Find out all about meeting people in Spain and what it is like being single in Spain as we interview Chris Hawkins, an expat who runs a very successful free online Spanish dating website.
We talk to him about his move from Southern England to the Costa Blanca and talk about the difficulties in meeting other people in Spain, particularly with a view towards relationships in Spain.
We also find out all about his dating in Spain website and how it is helping singles in Spain meet up and form relationships and friendships.
Online Internet dating websites have really taken off in a big way in Spain. Expats moving to Spain want to make friendships and many are loving for love and relationships.
Previously people looking to find their perfect match would place personal ads and it was much more difficult to meet people of the opposite sex but now you can go online and join Internet dating sites in Spain – many of these dating sites are free to join.
Chris I really want to find out about your dating website but to begin with let’s find out who you are! – ok so why did you move to Spain?
Well probably like many other people it was a lifestyle decision due to my intense working hours and high levels of stress.
I had a job which was incredibly highly paid working as an IT consultant. Of course highly paid also meant long hours, deadlines and lots of travelling.
It really took its toll, to the extent that at 27 I had a heart scare and from then I knew things had to change. I came home and announced to my wife that we were going to move to Spain. At that point I hadn’t actually ever been to Spain!
Then what was your attraction to Spain if you didn’t really know it?
I knew the obvious things such as the great weather and climate which was for me a huge attraction, plus the fact that it already had a large English infrastructure. I also knew it would be a lot cheaper to live in Spain and so whatever I did, I knew I wouldn’t have to work as hard and that has really improved my health immeasurably.
We are talking here in the most amazing location. We can see the whole of Moraira and even Calpe in the distance. It is amazingly green and lush which would surprise many people who don’t know this area of Spain. How did you have the good fortune to land up here?
My first step was to go on an inspection trip to the Torrevieja area. Honestly for me it was a disappointment, I didn’t find what I was looking for.
Luckily later I heard about the Javea, Moraira and Calpe area – the Northern Costa Blanca – and the next inspection trip to that area was exactly what I imagined and wanted. We bought a plot of land and one of the largest developers in Moraira started to build our house.
While the house was being built, using my computer and IT skills I started a property website as I could see that there was a real lack of easy-to-use, professional looking sites. In 2003 we moved out to Spain.
Since then I have helped scores of people also find their dream home in Spain. In 2005 we won the prestigious International Property Awards, for best Spanish property website. With sponsors such as Daily Mail, CNBC and Bentley this was a real blue chip award with some major competitors.
So you are obviously very successful in the property business – the Internet dating website – how did that start up?
Well my move to Spain has been a great success – I have no desire to move back to England and I love my life in Spain, unfortunately though my move to Spain coincided with me getting divorced and hence becoming single and this is how the Spanish dating website began.
I know this must be difficult to talk about but it has to be said – I have noticed just how many relationships seem to break up in Spain. So many marriages in Spain seem to fail. What’s your take on that?
It’s very true. I think some people have relationship issues already in the UK but they don’t realise this because they are stressed about many things which disguises the problems. When they move to Spain looking for a fresh start, of course their problems come with them!
The situation is magnified because in the UK many couples are working and don’t see each other for very long. In Spain maybe for the first time ever they are together 24 hours a day and cracks can appear.
The availability and cheapness of alcohol can mean much time spent in bars and you meet other disillusioned couples, temptation comes along and the obvious happens.
Just to add my thoughts – great comments by the way – I also see the financial strains of life in Spain playing a part in the breakups of relationships.
People do have to work long hours to survive, (good) jobs are scarce and people earn much less than they did in the UK. This pressure is very hard to deal with and rightly or wrongly it can be that people turn on each other to vent their frustrations.
When expat couples in Spain split up when generally happens next?
Often I see that one partner stays and one goes back to the UK. Also many couples end up staying in Spain because they came here for the lifestyle so they still don’t want to return to the UK. Certainly there is a growing number of single expats in Spain.
How easy it is to meet people in Spain – say compared to the UK?
No doubt about it – it is much harder. Most expats in Spain are retirees and those who are younger, the majority are married (at the moment!). Unless you are exceptionally confident and can just walk into bars on your own then it can be a struggle to meet people in Spain.
Is that why you started iwant2meetyou.com?
Yes, I admit there was an ulterior motive as I did want to meet people myself but don’t forget there were already other online dating websites where I could do this.
What happened was that I tried some and really thought that they could be a lot better and with my skills it was natural to develop what I wanted to see as an actual user of dating sites in Spain.
Where are you today with the iwant2meetyou.com website?
We launched in February 2008, it is free to join and we have achieved huge growth since. We have new members joining all the time, people are meeting up and I know for a fact that a lot of friendships have been formed as well as relationships.
We are also now expanding outside of Spain to include other Mediterranean countries such as Portugal, Malta, Greece, South of France, Italy, Cyprus and Turkey.
I’ve used dating sites myself a long time ago, I remember not telling many friends as I felt embarrassed. Is that still the case?
Not anymore. It’s a very practical way of immediately finding like-minded people who are looking for the same things as you.
Times have changed and the Internet has really helped. Now with social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook, people are more used to meeting others online without having actually met in real-life.
Internet dating is just an extension of this – communicating with people online with a view to meeting up with people who sound compatible.
With dating agencies in the past it was often a case of talking on the phone and then meeting – a little bit blind date really. Now with Internet dating, you can see photos and profiles and chat immediately on the computer. This is just fun in itself whether or not you actually continue to meeting up.
One thing I’m keen to add is that something that is very important to me is security. I monitor the site meticulously and will remove anybody that breaks the rules or anybody that I believe is not genuine. The members we have are real expats in Spain who are genuinely seeking fun and friendship.
The Spanish ex-pat interview above was recorded on the 24th of September 2008. We hope the information about being single in Spain, forming relationships, making friends in Spain and online dating in Spain been helpful and interesting and a special thanks and good luck to Chris.
Popular Related Reading…