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A Guide to Online Dating

Updated on August 16, 2020
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Mona is a veteran writer, columnist for Enrich Magazine, and life coach. She holds webinars and seminars on writing and emotional health.

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Many men and women admit to having had some good and some bad online dating experiences. In the latter case, it could range from rude messages to romance scams where you end up losing even your nest egg.

The FBI reported that romance scams result in more monetary loss to consumers than any other type of online fraud at US$230 million in 2016. The number may be higher because victims are oftentimes too embarrassed to report such fraud.

Romance scams really can happen to anyone. Barb Sluppick, who runs the watchdog site Romance Scams, has treated many people, including those whom you would imagine, are least likely to fall prey to these scams, including (paraphrased) “men and women of all ages—doctors and lawyers, CEOs...people from the entertainment industry…”

The modus operandi of a typical scammer is to write long letters for weeks or months, creating a false persona that seems very real to the victim. Then, the scammer may ask for money for an emergency. Excuses include medical treatment, wrongful arrest, needing bail money, and/or lawyer’s fees.

David Farquhar, Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI, said the amount of money stolen can eat up one’s retirement savings. So, be skeptical, especially when this whole romance has only been developed online with no person to person meeting. The bottom line is, even if a dating website claims that they vet the people online, you still have to do your own research. Later in this article, we’ll talk about ways you can do this.

On the upside, there have been success stories too, stories of people who married someone they met online, such as Hannah Graber (25) and Matt Graber (38), and Krista and Jeff.

The stigma of online dating has largely declined according to the Pew Research center, In fact, online dating falls anywhere from the third most widely-used way to meet new people, to the first, depending on which article you’re reading. One thing for certain, it isn’t the exception anymore, it’s the rule.

For many people, online dating is a more efficient way to meet new people. If you meet someone through a friend or at a party, or through a blind date, you may have to go to a lot of these before you find someone you’re compatible with. Online dating saves time. But, you should know how to navigate online dating wisely, so that you don’t fall prey to a scammer, a violent person, or other bad eggs out there.


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Here are some things you can do to filter the chaff from the grain:

Investigate the photos before dating. Through TinEye or Google Images, you can run the person’s profile photos. If they belong to someone else from another city, you’ve been warned. Scamalytics is a site that blacklists scammers who used false pictures in the past. If the person you were considering is on these sites, report this to the dating app you’re using, so that no one else will be this person’s victim.

Check the person’s email. If the person is communicating with you through email, check the address at Romance Scams, which lists the email addresses of known scammers.

Look for red flags

  1. Does the person’s conversation tally with his reality? More lies are more red flags.

  2. Is the person married with children but says he wants to have a divorce? Wait until after the person is divorced. Usually, this is just a pickup line.

  3. Is the person new in town? Maybe the person is looking for friends. Allow enough time for the person to get used to the area and has enough friends before you decide to date them.

  4. Believe it when they say they just want something casual. If you’re looking for a deep relationship, you're not the one who will change the person’s mind.

What are your expectations?

Too often, people have unrealistic expectations of a dating app. Men don’t realize that out of every 20 girls, 19 won’t be their type. This means they will have to do a lot of searching due to the odds.

For women, the numbers are: 49 out of every 50 guys won’t be your type. Also, men tend to be less serious. Even if your profile says you want a deep relationship, there are men who think you really want sex, that’s why you’re using a dating app, they rationalize. On the upside, there are 3 men for every woman, so the odds are good that you can find quality men out there.

If you’ve tried dating apps and didn’t find the love of your life, don’t worry. You may find something good down the line anyway. For example, below are three people who used their dating app experiences to boost their careers and make an important life change.


Career Move No. 1

Maria Coder’s worst online experience led her to write the book, InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date: The Liars, Cheaters, Con Artists, and Convicts Won’t Stand a Chance.

Coder’s parents made some down payments for Coder’s wedding to a man she met online. One night Coder went to her fiance’s apartment, but he wasn’t home. By 4 a.m. she called his mother, who suggested she call all hospital emergency rooms.

For the first time, she opened her fiance’s computer to get a list of hospitals. Out popped a romantic message from her fiance, addressed to another girl. It said, “Anticipate my kisses.” In his message box, she found 36 other romantic messages from 36 women who added directions to their homes.

Coder’s parents told her, “Better to end the wedding one day before, than one day after.” Some of the down payments her parents had made weren’t refundable, but Coder was lucky, nevertheless.

If you are going to try online dating, you might as well learn to InvestiDate from someone who’s been there, experienced this, and done that.


