Dating these days, in a word, is arduous. There are as many dating avenues as there are avenues in NYC, and yet it still can be difficult to connect with someone. Online dating has been booming for years and there is no shortage of choices. The old-fashioned dating arena still exists because friends and family love to play matchmaker. Of course meeting people at work still happens, but with more and more people telecommuting, that’s also becoming more challenging.
Back when I was dating in the middle ages, before I was married and divorced, I thought it was a fun process, but that was long before the Internet and the myriad of dating options that exist today.
To be involved in successful dating with the goal of finding a match, a study earlier this year from the Pew Research Center showed that even though online dating is huge business and it has lost much of its stigma, the vast majority of relationships still begin offline and only 5% of Americans who are married or in a committed relationship met their significant other online.
But, many dating experts argue that to be in the game and be serious about meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right; you must get involved in online dating. In fact, it would be prudent to do both on-and-offline. With so many online dating sites to choose from, it may be best to have one pay site and one that’s free.
I have several friends that have gone the route of online dating. One friend, who has been successful and happily married for ten years now, nearly gave up searching right before she met her husband. Something about his profile and kind face made her push the enter button to accept his request. After many horrendous dates and con-artists, she found her “prince” and considers herself “lucky” she found him amidst the “dogpile.”
But several others I know have not been so lucky. One friend was ensconced in an online love affair with someone she had never met. He was kind, handsome (at least from his photos), adored her from afar, told her she was the most beautiful woman he ever saw (from her real photos) and could not wait to hold and kiss her. She thought she was in love. The problem was, he lived in Argentina and was having difficulty getting back into the states.
“Why?” I asked. “Is he a wanted man?” My friend poo-pooed my annoying inquiry and did not know the whole answer until about two months into their “relationship.” They had been communicating daily via phone and email, when he finally popped the big question – Can you lend me money, so I can leave Argentina? – The “reason” was because his money was tied up until he could “square up and get to the States.”
BAM!!! There it was! Scam artist!
Yes, this happens quite often, and many smart, educated women and men, fall for it and give away money because they have already given that person a piece of their heart. This is why online dating has received some bad press because anyone can be anyone they want to be behind that invisible wall. When we’re choosing potential dates online, we usually have little more than a picture and a paragraph to go on. But even before you’ve agreed to meet someone, there may be warning signs of impending dating disaster… you just have to know what to look for.
And as someone who loves a good reality show, just think of Cooks vs. Cons on the Food Network, couldn’t you just see a new Lifetime show called Dating: Real Men vs. Cons. How do you know if he is married, or is who he says he is?
Here as some ways to stay alert and aware to be sure you are dealing with a real man and not a fake when dating online.
1. Hey, Sexy
If a guy’s first communication with you is “Hey, Sexy”, or something similar to that, it is certainly not appropriate since he doesn’t know you, and it is most definitely not flattery at its best. Furthermore, if he’s saying that to you at first glance, he’s most likely engaging all females with that line. Don’t waste your time.
2. Google Him
Once you start communicating, get his real name and Google him. Also, ask him to connect with you on other social networks so you can tell if the “story” he is telling you about himself makes sense on all channels. If he tells you he’s not on social networks, but he’s on an online dating site, consider it a huge red flag.
3. Talk Before Meeting
After the initial email communications back and forth, talk as soon as possible on the phone. Hearing his voice and seeing his phone number’s area code can help build trust before you meet. If he doesn’t want to talk on the phone and only wants to text, you have to wonder what his true motivations are. He may be someone other than who he says he is.
4. Instant Photo
Ask him to take an instant photo on his phone camera before you meet and have him send it to you immediately. That way you can tell if his online photos and instant photos match. He may have some great photos of himself on his profile that were taken 15 years before.
5. Plans to Meet Get Canceled
If he makes plans and then cancels often, or can only talk on the phone specific times of the day you should be suspicious. And, when you do plan on meeting, if he shows, ALWAYS have your initial meeting in a public place.
6. Get His Address
After you meet and you feel the relationship might have some legs, find out where he lives. Tell him you would like to mail him a surprise. If he is reluctant to give you his address, he may be married. Not everything is as it seems. If he does give you his address, mail him a cute or funny card.
7. Trust Your gut
Do not bring him to your house until you have gotten to know him and feel a sense of trust. If something doesn’t seem right, ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT!!!
The bottom line for dating, both online and in-person are similar: be careful and have fun with it. It’s true that online dating definitely adds an additional layer of effort on your part that requires you to filter out the crazies from the good ones. Luckily, if you are careful and pay attention to the warning signs, the crazies tend to reveal themselves early on.