Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
“The secret to dating successfully is being optimistic and hopeful.” Anisa told me, in a make-no-bones-about-it way. “You need to come from a position of strength.”
In 2021, the current online dating landscape is flooded with options. But instead of more freedom, it’s been giving us choice paralysis.
There are simply too many candidates, with not enough time to sort through them all. You could spend a whole evening swiping right on Tinder and come out of it without a single date, come Friday.
Biography: Anisa Hassan
Enter Anisa Hassan, a matchmaker with over 16 years of experience pairing people with their life partners.
I sat down with her virtually to talk about Joompa, her new matchmaking app for Muslim singles, and more importantly, why modern dating apps are stacked against the average individual.
Problem #1. Too Focused On Visuals
“The recent modern onslaught of dating apps are highly focused on visuals.” She said. “Those who don’t look attractive in their first picture get swiped left and left behind.”
So it was true, then — women only look for handsome dudes in dating profiles?
“It’s not that. On a dating app, you’re putting your best “face” forward.” Anisa explained, giving me an example:
“I knew a young gentleman who worked for the Ministry and loved travelling to Europe, Greece, but he didn’t include those photos. Instead his profile pictures showed him on a kerbau, in the middle of a paddy field, posing next to a scooter in a plantation.”
“When I vetted him, he was articulate and had an interesting bio, but no woman wanted to click on his profile,” she told me.
The rise of these visual-focused dating apps, where a person’s entire personality is reduced to a profile picture and a couple of lines of bio at the bottom, has created a subculture of men who consider themselves too ugly to date called incels.
But if Anisa is right, perfect bone structure, a sports car, or a muscular bod is not the key indicators of dating success — they need to learn how to present their best selves.
Problem #2. People Behave Differently Online and Offline
Anisa getting to know a client
“Have you noticed a lack of self awareness amongst dating profiles?” She asked me, the corners of her mouth twitching upwards slightly.
You mean like how there’s a wide gap between what people say they want and what they are really looking for?
“Exactly. There are men who say they want a very family oriented woman, and then they look for women who assert their independence and free-spiritedness.”
“There are women who say they want a humble man, but they look at gentlemen who come from a higher strata, someone who they can marry upward into.”
Well, that’s human nature, I said.
“Of course. People want what they cannot get.”
So what do women really want in a man? And what do men really want in a woman?
“Most women want a gentleman with some leadership quality, someone who they can respect, someone who can take charge (but not be controlling). Women value a man that has a goal. She wants to be part of his bigger goal that they can work towards, together.”
“For most gentlemen, they appreciate a woman that can play her part. They don’t want anybody who is too alpha, someone whose energy is, “This is who I am! What you see is what you get.” They already have that in the boardroom. Rather, they are attracted to someone who is also equally driven; someone nurturing and a good listener, who expresses her views in a smart coherent manner.”
These, Anisa clarified with me, were her experiences with men and women in the middle-to-upper class strata of society, when she was a matchmaker for Date High Flyers.
|3 Facts About Joompa:
Problem #3: Full of Catfishers
Aside from the poor dating pool of candidates, catfisher syndicates out there are taking advantage of the chaos to scamming unsuspecting singles of their money.
In Anisa’s line of work, women in their late 30s to early 50s who are very financially secure tend to fall prey to scammers more often. Usually, they’re single, have never been married, are not familiar with online dating, and haven’t wised up to the tricks catfishers play.
“A lot of my clients have already experienced being catfished but are too embarrassed to talk about it, or even report it to the police.” She told me gravely.
How can women protect themselves from catfishers?
“When they employ the services of a matchmaker instead,” Anisa says. “It’s like they have a wingwoman.”
That’s why she designed Joompa to be safe for people. She always tells her clients that it’s always safer to communicate on the platform.
How should people approach dating?
Dating criteria varies between person to person, Anisa told me, but three key points are the same.
“It all comes down to values, family background, and past experiences.” She said.
If you and your partner can have the exact same values, background, and experiences, you’ll find yourself resonating with that person the most.
When you are coming to dating from a position of strength, it’s definitely a lot healthier than bringing unresolved emotional trauma with you.
“Some people are fearful, some allow past relationships to dictate their future relationships. Some come from a place of neediness, saying, “I’ve just lost a husband and I need someone to make me feel secure.” Some come from a place of doubt, saying, “I don’t know if this next person is ever going to accept me for who I am.” Well, no one can be exactly like your perfect ex.”
The key to moving on and finding a new person is making a new space for them in your heart, Anisa shared with me earnestly.
“You need to be optimistic and hopeful, you need to come from a happy space.” Only then, she says, she can endorse the candidate wholeheartedly, to be able to say with certainty that they’re going to be great for each other.
At the end of the day, we’re all social creatures. People want to reconnect. We want to be around someone we can have a decent conversation with.
“You just want to vibe with that person, right?”
For more stories like this, read: The Racism I Experienced Dating In Malaysia and I’ve Been a Foreigner in Malaysia for a Decade — Here’s Why I’m Leaving.
This article was not sponsored by Joompa, I just felt like talking to a matchmaker.
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