Online Dating and the Story of a Spider and a Fly

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Online dating is becoming increasingly popular among the online community of men and women. An increasing number of people are using online dating sites to find their future wife or husband. As of 2009, total number of people who have used online dating in the U.S. is 40 million, in China is 140 million and in India is 15 million. Some of the more popular services include eHarmony which has 20 million members while MATCH[dot]COM which has 15 million members. Statistics also reveal that on the online dating sites, men tell lies most about their age, height and income whereas women tell lies most about their weight, physical build and age. As of 2009, the online dating industry is worth $1.049 billion dollars per year which means that it is bigger industry than pornography. The mobile phone dating market is quickly gaining popularity with its worth of $550 million in 2008 and it is expected to reach $ 1.3 billion dollars in 2012. However, one dating review site has attested that “mobile phone dating is more about instant gratification. It is considered a tech-savvy young adults tool, [young adults] who are not looking for so much a long term relationship, but a casual fling or hook-up.” It is not surprising therefore, as Joseph Essas, vice president of technology at has noted, that their online dating website encounters the highest demand from people looking for matches just before Valentine’s Day. He says that on Valentine’s Day, “our demand doubles, if not quadruples.”

This worldwide popularity of online dating also brings new challenges and problems for its users. The anonymous nature of internet makes it easier for people to deceive others about their true nature and identity. It gives a perfect opportunity to the online predators and sex offenders to seek out their victims online. They can prey upon innocent young women. These online predator men know many ways to attract women. They captivate women they meet online by convincing them that “I am the man you have been seeking for”. During online chatting, they learn from women themselves as to what their needs are, whether emotional or material or both. Many a times such predator men target women who are emotionally or economically deprived because they know it very well that it is easier to manipulate such women. These men use smooth talk and flattery when they are chatting with women online or texting them or even talking to them on the cell phone or on web cams. This scenario is very similar to the situation aptly depicted in an Urdu poem of the poet of Islam, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal. In his poem “A Spider and a fly”, Iqbal writes as this poem is translated into English as follows:

One day a spider said to a fly

"Though you pass this way daily


My hut has never been honored by you

By making a chance visit inside by you


Though depriving strangers of a visit does not matter

Evading the near and dear ones does not look good


My house will be honored by a visit by you

 A ladder is before you if you decide to step in


Hearing this the fly said to the spider,

 "Sir, you should entice some simpleton thus


This fly would never be pulled into your net

Whoever climbed your net could never step down"


The spider said, "How strange, you consider me a cheat

I have never seen a simpleton like you in the world


I only wanted to entertain you

I had no personal gain in view


You have come flying from some unknown distant place

Resting for a while in my house would not harm you


Many things in this house are worth your seeing

Though apparently a humble hut you are seeing


Dainty drapes are hanging from the doors

And I have decorated the walls with mirrors


Beddings are available for guests’ comforts

Not to everyone’s lot do fall these comforts".


The fly said, "All this may very well be

But do not expect me to enter your house


"May God protect me from these soft beds

Once asleep in them getting up again is impossible"


 The spider spoke to itself on hearing this talk

"How to trap it? This wretched fellow is clever


Many desires are fulfilled with flattery in the world

All in the world are enslaved with flattery"


Thinking this the spider spoke to the fly thus!

"Madam, God has bestowed great honors on you!


Everyone loves your beautiful face

Even if someone sees you for the first time


Your eyes look like clusters of glittering diamonds

God has adorned your beautiful head with a plume


This beauty, this dress, this elegance, this neatness!

And all this is very much enhanced by singing in flight".


The fly was touched by this flattery

And spoke, "I do not fear you any more


I hate the habit of declining requests

Disappointing somebody is bad indeed"


Saying this it flew from its place

When it got close the spider snapped it


The spider had been starving for many days

The fly provided a good leisurely meal

(Dr. Mohammad Iqbal – Bang-e-Dara)

Hence, this story of a spider and a fly tells us that flattery is a very powerful weapon. There are many predator men on the world-wide-web who are just like the spider mentioned in this poem of Iqbal. In fact, those men may be regarded as “spidermen”. These “spidermen” on the world wide web use flattery to trap women who are as innocent as the fly in this story and once these women are trapped in the deceitful web of such “spidermen”, these women lose everything – their honor, virginity, wealth, and many a times, their life. Dr. Anne Moir has commented precisely on this aspect of male psychology when she wrote that mothers all around the world caution their daughters that “men are after only one thing, and they are usually right.”



McCarthy, Ellen (April 10, 2009) “On Dating: Online Dating and Deception”. The Washington Post ( Retrieved on: 2012-11-10.

US B2C Online Paid Content: Five-Year Forecast (2008) Forrester Research Inc. survey of online adults. Quoted in: Mitchell, Robert L. (Feb. 13, 2009) “Online Dating: It’s bigger than porn”. ( Retrieved on: 2012-11-10.    

November 09, 2009. “The Mobile Dating Market”.


Retrieved on: 2012-11-10.  

Mitchell, Robert L. (Feb. 19, 2009) “Online Dating: Analyzing the Algorithms of Attraction”. PC World – Web & Communication Software ( Retrieved on: 2012-11-10.  

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