There are many theories out there regarding online dating, or meeting people through dating apps, most of them against the idea. But as online dating increases in popularity, researchers speculate that it could change the landscape of dating – and perhaps marriage – in big ways. For example, providing ways to meet people they wouldn’t bump into in their day-to-day lives. Dating in general comes with challenges, so naturally, there are drawbacks when it comes to dating a person one met via social media, like Facebook. However, many couples have managed to ‘beat the odds’ and gone on to have healthy and happy relationships. The rise of phone apps has given people access to more potential partners than they could meet at work or in the neighbourhood. Take Malu and Mimi, for example, who met via WhatsApp through a friend six years ago, however, they only started dating this year in April. Love online “We met through my friend and we started talking, just as friends, we shared stories about our lives. It was a very casual thing. I started getting feelings for her because of how our conversations flowed, and she was different, which attracted me more. She wasn’t aware of my feelings though, and it helped that we were far away from each other. We built a solid friendship, and talked to each other regularly, it was really hard for me to ignore the feelings,” Malu shares. The two started dating recently. After realising that the attraction was mutual, they decided to meet in person, and when they did, it felt normal, like they had known each other all their lives. Even though they have just started dating, the couple hopes for the best and looks forward to spending the rest of their lives together. Knowing what you want For many, online dating makes it easier for someone who is looking for something very specific in a partner to find what they are looking for. And this is exactly how Zed and Lila, who are now married with two children, started out. They met in 2010 on Facebook, the rest as they say, was meant to be. “I was scrolling through Facebook trying to find people to add because I was really bored, then I saw Zed’s account. From his profile, I knew right away he was going to be my husband, it sounds cliché, but something told me he was the one. So I said ‘hi’ via Facebook Messenger, and it went ignored for two days. I was so scared, I thought that he wouldn’t respond, or that he was ignoring me, but I decided to wait and see. After two days, he responded. I was really happy, we started chatting every day from that day on, sharing stories, pictures of ourselves and our families, and we talked about genuine things. I had feelings for him and kept on telling him so, but he would tell me to take it slow. I never gave up or felt sad because I could see that he was interested in me. Zed then proposed to meet up when he got back from London where he was studying,” Lila shares. They eventually saw each other in May, 2011, one year after their chats. Zed was in Rwanda for a brief holiday. They spent all the days together, going out and meeting friends, and the night before Zed went back to London, he officially asked Lila to be his girlfriend. “I came back in 2013 after finishing my studies with one thing in mind, marrying Lila. We had been talking about having a family since I asked her to be my girlfriend, so I knew that’s what she wanted too. When I came back to Kigali, I planned everything, I started building our house and I was lucky I got a job right away. We introduced each other to our parents, we got to know our families and they all approved. In 2014 we planned a wedding and got married in summer, it was a beautiful ceremony. Two years later, we had our first born, and our second came after a year,” Zed happily shares. Making the most of it In an article published by The Washington Post, the author says, “People who meet their partners online are not more likely to break up — they don’t have more transitory relationships. Once you’re in a relationship with somebody, it doesn’t really matter how you met that other person. “It’s good actually, because I feel like you get to know each other better online before meeting physically. Though online dating has its disadvantages, when you talk and share and make video calls you can actually get to know the person, and when you meet in person, you will know if they are genuine or not,” Malu says. “Online dating also saves costs, we can have conversations all day long but meeting physically at times can be costly. Plus, you can detect red flags online and move on instantly if they don’t match your taste,” Mimi says. Zed says that distrust and then suspicion that the person might be cheating on you because you are apart all depends on a person’s mind set and insecurities. “It’s normal to miss someone, but when you understand each other’s availability and have patience, everything will be fine. Cheating is another issue entirely, if you know you have trust issues you shouldn’t try dating online or long-distance relationships. I know there’s a possibility of cheating but I’m not bothering myself with that,” Zed says. Malu says that having an open mind can sometimes take you to better things. “People should open their minds to the possibility of meeting someone online that can truly love them because there are always genuine people out there to meet,” he says. “But as precaution, be careful who you talk to on the internet because they might be murderers or rapists. If the person you are interacting with online acts weird, doesn’t share their photos or rejects video calls, they might be dangerous. It is best not to engage or agree to a meet-up,” Lila advises.