7 things I've learnt about dating in South Africa
Don't go looking for love without Yolisa Qunta as your guide
I don't consider myself a dating expert. But in my circle of friends I have become the go-to person to ask about which sites are better and to decode the confusing lingo. I can also be relied on for a hair-raising story or two.
After waking up this week to the devastating news that Idris Elba will never marry again, I have resigned myself to going to the grave single. As there is No Longer Any Hope for my romantic endeavours, I will share some of the things I learnt before I quietly slink off into perpetual singlehood.
1) Online dating is the way forward
I'm a fairly recent convert to OkCupid and Tinder. Before that I used to take my chances meeting men in real life. This led to being accosted in the tomato aisle at Fruit & Veg by a very persistent man who demanded my BBM pin, proceeded to text like a teenager, then asked if I would be OK with Spur for our first date.
At that point I decided if the internet was good enough for searching for cheap long-haul tickets, it was good enough for looking for the next person I want to watch Game of Thrones cuddled up next to. So far it has been 90% successful and I'm happy to share that I have not met any serial killers, which was my biggest fear going in.
2) Women paying for first dates is never OK
Given that there is still a gender pay gap between men and women, the man who made you leave your house should never expect the pretty one to reach for her wallet. If you factor in how much Mac lipstick costs, not to mention nice shoes, tasteful accessories and Uber, then technically the lady is out of pocket before the first morsel arrives.
3) Netflix and chill is not a first-date option
At all. Debate your cheap friends about this because I am not entertaining this nonsense. Firstly, the real danger South African women face every day from men means going to a stranger's house to meet is a terrible idea. Secondly, why set the bar so low? Picture a few months down the line, when you want to attend the art show everyone is buzzing about and your significant other prefers to stay on the couch and binge watch series instead ...
4) Men who do not smile in their online dating profile pictures cannot be trusted
Think about it. Why aren't they even trying to look friendly? How do we know they have teeth if they don't show them? Who told them that mugshot-looking pictures are appealing? A hard no to all of this.
5) Do not ever give your number to guys who ask if you have WhatsApp
You know that moment in horror movies when the beautiful but oblivious star is warned about the danger they are gaily skipping towards? Picture me as that sheriff of a one-horse town, trying to save you from impending doom.
Nothing, I repeat, nothing good ever comes from giving a stranger access to your inbox. At best it will lead to boring conversations that fizzle out, leaving you with no desire to meet the person in real life. At worst you will get unsolicited pictures of some man's nether regions. Your data and eyeballs deserve better.
6) There is no limit to the questions you'll have to answer
The quickest way to elicit a barrage of questions is to let the world know you are looking for love in the modern manner. Family members want to know why you can't meet someone decent at a work/church/stokvel meeting. Work colleagues are curious about the people you meet online. The people you date want to know why you are not married. So many questions, so few boundaries.
7) Your married friends will want to set you up
One of the side effects of matrimony is the urge by the happily married couple to play matchmaker for their single friends. Dinner invitations involve the only two single people attending being strategically seated close to each other. One of the superpowers I've developed is reading between the lines of couples' invites to know if there is a potential set-up included in the casual invitation to cheese and wine.