Welcome back to my Realms of Relationships Column at the Smorgasbord. In last month’s edition I talked about Online Communications regarding scam emails and how to beware of them. In this issue, I’m going to talk more about Online Romantic Relationships and what to look for when vetting potential mates.
Back in the day, meeting potential love interests entailed going out and meeting people and mingling. Now this could happen anywhere, but in my heydays, going dancing at clubs two-three times a week afforded me the chance to meet many potential dates, despite my policy ‘never to go out with anyone I met in a bar or club’, and I stuck to that. But I sure had my share of romantic relationships – often with the wrong types as I lived and learned, and many of those relationships began with people I met at the workplace.
In those ancient times, like modern times, we dated and rated our suitors through the time we spent in those relationships. Sure, socially active people out in public still do meet their significant others, but with the advent of technology, many more are going to dating sites in search of someone to fill their emptiness, looking for love. And meeting a potential suitor on the internet comes with its own set of rules – because we are getting to know someone online – sight unseen, going on the information we receive from them. But what if they’re lying about who they are? How do we vet these unknown strangers we may become attracted to, to help verify if they are who they say they are?
Let’s dig in!
We’ve come a long way from the days of getting all dressed and looking our best to go out on the town, hoping to make a connection when looking for love. Sure, it still happens, but not as much as internet dating sites and social media apps are common ground now for those searching for a mate.
As a person who studies people for a hobby, I’ve learned to adjust my sails when trying to figure out the validity of online people. I can say with authority, that there are a lot of lurkers on social media who try to hit on women. I have no doubts, that there are just as many women who prey on men too. I’m speaking as a woman who gets stalked occasionally – especially on Facebook, as do quite a few of my colleagues.
I’m going to attribute my vetting experience to being an avid watcher of police procedurals for many years – part of my fascination with studying people, curious to learn what spurs their criminal tendencies.
First up: What to beware of:
Fast Eddies – This is my name for suitors that haven’t spent enough chat time getting to know each other and who go gung-ho for setting up a live meet. Just no! There’s a lot more vetting to do before you should get to that part.
No photo – Anyone who won’t post a photo, in my books, doesn’t have good intentions, or has something to hide. And if they do post a photo, make sure you use an app like Tineye. This app allows you to plug in any photo, whether downloaded or using copy and paste, and checks the origins of the image.
Keep a list – Write down facts of discovery through conversations with a potential suitor. When you write things down as you learn them, you have something to go back on when putting together the profile for that person. Make a list of their hobbies, their perspective on issues that are important to you as you discuss. Ask pertinent questions and be subtle when doing so. – For example, asking someone what their religion is might be too forward, but rewording your questions before blurting them out will get you a lot further. Instead, you might ask if the person enjoys celebrating religious holidays with family. This type of question will get you a much better answer than just a yes or no, and leave an open door to elaborate on. Let’s say the suitor responds with, “We only go to church at Christmas or Easter.” That statement allows for you to respond and ask many more questions such as: Who is we? So you’re Catholic? So you aren’t very religious? Be crafty with your questions. And write down responses.
If a potential suitor is gabbing online with you midday and told you he works five days a week, subtly slide in the question – ‘Aren’t you working today?’ It’s totally possible he was thinking about you and wanted to say hello during a break, but asking the question will give you a clearer indication, based on time chatting and what comes out of the conversation helping to determine better, the sincerity of his words.
Beware of being sucked in! It’s astounding to me the amount of people who get swooped into financial scams by fake suitors. If you learn nothing from my post here, learn this – NEVER send money to anyone courting you online. NEVER. There are plenty of scammers and desperate people among those with good intentions, and it’s our job to filter them out to remain safe.
NEVER go it alone when meeting a potential suitor for the first time in person.
Set up a first-time meet in a public place. Make sure to tell a friend or relative where you are going so somebody in your circle knows where you are.
Take your own means of transportation. Do not accept an offer from the suitor to pick you up. There are two potential dangers – getting trapped in their vehicle, and allowing them to know where you live.
If you feel enough time and information has passed between you both and perhaps you’re both ready to meet, again, make sure you set up a meet in a public place, you take your own transportation, and you’ve informed a friend of your whereabouts.
If by chance you’re ready to visit the suitor who lives in another city or country, book yourself a hotel/motel room before you go. It’s important to have a place of shelter if things go wrong. You could book it for a week or two and once you feel comfortable in person, can always cancel the rest of the booking.
What can you do to protect yourself as an online member of a dating site:
Create a new and separate email address and user-name to use for any dating site profiles, that way if things go sour with someone, and you wish to eliminate your original profile and any breadcrumbs of data that attached to your user name profile, you can rejoin with a new email address and user name with no ties to your real everyday email address or any other previously used. This way, if you had a bad experience with another member, they won’t be able to hound you.
