FunkyFish is a dating site that exists in English as well as in German and Dutch and started off in 2002. R. Brands (45 years old) is the founder of the Dutch FunkyFish.nl, which is one of the first (Christian) dating sites that came into existence in the Netherlands . “When the internet came up, I thought: how cool would it be if Christians could meet each other online! People need contact. The internet can help with that.” Brands started the platform with the aim of creating space for community and dating. In this article we talk about the importance of community, and friendship as the basis of a relationship.
Text: Thirza van der Neut
Brands often sees that people start with an unrealistic wish list when they start dating. “It’s often too idealistic. You are not perfect yourself, let alone that the other person is.” Moreover, what people look for in a partner does not always correspond to what they look for in a friend, while friendship is the basis for a lasting love relationship. “We point this out to people during workshops. We have participants make a list of what they are looking for in a partner. Then we let them name what they find important in a friendship. Often the two lists have little in common. That is pretty crazy.”
In the Bible we read a lot about qualities that you develop as a Christian. “Biblical character traits such as loyalty, patience, kindness and love are also part of your relationship. That’s why it’s important to first ask yourself: could I be friends with the other person?”
What is a realistic picture of a relationship?
Another thing you need to work on together is what a realistic picture of a relationship is. “A lot of people draw their ideas about a relationship from romantic movies or magazines that don’t reflect real life. An image is created about relationships that does not correspond to reality.” On the short term, in a relationship you may be mainly concerned with appearance, whether you click with someone, and whether you feel in love. “But you have to try to think about the long term, whether you are having fun with the other person, whether there is synergy, whether you would like to take care of the other person and whether someone is good for your heart.”
How do you do it – online dating?
“Online dating is not easy. It takes time and reality sometimes can be challenging. Men in particular find it difficult to draw up a good profile and to keep it up-to-date. In addition, you often receive few responses or the conversations remain very superficial.”
Fortunately, there are also things that can help you: “Explore the tips and tricks beforehand: learn to deal with disappointment, discover how to write a good profile, sit down and stay active.” And perhaps the most important key is getting involved in activities: meet and spend time together. “Don’t just brush someone off because the appearance isn’t quite what you had in mind, but give it a chance when you’re having a good time and when there are things you think are attractive in the other person.”
You say getting active is important.
“That’s right. Participate in activities, workshops, group holidays or other group encounters. Get to know people and approach them.” It is an important thing to do to combat the feeling of loneliness. “There is no person who is single who would go public with this, but loneliness is a big theme in many people’s lives. The pain is deep, really deep, a problem that in my view is not always necessary. If we learn to date each other in a different way – starting with friendships – we don’t judge each other so harshly by ideals right away and the contact is way more relaxed.”
Education is also a key to learning to date.
“Right now, 40% of marriages end in divorce. Children of divorced parents often have more difficulty entering into lasting relationships, because they lack a good example.” But relationships can also be good and strong. “If people have a good marriage, it has a positive impact on the people themselves and their environment. People feel safer and have a stable anchor point to start from.” Education is a powerful tool to show you how to get there.
The next workshop the Dutch website offers for example, is about ‘flirting and making contact’. “If you want to date in real life, you have to approach someone. Because many people find that difficult, we are happy to give advice”, Brands concludes.