Managing Your Profile and Spotting Scams and Online Predators
Meet Phoebe Jayne Your Heart Coach and Online Dating Consultant:
I’m hoping by now, you have selected at least one online dating site, uploaded your recent photos, written your profile and selected a username you are comfortable with. I suggest a variant of your name, not your real name. Strap in…the fun is about to begin!
Think about online dating as a project. As you have fun looking at the different profiles, you must develop an investigative approach for safety. Think about this as a fantasy. Nothing is real; don’t take anything too personally. You need to be smart to keep yourself safe.
MANAGING YOUR PROFILE:
Checking your online dating site profile every day. Block off at least 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening to respond to messages.
Each week review your profile and your photos. You need to keeping your profile fresh, possibly changing a sentence or two. Adding a new quote or a new photo keeps it relevant and interesting. It gives your viewers something new to look at.
Activity will come from many directions.
The site will promote you as a new member, which active members, who cruise the site, will see you, too and more than likely approach you in some form. So now it’s time to develop your online dating communication style.
MESSAGES and COMMUNICATION
MESSAGES: Read messages carefully. Before answering anyone check out their profile and read it all the way through. If they meet your preferences, answer accordingly. Make your response short, asking them a question or two. This will help you gage their interest and honesty. How quickly do they respond? Did they answer your questions?
Examples: 1) You may receive a quick introduction message asking you how you like your coffee. You might answer by stating your preference, then asking them something referencing a point or two from their profile. 2) Someone may say they like your profile but are not specific. A good response to this may be, “You like my profile. Thank you. What exactly did you like? 3) “You might see a photo of one of your admirers with a dog. Ask, “I notice you have a photo with a dog…yours? Looks like a Lab mix?” Again make your questions short and specific. Timeliness and truthfulness is what you are looking for at this point.
VIEWED YOUR PROFILE/WANTS TO MEET YOU: Some sites will indicate who has viewed you or wants to meet you. In this case, check out each profile who has viewed you or wants to meet you. If they meet your preferences, reach out to them. “Thank you for viewing my profile,” ask them a question and wait. Don’t be shy. Remember this is a dating site and you want to date. You have to be proactive and reach out, as well. If someone really looks interesting, ask about something on his/her profile, send a flirt emoji or wink. This doesn’t mean to be overly sexy in your approach. Be subtle, yet flirty. Again, you are trying to date.
HOW TO FLIRT: There are tons of examples on the Internet. You want to develop a style that is comfortable to you. Everyone who is legitimately on the site likes a compliment or two, enjoys someone being interested in them, and what they the think about life, travel or a common interest.
NO MESSAGES. No worries. Now its your turn to cruise the site and reach out. It’s all a numbers game. To get one response back you will need to reach out to at least 4 to 6 perspectives.
A Flower Within The Weeds: Once you have weeded through the “unacceptables, the scams (read on) and the no-ways, it is time to communicate and develop conversation. Constantly being aware of timeliness and mutual interests. Eventually, you will be asked to meet.
Spotting Scams and Online Predators
I don’t want to scare or discourage you, but the fact remains dishonest people are out there—both men and women.
According to www.truthfinder.com
> 10% of sex offenders use online dating sites
> 3% of online daters are psychopaths
> 51% of online daters are already in a relationship
> 10% of members on free dating websites are scammers
Online predators have evolved. Their skills are being perfected on a daily basis, and sometimes it can be quite hard to spot an online predator hiding behind an innocent-looking profile.
Considering these stats, the grim reality is that if you date online, you’re likely to run into a few freaky fish before you find a good catch.
Remember the only thing you know about these folks at this point which is true is they have a computer. And that’s it!
Read profiles carefully: How do they communicate? Do they write in all caps or nonsensical sentences?
What are their hobbies and activities? Does their profile picture look a little too good to be true? Prepare to be disappointed; a staggering 81 percent of people lie on their online profile!
Lots of ‘I’ or ‘Me’ statements can indicate narcissism, as can someone who refers to themselves as good looking.
Steer clear of anyone who says they “don’t want any drama” or claim they’re “not a game player.”
These statements are a red flag that the opposite is probably true.
Watch out for small or blurry photographs, or a user who only has one profile image.
Stay away from any language that can be immediately identified as possessive or domineering. “I need” or “I won’t tolerate” are giant no-no’s, as is a long list of demands for a potential suitor.
SPOTTING SCAMS: Remember the old saying… “If something looks too good to be true, it is not true. If a man falls instantly in love with you, it’s a scam.
> If someone says they are going off the site and wants to communicate with you directly, then asks for your email and phone number, or gives you their’s, it’s a scam.
> If they say a friend of theirs is shy and doesn’t use computers and asks that you contact them directly through their email or phone, it’s a scam.
> If they send you a long message about how wonderful they think you are without being specific, and they want to immediately meet, it’s a scam.
> If they jump into sexual euphemisms right away or ask for/send risque photos—abort!
> If they ask for money, dip out immediately and block. You’re most likely talking to a scammer. No matter what sob story they cook up to justify it, no decent person will ask you for cash before you’ve even met.
> DO NOT communicate with anyone outside the safe text and email system, which is set up through the online dating site.
> It should go without saying, but don’t give your full name too soon. Be vague about your profession, place of employment, birthplace, etc. Do not give your home address too soon. If you’re nervous about giving your phone number, use a free messaging app, or get a prepaid phone to communicate outside the dating site. Use a nondescript email address created just for your online dating profiles.
