the call but order me not to hang up. Then the conversation on the other end would go something like: “Mike hi. Michael (Jackson), what you are asking me is impossible and I’m not going to do it, not even for you. No Mike, no!….” and he’d hang up and get onto my line huffing. “I’ve got a business deal with Mike but I’m not going to do what he’s asking me, I’m a principled man and will not back track on that!” He really brought to mind Freddie Mercury (Queen)’s track “The Great Pretender.”
He obviously thought I, too, was star-struck and wanted to impress me with his unending list of “celebrity friends.” To be honest, initially I was astonished and this soon turned to amusement and eventually gave way to irritation as I realized it was an unending joke – I take myself seriously you know!
Don’t take such characters seriously, unless you don’t take yourself seriously of course!
Any relationship built on illusions will be just that – an illusion. Naturally people like this are also pathological liars and can never be trusted. Guys like this are better off channeling their fertile imagination towards something more creative and meaningful like producing movies or writing fiction. Am sure they could produce best-sellers if they really put their minds to it.
The sincere devotee
Sometimes one comes across genuine, loving people who really seem sincere. However, the possibility of meeting in real life is remote, which makes any relationship impractical. This man has a good heart, is genuinely concerned about you and really wants to be part of your life, if only circumstances would permit. I met two guys like that and was really sad to see them go.
Try to date people within your country. However, if you’re in a part of Africa like Zimbabwe, where the online dating bug hasn’t really caught on and you’re unlikely to find suitable matches at home, then try people within your region who are more accessible. Travelling across continents to meet a virtual stranger that one has fallen in love with based on a few photographs, skype calls and yahoo chats is not very pragmatic and can be extremely risky. At the same time, you don’t want to fall for someone you’ll never meet because neither of you can afford an air ticket to the other person’s country. Honestly, getting involved with someone when it’s practically impossible to be together is really setting yourself up for a serious heartbreak and believe me, such good people are difficult to get over.
Some people think they can change you overnight by dictating how you should start living and behaving just because you have met them. I once chatted online with someone who decided to tell me to stop wearing make up during our first conversation. He lectured about the negative aspects of make up and told me that I had to be natural. He liked my hair, but not the make-up so I was advised to get rid of it to please him. I sent him a link to a website with a poem I’d written about why I love to wear make-up http://www.worldpulse.com/node/25575 . Needless to say we did not progress beyond the two conversations during which were deadlocked on make-up. To be honest, I don’t think I’d have been comfortable with such a dogmatic person anyway.
On another occasion, I was getting along with a certain Dun, but he tried to dissuade me from exercising and dictated that I should stop wearing shorts as I was now someone’s “wife.” I found that somewhat bizarre and of course continued to dress the way I like and to take care of my body as best I could – after all, he couldn’t see me anyway since we only interacted online.
Don’t allow strangers to dictate who you should be. A good relationship starts with accepting your partner for who they are. If someone wants to change you at first encounter, chances are you are not what they are looking for and they would be better off hooking up with the sort of person they have in mind. In fact, try to find people who share your values. Most dating sites offer compatibility tests and some, like e-harmony, actually try to match people with suitable candidates based on various qualities, including common interests, values etc.
If you like make-up, by all means wear it – paint your face red, black or white and look like a skunk in strawberry jam if you like – there’ll always be someone who appreciates you for who you are as long as you are true to yourself. Besides, your preferences and behavior are acquired over time based on your environment, life experiences etc, no one can suddenly undo them with one phone call or an e-mail.
Sometimes one stumbles upon a gem in the quest for love. However, you may soon realize that they’re not suitable for you even if they are warm, loving and fun. I’ve met a few people with whom I have become friends. These are people with whom I share ideas, jokes and life experiences among other things. Such people tend to be very warm so you are reluctant to let them go because you feel the friendship is worth holding on to. I have some nice new friends, quality people who add value to my life, thanks to a few dating sites.
You need not necessarily fall in love with everyone you meet online. Some people will make good friends but may not be what you are looking for in a partner. Also, some people subscribe to dating sites because they want to connect with potential friends. Not all roads lead to marriage and the happily ever after found in most fairy tales.
Dating sites have become a perfect hunting ground for perverts. Such people will wave different carrots at you such as a free ticket to his country etc. You don’t want to meet some of these sex maniacs at all, whether online or in real life! These people subscribe to dating sites with one aim in mind and tend to think the world begins and ends with sex. They ask the sort of questions that leave a sour taste in your mouth. What usually starts off as a cordial conversation intended at getting to know each other better soon turns ugly as the guy gets more comfortable with you and tries to direct the discussion at his lusts. Sadly, there are people out there who believe stereotypes certain races. I met a German guy called Chris on one website and had to ask him to stop corresponding with me because his assumptions were very insulting and ill-informed. He professed that he loved black women and when I asked why, he said it was because they had big buttocks and were good for sex. I had hoped to hear something more flattering than that! I told him that black women have more to offer than sex, we have brains and hearts too!
Don’t tolerate nonsense from anyone, even online. You are not desperate and you don’t have to put up with anyone who humiliates or embarrasses you. Spam, block and report such guys. They are not worth an iota of your attention! In fact, do not even cooperate when they ask you to do anything against your will on webcam – as they inevitably will. You are entitled to your dignity and are not a sexual animal on display for perverts to leer at. Should you get the offer of a free ticket to the guy’s country, don’t even take it up. He’ll probably use you as a sex slave and sell you to some prostitution ring when he’s done with you. In fact, be wary of people with sexually suggestive names because it gives you a hint of what they are after. If the guy does not have a suggestive name but starts being offensive – drop him.