Photos – always download a photo from your own direct source – meaning, not a photo taken from your social media that can be tracked back to original source (again, you aren’t the only one aware of apps like ‘tineye’ and others can use it to add your photo and learn more about you on social media before you’re ready for that). And be real. Use a real and ‘somewhat’ current image of yourself – not one of someone else, no other images in place of, or a photo that is decades old. If you are serious about wanting to meet someone, then you’ll eventually want to meet that person live, and ultimately, the gig will be up if you fib.
Checklist of Reminders
• Keep a list of facts, making sure they add up! –
• Financial requests? – Run fast!
• Use your instincts, don’t be gullible.
Make your rules clear. Be upfront about your rules, never agree to meet anyone in person until enough time has passed in the online chat or phone chats, before graduating to any next steps, until a trust can be felt. No throwing caution to the wind.
Learn How to Vet Online suitors
On social media, there’s a plethora of available information on each and every one of us who use the internet. You can do your own people searching by checking their various social media accounts for bios, and reading chat on those forums to get a feel for how they interact, and who they interact with, Googling them, and by checking out any available websites they are on. Remember to use the available tools on each social app to block or report anyone hassling you on any social sites. Also remember to use the settings on these apps to make your own posts available to friends only if you don’t want any lurkers.
This online dating coach, Amie knows the internet dating protocol well:
Last of all, I do want to add that after we’ve done our due diligence in vetting the potentials we chat with online, remember that just because we aren’t talking in person, our personality and character will shine through between the lines and through our words. Have you ever read a comment on social media and can just feel the smile come through? It can! So pay attention to your words and how you evoke them when trying to make a good impression. Below, find a few paragraphs from the chapter, Online Dating, from my book, Words We Carry:
“By talking, we express who we are and what we care about, what interests us. This is all part of personality and character. Maybe our passion is for our children, our hobbies, or a cause we believe in. All these things show heart and compassion. By keeping true to our authentic selves and sharing our enthusiasm with others, although our passions may not appeal to everyone, we will eventually connect with someone who appreciates our attributes.
By sharing our thoughts, we emit character. Not all of this will happen overnight, but if we take this advice in stride and adapt it to our lives, we will attract like-minded people. This applies to dating profiles, blogs, and casual conversations.
Did you know you can actually feel someone smiling through his or her words? It’s true. Smiles aren’t only visual. You can sense them when you’re reading a book or article, the same way you can sense them in a chat box or a personal bio. When somebody reads your bio, he or she receives an evaluation of who you are.
Words are powerful, so use them wisely and to their best potential. Everything you say and write on the internet follows you.”
Now, let’s discuss. Have any of you met your significant other online? Do you use dating apps? Would you like to share a story of an experience you had?
My thanks to Debby for this detailed guide to online dating… in pays to be vigilant
Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.
D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.
When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.
Books by D.G. Kaye
One of the recent reviews for Words We Carry
What starts with the author’s explanation of why she wrote the book: namely to share negative experiences and obstacles in which self-esteem issues and insecurities when faced and dealt with blossom to learning self-love; this is a remarkable revolutionary read. One I wish I would have read in my earlier teen years when I struggled with my own self-esteem issues. Self-perception baggage from wounded egos, what weighs us down, fester and damage the soul the author writes. So true.
This is so well written that it’s not just an enlightening educational tool but a wonderful read from a woman not afraid to show her underbelly, huge heart, and she does it with much authenticity and talent. I resonated with so much of what she wrote in these enlightening pages, but what stands out the most is how I slid down the rabbit’s hole due to my desire to want to belong, to socially fit. I suppose all of us who relate to this unfolding have a personal story of our own. Mine was rooted in a family dynamic that made it difficult for me to have friends to my home and consequently I missed out on social bonding that helps develop a strong sense of self. It wasn’t until later in life, in high school and university, that I encountered warm satisfying friendships. By then the damage was done.
I just wish I had this book in my earlier years to have helped my younger, more formative self. Thankfully, it’s never too late to unwind wounds and deepen self-love, which is another thing I found from this beautifully powerful read. In summation, let me say I am grateful I had this recommended to me by a friend, someone whose words I respect. This gem of a book did not disappoint. Highly recommend.
Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – follow Debby: Goodreads – : Blog: D.G. Kaye Writer – Twitter: @pokercubster – Linkedin: D.G. Kaye – Facebook: D.G. Kaye – Instagram: D.G. Kaye – Pinterest: D.G. Kaye
Thank you for joining us today and Debby would love to hear from you.. thanks Sally.