Dating Magazine

Manti Te’o and the Love That Wasn’t

By Datecoachtoni @CoachToni

Meeting people online has become the new normal. Online dating sites have exploded in number and memberships. Singles (and too many that are not) are creating a profile and posting it in hopes of meeting their Mr/Ms Right. Most of us agree that this virtual way of connecting with others has its advantages. It allows folks to “meet’ people they would never encounter in their usual work/social/family/neighborhood circles, thereby expanding the pool of possibilities. Dating is in part a numbers game and the internet has increased the odds. It also saves time and money, which are valuable resources for everyone. Then, there are the downsides.

When you connect with a stranger online the only information you have about them is what they share with you. They tell their story and offer a description of their physical appearance, relationship status, career/work, lifestyle choices and personality traits. This first meeting is one-dimensional-and all you see and experience are their words. This leaves out a lot, don’t you think?

The recent news about the fictitious death of Manti Te’o’s online girlfriend offers a real life example of what happens when you really don’t know anything about the person on the other end of your cyber connection. Apparently Notre Dame’s former runner-up Heisman trophy winner thought he made a serious love connection online. There have been leaks since yesterday that all of this may have been a publicity stunt- however, the fact that he offered up an explanation that he didn’t know she wasn’t real and many folks believed it speaks to the number of virtual romances that may be happening- where the people wait long periods to meet or perhaps never meet in person at all.

Yes, it may have been a hoax- but what if it wasn’t? This kind of scenario is not uncommon in the world of internet dating. Many people report having been taken in by someone who was not at all the person they presented themselves to be. At the very least this experience can waste a lot of time, energy and even money if someone puts other possible matches on hold, spends a lot of time and effort emailing, texting and asking for and/or planning for that first offline meeting. At the worst, folks have been taken for money, encountered dangerous people- and in extreme cases been assaulted or killed. Like everywhere that is unfamiliar to you- the internet can be a dangerous place.

There are no guarantees, but using common sense, paying attention to red flags and looking for inconsistencies is a good way to approach internet dating. If you meet someone who appears interesting, make sure you arrange that first meeting within two weeks. If they hedge, stall and offer continued excuses, move on- these are all red flags. Don’t agree to meet in private at first. Don’t give them any personal information until after you have met and feel comfortable with them. Most of all, pay attention to your gut. If something does not feel right it probably isn’t.

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