By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
TEN years ago, many Bahamians still considered it somewhat of a taboo to meet someone through the internet for companionship. But with the age of social media, people have become more open to making connections through these channels.
The ease that comes with simply sending a "hello" to a prospective partner's Facebook or Instagram inbox makes it the go-to route for some looking for a romantic relationship, even in a small community such as this where everyone seemingly knows everyone else.
Some say it takes away that nervous feeling of having to introduce themselves during an face-to-face encounter and is an easier way to gauge a prospect's interest quickly - if a response is given then that is a good sign, but if one never comes, then the prospect's lack of interest is clear.
For many modern Bahamians, connecting with individuals online has resulted in successful friendships and even relationships. And while there are have numerous international sites available that offer connections for those seeking companionship online, a new resource specifically geared to pairing locals has now been launched.
Bahamas Connect was launched in February of this year and seeks to streamline the process of connecting with others. Users are asked to include specific information about their interests and details about themselves on the site. It is an avenue where Bahamians can connect with other locals for friendships, relationships, eventual marriages, networking, an event just for an event or a business partnership.
While the resource caters to those seeking social and business connections, it specifically targets unmarried Bahamian residents between the ages of 18 and 65. However, it also welcomes visitors and those over 65.
"The service fills the need for compatible connections to be made and is another venue to meet people who are hoping to find love. It also attempts to contribute positively to society as the first step of family planning, offering assistance in couples finding worthwhile companionship," said the team at Bahamas Connect.
The free sign-up process involves users filling out an in-depth form about themselves and the partner they are seeking. For instance, questions about appearance, dietary practices, income, longest relationship and things that are turn-offs must be answered.
The team at Bahamas Connect said since its launch it has garnered interest from many local singles. One reason for this, they feel, is the fact that Bahamians have changed the way they view dating.
"Bahamians are more open to online dating. Ten to 20 years ago it was more taboo. Today, Bahamians realise it is a safe, savvy and convenient way to meet people and learn a lot about them before reaching out.
"Lots of people are dating but often miss the point of the exercise. Dating should be a time to get to know the person you have a preliminary interest in or attraction to. It is not the time to indulge in your hormonal temptations. No one has the formula that guarantees success in a 'forever' relationship, but by focusing on ensuring there is a level of commonality and compatibility first, you are likely to stand a better chance," said the Bahamas Connect team.
And to facilitate a worthwhile dating experience, users are challenged to have discussions during the first dates, asking questions that dig deep and provide insight so they can make an informed selection. To help with this, the team came up with 10 questions it recommends asking on these dates, all of which are posted on its website.
In a small community such as the Bahamas, privacy is a big issue when it comes to online dating.
"People tend to be concerned about privacy. Our profiles are visible to members only for this purpose. People are also concerned that the information provided on profiles are true and accurate. Connect offers a verification option which indicates that the person and the details provided are authentic," the team noted.
And for those still apprehensive about online dating, the team recommends creating an alias and not posting a photograph of yourself until you are 100 per cent comfortable.
"Connect prefers to attach photos to each profile, but for privacy purposes it is recommended this is withheld until further through the connection process. Connect also offers personalised offline matchmaking services, which include one-on-one consultation. This eliminates the online profile step and delivers a completely private experience," the team said.
For more information, visit bahamasconnect.com or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.