Online dating: death of monogamy?

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The proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has been welcomed by many Zimbabweans with both hands.

Laptops, 3G phones and other electronic gadgets have of late invaded the country’s communication landscape with good and bad consequences.

One notable result of the high speed communication technology is the proliferation of social networks offering on-line dating facilities.

E-dating, as online dating is also known, had not made significant inroads locally in Zimbabwe owing probably to the high costs of the gadgets.

Wikipedia defines e-dating as a dating system which allows individuals, couples and groups to make contact with each other in both print and electronic media, with the sole objective of developing a romantic or sexual relationship.

“The situation has taken a new dimension now, what with the proliferation of Internet facilities networking has been made easy,” said Oscar Ndebele of Marlborough.

Those who always read newspapers or browse the net must have noticed a new phenomenon: dating has come of age with the incorporation of the mass media.

One classified advert in a local paper read: “I am a 26-year-old guy, degreed, decent income, looking for HIV- lady aged 19-24 for a serious relationship, ready to go for HIV tests, no chancers. sms (mobile number).”

Another classified advert in a weekly newspaper read: “Are you lonely, too busy to be in love? If you answer is yes, the search is over: email your profile and that of your expected Mr/Miss Right to (e-mail address).”

Adverts like these have become a common feature in the media.

But Ezra Nyamutenha, system analyst with Strategic Information Systems said such organisations are up to no good as they end up exploiting clients with people losing more than they thought.

“These people hack sites that have several subscribers, especially social networks. They would send us a stolen address to invite people to subscribe for a service, this in an effort to build a relationship with the receiver,” said Nyamutenha.

He added: “People are invited to send money prior to receiving services in return; it is an effort to swindle people. It’s a scam really.”

Late last year, there was a “public outcry” from the Christian and Moslem community in America when a dating agent, Tagline, believed to be targeting married people went public on the internet.

When its owner, Noel Bidderman, was interviewed he went to implore everyone to join and declared the death of monogamy.

‘‘Life is short. Have a partner today,’’ said Bidderman. “Monogamy is dead.”

Analysts note that the “dates” can entice people with flowery language and goodies but pounce with vengeance of a shark if one has taken the offer.

Pastor Sofia Chatendeuka of Pentecostal Holiness Church, condemned the practice and urged believers to seek God, who will give them the right partner.

“All good things are from God. Believers should fellowship with others and that way God is faithful to give them the desires of their hearts.”

But Nyasha Kune, a self-proclaimed social networks addict, said: “All the guys that I’ve met were a disappointment, but with subscribers of these agents you are guaranteed seriousness, even if there are chances that they might not meet your expectations.”

She added the networks gave women a rare opportunity to be in the driving seat as they can choose a guy who possesses the “right” qualities.

A consultant with the dating agency Zimsingles, Engineer Zvenyika, said: “It is not difficult for one to get Mr or Miss Right. Everything is done above board with high degree of confidentiality.”

The registration process is normally free of charge, but one has to fork out an administration fee of $15 soon after hooking with a partner.

“For as little as $15, one can get the love of their life,” said Zvenyika, adding that it usually took at least two weeks, depending on the qualities, race and age of the partner sought for him to connect one to desired partners as he has to check from his database, phone that person in an effort to link that person with a prospective client.

However, another consultant with a popular dating agent bemoaned the abuse of these dating facilities by married people who register as singles, only to reveal their marital status after finding partners, resulting in heartbreaks to the would-be-life partner.

“We have a challenge with married people especially men who come to us pretending to be single yet they are married.

“This tends to give our female clients heartbreaks but of late we have introduced ‘thorough verification process’ to find out if one is surely single,” she said.