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Online Dating Tips: How to Tell if He's for Real

Updated on February 18, 2010

From eharmony to, to , to singles net, to perfectmatch.... there are a gazillion sites designed to bring people together. There are also chat rooms on many sites, plus message boards and discussion groups where you could also possibly meet someone with similar interests, or similar locale.

So you meet a guy online. You email, you chat. You exchange some photos. You feel like this could be someone special. What do you do?

Please remember these two key truths:

1 - Many people online are not what they represent themselves to be.

2 - If it sounds too good to be true, it's probably not true.

That being said and understood, let me be the first to tell you that you CAN meet a great person online. Some people online are very real and wonderful. And that this can be a safe and smart way to meet potential dates.

When I say many people online are not what they represent themselves to be, I don't mean to imply that they are probably criminals. But you should keep in mind that they *could* be. Don't do something silly, like reveal too much private information about yourself. Do not tell a stranger where you live or work, don't send money, don't send compromising photos of yourself to strangers.

You would think in this day and age these things go without saying. But they don't.

Your beau may not be a serial killer, but he still may not be 100% of what he has represented himself to be.

Sometimes in the anonymity of web, people take the opportunity to make themselves feel just a little bit better about their lives. I'm not saying they are liars, I'm just saying they may have fudged their bios just a bit.

He may say he's the manager of his department at work while he's really just the supervisor. She may say she's 38 when really she's 40. He may leave out of his bio information that he doesn't want to apply to his life now, like a past bankruptcy, marriage, addiction, or arrest. The photo he posts may be more than a year old like he claimed. She may be 185lbs instead of 165 like she said. He may be 5'9, not 5'11 like he claimed. He may be balding much worse than his photo reveals. She may smoke but intends to quit so she claims she already has.

Are any of these things reasons not to meet the person? That's your call. Just be aware that the "too good to be true" guy online is probably not quite that "good." It's better to be prepared for that, than to be taken off-guard.

- The best way to tell if this person is for real is to meet them.

The real fakers will put that off as long as possible in the hopes of really dragging you in with the intense online dialogue and closeness. Don't let that happen. Don't get dragged in to the point where you can't think clearly. Some people like to think it's better to get to know the person online really well first. It's not. Do not delude yourself by saying it's the safer way to go; it's the exact opposite.

It should only take a few emails or chats for you to decide you want to meet this person. Take these steps in a fairly short amount of time.

1 - Set up a meeting.

2 - It should be someplace public.

3 - It should not be someplace you frequent: that way if it doesn't work out you don't have to worry about this person hanging out there all the time in the hopes of running into you.

4 - Tell a few friends. Leave the meeting place and time, plus any info you have about this person with a couple of you friends.

5 - Bring a few friends. I'm serious. Do not be in that place alone. Ask a few friends to go with you. It doesn't have to be a secret unless you want it to be. They can be off quietly in their own booth at the restaurant or casually walking their dog in the park. Or, they could be right there with you.

6 - BOTH of you should have some kind of flag. If you have exchanged photos online this isn't necessary. But if you haven't, do not make it so that one of you gets to decide not to identify themselves and run. Agree that both of you will be wearing Yankee baseball caps, or red shirts, or something. And by the way, when he shows up if he didn't do what you agreed, that's your sign that you can't trust him. Go.

My advice for the first meeting is to keep it light. Don't do a movie or some activity where you can't talk. A cafe or bookstore, a restaurant or park, a fleamarket or mall might all be good places for a first meeting. If you decide to each bring a friend to the first meeting, then something like a bookstore is perfect since it's not uncomfortable if you and your match would like to talk just the two of you.

The important thing is to get that first meeting before you get dragged in online. That's the best way to get started deciphering if your match is for real, close to real, or not even in the ballpark.

All text is original content by Veronica.

All photos are used with permission. All videos are used courtesy of Youtube.

If you have a dating question, email me!


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Good morrow there, Ms. Veronica. I have a situation of mine to pose to you - I'm not even entirely sure it's a question - but if you could offer me some advice or what you think about this, I think it would be both helpful AND greatly appreciated.

    I signed up for a penpal site a good while back purely with the intention of broadening my horizons about the world - I never intended trying to forge a relationship with anyone I had met, considering it would be out of the country AND online, a double whammy for me. However, my first week there, I met a guy from Turkey - let's call him Dünya. He was intelligent, articulate, with a fiery temper and a good sense of humor, and shared some of the same interests as I ... but not all, which made it interesting. Enjoyably good looking too, in his own unique way - a rather large nose, dark slanted eyes, curly black hair, and not the skinniest person around or layered with muscle, but had a kind of strength about him. The first day I met him, we had connected instantly - acted as if we had known eachother for years. He turned out to be who he said he was, as far as I know (As far as I know, of course. Webcams debunk photoshop, and he has plenty of non-online friends who I aquaintanced and can vouch for him, although you can NEVER be entirely sure). And he seemed to be quite impressed with me, too - and I can say that I have been completely honest with him.

    Now, I've known him for about 2 years now ( and talking nearly every day since the day we met), and I've had feelings for him for a long time ... I'd say they started about two months after I met him and have been growing feverishly ever since. Ive had crushes and true feelings before - and this has outweighed both of them. He too, has had strong feelings for me for a long time - and we trust each other. Here's a couple problems with this, though:

    A) I've never ACTUALLY met him - webcams are nice, but they aren't everything.

    B) We aren't old enough to travel out of the country to meet eachother ( 16 and 17. Dear lord, I hope that age doesn't make this subject invalid. I'm pretty levelheaded and a bit beyond my years, as well as he) - he says he's trying to immigrate here in the States in a year or so. And it's not only for me, either - he hates his country, too, and it's his main reason.

