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Finding Love Online: “Decoding” Messages in the Classifieds

Sat, 31 May 2008 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

My focus in this article is to try to discover the hidden language the love classifieds hold, as these classifieds serve both as entertainment and a conduit for love. My discourse, without any apologies, pertains to heterosexual dating only. Finding love online has become easier because of three fundamental factors: accessibility; affordability; and anonymity. It is not my objective to explain what each factor means at this time, but I may write an article, at another time, that explains the pros and cons of online dating.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Seeking Love Online

A visit to any dating website that promises the seeker a mate reveals an unending list of interesting things about would-be mates. These days, it is easy to find any type of mate online: fat, slim, tall, short, rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, biracial, et cetera. In fact, some experts say that the ease with which we now find love online has made face-to-face interactions ? and for Ghanaians, the old-fashioned “pursuit” of a woman via invitations, gifts, dinners, trips to the beach, interaction with the woman’s relatives, among other wooing techniques, still serves a great societal purpose ? of very little consequence. Finding love online, however, is replete with its own dangers as well: the falsifications of age, weight, height; the exaggeration of academic achievements; and the embellishment of other important statistics and personal information.

A www.modernghana.com article of April 16, 2008, titled, “Beware of Internet Dating Fraud Scams With Ghana,” attempts to expose some of the scams that are perpetrated against Americans seeking love in Ghana. While I categorically reject every form of duplicity and fraud, I have never stopped to wonder why any U.S. citizen would want to travel 6,000 miles to find a woman in Ghana, even while there are thousands of women of all shades and sizes in America (the world’s melting pot, actually)! Such classifieds have always seemed weird to me, unless these are attempts by perverts to use their financial power to woo some impoverished Ghanaians to engage in sexual acts that the latter would, otherwise, have been unwilling to carry out!

Now, let us analyze a few ads I recently gathered from a pro-Ghanaian Internet portal (I purposely chose those ads that did not have photos attached, for ethical reasons, although some of the photos posted may not even belong to the particular love seekers!).

Females Seeking Males

“My name is Bernice and a very Though, Beautiful and humble black queen would like to hear from a gentle one from any where in the world. Pls,the e-mail was for my big brother and he modify it for me.” Analysis? She is likely to be semi-literate, or an illiterate. She is seeking someone to take care of her fully, so you must be prepared to support her 100%. I can assure you that after one contact, she will make her first request for cash. If I were you, I will run as fast as I could!

“am 23 live in Ghana and looking for love. am honest, God fearing, beautiful, respectful and above all romantic. i need a man 35-100 to share my life with. poor or rich all that matters is love. the person should be in US, LONDON OR CANADA.” Analysis? Well, this person certainly pays no attention to spelling and may be disorganized overall. She seeks a man 35 to 100, which means she is not interested in love, but is rather concerned about what the relationship can offer her! Her specific requirement that the person be based overseas shows that she just wants to travel abroad! If I were you, I will run for dear life as fast as I could!!

“hi,i’m in ma mid twenties looking for a single man to date.the person shd be well educated,honest,loving and responsible.i wanna be pampered n treated like a queen.i’m a graduate n reside in accra.get in touch if u are the one n i’ll make u happy.” When will these love seekers learn to pay some attention to spelling and detail? I refuse to accept that all of these ads were posted in a hurry. Who finds true love by being in a hurry, anyway? This person gives a number of qualities that she desires in her man, but she also sounds like a spoiled brat! Her promise to make her future mate happy is an indirect assertion of her assumed capacity to please him sexually. Who needs such a thing in an ad, except someone who assumes that all men reason with their “third legs” (see my previous article on the “third leg”!), rather than with their brains? This person will likely use sex as a weapon against her mate when things go awry! You must run as fast as possible, if you love your mother!

Males Seeking Females

“Iam 44 years,6.2 feet tall,medium built,very handsome looking Ghanaian professional residing in USA.Iam voluptous man,who is honest,spiritually-grounded,self-sufficient,outgoing,lovable,kind and funny.Iam searching for beautiful educated woman,who is ready to settle down for a long term relationship.” Once again, taking the time to write an ad clearly is vital for success! Well, our friend has emphasized his height, since the average Ghanaian male stands at only 5’7”. His place of residence, cleverly, will be a magnet for those who want to immigrate to the U.S., but he also tells the reader that he is a fat man ? no surprises for the woman when they finally meet! My favorite? He tells the reader that he wants a woman who wants to settle down! Wow! This is music to the ears of the “longsuffering” dame, whose mother and aunts are giving her a hard time about being single still! Well, do not write this guy off yet. You must, however, investigate the claims, especially the marriage part, as we all know that our Ghanaian men tend to be commitment-phobic at times!

“Hello, I’m a swedish man looking for a young and healthy woman under 30 for what can hopefully be a long term relationship. I’m 44 years old and single with no kids. I plan to travel to Ghana during July and it would be nice to learn to know some nice woman before that. I don’t like large woman.” Hmm! This sounds to me like someone interested in taking another Ghanaian woman for a ride, basically for casual sex! I guess some of these white men assume that their skin color will just sweep the dames off of their feet! Is this Swedish guy living in a cave? Ghanaian women don’t suffer any more jitters at the sight of a white man, my dear Swedish friend! So, why does this guy not take his girlfriend from Sweden along, by the way? If I were you, I will run for dear life, as there are too many dangers to your life when you hook up with a complete stranger! Heard of AIDS and syphilis? Keep your pride so that you can outlive your mother (that is the way nature designed it!).

“Hi to everyone, this is Kobby, a young man and a christian as well. I always believe its nice to meet new friends to share ideas and concerns. I am hardworking, have a good sense of humor … if you really think we share things in common and can be very good pals, just drop me a line.” Not bad. Basically, he starts out by saying he just wants to be friends. Well, Kobby, the serious sisters who want a relationship will certainly not respond, but, at least, you have not lied to anybody. I will give this one a pass, as Kobby sounds like a sincere young man who just wants to be friends with the opposite sex. Well, Kobby, I thought you should know that it is difficult to maintain a platonic relationship with a damsel, so be sure you know what you want, so you don’t break any girl’s heart!

Guidelines from the Experts

Writing in the Nov-Dec 2002 edition of “Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association,” Al Cooper and Eric Griffin-Shelley share the following advice: “The use of the Internet to find romantic and/or sexual partners has reduced the importance of proximity, similarity and physical attraction. Many find that online users often reveal additional personal information more quickly than they do in face-to-face interactions. [Sadly], increasing numbers of clinicians are hearing tragic stories of online dating. [Al Cooper, above], for example, interviewed a mother who moved across the country [U.S.A.] to live with her online fiancé, only to find that he would soon molest one of her two teenage daughters! [There is] the prevalence of deception online. Anecdotal reports abound of people discovering in a face-to-face meeting that the other person’s online picture is years younger than they really are or even someone else’s image.”

My Humble Advice

I simply do not have much to add to what the two aforementioned experts have said. Life, be it in the U.S.A., England, Canada or Ghana, is tough already, so do not allow some liar or pervert to raise your hopes and then dash them like a pack of cards! You will also end up with greater guilt, if, by pursuing love carelessly, you end up with a pervert who sexually molests your young daughter or son behind your back! If anything, the old-fashioned, face-to-face meeting with a potential suitor is still a lot better than the risk of finding someone online. If your true love is out there, just believe that you will run into him or her someday! My philosophy is quite simple: Make good decisions, stay smart, laugh with gusto and keep God first in your life!

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.