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New Dating Website ‘Love Essence’ Promotes Love over Race

April 15, 2012

There are tons of dating sites out there.  There are dating sites for cat lovers, dog lovers, vegetarians, obese people, people with sexually transmitted diseases and many many more.  The dating site that you choose says a great deal about you and your expectations and lifestyle.  The goal of Loveessence is to be more than a “niche” dating site.  We would like to provide a format where we can people can find romantic partners who can give them the love that they want as well as a general forum where people can just explore and celebrate love in all of its many forms.  

Loveessence is a place where we can share our belief that love is enough to overcome racial boundaries. Love is enough to manifest our dreams.  Love is enough to allow us to experience bliss. Why then would I market a site with such a universal message specifically to black women?  I’m a black woman and I noticed that there was some negative press about black women and love and I just wanted to promote another narrative. Black women have abundant opportunities for black love and dating as well as interracial love and dating.  Many other dating sites may not necessarily have that perspective so we wanted to create a dating site in which black women as well as other women are celebrated.  Please see this interview I did with Loop 21 on November 15, 2011.

Love Always,

Ama

http://loop21.com/content/new-dating-website-love-essence-promotes-love-over-checklists

Creator believes black women can find love if they date all races

By Kiratiana Freelon

Some women are tired with the limited dating options in their every day social circles and flock to the Internet to find fun, love, and hopefully marriage. But is her chances of finding love higher online? Probably not.

According to writer Ian Ayres, men of all races wrote back to black women at a rate 20% less than the average (on okcupid.com). This means that black women were the least desirable women of any race online.

Ama Yawson, creator of loveessence.com, a new online dating website, thinks that black women should ditch their dating checklists and and focus on the love they want from a man.One glance at the site’s homepage let’s you know this isn’t a typical dating site. Black woman are pictured in the arms of a black, White, Asian or Latino men. The website mission is simple: Find love for black women regardless of race.

Yawson, an ivy league-educated lawyer, and married mother of one, wants to share her path to love and describes loveessence.com as “a romantic networking based on core values and shared love visions while addressing the issue of relationship prospects for black women.” It officially launched July 21 and was just re-launched on October 30 in time for the Winter dating season.

Yawson: My inspiration for the site comes from my own personal life.  I experienced a really painful break up in which a man who seemed to meet all the criteria of my long list of things that I wanted in a man turned out to be married.  It was one of the most devastating things that I ever had to go through. I felt like I was going insane.  I started reading the works of many new age spiritual gurus in my search for answers.  One pearl of wisdom that I read took root in me, “envision the love that you want and have faith that the universe will bring that love”.  It was so simple but transformative.  All this time I had been preoccupied with height, age, race, color, occupation etc and not the actual experience of love.  I started to meditate on the love that I wanted and months later I met  my husband.  If I had not attuned myself to the love that I wanted I probably would have missed out on our transformational relationship due to silly reasons.

Lovessence.com is a place where black women, our beauty, our love stories, and our achievements are celebrated while giving men of all backgrounds an opportunity to celebrate with us and get to know us and love us.  This celebration and this venue is even more necessary now that media attacks on black women’s relationship prospects or lack thereof have become so pervasive.

Loop 21: Which books or blogs have influenced the philosophy behind Loveessence.com?

Yawson: In terms of the essence of what I am trying to promote, I have not see that in social media but I have seen it in books. The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle is about denying our identification with form. In reading Eckart Tolle we recognize that race, color, ethnicity has importance but what is most important is the spirit and essence of people. That is a book that is helping to inform my feelings and ideology for LoveEssence. I don’t believe that we should be so incredibly obsesssed with that form that we refuse to accept it when it comes in a different type of form.

One book that I have read through is Sophia Angeli Nelson’s book – Black Woman Redefined. Se discusses her own experience dating and she had to be honest with herself in saying that she let a good number of good men go. I believe that she would agree that black women would be well served by reevaluating the criteria by giving on long lists on what they want in a man by focusing on the most important aspects that they are looking for in a partner.

Loop 21: Does the site really work? Have you made any recent matches?

Yawson: The approach of the site is different in that we do not believe that matching is the best way. That’s why we call it romantic networking instead of an online dating site. The object is that they would look at people’s profiles. Matching is available but users are encouraged to actually network, so that you are not confined to you matches. The vast majority of users leave their profiles open to users even though they are not exactly matched.

