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The on-line scams are numerous and recurring.  Most of them cost you money.  And worse!  

Just today, someone co-opted a friend of ours by using a fake email address similar to his and sending it to a zillion people asking them to wire him money.  According to the fake message, he "had lost his bag with his money, his credit cards, and his passport" in England.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here's the truth – he did NOT lose his bag.  He was not traveling in England, and the message was a clear attempt to extort money from his friends under false pretenses.

And while we acknowledge that some one-in-five  new relationships in the USA currently begin on the Internet through on-line dating services, we also note that there are risks associated with utilizing these services, similar to the scam perpetrated on our friend.  

Our research over the years has suggested to us that there are at least SEVEN major risks associated with on-line dating.  Here they are in a nutshell:

1. Be Mindful of the Stalkers.   Let's face it; there are bad people out there who would like to stalk you!  They aren't interested in love, companionship, or togetherness.  What they want is a vulnerable person who is desperately in need of love and companionship, who would bare their soul to garner both – behaviors that make them easy to stalk by bad people.  We are reminded of a story that came to light during a recent interview that we conducted with a young woman.  When she got to the location of the "first date" she had arranged from an on-line dating service, she discovered that the man walking up to her did not look like the man in the photo, did not drive the car he said he had, and did not look at all like the "man of means" he described in their various email exchanges.  Her instincts told her to run!  She did.  We can only wonder what might have happened to her if she had followed through on this date.  Remember, don't give out personal information, phone number or address too soon in your conversation on the Internet.  Be safe!

2. Don't Wish for Love.  Folks wanting companionship, wish for someone to love.  They will often ignore the warning signs of a so-called on-line "admirer" because they just want someone to love.  Wanting to find love and wanting to be in love does not make love imminent or even desirable.  Wanting to be in love often clouds our ability to look at love objectively.  Sad to say, there are people out there who will take advantage of those whose only goal is to be in love.  Our advice – approach your on-line love search objectively.  Do not be duped into falling for contrived "lines," promises, or commitments of Nirvana.  Very carefully analyze everything you are told on-line.  We are reminded of an important notion – trust but verify!  Take nothing for granted.  Wishing for love does not make love real.

3. Always Seek the Truth .  The most important approach to on-line dating is to always ask the tough questions – the important questions – the right questions!  Oh, we know, you are afraid that if you ask the questions that are on your mind you might offend somebody.  But seriously, do you expect to get the truth if you don't ask the right questions?  It is important that you ask a lot of questions.  Remember, you want a person to date – and potentially love – that is honest, that is real.  When you ask the questions that are important to you, you are in search of the truth.  Always remember this – the truth shall set you free!

4. Don't start a Relationship with Promises of Sex .  When you or your on-line partner make it clear that sex is the primary reason for dating, you change the entire dynamics of on-line dating.  People in search of real love do not begin their conversation with talk about sex!  Sex can be both emotional and satisfying.  But let's be clear – some people just want sex for the sake of sex!  There is no emotionality, no love, and no commitment.  They just want sex!  When you are in search of true love on the Internet, always remember this – sex is a by-product.  Sex is fun, but it has very little to do with long-term commitment.  If you want true love, don't promise sex early in your on-line relationship!

5. Actions Speak Louder than Words!   It is critical to recognize this important fact – the words that someone speaks to you mean little.  It is their actions that tell you who they are and what they truly believe.  People can tell you all kinds of things on the Internet.  The question you should ask is this – how much of what they tell me is true?  Do not be duped blindly into thinking that what someone tells you on the Internet is true.  Words matter for sure.  But so does the truth.  Probe, question, demand that their words parallel their actions.  Expect nothing less.  

6. Core Values Matter.   Core values matter!  It is highly important that someone you're willing to date have a value system that matches your own.  What you believe, matters!  If you are willing to date someone whose value system is different from your own, go ahead and do so.  But, if you are like most people, you want to date someone who shares your core values.  Do not be naïve or misled.  Do not expect happiness and long-term love from someone whose beliefs and core values differ from your own.  If their beliefs come through as different from your own when perusing an on-line dating system, move on!  You cannot expect to find love with someone whose core values are different from your own.

7. Highlight What Really Matters to You.    When you want to find the person of your dreams, engage in this one simple act – tell the truth about what really matters to you.  Too often, the good folks that utilize an on-line dating service want to embellish the truth.  Too often, they want to make themselves better than they are – more handsome or beautiful, more accomplished, more bon vivant.  In the end, you are who you are.  Tell the truth.  Express what really matters to you.  You are what you are, and in the end, that is all that matters.  Getting someone who is interested in you under false pretenses is always a bad idea.  In the end, capturing the true fancy of another human being always depends on telling the truth.  Highlighting what really matters to you will capture the fancy of those who share your beliefs and core values.  In the end, that is what really matters.

These are the self-evident truths of on-line dating.   Remember them well.  Find true love, but be careful about it!

By Dr. Charles D. and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

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