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For many looking for love, the traditional way of meeting at the club or afterwork event doesn’t cut it. The same recycled people and conversations leave nothing to the imagination nor creates the path to securing a healthy and meaningful connection. While online dating is nothing new, more and more people are giving it a try and having success with it.

We talked with Marketing Executive Tracey Simpson and Media Professional Francyne Walker, both of Michigan about their online dating experiences. Here’s what they had to say.

What was the catalyst for you choosing to try online dating?

TS: The spark for me to choose online dating was my neighbor. I was going through a divorce at the time which created a similar experience. My girlfriends gave me a divorce party, so that evening the same girlfriend suggested I take some pictures for online dating. After being off the dating scene for 26 years, it was a different way of meeting single men. It was highly recommended.

FW: Honestly, I looked at it from the numbers standpoint. I’d gone out traditionally to some of the places that are typically places to meet men and it was not working well. It never was a great option for me. I’d meet someone and I already knew that it was not a connection and I’m not one who goes to the club for the sake of meeting a man.

Did you conduct your own research of success prior to giving your information?

FW: I didn’t do extensive research, but the experience I had was my rule of thumb. For example, I did not like E-harmony and I shut my
profile down.

So many think that online dating is a last resort to finding love. Is this always true?

TS: No. Online dating is not a last resort. It gives you another option with a different experience. Online dating offers a private experience at first.

What sites did you try and what were some of the noticeable differences? 

TS: I tried Black People Meet and a few other websites. I noticed the Caucasian and Hispanic male preferred having an online message, text message or email experience first at a slow pace. However, the African American male requested pictures first with a fast pace of meeting in person.

FW: I used Black Singles years ago, Black People Meet, E-Harmony and Zoosk and Facebook.

Did you feel safe on these sites and did you have recommendations from friends first?

TS: I felt safe especially since I used an alias name while online. I had several girlfriends who had recommended online dating.

FW: Yes, I did. I am an adventurist, but I am also prudent as far as having initial conversations and then deciding if I want to proceed after that. I like to get a sense of the person before meeting face to face. I’m less concerned with a free meal and more about spending my time with someone who has piqued my interest over the phone and made me feel safe enough to proceed.

What are your personal pros and cons for dating online?

TS: I enjoyed reading about people in my own home and at my convenience. I would select the person if I was interested as opposed to them selecting me. Some men would post outdated pictures of themselves so when you met in person they looked different. The cost to use the site was a con especially if you were not employed.

Do you think sites offer a balance and options for accomplished black women?

TS: I thought the sites were balanced for anyone seeking a mate, especially since there were specialty websites. The specialty dating websites for an example dealt more with specifics like Christian, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Also there are Sugar Daddy and Sugar Momma websites especially if you are looking for accomplished with wealth or education.

FW: That depends on what that woman is looking for. Accomplished black women are not anomalies that are not capable of finding love or being loved. We just have to free ourselves from other’s perceptions and opinions and step outside of our comfort zone. I’ve met some very interesting, accomplished and well-educated men online. There was no love connection in most cases that lead to anything permanently obviously. Dating can be fun but it is work too. You have to get dressed, show up and never give up even when you run into a jerk. I had a guy drive through a snow storm to have dinner and he had some other expectations since he had driven so far and I kindly sent him on his way. It happens, but so what. Next!

 Is there a perception that one has more options with online dating?

TS: Yes because of the stereotype that some men prefer slim, long hair, blue-eyed or exotic women. I personally found that the desire leans toward the Barbie doll model type woman or model type male.

Do you prefer traditional dating over online?

TS: My first choice would be traditional dating since I have traditional values. However, I like having the option of the online experience.

Have you had any horrific experiences with online dating?

TS: I’ve found that some African American men prefer meeting in more cost-effective locations especially where you could meet outside of the restaurant or venue to avoid any cost. The Hispanic or Caucasian men had no cost equated to how or where to meet. They were open. Additionally, Hispanic or Caucasian men would offer you a beverage, lunch or dinner.

How can online dating be better marketed to blacks?

TS: Potentially bring more black dating websites to the market place. I think Black People Meet is the only online dating site that caters to black singles.

FW: Maybe site companies can position marketing in a way where it doesn’t seem like it’s a last resort, last chance or desperate move to find love. I think people tend to get this perception from others who’ve never tried it or are against it.

Will you continue to use online dating?
FW: I most certainly will along with offline options like blind dates, networking events, traveling and spending time with friends. I will never stop believing in love and realize I have to do the inner work and be clear about what you want and not waver on that. I believe online dating is a viable option with long-term successes.

Read more about hilarious, crazy stories in our latest issue of SHEEN Magazine