How to navigate online relationships and the dos and don’ts

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 00:00 |

With more than 8.2 million Kenyans on social media, a good number of them being quite active, many single netizens wonder where exactly they are going wrong when it comes to meeting a lover on the cyberspace. NAILANTEI NORARI set off to find out how to navigate the slippery slope of meeting a partner online

“I do not like the term online relationships. I feel like it implies that the entire relationship happens in the cyberspace without the people ever meeting,” Rama Oluoch, social media personality and digital strategist who met his partner online explains in our interview.

The discussion stems from the many posts on social media where people say they met their better halves online. This is mostly on Twitter, Facebook, Tinder and at times on LinkedIn.

With more than 8.2 million Kenyans on social media, a good number of them being tech-savvy and quite active with an international reputation, such as when they viciously tackle anyone who crosses them or what they hold dear, many single netizens wonder where exactly they are going wrong when it comes to meeting a lover on the cyberspace. We set off to find out how to navigate online relationships and the dos and don’ts.


It is common to see memes on social media which depict how some fraudsters live in a single room while trying to scam gullible girls by portraying themselves on social media to be living a luxurious lifestyle. 

Psychologist and relationship expert Dr Chris Hart met his wife Caroline Tolo online.

Catfishing is still prevalent, where an individual creates a whole online persona using someone else’s photos with the intent of luring other people into a relationship through which they can haggle for cash and other favours.

“Try to crosscheck your online partner’s persona. Do they have any other social network presence or is it only on one platform?

If any part of their story does not check out, stay safe and run. We get this false sense of security when dating online, yet it is as dangerous a place to meet potential mates as any other,” Dr Chris Hart, Psychologist and relationship expert who also met his wife online explains.

Rama, one half of the famous vlogging couple The Green Calabash concurs.

“Meeting online is like meeting at any other place such as a bar or a restaurant; it is fraught with risks. That is why it is important to try to learn as much as you can about the other person before deciding to meet up,” he advises.


“We did not start going out with Shiko till we had met physically and become friends first. As much as our relationship started online, there was a lot of work we put in over and above that,” Rama reveals. He is a big proponent of taking things slowly and not making monumental decisions hurriedly.

Popular vlogging couple The Green Calabash made up of Rama Oluoch and Shiko Nguru also met online and are now raising three children together.

Dr Chris Hart who has been with his wife for more than a decade after his previous marriage ended believes in taking things slow and letting the relationship, whether started online or otherwise, unravel and shape itself over time.

“We started our correspondence on email and we first became friends. At the time, she lived in Kisumu while I was based in Nairobi. Whenever I would travel to Kisumu for work or she would be coming to Nairobi for one engagement or another, we would meet up and chat like friends.

This slowly blossomed into a relationship, which is still alive so many years later. It is nice to build a foundation, a firm base to build your relationship on. This foundation can start being established online, but they definitely need to be actual meet-ups for it to be firmer,” he elaborates.


If after your online correspondence you are still interested, you can arrange to meet up in a public place. Ensure that at least a few of your friends know.

“Feel free to pull the plug at any point in time. You do not owe anyone anything, even the right to stay in a date that you spent hours online planning together if you meet up and you feel uncomfortable,” Chris explains, adding that maturity calls for honesty, and there’s no need of drawing a bad date out for the sake of courtesy.

“I am not saying be rude and just up and leave. When you feel you have had enough, communicate that then leave. You do not have to stay. Sometimes online chemistry does not translate to the physical interaction,” the psychologist advises.

Eric, a social media user who has tried various dating apps including Badoo and Tinder adds, “Most importantly, no matter how much you want to get laid or how nasty the texts are, never meet them at your house or their house. There are psychos out here.”


Do not rule out meeting and even eventually forming something meaningful online. The fact that accidents happen daily does not mean we will never take the bus. It also does not mean that we drive carelessly just because accidents happen anyway.

Similarly, there is bad in the online dating world just as much as it is good. It is therefore important for people to be fully self-aware and get into the online dating space with an open mind.

“Remember that most of the normal dating rules apply. Be realistic. Recognise how hard it can and will be to form a relationship if the two of you are in two different countries and are midcareer hence unable to just up and leave.

Think of the differences in culture, for instance. Examine yourself too and know why you want to get into a relationship, whether online or otherwise.

And always remember that it is often easier to let go at the beginning before things heat up, so be very aware of your online partner, yourself and your relationship,” Chris concludes.

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