The good and bad of online dating

American artist Julie Dillon says: “Our universe grants every soul a twin, a reflection of themselves. The kindred spirit, and no matter where they are or how far away they are from each other, even if they are in different dimensions, they will always find one another. This is destiny; this is love.”

But that was before dating apps played cupid in cyberspace. Today, the smartphone-obsessed generation would rather enter the world of dating online.

Love too has officially been disrupted. The once-taboo subject is an online trend and businesses are cashing in.

According to Statista, revenues in the online dating segment are expected to show an annual rate of 3.9%, resulting in a market volume of $1.6 billion. And for those confident enough to enter this world, it has its own lingo that you need to master first.

Ghosting, for example, is the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone suddenly and without warning or explanation, withdrawing from all communication.

Bread crumbing refers to the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (i.e., ‘breadcrumbs’) in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.

Zombie-ing is when someone you thought had ‘ghosted’ you shows up unexpectedly again in your life (usually through texts or social media).

Benching is when you start dating someone you think is nice and who has potential, but you’re not crazy about him or her.

Orbiting is the term attributed to a form of behavior where you’ve been ‘ghosted’, but the person who ‘ghosted’ you still engages with you on social media. The latest new word is fishing, a practice where you send messages out to a whole lot of your matches on a dating app, wait and see which ones bite and then you select the one you want to pursue.

The online dating vocabulary is just as varied as the number of platforms to go ‘fishing’ on.

Tinder is perhaps one of the most popular dating apps, with enough takers across Africa. The app has a simple user interface that allows users to share real-time photos as they chat with their matches and swipe left or right to select who they are interested in.

Other apps include Bumble, Grindr, Speedate, Benaughty, Are You Interested (AYI), Tagged, Ok Cupid and many more providing singletons a never-ending stream of possible suitors.

“Do you swipe left or right? That is all it takes to find that perfect someone on Tinder. There are billions of people in the world and quite frankly, it is very unrealistic to think that you might magically bump into the one you are destined to be with without taking matters into your own hands,” says Ola (who did not give his full name for privacy reasons).

He has been an avid user of dating apps for the past five years. During this time, Ola has been on about 20 dates and had two relationships that lasted six months and eight months.

A couple of years ago, you would be scammed for dating online. But according to Ola, times have changed. This is now one of the best ways to meet singles in your area in part thanks to Tinder. These websites and apps widen the choice and provide a convenient way to match people with their ideal mates.

Online dating services are now the second most popular way to meet a partner.

Another factor for the popularity of online dating is time. Online dating presents an effective solution by providing users the ability to browse profiles, which is not as time-consuming or scary as mixing with people in real life. According to Psychology Today, about one in five relationships begin online nowadays, and by 2040, 70% of us will have met our significant other online.

However, with the growing popularity of online dating, comes a darker side most people do not hear about.

According to statistics from datingadvice.com, there are about 16,000 abductions, 100 murders and thousands of rapes committed by online predators. Also, in 2011 alone, online con artists duped their victims out of more than $50 million in money and property.

According to research by Michigan State University, relationships that start online are 28% more likely to break down in their first year, than relationships where the couples first met face-to-face. And to make matters worse, couples who met online are nearly three times as likely to get divorced as couples that met face-to-face.

But no matter the perils of online dating, its popularity cannot be ignored. It offers something important for the millions of registered followers and that is the possibility of finding your soul mate in a crowd of 7.6 billion people.

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