4 Dangers Of Online Dating - How To Stay Safe Online
By: Carlos Cavallo
With the fast-paced lives most of us lead today, we're always trying to get things done more quickly and efficiently. But you don't want to experience any dangers of online dating. You gotta stay safe meeting men online.
Connecting with people is one example. Getting online makes it easier to stay in the loop with everyone even if we're on the go. We've got Facebook, Twitter, and all the social media tools at our disposal.
We're social animals, after all. A hectic schedule really shouldn't get in the way of staying connected - or making NEW connections for that matter.
Online dating is the most convenient way to look for love when you're busy juggling other stuff in your life. One quick look at a guy's dating profile, and you'll immediately figure out more or less if you're a good match.
Not only is it easy to screen for common interests and check off those "Mr. Right" boxes, online dating helps you date MORE men in a shorter period of time.
Just a couple of decades ago, women couldn't meet a fraction of the number of men in their lifetime compared to today. That's why dating apps and sites like Tinder and Match.com are so popular - not to mention so lucrative.
On a yearly average, it's a $700 million industry with over 1,400 sites scrambling to offer you the convenience of meeting your potential soulmate in just a few clicks.
Like traditional dating however, meeting someone online has its own set of pitfalls you need to watch out for.
Whether you do it online or the old-fashioned way, dating will always be a mixed bag.
As for online dating though, the chances of actual physical danger are relatively low.
Of course, the extreme cases wind up on the news. Other than that though, you'll likely risk meeting guys who are boring or annoying at worst.
Nevertheless, personal safety should always be your NUMBER ONE priority when meeting total strangers, or going outside in general.
I always encourage women to take an ONGOING self-defense class. Know how to defend yourself and you've got no reason for worry.
While the likelihood of assault in online dating is RARE, it doesn't hurt to learn an essential life skill like defending yourself.
Aside from the physical risks, there are other factors you need to keep in mind before jumping into the world of online dating. Think twice about dating a guy if you spot any of the following warning signs:
Online Dating Warning - Sign #1: He's in a hurry
You've probably heard of couples becoming an item practically overnight (like with a friend or relative), but don't buy into the hype. When it comes to dating a guy online, fast and furious is NOT how you want to go.
Be wary of the person who's a little TOO eager to jump into a relationship both with feet. You're better off with a guy with a REASONABLE amount of hesitation.
There's nothing wrong with letting things play out first BEFORE making such a huge decision.
In fact, it's a sign of common sense - and a LACK of reckless behavior or malicious intent.
Online Dating Problem - Sign #2: His calendar is extremely tight
Is he struggling to squeeze you in his busy week? Is his schedule consistently packed with stuff to do …and little room to see or talk to you?
This obviously means that something's up, but a lot of women unconsciously ignore this sign because they're caught up in their feelings. And a guy that's in demand SEEMS more valuable.
No matter how great he might make you feel, watch out if seems like you need to make an appointment just to talk to him.
Whether he's hiding something important (like a wife or girlfriend) or is simply just too busy to see you, then he's clearly not available for you the way you deserve.
Watch out for this guy - Sign #3: Is He Phishing? Or Catfishing?
Money is awkward enough to talk about with a close friend or family member, let alone a total stranger.
So if a new guy broaches the subject right from the start (e.g. he needs to borrow a couple of bucks), he's probably trying to scam you. Both men AND women have been suckered out of ridiculous sums of money after falling head over heels with a con artist.
No guy in his right mind would ask someone he barely knows for money, so don't hesitate to block or report him immediately. Better safe than sorry!
However, it's not enough to know the basic warning signs. More than that, you also need to take the proper steps to keep yourself safe.
Here are top four dangers you need to AVOID while looking for love online:
Online Dating Danger #1: Losers and liars
Romance is a heck of drug. When you meet a guy you really like, your brain is literally flooded with an intoxicating mix of neurotransmitters that make you feel good.
In this state, it's easy to overlook indicators of bad behavior or a destructive personality. This is why you need to make the mental habit of staying cautious even if you're swept in a tide of warm and fuzzy emotions.
You can't get around the biology of attraction, but that's not an excuse to turn a blind eye to the following signals:
- Inconsistent statements: Is something NOT adding up? If he claims to be making six figures a month but had trouble paying cab fare to meet you, make a note of that. Same goes for his interests. Beware if he can't tell the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek when his dating profile said he was a "sci-fi buff".
