We’re sold the dream. Love, stability, and a meaningful connection are only ever a swipe away. Dating apps and online dating promise to make finding a meaningful connection easier than ever, but for many the reality looks very, very different. In his new book, My Terrifying, Shocking, Humiliating, Amazing Adventures In Online Dating, Ben Arogundade draws on personal experience and statistical evidence to share the dark underbelly of online dating. His book not only exposes the racism that can run rampant on apps and sites, it also debunks the online dating myth and reveals that most people simply are not finding love online.
“We have now reached the tipping point in how relationships happen — more couples meet online than in real life,” the description explains. “Whether we like it or not, Internet dating is the new normal, and statistically speaking, traditional romance is dead. Following the break-up of a six-year relationship, 54-year-old author Ben Arogundade embarked upon an eventful journey through the precarious world of online dating apps. During this time he was shocked by the behaviour of the older, divorced singles of his generation. He was stood up, ghosted, verbally abused, propositioned for sex and asked to be a surrogate father to an unborn child, amongst other things.”
Arogundade, a writer, publisher, and entrepreneur, lays it all bare and shows how to make online dating work for you in this extraordinary and revelatory book.
On Their Bucket Lists
For Arogundade, one of the initial shocks of online dating was the racism that he encountered. Despite putting himself forward as a grounded, adult man looking for a relationship, he was consistently fetishized — especially by older white women. While he was looking for love, they often had something else in mind.
“During my time online dating I was approached by a number of divorced white women who had only ever been out with white men, and now wanted to ‘try something different’ — to put sex with a black man on their bucket lists, alongside other post-divorce ‘experiences’, like trekking in Nepal or Zip-lining in Costa Rica,” Arogundade explains. “I was viewed, not as relationship material but as sex fodder. There remains a perception that black men are ‘fuckers not fathers’, candidates for a good time rather than love, which is what I was looking for as a black man in his 50s.”
It would be difficult to overstate how traumatic this can be for a user — and it’s offensive on so many different levels. It’s blatantly racist, reducing black men to sexual figures — but it also reveals how complacent many are in that racism. Many women assume that wanting a black man just for sexual pleasure is uncontroversial, rather than owning the pernicious and toxic assumptions they are making. And on a personal level, it can be devastating. So devastating, in fact, that in some cases Arogundade warns against using the apps at all.
“Based on my pictures, none of which were sexual in nature, white women presumed I was promiscuous, and this attracted commitment-phobes too damaged to want love, but who wanted ‘fun’ instead,” he explains. “I had sex with one who maintained that she wanted a relationship, but then ran away when I offered it. I met another who harboured the post-colonial racial stereotype that black men have larger penises, and that sex with me would be wilder and more animal. When it wasn’t she left disappointed. Black men, and women especially, are targets on sexually-oriented sites like ‘Tinder’, where racially-abusive language is routinely used by whites who want to know if the stereotype is true. This is negatively affecting blacks and driving them away from the apps. Therefore I suggest in my book that no black woman seeking a relationship should ever use Tinder.”
Much More Harsh On Black Women
— Ben Arogundade (@BArogundade) November 21, 2019
Through his research, Arogundade found that black women face a huge stigma on datings apps — having to navigate not only racism and prejudice, but also being less popular than other demographics.
“Conditions for dating are that much more harsh for black women than other groups,” he says. “This is compounded by the fact that they are statistically the least popular. Research by the University of California revealed 80 percent of white people swiped other white people 80 percent of the time, and only 3 percent for black people. Christian Rudder, co-founder of OKCupid, found within his analytics black women were the least popular groups, receiving the lowest number of matches, with black women receiving 25 percent fewer connects than white women.”
It’s easy to see why he would warn against using the app — in fact, the book argues that the traumatizing effects of dating apps can be so severe that they should come with government health warnings. When we hear about “Tinder marriages” and are told about the high probability of finding love, these realities are left out of the fairytale.
An Emotional Detective
Although he’s chosen to dive deep into the darker side of online dating, Arogundade’s book is nuanced — seamlessly tying together hard truths with insight, humour, and sweetness. While it doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects, it also provides a useful map to help you navigate the world of dating apps. From how to be an “emotional detective” who can pick up on the subtle clues and signals to the best practices of messaging to dates themselves, it’s a wealth of information. For anyone intimidated by online dating or looking to change their approach, it’s a must-read.
Arogundade has decided to take his disappointment with the design of the dating apps that are available and channel that into something constructive. He’s planning to launch a new kind of dating app and is currently in talks with investors. With his experience and wisdom, it promises to be something very exciting indeed.
Dating apps may work for some, but certainly not for all. At the very least, they’re nowhere near as effective as we’re led to believe — Arogundade found that online daters have less than a 20 percent chance of finding love and that 90 percent of online daters don’t go on any dates at all. But at its worst, online dating is a petri dish for racism and prejudice, allowing it to fester and grow. Arogundade has made the courageous choice not only to share his story, but his lessons — and we should all be listening.
You can purchase My Terrifying, Shocking, Humiliating, Amazing Adventures In Online Dating and learn more about Arogundade on White Labels Books.