WE MET ONLINE IN 2005, HE SENT ENGAGEMENT RING BY DHL AND WE MARRIED IN 2007
Until recently, people used to regard online dating as an awkward, silly, risky venture or downright unreal.
But guess what, it works! Studies have shown that one-in-five people who got connected through dating sites eventually tied the nuptial knots, and are enjoying marital bliss. Take Comfort Okafor for instance, real marital name concealed, who is now happily married to an African-American man she met through a dating site, and the couple is now blessed with two lovely children. In this interview, Comfort tells her story. Excerpts…
How I met my husband
I met my husband online through a Christian site called The Big Church. It was a Christian dating site. I signed up just to while away time because back then I was working in a cybercafÃ© as a receptionist. So whenever there was no customer I just got myself busy on the net.
About two months after I registered, I met him. Although I met other guys, he was more sincere and more interested in knowing me. So we kept chatting consistently everyday for about three months. Honestly, I never thought I would end up with Ik because you know you can't really trust people you meet online. But I noticed that he was different. Initially, I tested him and I asked him to send me some money, and he never once hesitated. I can't really remember the amount now but when I asked the other men, they told me stories or stopped communicating with me. Ik kept telling me he was real and that he had real intentions to marry me. This was like a little after three months. So I told him to prove to me that he really meant it. At this point he said he would file papers with the United States Immigration Service to bring me over. It was at this stage that I started taking him serious, and he also began sending me gifts through DHL. Moreover, he told me his plans and how he would execute them. He also gave my number to his Dad and sister and they kept calling me too.
When did he come to Nigeria?
He came to Nigeria first in 2006 to see my family but before his visit we had been talking consistently for about one year. By this time I had started believing that he was really serious and committed. So I just played my part by loving him back and that was how we ended up being together.
What was your first meeting like?
Honestly, I was so nervous because I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if he would change his mind or if he would still like me after getting to know me. But while all this was going on I prayed and asked the people in my fellowship to pray with me.
What was it like meeting his parents?
Well, you know American life is quite different from ours, and not all of them cherish family life like we do. He is from a family of nine and they reside in different states. So, I didn't get to meet anyone until a year later when we went to visit his Dad in Alabama. He liked me and we just got along, but I have only spoken to his Mom once and have never seen her. I only talk with one of his siblings; I don't get to talk with the others.
When he was coming to Africa, and most especially Nigeria, didn't other people discourage him about you?
Coming down to Nigeria was a great risk for him because they told him Nigeria is a dangerous place. And there were many negative things on the internet, most especially about Lagos. But for the love he had for me he took the risk. Actually, at some point the paper work stopped because we didn't have enough evidence to prove our claims. We needed to take pictures together, so he came down, damning the consequences.
Were you not scared when he came to take you away?
He didn't come to take me away; after they approved the paper work, he sent the flight money and I went over there. I wasn't afraid because I thought to myself, a guy that will do this for me won't harm me and if he does he is the big looser.
If it was worth getting me out then it was worth keeping me. You see the paper work cost him about $2,000 because he used an agent abroad. Really it could have been cheaper but he chose that. Then he sent me $1800 for the flight ticket; then if you add all the other money he sent me, it was about $3,000 or more. Then he spent another $2,000 to come to Nigeria. For him to spend this amount of money he must have really been in love with me. So that was why I wasn't scared. You know it was not all about the money, also the time he spent talking to me everyday. He spent about 7-8 hours everyday on the phone.
So how did he propose?
When he came to Nigeria he only stayed for two weeks. And I met him in 2005. He proposed around June online by sending me an engagement ring through DHL. Then we met in February 2006 and I joined him in 2007. So we got married in 2007.
How have you been able to deal with the cultural differences?
The cultural differences weren't really an issue with me because we dealt with a whole lot of issues before we got married. For instance, my children have Igbo middle names. Our love is waxing stronger and I know he still loves me and I cherish him too. Although we all have our differences but we are working out these things and building a strong union. For instance, I don't let him mind the children because he might not pay much attention to them. But above all, he is a great guy.
If you come back to this world would you still want him to be your husband?
Yes, I will marry him again because I am having the time of my life. He is the best that can happen to me because he doesn't stress me, he doesn't fool around, he trusts me and he gives me a free hand. You know he is very quiet and I even talk louder when we have arguments, and he has never laid his hands on me. So tell me why I won't marry him over and over again?