Friday, May 8, 2009

Can You Really Trust The Person You Are Dating Online?

Heather is a 42 year old American lady.Divorced with two children,she decided to try online dating to possibly get a new partner.

She signed up with one of the popular dating sites and set up a profile.The anonymity and security of online dating appealed to her and she hoped it would work out for her.

In a matter of days, she was contacted by a man who also claimed to be looking for a love relationship.The man was handsome,also divorced and in his mid-forties. He claimed to be an engineer living in the United States, but was sent on an assignment by his company to Nigeria.

They began to chat and exchange mails, and soon began a relationship online.He sent flowers to her from time to time, sent poems everday, called her up twice a day. Heather felt that she had finally found the man of her dreams. Surely,this was the perfect relationship that she had wanted since her divorce. Here was a man who was caring and who showed it. She readily agreed to his proposal when he called her over the phone and asked her to marry him. They began to make plans to get married as soon as he returned to the United States.

Heather felt all was going on well with their plans until he made a distress call.He had been involved in a road accident and had been hospitalized. Could she help out with some money to pay the bills? Well,she did help. A sequence of events followed afterwards. Weeks later, she discovered that the man she had fallen in love with was not the real person she had thought he was.She had just been taken by the newest form of online scams that is just showing up--the romance or dating scam.

She was heartbroken.She had lost thousands of dollars to this man.She was behind on her mortgage and was in debt to the bank. But painful as the experience was,it could not be compared to the emotional pain that she had to go through.

It would take many months before she would get over the whole experience, which she described as a nightmare. Heather is not the only one that is a victim of this new form of scam.Many thousands of people online are losing millions of dollars monthly to these scams. But due to the secretive nature of the internet, most people that have been scammed this way are either too embarassed or ashamed to talk about their experience. In a particular finding, 145 men and women reported that they lost over $1 million in two months in 2005. In that same finding, thousands of people refused to disclose any information about their losses.

The worst aspect of these scams has been the emotional pains the victims have had to go through.
Many of the victims I talked with reported that it took them many months before they could get back to their normal life.

A lady told me that she cried for many nights after she realized that she had been scammed. She had thought she had the ideal lover,and had become so emotionally attached to him. Realizing that it was all a lie was devastating to her. The fact that she had been in deep love with a fake person was what pained her the most.

This is the same experience as many of the victims I related with have had.The effects of the scams have had so much of a devastating effect on them all. Medical doctors, lawyers,paralegals and other professionals have been known to lose money to these scams just as housewives, students, factory workers and other low-income earners have. The scams are no respecter of status or race. Not even religious people have been spared from this growing menace.

Till this moment, thousands of people are out there trying to get over these scams. But even as those who have been scammed are trying to get on with their lives, many more thousands are being set up for a scam right now.

Online dating has come to stay with us all, and many people have found true love through this avenue. Online dating has produced many successful love stories. It is a medium that if properly used, with the right education, can be a means of bringing love into the lives of many.

However, it is apparent that it is also increasingly being used for the wrong purposes. Given the high success rate of the scams however, the best way to deal with them is to educate yourself about them.

You need to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Knowing the methods that the scammers use will help you not to fall for their antics. You will be able to know what to do to protect yourself and still be able to date succesfully. The more educated you are, the more you can prevent the scams from happening to you.

Am I Cheating? Fidelity and Online Dating

Online dating is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK today. Every day, hundreds of thousands of us log on to one or more of the growing number of sites available; some looking for serious relationships, others for friendship and companions, and still others for casual flings and that extra ‘bit on the side’.

Some sites claim to be purely for genuine singles seeking committed, long term relationships, others turn a blind eye to, or even actively encourage, married or cohabiting members who may or may not use the sites with the blessing of their spouse or partner. Of course many people who use online dating sites do so purely for chatting and exchanging messages and never meet face to face; with the steady growth of the Internet as a communication tool since it’s inception, it has become increasingly possible for netizens to conduct deeply involved, real time relationships with people they have never actually met.

So what does this change with regard to the old ways of doing things? When does an online relationship become ‘intimate’? Can you fall in love with an avatar, and can you cheat on someone, or with someone, who is in a different time zone?

A recent study by Dr Martin Graff of the University of Glamorgan showed that our perceptions of what does and does not constitute ‘cheating’ online are affected by a variety of factors – most prominently, and perhaps unsurprisingly, by the level of information dating site users are prepared to disclose about themselves; Dr Graff explains

“From this study, it seems that the greater the level of typed disclosure, then the stronger the perception of infidelity.”

