Monday, May 23, 2011

Looking for Love Online

“One out of five relationships now begins online.” That’s the claim of one online dating service. Do you believe it? I do.

And I also think some of these online meet-and-greet services are a hot bed for scam artists on both sides of the gender fence and for people just looking to get laid. Now there is nothing wrong with simply wanting sex. But—if you’re looking for love on one of these sites, you need to keep in mind all of the pitfalls. One being that the person you “meet” might be only after sex. Like I said—that’s fine. Nothing wrong with that—as long as both parties know that up front, that is.

Basically, meeting someone online is no different than in real life. You’re still going to run into jerks and freaks and kiss a whole lot of frogs. LOL And then you have the extra added worry of…”is that really a pic of him?” OR “is he really a millionaire?” LOL For the purpose of this post, I’ll be considering the female POV mostly. So boys? Don’t get your tightie whities in a wad if a little man-bashing happens to go on. I still LOVE men. Lol

Personally, I haven’t tried one of these dating sites, but I know a whole lot of women who have. Sometimes their stories make my hair stand on end, too. One lady “met” this man and was talking to him right much through instant messaging and thoroughly enjoying herself. He was handsome, smart, complimented her to the point of just making her melt---and then after a couple of weeks? He lowered the boom!

He needed investors to get his new business off the ground. Uh huh. So my friend comes to me with this story and tells me that on the one hand it sounded like a good investment for her---but on the other hand---what if he’s lying and out to scam her?

HUH? WTF? “RUN!” I screamed. “Get the hell out of Dodge now. He is a liar, a con man. Please don’t give him any money.” Her reply? “You know he could just be a really nice guy and trying to cut me in on a good deal, too!”

Okay. I’d like to tell you that she finally saw the light and did actually quit talking to this dude, but I can’t. Our conversation sort of went downhill from there. lol She finally decided I was jealous of all the wonderful things that were happening to her and we have not talked since. That’s been about a year ago now. Well, I survived. I prefer my friends have a little common sense anyway. HA!

I also had a friend who became involved with a major jerk. She met him through MYSPACE. He led her to believe he had money. All he ended up being was some middle-aged guy who was still swilling down a case of beer every day, smoking pot, and living off of some woman---a woman he forgot to tell my friend about. So a word to the wise where this whole money issue is concerned. If a man talks to you about how much money he has? Well, he probably doesn’t have any. But sometimes you just get hold of a bragging asshole, too! Been there, done that. Either way, that kind of man—the one who has money and brags about it or does not have money and brags about it is NOT someone you want in your life. Period. 

Besides, if YOU are the real deal--not looking to take advantage of a man--but simply looking for Mr. Right. Someone to share your mind, body, and soul with--then you don't care about the money aspect of it, do you? Well, at least not in such a way that money is the focus. Of course, you don't want to end up with someone YOU'D have to take care of, but happiness isn't about the bucks, is it? 

I could tell you story after story about online romances gone bad. There’s the one about the dude who sent the gal a pic and it was of his nephew. LOL Damn. Didn’t he know that when they met she’d wonder why he’d lost all those muscles and all of his HAIR?!!! Plus!!! He’d shrunk about half a foot, too. LOL And then there is the one about the woman who left her kids for a man she’d met on MySpace. Yep, she did. Left her hubby and kids and moved all the way across the country for a J-E-R-K. He turned out to be an alcoholic and very abusive.

I seem to be the go-to person when these online relationships heat up, and then blow up. LOL Like I know what to tell them other than RUN! And you know what? It doesn’t make any difference what I’ve said to any of them. In every single instance, all of my “friends” chose to continue in the bad relationship/situation.

Trust comes hard to me. It really does. I’ve had guys pop up on Facebook and MySpace—even email me directly. But as soon as I find out they are NOT contacting me for the purpose of what I write—as in they like reading it—I hit delete. Oh now there was this one dude whose head I played with for about half an hour before hitting delete. Meh…I was bored. LOL I guess I’m just old-fashioned. But that has nothing to do with “meeting” someone online. Real life meet ups are too fast for me. LOL

What happened to taking it slow? Savoring the little things? Does everyone really have to lay all their cards on the table about their finances and reveal all the skeletons in their closet on a first date? AND…get naked, too? Okay okay. I write erotic romance. Yeah, I know. I should be the poster girl for SEX! Well, I’m not. LOL I write fantasy. I’ve often said: I WRITE IT. I DON’T LIVE IT.

If the miracle of love hasn’t happened to me at this point, it’s pretty much a done deal that it’s not going to happen. Know what I mean? So I don’t have any faith in dating sites. Don’t have any faith in the real life version either. Now where does that leave me?

