Online Dating is a serious business for South Africans

Almost a quarter million South Africans have used online dating services – and those who engage in it take it very seriously. This is one of the key findings in The NETucation Report: Online Dating in South Africa 2004. According to the survey conducted in June 2004 by NETucation, an independent Internet Marketing company, 67% of people using online dating services in South Africa take them seriously enough to pay for the privilege.

People pay real money for the privilege of connecting with other prospective mates via online dating,” says Ramon Thomas, Managing Director of NETucation. “The market is worth approximately R20 million in 2004 and there are currently between 200,000 and 250,000 people who have tried online dating in South Africa.” This is still only 7.5% of the total population of Internet users and is substantially less then the 1 million online banking users reported earlier this year by World Wide Worx.

However, the findings suggest that online taking may well be one of the four big applications of the Internet, after e-mail, banking, and news.

And there is a strong indication that this market is set to challenge the big three for leadership. There are 11 substantial online dating website operating in South Africa with three launched in the last year. The most popular online dating service chosen by the respondents is DatingBuzz (63.5%), followed by MSN Match (9.7%), part of the international match.com network, and Galaxy Singles (5.6%).

About 10% of users become paying subscribers who shell out from R30 to R130 a month for the privilege of connecting with like-minded individuals.

There are several factors that are bringing online dating into the mainstream, such as people getting married at an older age, a high divorce rate, disillusionment with the bar and club scene, and people being busier then ever before.

According to Dr Andrew Thatcher, a psychologist in the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand, “Online dating allows you to meet people in a safe environment; you cannot catch STD’s or HIV/AIDS through sending a message.

Says Thomas: “The leading age group is the 25 to 32 year old category, who still considers themselves young adults by modern standards. Perhaps surprisingly, about 54.5% of people are looking for companionship and friendship, not sex.”

The biggest alternatives to online dating are SMS dating and speed dating.

NETucation also conducted a website analysis of 9 participating online dating companies, using the Webagility web analysis tool from World Wide Worx. The three best-performing websites all achieved a score of 70% or more, namely DatingBuzz (70%), LoveFinda (71%) and LoveMail (71%).

“There is still much that can be done to improve the online dating experience for the average South African hoping to meet someone on the Internet,” suggests Thomas. “More marketing will certainly help to remove the stigma that people used to associate with dating via the Internet. It is clear from our survey that the average online dater is not a nerd or a lonely person. Instead, they are between 24 and 32 years old, single, having a tertiary qualification, working in IT or Finance and earning more then R10, 000 per month.”

For the most current research on Online Dating in South Africa go here.

 

Online dating interview with WITS psychologist Dr Andrew Thatcher

Dr Andrew Thatcher from WITS UniversityThis interview was the very first interview when I started my research into Online Dating in South Africa…

RT:What kinds of people do Online Dating?

AT: There are two sets of people that are going to be using online dating:

  1. The people that are doing it purely out of fun, for something to do and
  2. The people that want to get something out of it.

RT: What is the typical profile of a person who tries Online Dating?

AT: In terms of age the profile most likely is that: When a younger person does not take dating that seriously; there are more options available; trying different things and there are a lot more opportunities to explore other relationships.

As you get older, metaphorically and physically the clock starts to tick. There is a lot more pressure, in a social sense pressure from parents to get married, to have children and to make them grandparents and a biological sense as you get older, chances of complications during childbirth increases as well as genetic conditions that might arise- this is in terms of breeding. When older one has less life left. We will not live forever. As you get older there is less time to spend with the love of your life, the sooner you meet the love of your life the longer you are able to spend with them. Social, biological and psychological pressures are not necessarily distinct from one another; they can be related to one another. As people get older they start to take dating more seriously, as a result they will take online dating more seriously. They will try several things at the same time, from anecdotal evidence friends that have tried online dating at the same time tried speed dating using social networks, religious activities, social activities, cruising (going on cruises) tried a number of different things.

RT: What kind of stigma do you think is attached to Online Dating?

AT: Online is not seen in the same light, we evolved over 300 000 years in social structures of social contact, tribal, brotherhood and racial affinities. Human beings have evolved; online dating is one of them. Contact such as body language, face-to-face interaction and eye contact is important, that is why we are struggling with the digital age. One part of the issue is communication bandwidth; when online, there is less communication bandwidth than face-to-face interaction. You have physical contact, verbal, face to face and tone contact and a broader span of immediate feedback. The online environment uses one communication medium of text photo graphics – sending 1-3 messages a month and it takes five minutes to type out a message.

RT: How does Love at first sight fit in?

AT: Research in general has shown love at first sight happens to very few people. Most lasting relationships share something in common. Hosting a profile means sharing a profile; you are looking for someone to connect with. When online you meet people through common ground, for example educational institutions, sharing a common faith means you share that with them. The thing about love at first sight is that it is purely physical, they may look drop dead gorgeous but when you actually speak to them they have a squeaky voice which is not what you are looking for.

RT: What are the benefits of Online Dating over traditional dating?

AT: Online dating allows you to meet people in a safe environment; you cannot catch STDs or HIV/AIDS through sending a message. Sending an email does not necessarily mean that you are jumping into bed with a person. From that perspective you can sound somebody out in a relatively sober environment. There is no risk of outright rejection. You can send 2-3 messages at the same time to different people and they will not know you are flirting with someone else, you tend to be more honest, and there is no point in lying because you will be matched up with the wrong person. Opposites do not really attract, you cannot be matched with an opposite. We are approaching a more mature side of online dating; we are taking it more seriously.

RT: Does online dating make you do things quicker and faster?

