Tell someone you’re dipping your toes into the online dating pool, and what’s the first thing they say? “Watch out for psychos!”
It’s true, of course. There are those frequenting online chats and websites who have bad intentions, but for every Stalker McCreep, there is a Mr. or Mrs. Right. Taking some precautions can help weed out those rats and keep the good ones. When communication is online, it can be hard getting used to the new rules of flirting.
The Dos and Don’ts:
Do open yourself up on chats and websites. Never talking to anyone is not going to help you meet people! If someone says hi, say hi back! Online you can be bolder than you might be in a bar or club.
Ask questions. This is a new person, so get to know them! There are the old standards- profession, looks, living arrangements. But try new ones- if they found a million dollars, what would they do with it? Asking these questions can not only give you a deeper insight on their personality, but also set you apart from the countless other candidates online.
Listen. If you don’t pay attention to what they say, it isn’t going to make you look very attentive. Being curious about this person shows you are interested, and that can give both sides confidence. This doesn’t mean that you have to ask for a life story, but encourage them to open up about things. Maybe you know nothing about baseball, but it’s his favorite sport. Asking simple, interested questions can show him that you aren’t going to blow off something he likes just because you don’t.
Be polite. Saying please and thank you aren’t old-fashioned, they’re good ways to show that you are respectful. Even simple things like, “It was nice talking to you” will show your charm, and who doesn’t want that?
Don’t rush. While being curious is wonderful, remember that talking online can make us feel like we know someone more than we actually do. Just because you talk for a week doesn’t mean you really know them. Let trust naturally build over time. Particularly with e-mails and chats, don’t give away very personal information immediately. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun, but remember that trust takes time.
Of course, not every relationship is going to be perfect, and there are certainly cases where a person may turn out to be crazy. Knowing some signs will help you determine this faster, and save time and grief later on. The most important thing to remember is that if your instinct tells you something is wrong- listen! Other things to know:
Asking too much, too soon. If he is asking for personal information when you have barely met, this could be a sign of wanting to rush intimacy, a red flag.
Sob stories. Everyone has tales of a horrible ex, but bemoaning someone constantly can mean that they may not be over the ex, or still be with the ex. It could also mean some severe attachment issues, which is not something you want to deal with later on.
Inconsistencies. If one day he’s telling you he works in an office, and the next week he’s working in construction, something might be up. It’s much easier to lie online when you can’t read facial cues and body language. If you begin to notice that your companion is mixing stories up, that could be a definite sign it’s time to move on.
Guilt trips. If you miss an online date because you had to stay late at work, and he acts like it’s the end of the world, something may be up. Someone who sends you packing on a guilt trip over every little thing may be trying to grab as much control as possible, and that’s not a good thing.
Rushing the love. If you’ve been chatting for a couple of weeks, and he’s already talking about a wedding and baby names, something could be up. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for the best in a relationship, but forcing intimacy when it hasn’t developed is a sign of emotional problems, and he could be trying to convince you that your relationship is at a level it’s not.
Grand dreams and money schemes. If he’s already got you feeling like you’re meant to be after a couple of weeks, then it won’t be any problem for you to move across the country to live with him, right? If he’s constantly talking about great ideas he has, if only he had the money, you might want to take a step back. It’s fine to have big ideas, but constantly hounding on it might mean he’s looking for your wallet- not your heart.
Crossing the line. Let’s face it- if someone seems like the person of your dreams, it can be easy to forgive things you otherwise wouldn’t. If he suddenly gets your work number and calls you when you never gave that out in the first place, it’s time to say goodbye. If you already told him you’re in a meeting all morning and he’s calling and texting you constantly, consider that a big red flag. Not respecting boundaries is never okay, and if he’s got information you didn’t give out, you can guarantee something fishy is going on.
Don’t be afraid to research. Plugging in an e-mail address into a search engine can bring up other places this person has used their e-mail. It’s not spying, and you’ll be glad to know if he or she has an unsavory past.
One very important thing to remember- it can be very easy to let your emotions take over. Don’t let your heart override your head. Use common sense when chatting or going on dating sites and you’re more likely to not only find someone great, but avoid psychos and bad situations.