MORE THAN 40 PERCENT HAVE NEVER MARRIED, ONE STUDY FOUND. SO GROWING NUMBERS OF WOMEN ARE TAPPING INTO THEIR SCREENS
By Amanda VanAllen
Monday, May 3, 2010.
With each swing of the restaurant door, Marcia Lane leaned forward and squinted to see whether she recognized her online date, JayMan45. He described himself as average-looking, but lots of fun. Lane appreciated his modesty and was excited about meeting him.
After 10 minutes, there was a soft tap on her shoulder. She turned around and nearly gasped for air from shock, but managed to conjure up an uncomfortable half-smile. JayMan45 was about 15 pounds heavier and 20 years older than his profile picture on Match.com. And balding.
Lane put up with the awkward silences and forced laughter for about an hour and a half, but decided to skip dessert because of an “upset stomach.” She received two phone calls from JayMan45 after their meeting, but never answered.
“It was your stereotypical online nightmare,” said Lane, 30, of Brooklyn.
Lane is among the growing numbers of single black women involved in online dating.
According to a recent ABC News study, about 42 percent of black women have never been married — twice the percentage of white women. Nowadays, black women are turning to the Internet to find love.
Two popular black dating sites — BlackSingles.com and BlackPeopleMeet.com — each report a rise in the number of black women using their services, though representatives could not give profile counts.
Lane, who has been dating online for more than four years, said she is searching for companionship online because of the “combination of (her) busy schedule and (her) passionate desire to find love.”
She has used Match.com, eHarmony and Craigslist, and is currently listed on CatholicSingles.com, but says she hasn’t had much luck.
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Jenice Armstrong found true love on Match.com, the most popular online dating site, which boasts of being responsible for 6 million first dates and 12 marriage proposals per day.
Armstrong placed her profile on Match.com to research a story idea. After a couple of meaningless dates, she left the site, but decided to rejoin a few years later after receiving several empty marriage proposals.
Within a month of returning to Match.com, she received a message from Cameron Turner. He seemed to fit her criteria of a guy who could “teach a child to read one day and go scuba diving the next.”
“He just stood out,” Armstrong said. “I knew. I just knew. I mean, who goes online, puts up a profile and finds the perfect guy? We are coming up on five years now, and I still gush when I see him.”
He proposed in front of the statue of David while they were on an Italian vacation less than a year later.
She believes they only could have met online: they were unlikely to cross paths, since she lived in Philadelphia, and he in New Jersey.
“My husband does not go out to nightclubs or parties,” Armstrong said. “He’s the kind of guy who goes home and cuts his grass. I never would have met him otherwise.”
Although there are plenty of stories like Armstrong’s, online dating is still a stigma to some in the black community.
Rose-Marie Clementine, 38, of New York, is a single mother of two. Though single for 12 years, she won’t try online dating.
“If we can overcome slavery, Katrina and Haiti, I think black women can figure out a way to get married,” Clementine said.
But Armstrong believes that many black women are not using online dating sites because “there is a significant percentage of the black community that is not computer literate, and they just don’t understand.”
According to a 2005 survey by the Journal of Urban Health, only 47 percent of blacks in America owned a computer, about 60 percent of them women.
Though there’s a fair number of black men online, Armstrong said, not many have impressive educations.
“There were lots of good-looking guys,” Armstrong said. “But too many with bad grammar and bad spelling.”
Only about 30 percent of black men graduate from college, vs. 60 percent of black women. But some black women still refuse to date outside their race.
“I want to marry a black man,” said Amiya Little, 27, of Brooklyn, who lists her profile on BlackSingles.com. “If I can’t find one here in New York, then maybe I can find one across the world online. New York isn’t the only place in the world to find a good black man. I am sure he’s out there somewhere, and I will find him eventually.”
If nothing else, online dating allows singles to meet people they otherwise wouldn’t have met, said Armstrong, even if they don’t form an intimate relationship.
“People can be very judgmental,” she said. “They act like online dating is stooping so low. I see them as the same people who won’t buy anything online — but you get more options when you shop [both] online and at the mall.”
Image: Trina House, 25, is one of a growing number of black women looking for love on online dating sites. Photo by Amanda VanAllen
Amanda VanAllen is a student at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.