AT: Within two months you will have a date, but how many of them will lead to a more meaningful relationship? There is a danger in assuming that we do things quicker and faster. It all purely depends on your technical sophistication. Online dating allows us to do it outside of normal times, you can get online at three o’clock in the morning, and it widens your scope. If you want to carry on a meaningful relationship you must make time for it. Our environment it seems has accelerated. We have to ask ourselves is the lifestyle we are living conducive to have a meaningful relationship?

RT: What is the risk of people being harassed?

AT: The main danger is the situation of minors, if you are an adult there are certain rules you should follow but not everyone does. People can manipulate the situation particularly with vulnerable groups (people with low self esteem or unstable people). Online is safer because the majority of rapes are perpetrated by people we know. Whatever message you send is electronically recorded so if you divulge personal information it is on record for people to go back to. In an online environment, you are more likely to be sober not only not taking drugs and alcohol as you might if you were at a party but also psychologically as well.

RT: Do you think the experience of online dating allows you to get to know yourself better?

AT: There is a lot of different ways in which we get to know ourselves better, being honest with ourselves, having therapy and being spiritual is some ways. As we get older we have to look at ourselves, if you do not look at yourself retrospectively it will not help us know ourselves better. If you get positive feedback it might encourage you to be more open.


Dr Andrew Thatcher is Assistant Professor of Psychology at in the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand, JohannesburgRamon Thomas recommends DatingBuzz or YesNoMayb

 

Yes, its time to move on and keep growing

Dan Sullivan, an expert on Entrepreneurship advocates that people in the 21 Century will be forced to become multidimensional people. This essentially means that to be successfully people have to continue growing. I’ve just realized that even in relationships we must continue to grow or else it will end, one way or another; from our own choosing or not.

If couples do not continue to grow together they are doomed. Essentially we’re talking about a love that’s build on a passionate friendship. Talking from experience my failed relationships have been those who started out because of a physical attraction. Currently I’m in a relationship that has evolved from a passionate friendship. The person is very very dear to me and I would love her like a friend for the rest of my life. It just so happens we also share some physical attraction and that has turned our friendship into something more. However, I’m not concerned about one day when the physical attraction fades because the friendship will always be there.

 

Birthday Braai

Yesterday, Saturday 24 April, I had the best birthday party ever. More then 25 friends and family showed up for my birthday bash! I got several gifts from close friends and two chocolate cakes. People started arriving at 3h20pm and didn’t stop until about 7-8pm. Afterwards some of us went dancing and I finally got home around 2h30am on Sunday morning. Wow! I could not have asked for more then to be around the people I love.

 

The grandfather of success and motivation books, Think and Grow Rich

I’ve been studying various books over the last 6 months in order to find the secret of success and wealth. And I’m likely to continue researching and studying these books for years to come. My search originally began by identifying the historically revered books such as:

Of these I found Napoleon Hill’s philosophy is the most practical because it gives very specific step by step instructions. I went as far as downloading an audio interview with Napoleon Hill by American motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins. I’ve given copies of this audio interview to several people and I can only hope they will find as much benefit from it as I have. The key to success is to know what you want to achieve, and the incrementally do the necessary steps to achieve the goals. Becoming the best God intended you to be.

Think and Grow Rich! is a motivational book. Written by Napoleon Hill and inspired by Andrew Carnegie, it was published in 1937 at the end of the Great Depression. In 1960, Hill published an abridged version of the book, which for years was the only one generally available. In 2004, Ross Cornwell published Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version, Restored and Revised, which restored the book to its original content, with slight revisions, and added the first comprehensive endnotes, index, and appendix the book had ever contained.

The text of Think and Grow Rich! is founded on Hill’s earlier work, The Law of Success, the result of more than twenty years of research based on Hill’s close association with a large number of individuals who achieved great wealth during their lifetimes.

At Carnegie’s bidding, Hill studied the characteristics of these achievers and developed fifteen “laws” intended to be applied by anybody to achieve success. Think and Grow Rich! itself condenses these laws further and provides the reader with 13 principles in the form of a philosophy of personal achievement.

Reflected in these principles is the importance of cultivating a burning desire, faith, autosuggestion and persistence in the attainment of one’s goals. Hill also discusses the importance of overcoming many of the common fears that can adversely affect one’s thinking and potential.

In his introduction, Hill refers to the “Carnegie Secret“, a conception which he reports is the foundation of all success and appears to be the premise of the book. Hill promises to indirectly describe this “secret” in every chapter, but never state it plainly, believing the use of the secret is only available to those who possess a “readiness” for it, a disposition Hill describes as essential to the concept itself.

 

Sean Burke's new video – The Last Dayz

I’ve had the privilege of viewing a new music video by South African musician, Sean Burke.

The video entitled Last Dayz, is Men in Black meets The Matrix. This is superb 3D animation with a big focus on the quality of small details. The video is due to be play listed on MTV and it will be the first time ever a South African music video will be featured on MTV. Sean is certainly breaking new ground with this video and release of his latest album, Eludaquit. On Monday, 27 October 2003, Sean Burke will be featured in the The Star Tonight, the daily entertainment supplement of The Star, Gauteng’s most popular daily newspaper.

 

My first blog post

This is my first attempt at regular blogging. I began blogging on Blogger.com and eventually moved to my own domain, and after several hosting companies have now settled on Hostgator.

The best movies out this week is obviously the swash buckling Pirates Of The Caribbean with Johnny Depp, one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood. If you still haven’t seen Jim Carrey’s latest farce, Bruce Almighty, do yourself a favour and go and see the greatest comedic actor of the last 10 years!

The book I am currently reading is The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene.

After a brilliant tour of South Africa I was fortunate enough to watch the brilliance of Mick Hucknall and Simply Red perform their greatest hits at The Dome in Northgate, Johannesburg. I can only recommend The Very Best of Simply Red double album and their latest Home.

This blog is primarily be about personal development and dating tips.