One month ago, I embarked on a journey to find love by Valentine’s Day.
You see, I have never celebrated this day romantically. From childhood all through my teens, my parents dominated this love event.
Mom would make heart-shaped pancakes and dad would sometimes get chocolates for all of us.
Progressing into adulthood, I began noticing a peculiar pattern. February 14 either found me single or in the very early stages of a relationship where nothing had been defined yet.
On New Year’s Eve, I made a resolution to break this pattern and actively seek out love.
I needed to quit hoping for the day when the man of my dreams would knock on my door and I would swing it open, adjust the night-time headscarf on my head then jump into the arms of my soul mate.
Last week I mentioned that I had met a special person. I can confidently say that my pursuit for love has been mildly successful.
Although we are yet to go on a date, getting to know him has rejuvenated my faith in love and romance.
The tingling feeling in my spine when he calls and the butterflies in my belly when I wake up to his “Good morning sunshine” texts that come laden with heart emojis make me realise that indeed love is always out there waiting for us to find it.
I also promised to have an expert address some of the issues I have encountered on my search for love.
Here is what Maurice Matheka, and expert in matters of the heart and columnist with Saturday Magazine, had to say:
Do you think it is possible for one to find love on a dating app such as Tinder?
Yes and No. But first of all, I am inclined to talk about finding compatibility as opposed to love because the term love covers such a wide spectrum; it means different things to different people.
Compatibility on the other hand is more of finding that person with whom you connect and growing that connection to see what it leads to.
Finding a companion will depend on the perception you create online starting from the photos you have on your profile and the kind of information you put out there.
You see, most men who sign-up for dating sites are instinctively seek some cheap thrill.
If your profile is filled with slutty photos that portray you as a party girl who wants nothing but wild fun, then that is what you will get because there is no shortage of predators on these sites.
However, if companionship and a deep connection is what you wish to get then you must set up your profile in a certain way.
Have elegant photos that show that there is more to you than just the superficial. Be deliberate in choosing recent and presentable photos that show your personality for instance, a warm smile.
The optics are very important and should flatter you as opposed to distracting attention from you. Imagine uploading a picture of you in a promotional t-shirt for Dawa ya Mende or with chicken running around in the background?
One can easily miss your face and be engrossed in all these other sideshows. That is how you fail to make that connection.
Besides photo, how else can one make their profile attractive?
Be keen on the profile information often tagged us ‘About you.’ Unfortunately, some people are in the habit of interpreting this to mean their hobbies which in most cases are activities they hardly engage in.
You will find someone saying they have an interest in swimming but the last time they swam was 15 years ago.
Your potential companion does not care about all that, they want to know the real you.
What is your personality like? What are some of the things you regularly enjoy doing? What kind of music are you into? Are you a movie person and so forth.
Often when a man comes across an impressive profile he will either flee or pursue depending on what they are looking for.
A predator out for some casual good time will most likely flee from a woman who gives the impression of wanting to make a connection.
At some point, I got overwhelmed with too many chats occurring simultaneously. How many people should one engage with at any particular time?
Nothing fulfilling comes easy so if you are going to try out dating apps, do not be lazy about it.
It makes no sense to go out on three dates and conclude that the app is not working or you haven’t made any meaningful connections. Widen your dating pool to increase your chances of meeting a partner.
If I was to put a number to a good dating pool over say, six months, it would comprise of 20 to 30 guys.
Shortly after joining Tinder, I encountered some hostility from close acquaintances who judged me for being on a dating site. What is your take on this stigma?
People will always judge but it comes done to this undisputed fact; It’s your life not theirs.
People are busy and there is hardly time to socialise at clubs and other public spaces; online platforms are as good a mingling forum as any other social space.
Sometimes this judgement is actually a coping mechanism to handle rejection especially from people who may have tried to hit on you in the past.
My advice is, do not respond to their snide comments. Smile and see their tantrums for what it really is; jealousy.
Also, it is not your fault that you do not find them attractive.
Catfishing is a menace crippling online dating. How can one survive this?
I recommend a video call before going ahead to meet someone, that way you will have proof that they exist.
In case you meet someone before video-calling and they turn out to be not what you were expecting, just go through with the date and let them down easy.
It won’t cost you anything to be civilised, try not to burn bridges because it is a small world.
Anything else you wish to add?
“I am looking for someone serious” is a useless statement that people should stop using be it on their online profiles, while texting on phone or even on a date.
Seriousness –mostly alluding to commitment —doesn’t come pre-installed in your prospective companion.
Dating is a process where you get to know each other and gauge your compatibility, develop a connection and see how things unfold.
Sticking to the operative term “someone serious” a companion doesn’t come to the picture as “serious” he or she gets to be “serious” as the interaction unfolds.
Lastly, Kenyans need to stop looking at dates as sexual activities because they are not. Just because you bought someone a drink or coffee at Java doesn’t earn you rights to have sex with them.