The only way I think I could “date” again—online or off—is if I was introduced to someone first by someone I trusted. And the person who makes the introductions should really KNOW the man they are introducing me to as well. It couldn’t be just a casual acquaintance for sure. Yeah, I know. I’m picky. But shouldn’t we be picky when choosing an individual to share ourselves with?

My advice to those who are trying the online thing is this:

1.   Lead with your head, not your heart.
2.   Never disclose financial information.
3.   Read between the lines.
4.   If anything sounds off? Well, it probably is off.
5.   Ask lots of questions.
6.   Take your time. Don’t agree to meet someone two weeks after you “meet”. Patience is indeed a virtue and the right guy will wait until you are completely comfortable with him.

So how long do you wait before the actual physical meeting? Beats me. LOL But I think it would be in the four to six month range, really. It’s my understanding that online you graduate from email or messaging on social networking sites to Instant messaging/chatting. Later on you talk on the phone. But I would think it would be a gradual process for those who feel the need to play it safe, and well, keep their sanity, too! LOL

I do hope there are some commenters today who have gone through the whole online dating process and can share some good advice for those who want to try it. And hells bells, if you’ve got a great story, I’d love to hear it!

Today’s featured book trailer was created by Tina at Topaz Promos She made this for Elenna Taylor for her book Win By Default from XOXO Publishing.


Tina Donahue said...

I've never tried an online dating site. Just don't feel comfortable doing it.

morgan said...

I am a I did my research before embarking on online dating and did much better this time around. I met a man who is perfect for me in so many ways. Even though we lived close I doubt we would have ever met in the ordinary ways. He admitted that he would have been too intimidated to talk to me without me first contacting him via online dating. So yes, it can and does work.

Tess MacKall said...

I wouldn't either, Tina. Not my style I guess. lol

Tess MacKall said...

Would love to hear more about your success, Morgan. For instance, you said you did your research. What exactly did you do? And what tips can you share with others for finding the perfect someone?

Debbie Gould said...

I've been married to my high school sweetheart for 27 years. So the on-line dating thing is something I've never done. This being said, if, God forbid, anything ever happened to him, I can see maybe striking up some kind of friendship on-line. I don't believe I would ever take it any father than an on-line friendship though. I'm only 46, but frankly if I was alone tomorrow I'd be fine with it. Don't get me wrong, my husband and I are very happy and have a healthy relationship, but love like we write about is few and far between and happens much more often in our books than does in real life. At least this is what I've seen. Love is not the end all and be all. You can't look for someone else to make you happy if you're not happy with yourself. I've had friends leave their marriages for on-line "loves" only to be back home alone and broke a year later. My advice is find yourself before you go all over creation looking for that illusive love.

D. F. Krieger said...

I met my husband online...But it wasn't through a dating sight. As a matter of fact, I tried to kill him. Now, now, let me explain. We met on a roleplaying site (which was rated PG so get your minds out of the gutters please ^.^). I was an evil, man hating dark elf. For three years we rp'd off and on, and then we began to talk about us as people. That led to a phone call, later he flew out to see me, and the rest is history. Love can be found online...Mine just came unexpectedly!

Debbie Gould said...

Sheesh, I sound really cynical don't I.

Tess MacKall said...

I agree, Deb. The kind of love we write about in books is truly fantasy. I don't think it's out there. But I'm sure some have found it.

Chances are...I won't. And I've reconciled myself to that. But as a woman looking at the last of the kiddies to be gone soon, I wonder about the next part of my life. And that may simply be writing. Which I can be happy with. lol I've gone this far without a man, I think I can go the distance now. lol

Regardless of how I end up "after the kids", lol, I plan to take it slow and easy. I'm not going to push myself or allow myself to be pushed. God knows I've been pushed enough!

Tess MacKall said...

Awww...D.F, what an amazing story. I love it. Just melts my heart. Any advice for someone looking for love online? You are evidently an expert---even if your love happened by accident. lol

Tess MacKall said...

You're not a cynic, Deb. You're practical. A realist. Me too. I don't believe in much. lol

Debbie Gould said...

Well we all have different degrees of love. Those kids of yours love you, even when they don't show it, and I don't see Chandler ever being more than a phone call away.
I would certainly want companionship and we have proved that on-line friends are very precious to us. I just don't think we have to seek a full time relationship at our age to make us happy. Heck they make things with batteries to take care of the important things, LMAO.
BTW, I do like hearing the stories of it actually working.

Tess MacKall said...

Batteries, huh? Hmmm...I tell ya what I learned about battery operated devices a long time ago, Deb---they only make you want the real thing. lol

Yep, there are different kinds of love for sure. And I've been truly blessed with the love of three children. That's a fact. NOW...if I could just get them to help around the house some. sighhhh

But a man wouldn't do that either, would he? LOL

Karenna Colcroft said...

