Whenever I do my Sex is Not for Sissies seminars someone will ask me what I think about online dating. After being asked several times I thought it might be interesting to look into the ups and downs of dating or at least developing a relationship with someone you have never seen and who is not known to people who know and care for you.
Well, my jury is still out. I have dutifully sacrificed myself for the good of science and logged on to a few dating sites. There are some sites with absolutely no prerequisites but access to the internet and there are others that require more screening and analysis than would be needed to be vetted for a Presidential appointment.
But, longsuffering investigator that I am, I slogged through pages and pages and pages for Eharmony and Match, and filled out a few forms for Zoosk, OurTime and BlackPeopleMeet. As brave (and sometimes brazen) as I am, I did not venture into sites like Omegle or others that invite you to start relationships with true strangers.
The result: a lot of opportunities to meet people and there were some who either sounded too good to be true or refused to put up a picture of any kind. If Prince Charming is, in fact, tall, dark, and handsome, has all his hair and all his teeth and has a bank account that would allow him to take me all around the country or the world that is just marvelous. But, if added to that, the Prince has not ever been married or in a serious relationship by age 50+ because his Highness never found anyone who understands him, forgive me if my “you must think I was born yesterday radar” goes off with very loud alarms. And why can’t I see what you look like. You don’t have to be a stunner but if you are a troll, put it on out there. Perhaps I am attracted to trolls (but only if they are self-confident trolls).
So far, some good, nothing too bad – so what is the ugly. There is a fairly common occurrence in the realm of online dating: catfishing. To be catfished is to be misled into thinking that you are meeting the man or woman of your dreams only to find that someone has created a persona just for your interactions. This might be something as innocent as a Cyrano de Bergerac situation or as sinister as someone who plans to do you harm. There is no real way to know the motivation for such grand deception but there are ways to find out if your One True Love is real.
Does your love interest:
• Have either no photos posted or only have high resolution professional quality photos?
o You can use Google to do a reverse image search. Don’t be surprised if your Prince has picked up a few photos from someone else’s profile
• Have a Facebook site that has only recently been set up and only has a few postings and very few if any friends listed?
o Facebook and LinkedIn are excellent sites for getting more details if the person is real.
• Refuse or continually find an excuse to avoid talking on the phone
o Let’s face it, the Prince should sound like a prince and not a toad
• Refuse to meet, especially if you live geographically close?
o Scary. What is being hidden: a spouse, a lack of manners, a dearth of funds?
• Insist that video-chatting using an iPad, Skype or other device is beyond their scope if they live a long distance away?
o Really! Anyone who wants to can watch a YouTube video for instruction.
• Hint at or openly suggest that there is a financial situation that you might help with?
o If this does not send you packing you might as well start your search on America’s Most Wanted. Some people enjoy justifying bad acts and plan to help them CHANGE!
If any of these situations exist you are probably being catfished – a new term for being scammed, hoodwinked, deluded and otherwise lied to. And there is no telling how complicated the lie might be.
So the good is there are hundreds of thousands of people out there looking for the perfect soul mate (or the perfect hookup). The bad is there are hundreds of thousands on line and you might have to dredge through 99,999 images and profiles to find someone who makes your heart sing (or at least is palatable enough to meet for coffee). And the ugly is that there are bad people out there who want to take advantage.
Please let me know your experiences with online dating – the good the bad and the ugly. Email me at Valda@valdaford.com.
Click here to see article originally printed in Guilford Woman Magazine.