Seemingly, in the absence of the 'nonverbal cues' on which face to face interaction relies so strongly, how much we are prepared to give away about ourselves is the primary indicator of how intimate our online relationships are and by extension, the degree of unfaithfulness inherent in the actions of non single site users.

Perhaps more surprisingly, the study also showed that the time of day at which online encounters took place was also a key factor in establishing infidelity, concluding that

“Exchanges later in the evening were perceived to be more infidelitous, than those which might take place in the day or early evening.”

Dr Graff's study is ongoing and subsequent phases will look at the issues of jealousy and trust in the0020context of online relationships.

Ultimately the jury is still out on exactly what constitutes online infidelity and indeed relationships over the net as a whole. It is doubtful that a firm conclusion will ever be reached as the world of online dating and relationships, as in 'real life', will always be immensely subjective due to the differing moral standards and emotional responses of the individuals involved. Studies like Dr Graff's can however provide a fascinating insight into the human causes and effects of the modern world, and how these are shaped by the direction of our rapidly developing and changing communications technology.

Advantages to Online Dating

A quick foray into a bar or a nightclub reveals some of the major shortcomings of looking for romance in such places. A combination of booming bass and shrieking laughter bombards you aurally, while a potent mix of cigarette smoke and spilt beer assails your olfactory senses. Eventually, amidst the human chaos of the locale, a figure from the opposite side of the room piques your interest. You fight your way through the crowd in the general direction of him/her and suddenly find yourself screaming in their ear because of the aforementioned noisy surroundings. The best case finds you exchanging hastily-scrawled phone numbers with the other person or following them out the door, while the worst case finds you feeling rejected and dejected. Even the “middle” options are less than desirable; often, the person that attracted you physically does not do the same mentally or emotionally, and you’re stuck at an impasse with a minimum of things to talk about.

The truth is that dating in the traditional sense and settings is a distinctly hit-or-miss affair, and a largely impersonal one at that. You find yourself drawn to another person not because of their intellect or their personality but rather because they are physically attractive. As anybody who has lived and loved can attest, meaningful relationships are not built solely on the foundation of physical attraction. You don’t know the person at the other end of the bar from a stranger, however, and thus you have no idea if their beauty is in fact skin deep. Furthermore, even an indication that there is something else beneath the surface is hardly cause for relaxation; given the uncertainty of the other party’s history, there is no telling what sort of baggage you might be leaving with.

Online dating offers solutions to these problems in many cases. For one thing, instigating romantic contact online markedly increases in your favor the odds that the other party is interested. Think about it: How many times have you browsed online classifieds without the barest trace of purpose or desire? Having a receptive partner is half of the battle in itself. Beyond that, online dating increases the likelihood of finding something beyond the initial attraction to sustain prolonged interest. That’s not to say that physical attraction plays no role in online dating; photos are often associated with online personals, and as in life the most powerful impulses are often the visceral ones. However, the pace of online dating allows you to find out a bit more about the other party than you would be able to in a different setting. By the time you read their personal ad and their writing and (hopefully) exchange correspondence with them once or twice, you will probably have a decent idea as to whether the other person is the type that you would like to continue contact with. If no, it is an easy affair to cease contact since neither party is intimately involved. If yes, however, the base for a successful relationship has already been laid by communication.

Suffice it to say, online dating today has lost its “taboo” status. Rather, it represents a viable alternative to those singles who are tired of continually finding the wrong person in the wrong environment.

10 Golden Rules For Successful Online Dating

As everyone knows, the favourite method of mating and dating for singletons the world over is to join an online dating site. But what most people don't realise is that only around 10% of dating site members actually meet a long-term partner on their chosen site and a whopping 70% don't even receive one message from another member. If you follow the 10 simple steps outlined below, you too can join the 10% who find love and romance on line.

1. Choose the right site. The boom in online dating has provided a plethora of choice for consumers but you should take a few moments to decide on the type of partner you're looking for, not to mention the town or city where you would prefer him/her to be located. There are niche sites which cater to all sectors (single parents, bikers, gay people etc) and general sites which welcome all comers just as there are city or country specific sites and sites with a global perspective. Choosing the right site for you is probably the most important decision you'll make when looking for a partner on line.

2. Choose a great username. First impressions always last and the on line identity which you give yourself is the first thing that other members will see before they check-out your profile. 'Funny' works, 'cryptic' works and you wont go far wrong even if you decide to use your own christian name; but if you go down the smutty or sexually suggestive route (which a lot of guys seem to do), you'll find that other members will give you a wide berth.

