In many ways, online dating is a convenient and exciting social tool through which many former singles have met their ideal match and gone on to develop happy and healthy, real-world relationships. Unfortunately, however, online dating also makes it easy for predatory people to search for and find their next victim with nothing more than the click of a button. While there does exist a great deal of romantic potential in online dating, tapping into that potential does not come without some risk. Luckily, though, most of that risk can usually be avoided with just a little bit of caution and common sense. Find out what you need to look out for so that you can weed out the scam artists and focus your time and energy on those who are genuinely looking for love.
- No picture - In this day and age when virtually everyone has access to digital photographs, there is no logical reason for anyone who is participating in the online dating world to not have a profile picture that is both recent and recognizable. Generally speaking, if a person is reluctant to post a photo of him/herself in an online dating profile, it is probably safe to assume that either he/she is alarmingly unattractive or he/she is married or otherwise involved in a relationship with somebody else. Since there are plenty of available singles with profile pictures online, do yourself a favor and steer clear of those without.
- Too much, too soon - While it is possible to become emotionally invested in somebody that you have never met in person, watch out for people who express intense emotions for you before you ever make it to your first real-world encounter. As flattering as it might be, it is not a good sign if he/she is already professing his/her love for you after only a few email exchanges and/or phone conversations.
- Inappropriate topics - There are certain things that really should not be discussed over the Internet when getting to know a new romantic interest. Sex and finances are two examples of conversations that are best reserved for well after you have met in person and gotten to know each other better. Unless you are into the whole cybersex thing or are only looking for a physical fling, then watch out for online users who jump into sexually explicit content way too soon. The same goes for people who seem overly interested in your financial status since many people search online dating sites for people that they can take advantage of financially. You should also watch out for people who pressure you for personal information.
- Too many discrepancies- By keeping a log of all email and instant message conversations that you have with potential partners online, you will be better prepared to catch this red flag if it happens to come up. If you notice that his/her stories keep changing or that things just arenít adding up, consider moving on to somebody who seems more genuine and consistent.
- Little to no progress - Consider yourself duly warned if the person that you have been getting to know online does not seem interested in taking things offline. While getting to know each other does take time, the process should at least move forward at a reasonable pace. After a few email exchanges, you should move on to talking over the phone and then eventually to meeting in person. If, however, you have spent considerable time getting to know each other online and/or over the phone and your partner is not available and/or willing to meet in person, it may be that he/she is involved with somebody else or that he/she is only interested in playing around online.