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Career Move 2: Perfection is Unreal

Ruby Le, a private date coach/matchmaker, draws from her online experience to inform her work. Ruby fell hard for a man she met online. He was perfect. He checked every item on her list. Sometimes he was too perfect, but she held onto this perfection that she sought all her life. They were engaged within a year, but she came to realize that she was unhappy.

By letting go of her perfect man, she learned to open up to a less perfect man and married him. He wasn’t her “type”, but he made her a better person. She concludes, “Sometimes it's that imperfect person that can make you perfectly happy.”


Career Move 3: Dating Coach After 300 Online Dates

Evan Marc Katz, dating coach, had dated 300 women online within a decade. Experience taught him that you must understand the medium to make the most of online dating.

Evans, a home-based writer, liked online dating because he was too shy to approach women. “In a world where it’s hard to meet women in real life, online dating is the best option — if you know how to use it properly,” Katz says, who in three years got 35% of his clients married by online dating.

Katz, now married, wrote the book, “I Can't Believe I'm Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating.”.


Below are some tips to have more positive experiences dating online with leveled up dating prospects.


Some online dating tips from Katz and other experts are:

  1. Choose the right app. Different apps serve different purposes. Some have a religious base, while others give women the option to make the first move. Do your research and choose the app that is right for you.

  2. Do your own investigation. Even if the app says it filters out dangerous people, check the person’s social media. Check if the person has a police record. Check the authenticity of the person’s profile pictures and information.

  3. Write a profile that tells how you live, who you are, and what you want in a relationship. Check your spelling and grammar.

  4. Have a creative username that says something about yourself and what you like to do. For example, if you like fashion, you might call yourself FashionPassion.

  5. Post decent pictures. Otherwise, men will assume that’s the best part of you, and touch base with you without even bothering to look at your face. Also, use solo shots. If you post a group shot, someone else in the picture might catch a guy’s eye instead of you.

  6. Photoshop if you must, but don’t overdo it. Your photo has to closely resemble you.

  7. Write good emails. Chase Amante, of the blog girlschase.com has the following outline for men to write good emails: (1) Ask short, simple questions (2) Share simple stories that help her think, and (3) Put yourself in her place when you make a call to action. Read your email from her point of view before you decide to send it.

  8. Spend time on emails and phone calls. Men should say clever things and spend more time talking on the phone. When Katz did this (paraphrased), “I got to pick people up at their house, [and] drive them home, all because I put more time upfront.”

  9. Don’t get trapped in texting. A five-minute phone call will be more revealing than one week of texting, which lacks the nuance of a conversation.

  10. Schedule a phone call. Set a specific date and time for your first phone call.

  11. For women and men, take time to get to know each other online before agreeing to meet up. Have face time and long conversations. Take note of when someone is lying, and keep track of red flags.

  12. A good call may be rewarded with a meetup. By this time you have screened your emails, screened out bad conversationalists, and believe the person you choose is trustworthy.

  13. Make the first meetup in the daytime, in a public place. Breakfast, brunch, or lunch are good options. If the person likes you, then the person should be willing to wake up early for you.

  14. Tell friends and/or family. Tell at least one of them who you will date, where you’ll meet, and the day and time of this first meeting with your online friend. Also, call this person or make sure the person calls you during your date. Even better, arrange for your friends to be at the place where you are meeting your date. That way you will have a safe place to go to in case you need it.

  15. Dress suitably. Don’t wear something that is very revealing or something that’s super sexy. You can be attractive without having to do that. You could also be misunderstood if you dress too sexily. By focusing on being pretty or attractive rather than sensuous, you are sending a message that says you are looking for a long term romance.

  16. Pay for yourself. Beware of wolves with gifts. If the person likes to shower you with gifts too early in the game, that’s a red flag. If the person wants money or gifts from you, that’s another red flag. Money can mess things up especially when it’s extravagant. You want sincerity. You want someone whom you can trust, not someone you have to buy or who will try to buy you.

  17. What makes a good conversation? Ask questions that show you’re listening. Be thoughtful and interesting. Express your observations and your opinions.

  18. If over time you have evolved to a night date, you should make allowance for the possibility that you might want to leave early. Drive yourself to the meeting place, or choose a restaurant that is just a short walk from where you live.

For both men and women, you may not get the person of your dreams with the first date, but you will have a lot less bad dates if you are willing to slow down and go from the app to email, to the phone call, to face time, before the meetup in the morning.