I laughed a little when I read the part about "people just looking to get laid," because that's the entire purpose of the online dating site I belong to. It's supposed to be for people who just want to get laid. (I joined it after I left my first husband... and I wasn't looking to *just* get laid, I was actually mostly looking to find people to talk to.)
Despite the stated purpose of the site, I met my current husband through it. We met at a regional get-together in May 2008 and have been together ever since. So online dating can sometimes work.

Debbie Gould said...

NO! They wouldn't, lol

Tess MacKall said...

So the site stated--beyond a shadow of a doubt--that it was a site for people looking to get laid and you still joined it in hopes of finding someone to talk to, K? Did you consider moving on and joining another group that didn't admit to just being a sex only site?

And weren't you concerned that once you went to the regional mixer that it would be only about sex there too?

Karenna Colcroft said...

I was pretty naive back then... The site is called "Adult Friend Finder" and I took the "friend" part literally. I caught on pretty quickly, but in the regional chat room on the site, people were talking about their kids, their suppers, and so on far more than they were talking about sex, so I stuck around.

I'd been to several regional mixers before the one at which I met hubby. All of them take place either at bars or at someone's home. (The ones at people's homes are invite-only; the ones at the bars are open to anyone who's a member of the regional chat room.) Even the ones at people's homes are somewhat public, since people tend to congregate in the yards. The rule, at least for my region, is "No sex at the mixers; what happens afterwards is your own business." So no, I wasn't worried.

Honestly, some of the closest friends I have offline are from that chat room, so it filled the purpose for which I joined, despite the stated purpose of the site.

Tess MacKall said...

Whew!!!! Glad to hear you didn't walk in on an orgy, K! LOL Cause that is what it was beginning to sound like for sure.

I guess I'm just a bit...hmmm...conservative. lol If I had seen a "sign" say---hey, we're here to meet up for sex---I'd run.

And yeah, I like sex. At least from what I remember. LOL

Regina Carlysle said...

Have to say I agree with Debbie. Been married to the same guy for almost 29 yrs and if unforseen events happened and I found myself alone I certainly wouldn't be looking around for another man.

As to these sites, I can understand that it would be a fun way to meet people but I would think you'd have to be sooooo careful. It could be dangerous (especially for the vulnerable).

Karenna Colcroft said...

Tess, LOL! Nah, even though the site says it's for people who are looking to get laid, the majority of the people I've met are looking for friendship and hoping for relationships. And I've tried to avoid the ones who are just looking to get laid.

Regina, I agree with you about being very careful when it comes to meeting people from online sites. That's why the regional chat room folks on the site I'm on (I still belong to it, but now I just visit the chat room occasionally to check in with friends) have the mixers; so that people can meet each other in a low-pressure environment with plenty of other people around before spending any "alone time" with each other.

Tess MacKall said...

I'm with you, Regina. My red flags would be flying high.

And I get what you and Deb are saying. You've both been in the same relationship for a long time. It's a bit different for me. Never found that long-term relationship.

And maybe I don't need one. I think I'll just go with the flow. Avoid the online dating sites. lol They scare me a bit.

Tess MacKall said...

"Alone time". Is that a term they use? lol This is flipping me out.

Anonymous said...

Online dating or meeting someone from a chat room is definitely not for the faint of heart! As a young naive girl, I met several men from online. I thought it was fun, and would meet them without barely knowing a thing about them. Some even hours away from where I lived. I did talk to one particular guy for several weeks via email and phone. I'd never given him my physical address, but one night, he showed up on my doorstep in Tallahassee from NY asking me to marry him and ready to move in with me. That was scary! Luckily, I lived past that era of stupidity. As an adult now, when I become single, I don't think I could muster up what it takes to weed through the bad seeds on a dating site.

I see woman after woman on a daily basis, and I hear one disaster story after the next. I do know a few who have found their love online, and I'm super happy for them. But oh my, the tales I know... Here's a PG ready? Woman meets man online. Said woman is beautiful and very tall. 6'2" w/ no shoes on. 5'10" or taller is her only requirement. His profile/face shot- check. Communicate via email- check. Via text- check. Via phone- check. They decide to meet for coffee. When she arrives, a man, a very short, 5'2" ish man approaches her. "I know I'm not what you expected, but you truly are a tall goddess of beauty." That must've been the final straw. She no longer uses dating sites! LOL!

Karenna Colcroft said...

Tess, no, "alone time" is my euphemism, not theirs. LOL

Anonymous, you're definitely right... there are some nutjobs out there, and some liars. Online dating is something to approach with a lot of caution, and, as Tess said in the post, you have to expect a lot of frogs. (Ask me about the frogs I met... go ahead...on second thought, that might hijack this entire comment thread, so maybe not.)

Tess MacKall said...