- He's not forthcoming: Never trust a guy who's skimpy on the basic details. Of course, talking about past relationships and childhood issues are off-limits in the beginning. But he should have NO problem giving out contact information like a phone number and email (even if only uses it for online dating), what he does for a living or his last name. He's up to something shady if he's holding out on otherwise harmless information.
- He's a lone wolf: Does he refuse to introduce you to anyone from his social circles? If you don't know any of his friends, colleagues or relatives, then he's probably covering his tracks. This is - of course - a few dates into things.
And if he makes you uncomfortable even though you can't put your finger on it, it's time to play it safe…
The first thing you should do is make sure he's really the guy who he says he is. A quick way is to do a reverse image search on images.google.com using his profile photo.
Instead of typing his name in Google Images, click on the little camera icon in the search box and upload his picture. This will bring up any matches of the same image online and you'll find out if it's really his.
Also, it's a good measure to set up an email address you use exclusively for your dating activities. Take care not to put in your full name in your email profile, or any other bit of information that can be used to look you up.
Don't put yourself at risk by using an old email account (which probably has your full name, etc.) you've had for at least a year or so.
Aside from that, there are a number of ways to steer clear of unsavory men looking to take advantage of you online. Here are some additional tips:
- Background checks are a must, and Intelius.com is a handy tool to look up anyone with an online dating profile. This works for any dating site so you can find out if your guy has a checkered past with other women.
- Worried if he's committed a felony? Go to True.com to look up any criminal records …or if he's already married! (Yes, that's a real possibility.)
- Match.com offers you an alternate contact number if you're still not comfortable giving away your real one.
- Lastly, do a little Google-Kung-Fu and search his name. You might be surprised how easy it is to get a little info on your guy with a straightforward approach.
Online Dating Danger #2: Mr. Eager Beaver
Eagerness can be a good thing, but not when it comes to dating. You have to turn it down a notch when a guy seems to be in a hurry to take things to the next level.
If you find yourself getting caught in a rush of emotions, that's the best time to take a step back and do a little rational thinking.
Are you genuinely interested in dating him? Or is he just pressuring you?
On that note, does he REALLY have the qualities you're looking for in a soulmate or partner? Or are you unconsciously overlooking this part because he's telling you all the things you want to hear?
Even if you're feeling that spark, it's still a good idea to let things unfold naturally. Any decent guy will be cool with that and NOT make a big fuss about it.
Otherwise, take it as a warning sign if you get the feeling that he's on a timetable.
I always tell my female clients that all romances (online or offline) are a "maybe" at the start. It's NEVER a "YES!"
Sometimes, it can also be a "NO" - and that's perfectly fine. It's easier to meet another guy online (convenience, remember?) than getting in too deep with someone questionable.
Look, there's a difference between honest-to-goodness enthusiasm and FORCING intimacy when it's CLEARLY not the time yet.
Be on the lookout for a guy with that nervous kind of energy about him. He'll have a desperate urgency to move things along right away.
Your best safeguard is to start off by communicating with him using the dating service's internal chat system. Then you can move on to email, followed by a voice call after.
If everything checks out, you can finally agree to meet with him in person.
Remember, it's your right to set the relationship at a pace you're comfortable with. Don't be afraid to let him know if you feel that things are moving too fast for you, or if you need a little more time to know him.
Observe how he reacts. If he gets bent out of shape or throws a tantrum over a reasonable request, that's your cue to STOP all forms of communication with him.
One of the advantages of online dating is the ability to block anyone who creeps you out or poses a threat. Don't be afraid to hit that eject button if the situation calls for it.
It may seem cold, but never forget that you should always look out for number one. Your safety is way more important than hurting a stranger's feelings.
Online Dating Danger #3: Letting desperation get the better of you
There's no easy way to say it, but most of the women who get scammed when dating online are the ones who are desperate for a partner.
And just like traditional dating, there will always be guys who will take advantage of women looking for someone to fill in that empty void in their lives.
It's like buying a car. You wouldn't whip out your checkbook for the next available one with an engine and set of wheels, would you?
