(typically with an adverse consequence) with people on the site and they are hiding.
EBONY.com: What caused the demise of your union?
Ricardo/Michelle: Neither of us was totally honest with each other about what we were looking for online. Ricardo said he wanted to have a relationship and Michelle said she didn’t, but over time our roles reversed. In each case, we didn’t set the expectations appropriately because we weren’t honest or in tune with what we really wanted.
EBONY.com: What kinds of people do you find on dating sites?
Ricardo: I’ve met all types of women, from around-the-way girls to the professional woman. From my profile picture, I attract all types of women; I’ve met lawyers, doctors,businesswomen.
Michelle: I’ve met doctors and lawyers as well as blue-collar workers. I do believe that being in D.C. or other major cities may provide opportunities to meet people online that are reflective of the surrounding community. I meet people who have traveled around the world and others who have never left the area. There’s a broad spectrum of people online. Again, even across sites, I’ve seen people on a pay site and then have seen the same people on free sites.
EBONY.com: What might people be surprised to learn about cyberspace hookups?
Ricardo: Building intimacy is so easy to build online,and then when you meet, it’s really easy to hook up. Intimacy through words and electronic communication is built much more quickly than when meeting traditionally.
Michelle: That they are very common. I think people feel that people, especially people of color, are conservative, but the reality is that hooking up occurs much more often than people think.
EBONY.com: What are a few do’s and don’ts that are a must with online dating?
Ricardo: You must put up a picture that honestly portrays you as you are from head to toe—CURRENTLY, so there’s no guessing. Also, in the profile be brief but precise in your description of yourself and what you’re looking for.
Michelle: As women, especially, we must be serious about our personal safety. I learned that sharing your cell number can permit someone to find out your full name, and in some cases, home address. Also, when meeting someone, make sure that you have a “safety.” Someone who knows the name, license plate and/or phone number and e-mail address of the person you’re meeting. I also think you should remember that your profile pictures can draw people to you for the wrong reason—such as putting up pictures of your possessions, jewelry, home, vehicles and even overtly sexy pictures, if you’re not seeking a hook up.
EBONY.com: People are trying to hook up on Facebook and Twitter. What do you think about that?
Ricardo: I don’t see anything wrong with it. Online presence is online presence. People find other people attractive in real life, so just because you’re on a social media site that isn’t geared specifically toward dating doesn’t mean you can’t express a romantic or physical interest.
Michelle: The issue is really whether the person is open to receiving the advance, but again, it’s no different than meeting someone in the grocery store and expressing an interest. The keys are to be sure you’re not invading someone’s personal space and to know when it may be necessary to stop the advance if it is unwelcomed or not reciprocated. Just because communication begins electronically does not mean you should cast aside common sense and interpersonal skills.
EBONY.com: Why do some people choose online dating?
Ricardo: It’s very convenient. You can sit in the comfort of your home and talk to from tens to hundreds of women without having to buy drinks or go through the typical rigmarole of small talk or staying in a conversation you’d rather cut short but don’t want to be rude. Online, you can cut uninteresting communication quickly and move on to someone else, and typically, there’s no adverse consequence because everyone is doing the same thing.
Michelle: You can control the flow and timing of communication. For a busy person, it’s great to be able to have a connection and correspond when it’s convenient, at least early on. I can log in at any hour of the day or night and reply to messages or scroll through pictures and profiles and send messages if I so choose. Also, I feel that I’ve met people, including Ricardo, I would never have met were it not for being online.
EBONY.com: Anything else you’d like to add?
Ricardo: From my online dating experience, I have learned that honesty is the best policy. And it may sound cliché, but it really makes the dating experience easier and more fulfilling for both parties.
Michelle: It is key that you determine what you’re looking for before you log in, and if what you’re looking for changes, let the person or people with whom you’re involved know. Additionally, don’t be inflexible. You may