The Peace Corps warned us that boredom and loneliness may cause a problem at times, and asked us to think of some coping mechanisms. I came up with a new one: online dating.
My days are busy with teaching, but evenings and weekends can become quite lonely, and boring in my rural village in Lesotho. It’s quite common for Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) to get depressed between months six to nine of service. We were shown a graph depicting the highs and lows experienced by PCVs during our ten-week training session.
Apart from spending time with my “host mother” and other activities such as lesson planning, writing my blog, reading, e-mailing, talking to family and friends on WhatsApp, knitting, drawing, walking, cooking, cleaning and hand-washing my clothes, I’ve added online dating as another form of entertainment.
The winter months can be brutal here in “The Mountain Kingdom,” where the sun sets at 5:20 p.m., and there is no heating, so I snuggle up in my sleeping bag and prop my laptop on top of my pillow, making sure the battery is fully charged.
I’m a realist knowing that my online dating will stay online. What man would seriously consider flying all the way to Lesotho to my rondavel out in the boonies? In a sense I’m not dating but simply “networking.”
So how can online dating be entertaining? If you’ve never tried it, let me share some of my experiences, and warn you about potential scammers.
“With 54 million single people in the U.S. 49 million have tried online dating, that’s 90% according to statisticbrain.com.”
Since I’m cheap, especially on my PC stipend of $150/month, I refuse to pay for online dating services, until I move to a country where I can actually meet someone in person. So I’ve joined free sites, and hope that I might be lucky enough to find a man who means what he says.
From my collection of e-mails, a striking pattern has emerged. Apart from that one man who said, “I’ll commit suicide right now if you don’t tell me why you’re not interested in me,” the other men all claim to be engineers, military guys, and quite shockingly, they all seem to have lost their wife to cancer, or a car accident.
At first, I felt sorry for them, but after receiving similar stories, I realized they were scammers preying on women who might fall for their sob-stories.
I compared notes with another PCV in Lesotho, my age, who is also online dating, and she said these men post photos of handsome men, who are not them, and after a while, ask you to send money. (Might that be a new version of the infamous Nigerian scammers?) They make up some excuse like their son or daughter needs surgery, or they lost their business. This has not happened to me yet. I usually quit writing immediately. So now when I receive a FB friend request from a man who says:
“Hi Sonia , how are you doing ? thanks for accepting, I do really appreciate , can we get to know each other better if you don’t mind? my name is A …” (My reply.)
“We can, as long as you don’t tell me that your wife died and that you are lonely. I ‘ve received at least ten messages from military men and engineers who state the same thing.”
When they don’t respond, I know they were like the others I received.
I joined a travel dating site, as I’d like to have a male travel companion to tour Africa, and noted that many of them are over 75. I’m sorry, they may be great men, but I want someone closer to my age for travel and adventure.
Some guys can be quite funny:
“Hi Sonia, how are you ? I like your comments & would like to travel with you ! How can we do this, shall I approach it like a job application ? HaHa please see my profile & CV / Referees on linkedin . LOL G.”
I’m not a professional editor or proof reader, and admit that I make mistakes in my writing, however, dating scammers seem to have:
- Bad grammar, (especially when the person tells you that he has a Masters degree, and attended a private high school in Monaco.)
- Use lower case (i)
- Use run-on sentences
- Do not indent their paragraphs
- Offer false information like, “I own a diamond mine in Botswana.”
I won’t give-up. I am human after all, and know that one day, I’ll find the “right” male companion, whether online, or in-person.
In the meantime, I might just continue online dating for entertainment, although now I have a new focus which you’ll hear more about next Sunday: My Community Development Project, and how I’m pushing it along.
Do you have any similar online dating experiences? If so, please share them.