You simply don't want to get from point A to point B. You also want to make sure you get there are safely and comfortably.
You get my drift?
It's important to have STANDARDS, especially when it comes to a potential partner.
You could very well be investing YEARS of your life with this person, so it's wise to weed out the clunkers from your dating pool.
And if you're too lonely to consider this, an unscrupulous guy might slip through the cracks without you noticing.
The best way to keep a healthy perspective on men and dating is to make sure the other parts of your life are on point.
The better balanced these other aspects are (e.g. your job, personal hobbies, non-romantic relationships), the pickier you'll be when it comes to guys.
And trust me, being picky with men is NOT a bad thing.
Having a support system in place will make you a happier and more stable person…
…which in turn, makes you a better judge of character.
Online Dating Danger #4: Mr. Player
Whether you're meeting someone online or offline, there's the risk of running into a guy who's just looking for another notch on his belt.
This type of guy isn't interested in a deep emotional connection. He's only after a one-night stand, and lots of guys get online for this sole purpose.
I'm not making judgments of any kind here. If you happen to be into casual intimate relationships, then that's fine. What I am saying though, is that you need to be EXTRA careful with that kind of approach.
Though I'll bet you're looking for much more than that.
Whatever your preference, it doesn't mean you should throw caution to the wind. You should NEVER ignore the following:
- He's in a hurry to get your personal contact details, like your Facebook profile, personal number and email. Online scammers are after personal information, so it's a good measure to hold out on giving this away. While you're at it, avoid putting any sensitive information on your dating profile as well. The last thing you want is to provide clues about your password or other personal details.
- He wants to meet up RIGHT AWAY rather than get to know each other first. Or worse, he wants to stay at your place on the first date…! Even if you're interested in a one-night stand, you should still take the time to chat rather than having a face-to-face meeting right out the gate.
- His dating profile looks "tailor made" to specifically impress you. For instance, his interests seem to perfectly match yours. If you feel like he has TOO MUCH in common with you, maybe that's part of his plan.
- He says all the right things. Everything he says sounds a little too perfect. He makes you feel like you've known him all your life.
If any of these apply to him, you can do a little homework before meeting him in person. Do a background check like I said earlier - even if you don't have any intentions of seeing him after your one-time fling.
If he really seems "off" for any reason and you want to be absolutely sure who you're really dealing with, consider doing a PAID background check as well.
They're not as costly as you might think, and this added precaution certainly won't hurt you.
And while you're on the date, it helps to remember the following:
- Stay off the booze (for now): Until you've gotten to know him better, avoid partaking in any alcoholic drinks that can lower your inhibitions and better judgment.
- Arrange for your own ride: This goes for getting there and going home. Meeting a total stranger means you should avoid getting in their car or getting picked up at your place. Any decent guy will respect this - and probably do the same.
- Inform someone you know: Tell a friend or relative if you're meeting someone new and where you'll be for the next few hours.
- Agree to meet somewhere public: Have an easy point of exit in case you want to leave immediately. Coffee dates are good, or anywhere you won't rack up a huge bill (unless you've already worked out how to split the bill in advance). It's also good to meet at a reasonable hour, like lunch time and NEVER at a weird time (i.e. past or close to midnight).
- Don't take him home: Also, don't go to his on the first date (or even the first few ones). Online dating works differently in the sense that you know virtually NOTHING about the person. Even if you're both just in it for a fun, that doesn't mean you should go somewhere with him that will put you at risk.
But above all, you should trust your instincts.
In spite of everything of you've learned about meeting guys online, don't tune out that voice in your head if it's STILL telling you to walk away.
If your 'Douchebag Radar' is going off, don't ignore it even after you've taken all the precautions we just talked about. Sometimes, that part of your brain already knows something's wrong before the rest of you does.
Your gut instinct is there for a reason - you'll be fine as long as you don't ignore it.
Knowing a guy goes deeper than spotting the basic red flags. If you want to really know his intentions, there are subtle hints that will tell you the REAL story.
Most women miss these important signals completely, and they end up not hitting it off with a guy even though he turned out to be perfectly decent. When you don't know what he's thinking or feeling, or what he needs from you, even great relationships will eventually fizzle out.
If you want to take your guy-reading skills to the next level, check out my presentation on how to read his signals.
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