Hmmm… unsolicited penis pics, obligatory shirtless mirror pics, long boring copy and paste bios sent to your inbox, manwhores masquerading as respectable people looking for long term monogamous relationships, spelling and grammatical errors galore, errr… Google results which show that your new “pen pal” is married and arrested recently for domestic violence/battery - sound familiar?

Welcome to the world of online dating. Brilliant concept but it leaves us Caribbean belles with a lot of detective work to do. Not to mention, one must develop balls of steel to combat the different levels of crazy that navigates our way. I’ve found that with every nationality, Caribbean women hold a special allure, I get the same questions from John in Australia and Nick from Sweden. Do you have an accent? Will you cook curry chicken for me? The only question left for them to ask is “Did you know Bob Marley personally”? I know our culture is pretty awesome - no doubt about that - but beware of the men who are more interested in dating your culture than getting to know you as a person. Still, in the name of love and inter-connectedness, online dating is worth it in the end. Here are a few reasons why:

Networking

Who knows what opportunities may present themselves or what friendships may result? A friend of mine found work doing some editing for a potential match. They didn’t work romantically but have been able to maintain a professional relationship.

Learning about different cultures and people

You know, learning - that thing that granma and mama stressed - it really is important. Learning about different cultures opens us up to new ideas and takes us outside ourselves and what we’re already used to. Who wants to be stuck in a world with people exactly like us? For example, I learned that in Sweden, most women do the chasing so far as dating. Men will not readily approach you in a romantic way even if they like you. Sex first and then the relationship. This might or might not be true but my source is Swedish.

True love

It can happen, as a Trini friend of mine can attest to. I attended her beach wedding last June. They are still “newlyweds”.

Pure entertainment

Reading peoples’ profile will have you giggling out loud for sure, with attention catching headlines like, “Looking for a skank with daddy issues,” one just has to laugh.  Also, don’t be afraid to check out your “competition,” if only to observe one of the greatest social experiments ever in action. I once saw a woman’s profile who posed stark naked by a pool with a pitt bull covering her goodies. Laaaawwwwwwwd!

I can’t say that I have ever subscribed to any Caribbean dating sites as most feature men still living on the island. Let’s face it, long distance dating is for the iron heart… mine is putty.  Additionally, I don’t want to be the next withhertogetherVisa girl that we hear about in hushed tones punctuated by a symphony of kiss teeth. Alas, island men are on every dating website, so my suggestion is sign up with whichever one tickles your fancy. However, I would suggest an awesome website that offers real and practical dating advice by British born Natalie M. Lue, whose family is Jamaican, called baggagereclaim.com.  And finally, just say no to “assclowns!”

Final thoughts

Online dating is no different than any other social networking site. If you’re as anal as I am when reading “about me” summaries, just keep in mind that not everyone learned the Queen’s English. Watch what you say with non-islanders as it took me a significant amount of my time explaining that “licks” did not mean I was licking someone with my tongue. Be creative with your username, my name was Ms. Cutlass for a spell. It went over pretty well. Also, be safe. Don’t reveal your place of work at first. If in-person meetings occur, meet in very public settings. When choosing a dating site, investigate by finding how safe it is and be careful with what images you post. Anything too risqué might bite you on Monday morning when your boss tells you he viewed your profile. In terms of privacy, for example, some dating sites give you the option to be removed from searches and to not be used for commercial purposes.

I have not met the love of my life yet, as far as I know, but I have made some really decent friends. Easily, we could meet the same people in real life and face the same challenges. Online dating just gives us more options in a shorter period of time in this fast paced, android-crazed world. So gear up, grease your wheels, set up shop and give it a try. Bless!

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