SEX: There are some folks online that are just interested in meeting for sex. If their profiles use language with hidden meaning, or focuses on cuddling with multiple references of interest in intimacy and expression of love and little else…ignore them.
Our subconscious is wired to pick up on bad vibes. If your communication triggers a feeling that something isn’t quite right, trust it. Don’t be stupid. Be safe.
That being said there many legitimate, kind men and women out there just like you, who are interested in meeting someone to date, who is fun and real. Once you have cleared your vision on who is real and who is not, start reaching out to potential dates. Put in just enough time messaging and/or texting so you have a moderate idea of who they are and how they act. If they haven’t asked you out after a week or two, encourage the process with a casual, “Hey, we should meet up sometime.” Own it. Know what you want. And let me tell you, you don’t want a texting buddy. Who has time for that? You already have enough friends.
Too often, especially after a dating drought, or a difficult breakup, we feel “so lucky” to finally be online with an interested potential date. But you are forgetting: He’s lucky to be communicating with you. Own your awesome, ladies. Believe in what you have to offer.
Enter Elizabeth (A/K/A the guinea pig):
I am sitting on the edge of a whole new world, where the possibilities are endless in the online world of window-shopping for a man. I am a month into online dating boot camp, and I have been winked at, messaged, liked and favored. As much as I hesitated to actually get online, it’s official: I’m on three dating sites.
As you know, Phoebe Jayne is taking me under her wing for three months, and she thinks I’m doing well. Thus far, I have not met anyone in person but I’m getting close. I am actively talking to three very nice men, but let me tell you what it took to get to this point.
1) Online dating is like a can of mixed nuts, without the less-than-50-percent-peanuts guarantee. You really have to pick through for the good ones…like the pecans. And, there are very few pecans. It would be wonderful if there were sites with only pecans, but no such luck.
2) One of my issues is being too polite. This is one place where you truly don’t have to be polite because there are built in safety systems within the site. If a man messages you, and you’re not interested, you don’t have to message him back. Phoebe Jayne says, “Just delete them. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.”
3) I have learned we live in a narrow world. I never knew that approximately 92 percent of men (my best guess) on dating sites have pictures of themselves holding up fish, even little fish. They are like cats that bring snakes and birds to your doorstep. “Look what I caught for ya, little darling!” Also, almost every man claims he’s athletic, loves doing anything outdoors and wants to travel. Really, because the sofa and television market is kind of booming. I actually had respect for one dude who stated, “I am a big man over 300 pounds.” I also cracked up at the guy who made it clear he does not eat Tide Pods. Bless.
4) Pictures are a big deal. They are your curb appeal. No one wants to go inside the Addam’s family house. It’s creepy. The same theory applies here. I quickly learned to inspect the background of photos, as much, if not more, than the guys’ looks. Here are a few major turnoffs for me. Perhaps they will be for you, too:
> If there is a commode in the picture, I pass. I have seen urinals and a variety of toilets—seats up, seats down, top off the back, flushed and unflushed. I’m not even kidding.
> If you are standing in front of a mirror with no shirt on, and I can see the phone in your hand, and did I mention you have no shirt on…next.
> If there is at least one car jacked up on cinder blocks in the yard behind you…Sorry, Charlie.
> If you are in a hotel room. Just ooh.
> If you are standing in front of a mirror with an unmade bed behind you. I’m not your maid.
> If you are dressed like you are ready to mow the lawn. You’re cut.
> If you have a beard that even offends Mrs. Clause. Dash away, please.
I promise I have seen examples of all the above over and over. Men truly amaze me. They will show up to catch fish with the finest rods, pristine boats and enough tackle to catch anything out there, but put no effort into catching a woman.
As of now, I am seriously messaging three men, and open to talk with more. This is unchartered water for me, as I have always had one boyfriend at a time—and only one husband. Two of the messaging conversations have progressed to a meet up, which is in the works. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Of course I’m worried about if they will think I look older, fatter, shorter, etc. in person. It’s like once the car is out of the showroom, it looks like the rest on the lot.
The other one—well, I think he broke up with me, but the jury is still out. He basically messaged me to politely tell me he is getting off the site, as it is distractive and getting in the way of his productivity. That I can definitely agree with. However, he said if I wanted to get in touch with him, I could email him via his author’s email address on his website. I have to wonder if he is testing me or dumping me. He could have asked for my email address. He could have given me his. I don’t know where it went bad, maybe it didn’t. Perhaps I’m reading into it. Nonetheless, there are plenty more, but I liked the way his jeans fit him. They weren’t baggy, nor were they skinny jeans. They were kind of just right.
Phoebe Jayne has tightened her reign on me. I had one bad experience, which was my fault. This was before I could spot scams, which I’m getting better at everyday. I was messaging with a nice, very handsome man (according to his pictures), and after about a week of messaging within the system, he used the line he was getting off the dating site and asked if we could continue the conversation outside the dating system. I sent him my cell number. He texted me for a few days and then wanted to talk. So I picked up the phone and called him. It was obvious he was not the man in the two pictures he had posted. I ended the call politely and immediately called Phoebe Jayne. Her words: “Abort! Abort!” Which meant block the number, and don’t do that again.
It’s definitely a new experience, which, I’m enjoying, though, there have been times when I felt bummed out. I would message someone and they didn’t message back, or it just felt like no one was a good fit for me. However, almost every time you shake that can of nuts, a pecan almost always shows up. That’s what I’m counting on…finding a pecan in this crazy game of mixed nuts.
Stay active and committed. There is no need to be scared as long as you are smart. I only wish online dating had been around years ago! Tune in next month for advice on The Meet Up. In the mean time, have fun!