PHOTO PROVIDED BY DR. ROSELYN AKER- BLACK
LOVING stares into smitten eyes, a long embrace after dinner or a tiny box wrapped in a hopeful future together are but some of the many things lovers will share this month. As Valentine’s Day approaches, those of us who are lucky in love leap at the chance to renew a ﬂame that burns so deeply within our souls and show appreciation to those with whom we choose to share the most intimate moments of our lives.
However, some northwest Georgians have been jilted by cupid or may have grown tired of the demands associated with meeting someone new. An intense career, children or running a household can often take the wheel, leaving love tucked away in yesteryear’s backseat.
Fortunately, there are ways for companionship to begin anew or to develop for the ﬁrst time. And with the current upgrades to social networking, it has never been easier to ﬁnd groups of people who share interests, lifestyles and cultural backgrounds.
All it takes is a few minutes to complete a proﬁle on one of the ever-growing lists of internet dating websites and a daily login to watch the responses come rolling in. Believe it or not, many people have been successful at ﬁnding meaningful connections through dating online but, as with all social outlets, careful consideration should be given to where you like to hang out.
Dr. Roselyn Aker-Black (Dr. Roz) is a native Roman who shared her younger years with three older sisters. Before graduating from Rome High School in 1996 and departing for Fisk University, where she received her B.A. in psychology, she undoubtedly witnessed her fair share of break-ups and make-ups through her siblings.
Her outgoing personality and level-headed demeanor made her the target shoulder to cry on when her peers needed help in times of relationship crisis.
“It always came very naturally to me,” she recalls. “I found that I was always the individual who people came to with their problems and I would just sit and listen. This led to the undeniable progression of what I should do with my career. I was counseling and not getting paid for it, so I saw this as my way to help others and make a living.”
Intending to become a defense attorney early on, she quickly discovered that arguing was the complete opposite of what her spirit was telling her to pursue. So, after a move to Washington, D.C., she decided to ﬁnish her studies by earning a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Argosy University.
“Seeing that psychology is intertwined in everything we do led me to focus primarily on relationships. Since much of our lives – whether it be professionally or romantically – requires forming healthy relationship skills, I saw this as an area of practice where I could be most helpful,” she explains. “I was able to work with the Anderson Cooper daytime talk show doing psychological consult. One of my clients was being considered for the show and I was there to be sure my client would be safe on the show.
“I also had the opportunity to work with the show ‘Unfaithful’ on the O Network,” she continues. “This was a program about people surviving infidelity, and I worked closely with the producers to provide a clinical perspective about what these people were going through. I’ve also worked with various radio programs and Fox News. Along with my private practice, all of this has led me to becoming a relationship expert.”
With 10 years in the ﬁeld counseling couples and families, Dr. Roz has seen the best and the worst relationships at work. She notes that a growing number of her clients start with an online connection, and her take on this upward trend is interesting.
“The ﬁrst and probably most obvious reason people turn to online dating sites is that it is much easier to meet people. You don’t have to go anywhere and you can talk with others from the comforts of your home and on your own time,” she says. “Also, one of the more underlying things I’ve seen is that it is easier for people who are afraid of rejection to meet through an online match-making site. If you don’t know that someone is looking at your proﬁle online, then you don’t have the chance to be rejected.”
Dr. Roz goes on to explain that there are many potential daters who are just shy and have a hard time being comfortable in social situations. As she points out that there is nothing wrong with being shy, it’s easy to see why the veil of an online proﬁle would mask discriminating eyes, opening a person up to only those who are interested in them.
“The Tinder.com site is really catching on because you can literally swipe away those proﬁles you don’t intend to visit,” she explains. “If the ﬁrst impressions aren’t satisfying, you can literally just swipe them away for good. That is a really diﬃcult thing to do when you are face-to-face with someone. So, the ability for you to meet a large amount of people in a short amount of time is also appealing to some singles.”
Dr. Roz has a few tips for those who are looking to go the online route for a potential mate.
“First, always be honest about what you are looking for in a relationship. If you are looking for a marriage prospect or just simply want to be social from time to time, be sure to voice your objective in your proﬁle,” she says. “Also, just as if you were meeting in person, be careful with the amount of sensitive information you give a stranger. You should treat any social media site with respect and know that not everyone is honest in their intentions.”
Dr. Roz also points out that during your everyday routine, you likely encounter the same faces daily. However, with internet dating your world of possibilities grows substantially, and with that growth can come schemers, creeps, and liars. Folks who are duped by profiles created with fake pictures and information, all with the intention to mislead would-be suitors, are said to have been “catﬁshed.”