    C) Dünya doesn't agree with long distance relationships. His thoughts on the subject are, and I quote: "Long distance relationships become a burden of feelings, all time spent worrying over a title and feelings of missing one another without ever actually having the qualities of a real relationship." So he said we should try to keep the feelings alive for this last year or so until he can immigrate - although immigration is a grueling process and not definite.

    The last subject of a relationship has come up repeatedly over the years, and always ends up in an argument. We've both tried dating because things can't work, and both of us get insanely jealous without actually telling each other, and the relationships fail because we both can't stop being "involved" with each other and as hard as we try, we can't "just be friends".

    My question is, what can I, or we, do about this? I can't just "drop him" - he now means too much to me, and likewise. Would it hurt us to try a relationship? If it works out like he predicts, I don't believe that it'd end very well between us, and I don't know what I'd do if I lost him or pushed him away. We've been there for eachother as much as two people can on different continents over a keyboard. And I don't even know if I could convince him to try - as awesome as he is, he's very stubbornly set in his ways. But, is it so wrong for me to want this so badly, to want to try? What in the world do I do about this?

    And most of all... are we being ridiculous teenagers? I don't want to believe that something - someone - that I feel so passionate about, so connected with is a home-brewed batch of hormones and naivete... but I'm always open to possibilities. If you or anyone here has any advice, I would love to hear it.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Ive been talking to a guy for about a week. i did just come out of a relationship of 5 years, whom i met onlin aswell. I am skeptical to meet this guy.we are almost 10 years apart. i am 23 her is 32.. He found me on a site and couldn't get thruogh to me, and found me on another site and got through to me there. but i went to the other site to find him. so are we both weird then?

    I seems that to do something fun would be really great and would help the first impression. but also, with being cautious, doing something fun seems to be too hard. therefore, leaving the 1st impression very challenging.

  • dusy7969 profile image


    7 years ago from San Diego, California

    Gread job.I satisfy your work.big tips I realy enjoyed with these tips.Thanks a lot for this hub.Useful tips here.

    The feelings which you express in this hub are great.

  • antonrosa profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    Great tips here..I enjoyed reading this..Thanks for sharing..

  • couponalbum profile image


    8 years ago from Sunnyvale, CA

    Well written! Online dating is safe and I appreciate it. I also do have a hub on online dating tips. Joined your fan club and would like to invite you to join mine! Thanks for a great information.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY


    We've had a lot of discussion on the site lately about online stalkers, online bullies, online fakers... hopefully this hub lends some more insights to people active in an online community or networking site.

  • Psychic Australia profile image

    Psychic Australia 

    8 years ago from Australia

    Hello Veronica,

    Once again you have some good, and useful tips here,

    thank you.

  • GmaGoldie profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 

    8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

    On line dating is safe - IF you follow the steps you outlined - excellent article - very well done with both the realities and the safeguards.

    Stricklydating - Love the idea of the webcam - excellent!

    Met my man online - adore him! We would never have met! Give it a chance but always be careful and set clear boundaries.

  • profile image


    8 years ago


  • stricktlydating profile image


    9 years ago from Australia

    Great Hub. I'm a big fan of online dating. I also prefer to chat with someone on Webcam before I meet them - just for a better idea of what they might be like if I decide to meet them in person!

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    yeah.  thx though.  I'm trying not to write anything.  I'm pretty sure everything that comes out now is just sulking and less than useful for me. :o

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago from NY


    I'm so sorry.

    Hard and hardened. It is what it is,

    but it's not.

    You know?

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    ok-er. I got dumpzered after a long term undefined whatever. if I had a heart, it might have gotten broken. heh.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago from NY

    AWw. Sorry you're bummed out at the moment. I think I do much better offline too. 'Met my husband in person, so that says a lot.

    Why ya bummed? Everything ok?

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    yeah, that's true. I just think it's easier to tell offline, less opportunity. of course, it could be because I'm really bummed out at the moment. :p

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago from NY

    Thanks, I tend to agree that all relationships are hard.

    I know at least 4 married couples and 5 or 6 dating couples who met online. While that sounds high, it also means that every other couple I know met in another way than online. I think you just have to be smart and careful. People in person can be lying, or untrustable, just as easily as people online.

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    good advice again and I have to say sometimes people are lying on purpose, sometimes it's because they are lying to themselves, and sometimes people you know over a long time who weren't lying then can change.

    I think just all relationships are hard. I think trying to do one through the internet just makes it that much harder.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY

    Thanks for the comment, Billy. I answered you here in your own HUB:

    Let me know what you think.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    I liked this article too. I have a question too. I have been dating on for a few months. I met this one guy who really liked me but I did not feel the same way he did when we finally met. I think he is nice but I am not interested in dating him. I did what you said not to do. I got too close before we met. We chatted on messenger every night for months. He feels like he has told me very personal stuff and that we are so close. You were right too in that he is not really what he said he was. Nothing bad but enough that if I met him faster I would have stopped this faster and now it is too late he is too into me.

    My question is what do I do now? How do I tell this guy I don't want to see him anymore?

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from NY

    Great question Dr568!

    And it got its own HUB, here ya go:

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Excellent article. I have a question for you regarding this. By the way I am a guy in my 40's. On this first meeting you suggest, should I offer to pick up the check? I don't want to come off like a jerk and not pick up the check even if it's just coffee. But on the other hand I don't want to give the wrong impression that this was more of a date than it was. It's technically not even a real date, it's a first meeting. I'm not trying to get out of paying. I always pay on dates unless the lady has said before hand that she wants to treat for some reason, like it is my birthday. I don't want to give the wrong impression by picking up the tab. What should I do?


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