This man believes that he is perfect. He does not recognize his own imperfections and believes he is too good for everyone. Chances are he has rejected every woman he has ever met because nobody is good enough for him. So, he extends his search to cyberspace and expects the perfect woman to drop from cyberheaven into his inbox and hopefully his lap.
Message to the perfectionist: “Get real! Nobody is perfect and neither are you.”
If a guy wants a perfect woman, he can dream on. Chances are he’ll die whilst dreaming about and waiting for a Miss Perfect, who actually does not exist!
As the name implies, this person wants to escape from their current reality to anywhere in the world he imagines to be a better place. Chances are he is struggling and has assumed there is a desperate woman out there who can rescue him from his economic predicament. In his search for a new life, he is eager to move to where you are and even promises to go to the ends of the earth for you. Of course don’t be surprised if he expects you to pay for his air ticket and hotel accommodation when you finally decide to meet. He is, the man, after all and he is convinced that his being born male is enough to satisfy you so don’t expect any added value. He believes a few romantic words and promises of great sex are enough to please you. This man targets highly professional and intelligent ladies – the type that probably intimidate most men. So, he is convinced you are desperate and will do anything for him.
DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT, accommodate such a man. He’s good for your ego when you feel like being flattered but seriously, do not pay for his ticket or anything for that matter. Chances are, when he gets to your house, he will bum around and frustrate you and you’ll struggle to get him out of your life. Idle men are dangerous and you’re better off alone than with this character. Also, chances are he is a parasite and will suck on you like a tick while you yelp like a helpless puppy!
If you decide to accommodate him though and things work out, then good for you.
Very intellectually stimulating but socially boring. Such guys have spent a lot of time at school. Of course the attentions of a professor online are always a boost to one’s ego. However, these guys think no one is intelligent enough for them. Guys like this may be experts in their work but they are socially handicapped.
Can’t think of a lesson here, except a word of advice to the professors – if they want someone at their level, perhaps online dating sites are not the place to look. Why not try university campus? Am sure that will yield better results as there must be plenty of single female professors out there – or are our male professors intimidated by highly intelligent women contrary to their claims?
To be honest, some people don’t know what they want. You can give them the best of everything and they just won’t accept it. Guys like this suffer from indecision and are a waste of your time. Even if you turn out to be what he wants, chances are he won’t even recognize it.
Don’t let anyone devalue you, a guy who doesn’t know what he wants wont value anything that comes his way no matter how good it is. He will always imagine there is something better out there and will never settle for anything. He’ll probably keep you hanging on while hoping and looking for someone better. Cut your losses and move on.
This guy just wants to be lavished with female attention at all costs but is not serious at all – he’s just after a good flirt. In fact, chances are he is in a serious relationship in real life and just wants to play online. It is highly likely that his partner has caught him cheating a number times so he needs a safe outlet for his voracious appetite for female attention. Naturally, online dating is the perfect outlet, you can date as many people as you like without actually committing or being caught. It’s also quite cheap – between $10 and $60 per month depending on the site, so this guy spends far less than he would on a woman he interacts with in daily life, but still gets the benefits of attention and affection. Of course this man has the right lyrics and will lead you on, then let you crush and leave you to nurse your heartache. Since he only exists in cyberspace, you won’t be able to trace him should he decide to delete his profile and change his mobile number.
Recognize the signs. Players in real life and players online have common attributes and you can fish them out.
The married man
Believe it or not, some men who subscribe to online dating sites are actually married and are just having fun. I’m not sure what problems they face at home but hey, there are some naughty married men out there. I met a British-Canadian guy called Dan who is based in the UK and turned out to be very married. Although I thought he was too old for me and somehow I was not interested in him, he was very persistent. He even tried to pressure me into coming up with business ideas so that he could move to Zimbabwe and join me. My instincts told me there was something wrong with this guy – he wanted to move to my country after just a week of e-mailing?
Less than two weeks later, his wife contacted me and told me he was her husband, they had two children and clearly he has a problem. Interestingly, we are both from the same country so this guy must have an obsession with Zimbabweans.
If a woman calls you and tells you the guy you’re dating online is her husband, drop him like a hot potato. In fact, you can smell a married guy from miles away and usually, your instincts will tell you when something is wrong anyway. Even if you are in very different time zones, the times that someone communicates with you are a telling sign. If you meet such a guy – run, run, run and don’t stop till he’s out of mind and out of sight, you don’t need such nonsense in your life. You are a valuable human being and not a toy for someone’s amusement!
This type believes you’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with him just by virtue of responding to his e-mail. Guys like this do not understand the concept of dating, they imagine you can dive into a relationship with someone you barely know. This guy is likely to claim he loves you during the first conversation and will try to extract similar sentiments from you, leaving you wondering if he knows what love really is. He does not understand that it is possible to fall in love with someone over time and not everything in life is instant.
People like this are not genuine – keep your distance. Naturally, you cannot expect to have a serious relationship with someone like this. He probably thinks the only words a woman understands are “I love you,” but chances are he probably doesn’t understand those words really mean.
Cyberspace is a jungle and you can stumble upon anything, good or bad.
Take heart and don’t give up but do be careful, there are deer, doves, wolves and serpents out there. Remember, you are like Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf could come charging at you anytime. While I have had and heard of some unpleasant experiences so far, I’ve also come across some heartwarming stories that end with people living “happily ever after” after having met online. As one blogger said, sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you meet your prince. I’m just hoping I’ve had my fair share of frogs and that the next hit, will be the prince.
So, I will not discourage anyone but will encourage you to search with care. Good things come to those who wait but tread carefully. Actually, to all those who are still bent on finding love online, happy searching and dating… and my special dedication to you all is the track: “Love is on the way,” by Dave Koz.
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