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    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      11 months ago from Philippines

      You are so right, FlourishAnyway. As a boomer, I admittedly have reservations about online dating, but since it has become the norm, I think the one thing that can be done is to inform people about possibilities and to maximize on personal safety. I'm looking forward to listening to music from you today. You know, although I'm old, I actually like Taylor Swift, hahaha. But I like how your music is thematically chosen. I always discover lovely songs for the first time from your list.

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      11 months ago from Philippines

      Hi Dora, how wonderful to see you here visiting me:). You have such kindness in you and I appreciate that so very much. I'm double happy because I know when I read your latest article that I'll be inspired. Re online dating, as a boomer I must admit I had my reservations. But now that online dating is the norm, the best thing that a person can do is to enter this "online dating nation" well informed with knowledge on how to navigate it and ways to make the most of it.

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      11 months ago from Philippines

      Hi Thelma, I hope that you are doing well. You're lucky to be in Germany. The economy is great and I love Angela Merkel. If ever you get to talk to her, tell her that she would be welcome to be our president in the Philippines, hahaha. Anyway, thank you for your kind words regarding this article:).

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      11 months ago from USA

      Driving separately to any meetups is important and telling others who they are and where you will be is key. It’s a dangerous world.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      11 months ago from The Caribbean

      If I were involved in online dating, your article would be my guide. Your counsel is very helpful, and all who hear should take heed.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      11 months ago from Germany

      Very interesting read. Your article has a lot of tips to find an online date. Thumbs up.

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      11 months ago from Philippines

      It's true, DashingScorpio. Online dating is here to stay, and the best thing we can do about it is to learn how to use it wisely and learn how to use it to our best advantage. Other than that, there seems to be no other way. We have to go into it with both eyes open and our brains in good smooth operation.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 

      11 months ago from Chicago

      Sound advice!

      It's not that online dating sucks, too many people suck at online dating!

      Ultimately online dating sites are just a tool for meeting (new) people.

      It's up to the individual to have their own mate selection/screening process and "must haves list".

      Much like a (fork) is a tool for eating. You could have a garden salad or a slice of double fudge chocolate cake. However no obese person would ever blame their fork for their weight gain! And yet people who have had bad dating/relationship experiences with those (they chose) to engage with online will blame the whole online dating industry!

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      11 months ago from Philippines

      Hi Devika, how delightful to hear from you again. Thank you for this visit! I appreciate your saying the guide is useful. Stay safe, and be well always.

      Hi MG Singh, Lol, I love how you said online dating is catching up with the pandemic. My husband woke up as I was laughing so hard.

      Stella Kaye, thank you for lending your experience on this topic in your comment. Yes, older women are so vulnerable. As an older woman, I consider this to be sad but true.

      Sp Greaney, lovely to hear from you all the way from Ireland. Yes, you're right, finding the right app can get a person started on the right foot. Hope you are well over there

      Bill, Interesting to know that you have tried online dating. How lovely to learn that you met Bev, but not online. You guys are a great couple:).

      Eric, this is something new. You met your wife online! And you are approaching your 19th year of marriage. This is very nice to know. Hope you and your wife are staying safe, strong, and healthy.

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt, yes you are right, there are many bad eggs who use online dating for sinister reasons. One must be very careful in choosing whom to date.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      11 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Online dating has been going on ever since the Internet and your guide is useful.

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh emge 

      11 months ago from Singapore

      Thanks for a very interesting article. Online dating is catching up with the pandemic . Nice suggestions.

    • Stella Kaye profile image

      Stella Kaye 

      11 months ago from UK

      As someone who has written several articles about online dating, I was interested in reading yours. Very sensible advice especially the part about scammers. Many women, and men too, have been taken advantage of in this way. Older women are especially vulnerable as they tend to get a bit silly when a much younger man gives them attention!

    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 

      11 months ago from Ireland

      I know some couples who have met on dating apps and they are still together. I think you're right when you say you need to find the right app for you and one that matches you up with a partner that is looking for the same thing as you.

      Some really good advice here for newbies or regular users who are planning on pursuing this method of dating.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I remember those days. I actually met some very nice ladies through online dating. Oddly, I didn't meet my wife that way; that meeting was purely by accident.

      It all turned out perfectly, for which I'm grateful.

      Good advice and information, Mona!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      How very interesting. My wife and I met online - trans Pacific - work. Got together off line and then spent 1 1/2 years online.

      Perfect.

      18 1/2 years later we are very happily married.

      I think your article is a good outline for more than just online dating.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      11 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Online arena is full of frauds and cheats. We have to tread cautiously.

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