Stranger Danger is REAL.
I can’t stress that enough! There is this false sense of security that comes from dating online. You get to know someone before you really get to know them. You meet them online and chat for extended periods of time, getting to know each other, discussing life, experiences and sharing who you are. This makes a person feel more secure. But, what they fail to realize time and again is that the person they are speaking with on the other end of the connection may be completely and utterly LYING.
Lying and Non Verbal Behavior
We take our cues about people by assessing their body language. In fact, non verbal communication is more powerful than verbal is. My university studies specialized in interpersonal communications and one of the things I found most fascinating was observing human interaction. Some research I’ve done included trying to assess whether or not people were actually telling the truth or not by observation alone. Some things people do when they are lying is avoid eye contact, their body language contradicts what they are saying (kind of like someone saying “I’m fine” when they look upset), how they react to what you’re saying, they shift their stance often, they fidget, they cover parts of their face with their hands (like they are trying to hide), they could sweat or even move away from you slowly. All these are cues that what they are saying isn’t necessarily what they mean. Now we all know there are those master manipulators who can control these things and make you believe whatever they say, but generally people’s non verbal behavior is quite telling. So then what happens when you don’t have non verbal behavior to pull from? Can you STILL tell if people are lying?
Verbal Cues of Lying
Most online interactions take place over a computer and you don’t have the luxury of a face to face interaction for a while, and maybe, for some, never. So how do you tell someone is lying without seeing them? Here are some tips:
- Do They Exaggerate? These people in particular like to talk big in order to reel you in. I will give you an example. I met this guy dating online who talked big. We interacted online, on Skype and on the telephone. He told me stories about how he built investment properties in the Caribbean and how he has such a great reputation, blah blah blah. He moved to southern United States because he had “retired early” because he was such a great financial adviser. So I checked it out. It turns out he was charged with fraud because of said investment properties as well as other shady dealings where he “allegedly” stole money from investors. Every single thing he told me was “fact” but he left out some important details. Turns out it lasted so long in courts that he didn’t end up being convicted. He moved away because he HAD to … he lost everything here. So by just looking up news articles out of innocent curiosity, I found the information I needed to know. I did give him the benefit of the doubt, but, he did end up showing his true colors.
- Check The Facts. I don’t mean to go creeping, but, you can check if what they about themselves is true. My how to spot a catfish story is a perfect example of this. He said he was in the UK and made references to things there. So I decided to ask him what time it was there (just out of curiosity) and he got it wrong, then I said, oh I thought we were 5 hours away, he made some excuse. I did it again and asked him how the weather was there, and, he got it wrong again … I mean WAY OFF wrong. Don’t believe everything someone says to you, even the little things. Take it at face value. They could be telling the truth, or, they could be lying, but never just trust what someone online says to you without expecting that it could possibly be untrue.
- What They Say Seems Rehearsed. These people tell you EVERYTHING you want to hear. While this is nice, it’s still suspicious. Wooing you should be realistic. We have these stupid romantic notions from media and Hollywood that are completely exaggerated. If they seem to have an answer ready for everything, especially when you question their behavior, then be suspicious. If something seems to be “off” then it probably is.
- They Are Defensive. If they react to everything you ask them or challenge them with then chances are they have something to hide. What is it that Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet? “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Yes, that. Well, someone’s over-reaction will give you a definite indication of what’s behind their words.
- Your Gut Tells You So. The most important indicator of someone who is lying to you is your gut instincts. You know something is “off”. Something doesn’t feel right about this person. There are red flags. Trust this gut instinct because, you know what, it knows better.
The False Sense of Security That Comes From Dating Online
Time and again we hear about people getting scammed online. Online dating is no exception, actually, it was recently revealed that in Canada, online dating fraud is the most prevalent and rising. People want to believe what these scam artists are telling them and fall in a trap. I have also read about women who are forced into prostitution by men they meet online. They fell for the sweet talk and trusted this person they met completely. People don’t tell the truth online, not even you. What was that you said about being “a little overweight”? How about that picture you posted from 10 years ago?
We were talking about the dangers of computer mediated communication back when it first started and I was still in university (in 19-mumble mumble). It was not known back then how big an impact social media would have on society, but, what we did know at that time was that people were starting to pretend to be whoever they wanted, and always wanted to be, because no one could see them. They could hide their true identities behind the computer screen. They could be a GQ model if they wanted and no one would know the difference. That, my friends, is why you need to always be careful and take everything people tell you both dating online and offline with a grain of salt.
I came across this site about romance scams and it is a database of people who have tried to scam others online. It’s interesting to read all of them. It’s also quite scary. Lonely, vulnerable women and men BOTH get scammed. It’s sad to see, but it’s because they let it happen. What can someone do to protect themselves? Here are some tips on what to do the first couple of meetings:
- Always meet the person face to face as soon as possible
- Meet in a public place at a busy time
- Tell someone where you’re going to be and with who
- Take your own transportation to your dates
- Trust your gut, if something doesn’t feel right then it most likely isn’t
- Get emotional fulfillment from other things and don’t seek it from a new partner
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. You need to protect yourself because no one else will. There are many bad people out there, your mother was right. Use your judgment and logic. And …
Date smart people! Stranger danger is REAL!
Have you ever met a fraudster online? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
Your Sister in Dating Bliss,
Single Dating Diva