LOVE AT FIRST CLICK – Finding romance online

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A few months ago, I was sat at Casemates waiting for a friend when the woman next to me began to exhibit some bizarre behaviour. She pulled out her phone from her bag, discretely hid it under the table and began swiping away left and right as pictures of men appeared on her screen, occasionally pausing for a more in-depth analysis of a potential match on Tinder, an online dating app. With her eyes dilated and a a look of intention on her face, a dainty smile crept forward from her face when the unmistakable ring notification on her phone signalled her a new match. It was not long before she was typing away to see what kind of person felt she was worth a green like.

I thought to myself as I gazed at her why it was that this very attractive woman chose to plunge into the virtual world to find companionship. In my opinion, she would be spoiled for choice on looks alone, but there she was shrugging off the options in her immediate vicinity and checking out what was available online. Could this form of dating replace the traditional courtship of years gone by and send relationships down a spiral of cyber transition? Well, we might be some way away from that as of yet, but no one can doubt that the increasingly sophisticated online dating sites, some of which utilise modern personality tests, lead to many adopting a favourable view of the online dating world,

“I think it’s useful to meet others who are single out there. In a public place, it is difficult to know someone’s background, whether they are with someone, if they are interested in you or not, so it cuts those corners by virtue of being matched on the app. I guess it’s a bit different from how you would approach someone in a bar for example,” said Danny Sene who met his partner, Gemma Leppard, in late spring 2015 on another popular online dating site, Badoo. A little disillusioned with standardised dating scene in Gibraltar, a challenging place to spark a romance due to its small size, he chose to explore other options online. Although fishing around in the virtual world is more effective in larger cities, he believes it can also work on the Rock where options are limited, “There is a smaller pool of people to choose from, so it’s tougher to find that perfect person with whom you might like to take things a little further. Apps like Badoo and Tinder can allow you to take caution in those first moments and filter out those who you think may not be worthwhile as long-term relationships. I admit that a few years ago I was a little sceptical, but once the way it worked was explained to me, I thought I’d give it a chance.”

Danny and Gemma

Although a little coy at first with pleasantries and entry-level questions, they soon went a little deeper and before long, the couple met for drinks around a month later at Ocean Village, “I was a little nervous. I didn’t really know much about her apart from what was said behind the screen and a few photos, but I felt much more relaxed than I would be on a first date with someone I had met in a bar the night before for example.” Little did Danny know that this innocent get-together with someone he met online would blossom into a roller-coaster romance. Now, they are madly in love with one another and are positive of a bright future in each other’s company, “I wasn’t sure how much Gemma was into me at the beginning. She is a little shy, so it was difficult to trace whether she was growing fond of me. But it was a great feeling when we finally opened up about our strong feelings for one another and took the relationship to the next level.”

Joseph Adamberry, 71, was never too keen on computers prior to Facebook, but it was that very platform that that provided the first steps to a late, but unbreakable love connection. Joe first met Moira Moreno 40 years ago when she was partnered with one of the musicians in his band, but hadn’t seen her since then, until one faithful day, “I saw this lady across from St Paul’s Church as I made my way out. She was wearing sunshades, blue ray-bands as it were,” said Joe over six years since that day. “Something intuitive inside of me said that it was Moira. We both had access as senior citizens to the GASA swimming pool and met there by coincidence soon afterwards. It was there where we began to discuss chatting on Facebook.”

Joe and Moira

It was pretty normal from then on for them to watch TV and chat on Facebook simultaneously, discussing the programs as their respective evenings wore away. One conversation of note that pushed things in the right direction circled around reminiscing about Moira’s classic motor from the 70s, “She told me about her old car and I just so happened to have a photograph of it with the band members. I got my son, Michael, to explain to me how to send it electronically to her and we shared a great moment. It is amazing how it sent us down memory lane. Now, Facebook reminds you of things you did a year ago in an anniversary, which is a nice feature.”

Although Joe admits he is subjecting himself to a world belonging to people half his age, he thinks young and is strong in the belief that online dating can be helpful to seniors too. It can open the doors for relationships to flourish and he is of the opinion that this is exactly what he experienced with Moira, “We were trying to bridge a 40 year gap. We should have met in a more intimate way all those years ago. Our relationship now has developed from having known each other decades ago combined with discovering one another on a day to day basis through ‘Facebooking’. During our rendezvous we would discuss all the things we spoke about online. These platforms allow you a few words to communicate what you need to say in the best possible way you can. You are directed to think in short sentences to make people happy or make your point. I use words for a living, so I try to make sure to be as positive as I can.”

The couple visited Venice two years ago after following a discussion on which places they hadn’t visited yet, a perfect choice to spend time in such a romantic city. Rome is also on their travel bucket list and they will now grasp this reinvigorated spirit and hold on to it as long as they can, “We hadn’t travelled much in our youth, so we are taking advantage now that we have each other to share it with. Moira means a lot to me. She is a wonderfully family-orientated and loving individual. Everyone feels this way about her. The fact is that she is very loved and this makes me feel privileged to be close to her.”

words | Mark Viales