Online Dating - Avoiding the Pitfalls
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jan Slater - Accredited BACP. UKRC . AIP. PCC Dip. CSTD supervisor (Adv).
11th June, 20130 Comments
Many people nowadays are seeking therapeutic support after painful and disturbing online dating experiences. Based on this, I decided to write an article for those who may be considering embarking on this way of meeting a potential partner.
So, what precautions does one need to take in order to keep safe and enjoy the experience of finding love? Just as with any new relationship, there's always a chance that disappointment, disillusionment or a broken heart may end up the result of your efforts rather than love and satisfaction. Of course, these things may still apply whether you meet through an acquaintance or online; however, the possibility of dishonesty or predatory behaviour may be much more easily accomplished by the immoral human thanks to the anonymity of online correspondence.
So what can you do to protect yourself as best you can? Firstly, look at the site you wish to use and get a feel for its purpose. If you are looking for a long term relationship with a truly available single person, avoid the sites that use certain words to describe their clients' activities..."naughty", "discreet marrieds" etc.
Look for a site that will protect your anonymity and personal information (and possibly your photo) until you are ready to release it.
You may find it useful to use a site that tries to match your personality or interests, although this can be quite vague and one must remember that this is a booming business; therefore you may be sent less congruent matches, as they will want you to feel they have generated lots of choice and opportunities for you.
The common complaints and heartbreak that arise during therapy involve deceit, and people using others for their own gain. This includes financial and intimate sexual exploits; these may feel all right to begin with, and then end in disaster. People may start talking as though they are fond of, or deeply attracted to, their new partner; they may make plans involving them, or intimate that there will be a future only to end it abruptly or change their mind. Not all people using dating sites (or in life in general) are honest, well-adjusted or well meaning...so it is wise to be cautious.
Dating online means that people are often faced with a lot of choices - and often all at once! Not everyone paces themselves and chooses to date one person at a time. Some will make a decision to see as many as possible; some will start to engage and then be side-swiped by a new face appearing, or an offer for a date coming in. For a small minority this behavior becomes addictive. It is all about the chase and the effect it has on their self-esteem. They are not impossible to spot, as the investment at the very beginning can seem overwhelming, full on, and sometimes obsessive. So, if you think you have met the most amazing woman or man to have ever walked the planet…take it slowly, because it can go off like a sky rocket to only end up in a pile of dust. We call these 'phosphorus daters'…bright, dazzling, full of everything wonderful…then out of nowhere, it is all over and they are on to the next
Try to be always aware of the reality of humans whilst also giving people a fair chance. Try and take online dating for what it is - an opportunity with no guarantees. At the same time, try to treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.
Practically, you can do a lot to keep yourself safe. Here are some things you may wish to consider.
- Do not give out your number or email or address.
- Invest in a cheap phone with a separate number.
- Open a email account that does not reflect or give away your name for when you feel you can progress to exchanging mail outside of the site.
- Do not give personal info; children's names, place of work etc. Do not be forced to reveal information about yourself that can identify you or your address (place of work, professional title).
- Don't use sexy names unless you want that type of encounter - which would be higher risk.
- Always meet in a public place.
- Don't get picked up by your date - make your own way to the venue.
- Give someone the details of where you intend to meet.
- Take the number plate of any vehicle that your date arrives in (tell them beforehand that you would like to do this) - if they object you should be suspicious.
- Have your phone with you, and check in with a friend during the date.
- Do not consume too much alcohol and always keep your drink in your sights: going to the toilet could give someone the opportunity to spike your drink. A drink can be spiked from bar to table - beware!
- Do not give out any bank details or discuss income/wealth.
- If the person is supposedly single, but is reluctant to mention friends or work mates once you've been in contact for a while, then be cautious; what are they hiding if the relationship is deemed to be progressing?
- It is down to personal choice, but consider carefully when you wish to be intimate...lust is alive and passion exists, but love takes time to grow!!
It is a fact that lots of people have met their now long term partners via internet dating, so do have fun and enjoy the opportunities...but above all, keep safe, go slow, be wise.
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