Even though the road to ﬁnding love online can be ﬁlled with potholes, more and more people are using these sites to find lasting relationships. Two individuals who agreed to share their story with V3 have done just that. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy, but there are many couples with a similar story to tell. For the sake of recounting their experience, let’s just call them Ben and Jan.
Ben, a 45-year-old school teacher, single father and student in a master’s program did not have a lot of experience in the dating are-na. He had only been in a serious relationship with the mother of his child, and they had met in college. When things went south in this relationship, he lost himself in work and raising his son.
“I worked 60 to 70 hours a week. I had a long commute to work, so it left little time for me to go out. But just like everyone, I wanted a companion,” he says. “I wanted someone to talk to about work, to ask about their day, to watch movies with … I wanted someone to share my life with. I really don’t do bars, I like to cook so I rarely go out to eat, and I am generally very comfortable at home. So, I turned to online dating in hopes of using what little time I had to ﬁnd someone for me.”
Jan had a similar story, being 42 and mother of two adult children and a daughter of elementary school age. She, too, was a full-time student who worked a full-time job at an animal clinic. Just balancing the daily routine was a challenge. Recently out of a marriage that started very young, she did not know where to look to being again.
“I married right out of high school, so I never really dated. After I divorced, I found myself becoming really lonely. When you are used to having someone around all of the time, even if you don’t like each other, the silence can be horrible,” she explains. “So, I tried trivia leagues, I bowled and tried whatever I could to ﬁll up the times my daughter was away with her father. I met a guy in a bar and it was an awful experience, so I was really not looking to meet people that way again.”
While scrolling her Facebook page, Jan found a link to okcupid.com. There, she would cruise the proﬁles in hopes of ﬁnding a gentleman caller who wasn’t just looking for a good time.
“The proﬁle questions were really great on this site and there were hundreds of them,” she says. “Some of them were questions I wouldn’t think to ask someone I was with for six months! Actually, there was a question that asked if you thought the moon was smaller than the sun. That’s how I noticed Ben.
“You are able to send messages. I was impressed that he’d read my answers because he sent me a message saying that he, too, believed that moon was smaller than the sun,” she laughs. “That was refreshing to see after all of the comments about me being ‘hot’ and cheesy come-ons.”
“I tried a few more than she did because women tend to get a lot more attention on these types of sites,” Ben says. “Sometimes, I’d go weeks without getting a response, and Jan told me that she was constantly bombarded with messages. So, I tried match.com, plentyoffish. com and one other site that I can’t remember. But after I saw that Jan was interested, I pretty much stopped responding to all of the sites.”
After a few months of chatting online and phone calls, the two decided they’d built enough trust to meet for the first time. Jan remembers sitting in the booth of a local sushi restaurant thinking about how nervous Ben looked across the table from her. Ben confirms his excitement at the date but says their online connection made meeting someone for the first time much easier. Armed with prior conversations, he had things to talk about.
“It didn’t hurt that when she walked into the restaurant, she was stunning,” he says.
After dinner, the couple took a walk down Broad Street and had drinks at a sidewalk café. A rainy evening cut the date short but contributed to a memory they will never forget. “I don’t normally kiss on the first date, but
he was so cute at dinner. He really made me feel beautiful because he was obviously nervous to be sitting across from me. So, in the middle of the rain, I decided to just lay one on him. It was the best first date I’d ever had,” Jan says with a smile.
After 15 months, they are still going strong. Because they are still new to relationship building, they are taking things slow, continually nurturing what they started online. One thing they say is certain: they never run out of things to talk about.
“With any relationship, it is extremely important to openly communicate,” says Dr. Roz. “Part of loving someone is giving them all of your stuff, all of your trash, so that they can love you openly and honestly. So for any relationship to grow, this is one of the most important components.”
She leaves us with one final suggestion. “Try to use the sites requiring a monthly payment,” says Dr. Roz. “If people are financially investing, they tend to be more serious about finding what they are looking for. This is an easy way to weed out the cons and catfishers.” So, maybe there is some merit to this online dating scene. With new meeting spots turning up everywhere online, cupid’s bullseye just got a whole lot bigger.
Find Dr. Roselyn Aker-Black on Facebook and Twitter. Or, for info about online counseling seminars, contact her at drrozakerblack@gmail. com or www.marraige-exposed.com