Christian Living

Family Matters 08/18/11

The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Dating

This week, I did an interview for CBN News on the topic of online dating. I also used my social media to pose the question to many of you: Are you for or against online dating and why?

I had great response; the majority of you replied with a positive view of online dating, reporting numerous relationships that have lasted from online dating. Those with negatives views held them because of three factors: safety issues, the ability of people to lie and present themselves in a false light, and the number of people who are already married but trying to date anyway.

Thanks for sending me your stories of failures and successes. There are clearly some creepy people on these sites, so I decided to post more guidelines for using online dating. These rules should help if you decide to go ahead.

Guidelines for online dating

  1. Use common sense and pay attention to your gut reaction. This is often the Holy Spirit in you, warning you that things may not be right.
  2. If he or she sounds too good to be true, he or she probably is too good to be true and isn’t being truthful on his or her profile.
  3. Listen and watch (by video) for signs of a temper, control issues, depression, etc., and run for the hills if you sense he or she needs therapy.  You aren’t going to change him or her. Let them get help.
  4. Use a free email account with first name and something else. This way no one knows your personal details.
  5. Ask for a RECENT picture and encourage the person to send candid shots for more realism. You don’t want major surprises when you meet. Awkward!
  6. If any one asks for money, do not give it. You are most likely being scammed if this happens.
  7. Don’t reveal details of your personal life too soon and be careful what you reveal. (I had a client who told a guy she had money before she even met him. She was never sure if he was attracted to her for the money or because he genuinely liked her.)
  8. Paid services usually have more safety and screening procedures than free ones.
  9. If you do have a home phone, don’t give out the number. Use your cell or a prepaid phone.
  10. Some people have a great deal of social awkwardness at meeting others. If you meet and it feels awkward, you may want to give it another chance to see if the person settles down and is interesting.
  11. Meet in a public space.
  12. Don’t use a provocative handle to get interest. The interest you will get is not the kind you want.
  13. Don’t interact in questionable chat rooms.
  14. Use Skype and face time to actually see each other if the relationship progresses. You get more information when you can observe nonverbal behavior.
  15. Think about how your photos may be used. Once you send them to the Cloud or cyberspace, people can use them however they want. And get permission from any person who might be in a photo with you. Better yet, crop that person out of the photo. It violates his or her privacy.

Please feel free to add to these guidelines from your own experiences or the experiences of others.

Dr. Linda Mintle is a bestselling author, national speaker and a licensed marriage and family therapist. For more on relationships, check out her website, www.drlindahelps.com and her book, I Married You, Not your Family.

Give Now