So I joined mainstream sites Match.com and Eharmony.com and niche sites such as BlackPeopleMeet.com (a subsidiary of Match.com) and BlackPlanetLovers.com. In my experience, the online dating world mirrors the non-virtual one to a tee. I encountered lots of men that I was not attracted to for one reason or another, a few good ones, and some absolutely toxic brothers that have no business being outside of a maximum security prison, much less having access to a computer and Internet service.
My dates ran the gamut from comical to simply sad. I had some men ask point blank on a first (and only) date: “What’s wrong with you? There’s gotta be something seriously wrong for a woman as attractive as you to be on Match.com” (umm, to expand my options, duh). Some were in a mad dash to try and get me on lock after one date (creepy). Others lied about their income, marital status or some other basic life area (trifling). And every so often I would connect with what seemed to be a good possible match, but due to differing life goals (mainly their desire to have children and my lack thereof) it couldn’t work.
What I wanted was an opportunity to meet a humble, ambitious, honest and spiritually aware man seeking to build a life with a humble, ambitious, honest and spiritually aware woman. Alas, I have yet to meet him (yet). When I finally did connect with someone online who turned out to be a bona fide sociopath, I made the decision to cool it with online dating. With that being said, I still believe that online dating is a viable dating option that should be exercised not to the exclusion of other more traditional ways of meeting people.
Ama was actively using an online dating site (her own had not been developed yet) when she met the man who would eventually become her husband – offline. This August they will celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. Her husband is also black, an irony not lost on a woman whose primary goal in establishing her website LoveEssence.com was to broaden black women’s mindset towards dating and mating outside their race. “In no way am I trying to discourage black women from being open to dating and marrying black men,” Yawson wanted to clarify. “I’m married to a black man. LoveEssence.com is definitely not an interracial[-only] dating site.”
During our interview I mentioned that statistically speaking, black women are the least likely to marry outside of their race and that we also tended to marry later in life than other races – plus on the ever-popular OKCupid, we tend to be the least popular. What does that mean for our online dating prospects? Ama reminded me that, “OKCupid is a general market site where we comprise 13 percent of users. What we aren’t seeing is the response rates on sites that cater to blacks seeking to date black men and women. There is a whole array of interracial dating sites where a white man who knows he has a preference for women of African descent will go specifically — interracial niche dating sites.” Definitely something to remember.
By the end of our chat, Ama’s knowledge and enthusiasm for online dating had this jaded former online dater mildly considering eventually giving the online world another shot. Alas, there is a small caveat for those who may be interested in joining LoveEssence.com specifically. “Right now we are in the process of revamping the site; however those who register now will have free access to the premium features of the site, which should be available later on this year.”
Ama’s main piece of advice for black women seeking love online? “Many women are still resistant against online dating as they think it is for desperate people or that lunatics are online. Yes, there are lunatics online but there are also lunatics at work and at bars and at any other place,” Yawson concluded. “The important thing is that you are protective of your identity info and meet in public places. Above all, be open to meeting all types of men through different vehicles. It is very easy on some sites to restrict your matches to 25 year old men who are six feet tall, have dark skin and hazel eyes, and work as firefighters — but none of those characteristics have any relation to how a man will treat you and the kind of love he can give you.”