The user base is slightly more female, skewed toward 51% female. We’re trying our best to increase our male outreach. Because most of the venues that we’ve advertised in are black, the vast majority of users are black women and black men.

The people who have very limited criteria in terms of only wanting to date people within 10 miles, would have less success because there are not as many people. But in terms of the activity, people are emailing each other and contacting each other.

Loop 21: Why didn’t you make your website black on black love?

Yawson: It’s black women and black men and everyone else. I want to make it abundantly clear that black men are welcomed and given love on the site. I wanted to create a venue in which every man was interested in black women. The philosophy of the site is being open to the diverse packages that they come in. I realized that black women were not necessarily receiving the attention they deserve on the general market sites. I wanted to create a venue in which every man was interested in black women.

Loop 21: You are married now, but what was your previous experience in online dating? Was it extensive? Did you use it all the time?

Yawson: After I had my experience of heartbreak and I wound up meeting and getting the type of love I wanted because I was very open minded. I met my husband through a fellow student at Wharton. Before I met him was using one particular online site and I found the process of using it to be very taxing and mysterious. I was answering all these questions but I was unclear about why I answering them. I was not happy about the lack of the transparency. I felt by being on this mainstream site that was not for black women, some of the men that claimed they were open to black women were not necessarily that open. I did not feel that black sites were admired and respected. I didn’t think the community was open and celebratory of black women. I stayed on the online dating site until my husband and I became boyfriend and girlfriend. I wanted to tell the universe that I was open to finding love through any vehicle.

Loop 21: How would you describe a woman who would typically use loveessence.com site?

Yawson: The person that we envision is a black woman who is mature, not necessarily in age but in thinking. The Loveessence black woman is mature enough and is open to experiencing genuine love and open to men of various demographics or characteristics. They have realized through experience or through reading that love can really flourish under various circumstances. The person that comes to Loveessence.com is open to love and ready to marry. We see online dating as one toolkit in a range of dating options. They are encouraged to pursue dating through coworkers, families, church in addition to online.

Loop 21: With loveessence.com, you have created an online startup. With the upcoming Black in America series highlighting African American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, more people want to understand the process of creating a tech startup. How was it?

Yawson: The process has been a long one. The first part started about two years ago, which was the idea generation stage. That stage lasted many months; it was thinking about it conceptually and building the business plan and writing the creative brief. Step two consisted of creating the legal mechanism and figuring out the trade name I wanted to use. Step three was actually the nuts and bolts. At first we were inexperienced and we were outsourcing the labor and then we recognized that there is something lost in the process. Although there is a technical expertise, there is a cultural aspect that web developers abroad may not understand. That cultural aspect is really important to creating the user experience one would want to have. We realized that one would want to use American talent for the project. Step 4 was once we had a product that was launch ready, the next stage was marketing the site. Right now, we see ourselves in beta mode in constantly changing and creating more value for members.

Loop 21: What makes your site different from Blackpeoplemeet.com, Blackplanet.com, Match.com or eharmony.com?

Yawson: Let me start out by saying that there is a place for all of these different sites. Loveessence.com is distinct because it inspires members to get to love’s essence by focusing on their love vision and networking on the site with others who have professed similar visions and complementary core values.  But not everyone will agree with that. Some black women may say that they do not want to open themselves to men of all demographics and so other sites match based on preferred race or salary may be a better fit. Some black women believe that there is a magic formula for personality compatibility that is not based on a love visions or core values and in that case another site may be better.  But whether an individual  black woman joins or not Lovessence.com will continue to be a venue where all black womanhood is honored and celebrated.  We highlight the love stories of black women on our blog so that black women who are not even members will have a place to feel inspires that love is out there for black women.

Loop 21: Why did you produce the viral video and what has been the response?

Yawson: We want the videos to use humor to demonstrate the type of thinking that sometimes inhibits people from experiencing the love of their dreams.The response has been overwhelmingly positive but incredibly varied. It’s ranged from positive to negative to plain misunderstanding.  We wanted to show in a more tangible format in getting to LoveEssence. We believe in these lists in getting to Loveessence. We are trying to create a movement in people think more broadly about getting to love. Many people have laughed. They have said it’s so true. Some people have hated the video. They felt like these things should not be addressed. They felt that those things were completely legitimate. Other people misinterpreted the video.

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