Oh yeah, I've heard stories, Anonymous. I had a friend that didn't mind going off and meeting men right away too. And she was not young and naive. So she did not have that excuse.

So, do you have any advice for those who are trying to weed through the dating sites? Is there anything they can do to protect themselves? Anything that would signal when a guy is lying?

Janice Seagraves said...

I didn't think a lasting relationship could be found on the internet, but . . . my sixty year old cousin met her fourth husband through a chat (not dating) site.

She asked her guy where he lived and he said Arizona. She asked what town and he told her. And she said "Really? I live there too."

It turned out he lived in the same retirement mobile home park, and a mere two space behind her.

Ten minutes after she found out, she knocked on his front door. And the rest as they say is history.

Tess MacKall said...

OMG, Janice. That was one of those "just meant to be" kind of things. Good for them!

Anonymous said...

I've actually helped quite a few women set up their profiles and of course helped them weed through the mass of emails they receive. These are some of the things a find are obvious clue ins to the duds:
1. Pictures without their shirts off(if you're muscular and built, we are smart and have eyes. We can see that through a fitted t-shirt)
2. Their profile name (just use your name- cute or funny names show a lack of security and/or maturity)
3. TMI (too much info too fast is never a good thing- how much money he makes or has, his "title" at work, what car he drive, exactly where he lives- that's all boasting)
4. I like compliments as much as the next girl, but if they are superfluous, it's should be a sure sign of desperation)
5. When/if you get to talking on the phone, most of his evasiness should be gone. If he avoids answering or talking about the things you ask, please wipe your hands and be done with him.
6. If you have made NO provocative or sexual overtones and he does, again, wipe your hands clean of him.
7. If he plays games with your time online, be assured he will do it in life.
8. If he requests a meet up late in the evening for drinks and especially if he requests somewhere not public or somewhere remote. RUN!! And not to him!
9. Listen to everything he writes/says. If he's a liar, he'll slip up somewhere. Don't let your excitement and/or hopes get in the way of of your judgement.
10. If he sounds too good to be true. HE IS!!! There is no perfect man.

I don't know if I even said anything you didn't, Tess. But my brain is fried right now, and that's all I could think of. All I know is that if you are aware of the amount of strange men on these sites then please go in with your caution lights already blinking!!

Charlene said...

I could write a book about online chatting and dating. For about 10 years I hosted a Sunday breakfast in a local restaurant where people on a local AOL chat came to meet. More than a dozen married and about 7 out of 10 did not divorce, so far. I figure that's better than average.

I became reacquainted with a man I dated 40 year ago and we're still a couple 13 years later. I met my very best friend through that chat.

All the advice given here is good. Take time before you go further than online or phone chat. A guy in a rush is looking for sex. If you're looking for sex, say it. Fuck buddies work.

My rules at the time were: He has to give me a land line phone number and I have to be able to find him on reverse phone. If he says he can't be phones except at very specific times, no. If his land line is his work number, no. If he lives with his mother, no. If he smokes, no. If he's more than a light social drinker, no. His car can't be more than 10 years old unless it's a classic. He has to have a job.

As to figuring out if he was lying, most do lie. My interrogation skills were excellent and it was simple to figure that out over time.

Shoshanna Evers said...

I met my husband online, on Jdate, a Jewish dating service :) We've been happily married 5 years.

My two cousins also met their husbands on Jdate.

Another cousin met his wife on Jdate.

Another cousin met her boyfriend of several years on Jdate.

And my sister met her boyfriend of 1 yr on Jdate - I paid for her subscription, LOL

I'm not sure if my family has had so much luck with online dating because we were using a religion-based site or what.

But to be fair, I did go out on over 100 failed coffee dates with guys I met on that same site before I met my hubby!

Maybe someday I'll write a book about it, LOL

C. Zampa said...

My experience online has been that men my age, now that they're out of fuel with the young cuties, are looking for women with money to see them through their old age. LOL.

Hey, I paid my dues in the romance department. My money's all for me now. So there! LOL

Interesting blog, interesting comments!

D. F. Krieger said...

Hey Tess, I'm not sure I have advice for why my situation work. Hubby and I have even talked about this. We've come to the conclusion that it worked out so well because *Drum roll please* We WEREN'T looking. We were there to have fun and meet like-minded people.

There was no pressure to put out our best or make ourselves out to be far more than what we really are to impress each other. We were in a situation where we either liked/talked to the other person, or we didn't. No big deal. So when we started talking about us as real people, and not our RP characters anymore, we didn't feel the need to lie, to hide things, to glamour ourselves up, etc. The more I found out about him as a person, the more I knew there was a reason I really liked talking to him.

When he finally flew out, I was so excited. We had spent 12 hour phone conversations together so we knew just about everything there was to know about each other, good and bad. We got married less than a year after meeting face to face, and here we are, still going strong.