3. Upload a photo. This is crucial as a significant percentage of people only search for members who have bothered to include a pic; you want to see what other members look like so it stands to reason that other people will feel the same way about you. If the only photo you have isn't particularly flattering, you can always mention that in your profile - it's still better than no photo at all.

4. Complete your profile. There's nothing more off-putting than a profile which screams "I can't be bothered to do this properly". If you don't have time to complete all the categories when you are signing-up, then make the time to do so at the earliest opportunity.

5. Be upbeat and positive. If you're feeling a little down or lacking in confidence, now isn't the time to say so when you're writing a description of yourself. If you come across as confident, happy and full of fun, you'll get much more attention than if you come across as mono-syllabic or down in the dumps. And remember, humour is a real ice-breaker and a great aphrodisiac.

6. Widen your search criteria. If you generally go for people who have blonde hair, blue eyes and are between 5'4" and 5'6" and you narrow your search down to just these specifics, then you may be missing out on a great many other members who you'll also find just as attractive. To start with, just search by gender, age and location and that way you'll be giving yourself the widest possible choice.

7. Don't automatically dismiss people. If you receive a message from someone who's profile you like but who hasn't bothered to include a photo, you should still write back and ask them to send a pic to your regular email address. You'll find that many people are more willing to do this than post a pic for all and sundry to look at.

8. Use all the features on offer. Many sites provide a great deal more than just an internal emailing system. Some sites might include voice messaging whilst others enable members to chat and flirt in 'real time' with other members and the more you take advantage of everything that's available to you, the more chance you have of making contact with someone special.

9. Be proactive. Once you've registered and completed your profile, don't wait for others to make contact with you. When you spot someone who you think might be a good fit with yourself, write to them and introduce yourself. And don't just say 'Hi, I like your profile', tell them why you've written to them and point out the things that you believe you have in common. A long opening message will create a much better impression than a short, perfunctory one.

10. Check back with the site. Most popular dating sites have new people joining all the time so remember to log-in at least once every day to view the most recent members and you can then contact anyone you like the look of before others get the chance to do so. Also, you should remember that on most sites, the members who log-in the most appear higher up the search listings than those who don't so your profile will be easier to spot by people with whom you might be compatible.

So there you have it - successful online dating is not rocket science; it just takes a bit of thought and a bit of effort and if you adhere to the 10 rules that I have outlined above, then your personal life will soon receive the kick-start it deserves.

6 Tips For Safe Online Dating

There is no doubt that online dating can put you in touch with some great people and you may just end up finding your Prince Charming or Dream Girl as the case may be. However, online dating is not without its risks. This is why I have put together these online dating safety tips which will help you to have a fun experience, while keeping yourself out of harms way.

1. Your safety lesson in online dating starts from your profile itself. Make sure not to reveal exact personal details (real name, telephone numbers, street addresses etc) in your profile for everyone to see. For the first few weeks you should communicate with other daters only through the message system that is available on the sites. This personal messaging system keeps your name and contact details anonymous so that you can get to know the other person without revealing your true identity. Once you feel you know someone well enough, you can then disclose your personal details and also set up a date. And in case you do end up communicating with someone who turns out to be a creep (they are unfortunately unavoidable), your real identity will be protected.

2. Once you do set up a date with an online friend, always ensure that you do not ask them to come over to your home on the first date itself. No, you should not even have them pick you up at home. Instead, arrange to meet up at the designated spot.

3. If you have a friend who is also into online dating, you could get together with your friend and have a double date. This way, you won't be alone when you meet your online friend, and you will also have someone to get away with in case your date turns out to be a bore!

4. Never ever agree to have your first date in a private or secluded spot. You may think that this is very basic advice, but you'll be amazed (perhaps shocked may be a better word!) to know that countless people still make this mistake and end up in prospectively dangerous situations. You should pick an open and public place for your date; say a restaurant, the park, etc. If you do decide to go to another place with your date, do not get into the car with them. Take your own vehicle or call and ask a friend to take you there. Yes, all this may seem like too much trouble, but better to be safe than sorry!

5. Avoid drinking alcohol on your first date. If you must, make sure you have just a couple of drinks and no more. Ask the waiter or the bar tender to serve you. If you have left the drink for any reason, perhaps to visit the rest room, do not have the same drink when you do return.

6. Before you leave for your date, make sure a friend or relative knows where you are going and when to expect you back. If something untoward does happen, you at least know that someone will be out looking for you.

Thus, by keeping these online dating safety tips in mind, you can rest easy that you are doing all you can to protect yourself. And with that worry off your mind, you are free to go out and have a whale of a time with your new online date!