One of the many young women who are “dating up” to upgrade their opulent lifestyles is entrepreneur Zanela. For the majority of single people, a first date would consist of dinner and a few drinks, followed by an awkward conversation about who will be footing the bill.
However, Zanela did not. Her potential suitors are planning far nicer ways to win her over, and it’s not uncommon for a man to fly her abroad for a romantic break.
She acknowledges that she has never dated an “ordinary Joe,” instead favoring CEOs and older guys since she knows they will have the wherewithal to enjoy life’s finer things.
Men would often spend anything between a few thousand dollars and one hundred thousand dollars to win over the 26-year-old travel influencer who also owns her own skincare company.
This can include tickets to events like the Formula 1 in Monaco, where Zanela was brought on a date earlier this year, private aircraft, yachts, fine dining at upscale hotels, and wine and dine experiences.
The businessman from Canada who currently resides in London has been flown to Monaco, Paris, Cannes, and Switzerland for a date just in the past four weeks.
She is a member of the current social trend in online dating known as “Dating Up,” where people look for a partner to improve their own lifestyle and social position. She is one of the women who are quite clear about what they want in a suitor.
“Nine out of 10 of my dates have been CEOs because I like people who are super successful and are super financially free and CEOs typically have the most freedom with their own schedules,” Zanela explains on who she sees on the dating app Seeking – which has a monthly membership from £80.
“They tend to be millionaires and billionaires. That’s important because I want to be successful and create that lifestyle. But ultimately, it’s about the personality and the vibe.”
Zanela, who says she comes from a hardworking family with an artistic background, says she craves beauty.
“My lifestyle essentially entails just amazing, beautiful, experiences. I love spontaneous trips and love the freedom to travel widely, I love exploring different cultures and this way of dating gives me the opportunity to do that,” she adds.
“I love luxury – luxury goods, fashion. I’m naturally drawn to quality things. It’s a lifestyle where it’s very easy, very convenient, very beautiful and inspiring, and exciting.
“Being around like-minded people has shown me this is what I want in my life.”
Zanela typically selects a location on her dating app that she would want to visit. After that, she will approach prospective partners in that vicinity until she connects with one of them.
Additionally, she may believe that they can serve as her business mentors and provide advice.
She will spend a day or two speaking online and may even make a video call to confirm that the person is who they claim to be.
She will also evaluate the pictures to look for “anything shady” in them. To check if their name, phone number, and company information match, Zanela will Google them.
She will then be given the opportunity to remain for a few days or longer in the chosen place and will be given lodging in a hotel.
When Zanela is at ease, she frequently gives them her passport information so they can arrange her flights. These flights are typically last-minute for an overseas holiday, which is all part of the “thrill,” according to Zanela.
“My schedule is flexible too, I don’t have a nine to five and I don’t have a boss to answer to,” Zanela explains.
“For my work as a travel influencer, I’m supposed to take photos and build content from it so sometimes I would set my location to somewhere else and connect with men from those cities.
“Then if we match, it’s mostly being asked ‘hey, do you want to come and visit me?’ or ‘do you want to fly here’ and I’m like ‘hey, why not, let’s do it.”
“But also, I have my own money. I’m super independent.
“So if anything goes wrong, I will just leave. The first date will always be public and then if the vibe is off, I’ll just be like, ‘hey, you know what, like, I’m gonna fly back home’.
“I’m not as worried about meeting a scammer because I know that if anything feels off, I trust my intuition and I can act accordingly.”
She adds: “You need to make sure everything’s safe and have done your research and to make sure the person is like reliable.
“He also will want to make sure I’m a real person too and that I’m not a ‘catfish’.”
Her favorite date ever took place in Paris; they began with a magnificent supper and then watched the Eiffel Tower glitter.
The following day was spent touring the Louvre, and that evening they suited up for the opera.
Zanela adds that she has always chosen older men who she knows will be able to take care of her. Her dates are more frequently men in their mid-to-late-forties.
“I’ve always been told I’m very mature for my age,” she continues.
“I tend to like older men and I love like being mentored – that’s a big thing for me because I’m starting my own business.
“I like having the age gap because I actually get a lot out of it. Personally and professionally.
“I think all women have that natural inclination to seek someone that can take care of them and have a stress-free life but still can be super independent.
“I want to make my own money so I’m not mooching off.
“But I also love when someone can provide that for me and so I feel safe.
“I want to be secure and it’s also nice to have something to fall back on to if anything goes wrong with my own business, you know?
“I find that super sexy in a man and super masculine to be able to be taken care of.”
After learning how it all functions for the first time from a buddy at university, Zanela has used the exclusive dating site intermittently for the past six years.
Her buddy now has a child and is married to the man she met through the app.
Before then, Zanela had become frustrated at being disappointed in the selection of men available on regular dating sites. “I’m really picky. I haven’t dated an average Joe before, to be honest,” she adds.
Aside from experiences that she otherwise wouldn’t be able to do, she argues traveling with dates also allows her to get to know someone on a deeper level more quickly compared to conventional dating.
“You get to know the person really well and you really get to have like a deep dive – it’s like being pushed into the deep end of a swimming pool,” Zanela says.
“It fast tracks the dating process and I like that in a way because it gives a good sense of ‘do you want to be with this person or not?’ Because sometimes on the first date you might see a flaw and you get really turned off and you never see that person again, but you never really know if that person just had a bad day or whatever.
“So when you spend a lot of time with them traveling, you can see more of them holistically and it gives you more an opportunity to see like ‘okay, how does my life fit into theirs?’”
“If you look at the academic literature on ‘dating up’ and the evolution theories, females generally are attracted to men with greater resources – it’s biologically wired,” she says.
“I actually don’t find a lot of people criticize me for it, but if they do, then I would just be like, ‘hey, this is my life, this is what I value and these are my goals.’
“I’m going to go for what I want in life. I’m happy, go live your life.”