Dating Online – Pitfalls to Avoid

Nowadays almost one-third of marriages in the US involves people who met and began dating online. It’s an amazing phenomenon and truly a creature born of the Internet. Remember the old days – I mean, those of you of a certain age – when meeting a member of the opposite sex involved such ignominious idiocies as hanging out at singles bars? Joining singles clubs? Going to boring parties you didn’t really want to attend?

Now with a couple clicks of your mouse you can find yourself facing thousands of members of the opposite sex (at least virtually). So has the modern-day dating scene segued into a dating online paradise? Not so fast. There are a few serious pitfalls you need to know about before you dive eagerly into the world of dating online.

Pitfall 1 – Catching Dating Online Obsession

Yes, it can happen, especially if you join one of the huge online dating sites like Zoosk or Rather than searching for Mr or Miss Right you may find yourself a victim of the dreaded Dating Online Obsession, which will start to take over your life. You may soon begin using the dating site as a Facebook-like time-eating social network – chatting with potential dates, getting and sending emails, just like on Facebook or MySpace, and endlessly surfing for new “Flirts.” Pretty soon you may find you’re totally obsessed with the whole thing because there are 43 attractive members of the opposite sex competing to flirt with you daily!

Warning: Be selective about who you interact with lest you fall victim to this severe psychological disorder which can only be cured by canceling your membership to the dating site!

Pitfall 2 – Believing Everything You’re Told

Ladies, this pitfall is for you. You know that guy you met online who says he’s a Harvard lawyer? – well, he’s not. In fact he’s probably not any kind of lawyer. Or 31, either, he may even be 61. The fact is, men lie in online dating sites, like, a lot. According to one survey, almost a fourth of them are married while claiming to be single. So be cautious and always verify before trusting. You can use an online background-checking website like Intelius to check out just about anybody if you want (including even doing a criminal records search). All you need is his name and address or phone number. Of course, if you find he’s given you a phony name, well… in that case, you don’t need Intelius, do you?

Pitfall 3 – Getting Busted – Yes, You!

Men, your turn. Did you know that many minors now join dating sites? You can actually get yourself in some unmentionable kinds of trouble if you engage in risque’ conversation with a minor online. Also did you know that law enforcement authorities sometimes masquerade as participants. I am not suggesting that anyone reading this article is a pervert, or other sort of lowlife individual, of course. However male users should understand the concerns and methods of law enforcement and should be very conservative in their use of singles sites.

Warning: Don’t say anything online you wouldn’t want to hear read back to you in court!

Pitfall 4 – Strangers and Other Surprises

Sad to say but you can’t really judge somebody very well online. Men commonly post photos that are of someone else (maybe even going so far as to rent a photo of a lifeguard from Dreamstime), or of themselves twenty years ago when they had teeth, hair and a chinline. Women do this, too, to a lesser extent. But women will usually just post photos of themselves when they were thinner, that sort of thing. The point being, be ready for the date you set up from dating online to be less attractive than you expected. Be decent, okay? We’re all human.

Warning: Everybody looks better in their dating-site photo than in real life. So be nice, i.e., don’t pretend to go to the restroom then duck out the back door.

Pitfall 5 – The Stalker

Ladies, please don’t give out your full name, or address or even phone number right away to men when dating online. There are some serious nut cases out there, in case you didn’t know, many incidentally with very engaging personalities, and they will find out where you live and start taking pictures of you, following you around, calling you on the telephone at 11 PM, sometimes even worse things. So do not give out any identifying information until you know the person well, then if you decide to meet him, make it in a very public place.

Warning: Never reveal your identity until you’re confident you know the person well. And even then meet for the first date in a public place.

A Joseph Ryan is editor of Web Search Guides. For insider tips on the best dating sites and strategies, visit . A

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