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Baha’i Online Dating Services Updated
It has been a couple years since I wrote about this, and there have been changes. For one thing, there appear to be more sites claiming to serve Bahá'ís. It's good to have more choices, but the truth is that I was disappointed in just about every site I researched. Here's why:
Dating (within the understanding I have of the Bahá'í Faith) is for the purpose of getting to know more about a potential spouse. It is not an end in itself. “A couple should study each other’s character and spend time getting to know each other before they decide to marry, and when they do marry it should be with the intention of establishing an eternal bond.” - Lights of Guidance, p. 380
Marriage is considered the basic unit of civilization, uniting not only two individuals, but two whole families, as well. Thus, it is too important to be trivialized or rendered temporary by inadequate planning before marriage. Bahá’ís can be serious about looking for potential spouses, yet for many, there are often few local choices for Bahá’í friends, let alone life partners. While there are Bahá'ís in every country in the world, it's only about 9 million total. Which means there are still too few potential users to make a dedicated Bahá'í dating site profitable--and dating sites are businesses.
Most social networking pages offer filtering for personal information, such as gender and religion, and there are a couple owned by individuals who are Bahá'ís. From what I found in general, I don't want to recommend any site, yet. My research turned up a few small sites still in construction, which may have potential down the line. There were a couple glitzy and easy to navigate sites with a lot of boilerplate text similar to other commercial pages, but whose fine print suggests they have no idea what the Bahá'í Faith is about.
It's critical to read the agreement pages carefully before joining. For instance, I find this wording on a site prominently labeled for Bahá'ís: "All models, actors, actresses and other persons that appear in any visual portrayal of actual or simulated sexually explicit conduct appearing on, or otherwise contained in, this Website were over the age of eighteen (18) years at the time the visual image was produced." Is this dating? It is certainly not for followers of Bahá'u'lláh.
Claims of thousands of users daily are statistically unlikely if they are only counting Bahá'ís. Further, if actual ownership of the site is difficult to find and onsite description is vague, it pays to be wary. I distrust any website where I have to sign up before I can find such basic information.
UPDATE: TWO DOVES has had a facelift and added zippy site performance, and still provides good information. Sites I reviewed previously no longer exist, but Two Doves is obviously a long time labor of love and sacrifice. It was about the first serious site for Bahá'ís looking for marriage partners rather than just socializing, and still has good information on the Bahá'í concept of marriage and how to prepare for it.
I feel a disclaimer is necessary: be warned that all of these sites collect and maintain extensive personal information, which is a saleable product. Social networking is about making money, even if only to support the services. No matter how much privacy and security are promised, any site can be hacked. Beware and be careful. Research any dating services thoroughly, read complaints, as well as all the fine print in their policies.
More important: carefully consider why you want to go there. Are you looking for new friends? Expanding your circle of musicians and recordings? Hoping to find people who share your ideals, interests and opinions? Searching for true love? Marriage? The Internet can certainly widen the scope of your search, but it is best to know what you want as well as what they are offering in order to make the best choices.
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