Online dating has delivered incredible ease and convenience to the entire process of finding love, especially for those stuck in busy routines and fast-paced lifestyles. But it has also become a playground for cyber predators looking for innocent and vulnerable victims. Romance scams have been steadily growing with the proliferation of platforms such as Tinder and Bumble.
Clearly, ensuring safety is critical when pursuing dates in cyberspace. But how can you identify a genuine person from a swindler? Here are five top signs that your online date might be trustworthy.
1. They are consistent in what they say
Online scammers have mastered the art of assuming fake identities. They meticulously plan the storylines and the smallest details. But it can be challenging to keep up with a made-up identity, especially during one-on-one conversations.
Texting and messaging will give them time to gather their thoughts. Video calls and in-person meetups, however, will put them on the spot, making it easier for you to identify inconsistencies in the details they provide and the stories they tell. Do not overlook the slightest discrepancy. It could be a sign that your online date is lying.
Another important measure is to check their social media profiles. Sometimes, you may notice irregularities such as incomplete profiles, inconsistencies in what they share across different platforms, or even a lack of social media presence. For example, you might find that they are only using one social media platform. This is unusual—many people have several accounts on different platforms, even if they update them infrequently. In fact, millennials and Gen Zs in the US have more than seven accounts on average. Seemingly trivial inconsistencies such as these could give away some critical clues.
A genuine individual, on the other hand, will have a reasonable social presence. Most importantly, they will always be consistent in what they say, whether over the phone, on social media, or in person.
2. They respect your boundaries
Feeling curious about a potential date when you first meet each other is natural. But someone with a genuine interest in you will respect your boundaries and take the time to get to know you better.
Excessive curiosity could have hidden motives. If you feel your online date is unusually enthusiastic about intruding into your personal life, take it as a red flag. Be mindful of the kind of questions they ask. For example, are they overly inquisitive about where you live and work, your family and friends, and your income and spending habits? Do they ask for sensitive information like your social security number or bank details? Are they following you on several social media platforms and constantly calling you? Have they asked you to share personal photos and videos?
It’s easy to dismiss these signs, mistaking them for genuine interest. But this type of information is remarkably valuable for an online fraudster to plan their next move. They could be targeting you for identity theft, financial fraud, cyber extortion, or some other scam while you are smitten by your new love interest.
If they start harassing you with phone calls and text messages, look them up on PhoneHistory to reveal their true identity. Use a caller-blocking app like Whoscall to prevent them from reaching you.
3. They look forward to meeting you in person
After a few online chats and Zoom calls, you will eventually want to meet your potential date. A genuine person will look forward to this.
Something is definitely amiss if they seem reluctant to go on a date and are more interested in keeping things online. It could be that they have lost interest or are unsure about starting a relationship. Or it may also mean they are attempting to hide something from you.
A scammer would feel much more comfortable and safer hiding behind a screen. They could even sit in another country while pretending to be in a neighboring town. In such instances, they would naturally avoid in-person dates and try to pursue you online instead.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that all cyber predators would refuse to meet outside the digital space. Some criminals, such as stalkers and sex offenders, would, in fact, look forward to an in-person date. So, keeping your closest friends and family members informed of your meetups is essential.
The first few dates should always be in a public location where plenty of people are around. Let your friends know where you are going and when you are back, and stick to a pre-agreed schedule.
4. They don’t use flattery
Perfect answers don’t always signal an ideal date. Having incompatible or conflicting interests, perspectives, and opinions is normal among couples. There will never be another individual who could entirely match your thinking and behavior. So, if your date doesn’t always say the right things exactly how you like to hear them, don’t be disheartened. It just might mean that they are being themselves without resorting to flattery or sweet talk to win your heart.
Behaviors like professing love too early in the dating process and showering you with excessive compliments could be signs they are masking their true identity and motives.
5. They don’t ask for unusual favors
Have your online date started seeking favors too soon for your liking? For example, have they asked for money for an urgent requirement? Or have they asked you to deliver a parcel? If yes, then you are likely dating a scammer.
Money scams are a common type of dating-related swindle. The much-publicized case of Patrick Giblin is a good example. Giblin scammed more than 100 women into giving away over $250,000 for made-up financial emergencies.
If your date has not sought unusual favors or does not seem to pursue you with ulterior motives, they are likely genuine and trustworthy.
A Final Word
Consistency in detail, respecting boundaries, a genuine interest in meeting up, and a lack of flattery and unusual asks are all telltale signs you can trust your online date. But remember, there are no hard-and-fast rules for finding love. So, take your time to get to know them better, use your best judgment, and keep a positive attitude.