The recent story of Manti Te'o has anyone who has ever fallen for someone online feeling a bit squeamish. Parts of the story are sketchy, but the part that isn't involves the concept of falling in love with someone you only know virtually. How do you and can you love someone you have never been in the same room with, kissed or felt their skin against your skin? The answer is yes, you can fall in love or what you believe to be in love with someone you speak to frequently on the phone and talk to on your computer screen. However, this love you feel, or the attachment is to whomever is responding back, and what you must remember is that person is only as real as their story and responses are.
According to recent posts by dating websites, approximately 15 to 20% of all online relationships lead to marriage. Marriage experts agree that there are a few benefits with online dating that far outweigh traditional dating. For example, many people find it easier to be more vulnerable with their emotions online, and the courtships can last longer for couples that talk online. Experts agree that having intimacy and sex before you know the person well can damage the relationship. Depending on when the meet up happens, these couples may actually know one another on a more intimate level than people who date face to face. The biggest concern is that people who are dating online have an easier time being deceptive. It's easy to fool someone if you are never face to face with them. Leading them on or scamming them is also more likely as they only know what you tell them or what they see via a possible Skype. Relationships that don't progress to an eventual meet up are not normal. Humans want to see the person they believe they love, they want to touch them, and they want to connect physically with them. In fact, resisting a meet up after months of talking daily would be a sign that there is something amiss with the person you met online. For example, problems with commitment, abandonment or fear of being vulnerable would stand out as likely with this group.
As with all things, the bad can outweigh the good when you are online dating. Te'o's story has much more explaining to uncover as parts of it make no sense, but that aside, I listen to people who have been scammed by someone they thought there was a chance for a future with. If you are online investing your time and your heart with someone who is taking advantage of you, you may end up losing more than a potential love. The scam experts recommend the following red flags. Taking caution is my best advice, and question oddities.
1. The online dater wants to call you personal pet names too soon. They begin calling you honey, baby, love; the list goes on and on.
2. They encourage you to leave the dating or social network site you are currently on and communicate instant messaging or some other site.
3. They send you too many photos too soon, using their child, their dog or other personal touches. They also want more photos of you (BE CAREFUL).
4. They want your address immediately and back it up by saying they want to send you flowers or court you in an "old fashioned manner."
5. They give you numerous excuses of why they cannot meet you in person.
6. Things always come up that need to be dealt with immediately. This is where they will begin needing money or some other assistance from you. They are slick about the timing with this and usually wait until you are "hooked."
7. If you are wise enough to catch them, they continue to lie by telling you that although they weren't in love with you, through the process of getting to know you they have completely fallen in love with you. Do not believe this.
The people I have talked with tell me that their scammer experience ended with legal issues as well. Scammers have access to photos of the person they scammed. They can blackmail with those photos; so once again, you must take caution with anything you send them. They are usually after money, and they have their victim in a vulnerable position emotionally.
I have gone to several wedding where the couples met online. Their marriages seem committed and more so they are as matched as couples who found someone and dated for years. The courtship part of online dating is very healthy to building a solid relationship. When couples get to know one another well before having sex, the focus is primarily on the emotional aspect of one another. This helps build the friendship that is so important with successful marriage. Understanding that lies and scamming happen anywhere, especially in the virtual work, it is wise to take your time, and if the person online seems too good to be true, they probably are.
– Mary Jo Rapini