Watch your back and protect your heart.
When it comes to dating (and really life in general), it's important to know that it's not always nice guys and sweet dates — there are creeps out there too.
While it's just as likely that you'll meet one at a bar, party, or grocery store as it is online, the internet provides an easy way for these types of people to conceal their true identities. That doesn’t mean you should ditch the online dating platform all together. Instead, just like in the real world, be smart, safe, and aware of your surroundings.
This list will help you identify the jerks, the creeps and the tricksters so you can learn how to avoid them:
1. The Catfish
A catfish is a person who presents himself as one person, but he's really completely different person. He hides his true identity behind a different face and persona by using stolen photos and a fake personality. Oftentimes, catfish are insecure, believing something like “if you saw what I really look like, you wouldn’t like me.” This typically leads most to over-compensate and exaggerate their own personality.
With that said, a catfish will generally appear very good looking and tell you anything you want to hear. If he seems "too good to be true," he probably is. Watch out for times when he avoids video chatting or cancels your meet-ups. Sure, they can talk a good game, but seeing is believing.
2. The Online Sex Addict
Generally speaking, you'll get a feel for a sex addict right away. He won’t lie about wanting a real relationship and he will get right to the point. Photos he sends will be extremely straightforward, and his written profile will be sparse (though there will certainly be at least mention of how sexual he is).
After exchanging your first couple messages with a sex addict, things will escalate quickly. He may ask to meet up for “a drink and some fun,” or suggest that you skip the pleasantries altogether and just meet up for sex.
3. The Scam Artist
There is a special class of creep who uses online dating sites as a hunting ground to swindle unsuspecting prey — enter: the scam artist.
Similar to catfish, a scam artist will use a fake profile and bunk photos to achieve his goals. Unlike the more innocent intentions of the catfish, however, scam artists are in it for the money -- not love or validation.
Many of his actions and behaviors are similar to catfish too: he may appear perfect, shower you with compliments, want to talk frequently, or fall for you hard and fast. A scam artist, however, won't mind showing his real face. Who knows, he may even Skype you!
Another major difference between scam artists and catfish is his ability to be frank. It might be couched in a gimmicky story or flowery compliment, but he WILL ask you to fork out cash.
He could say something like, “I am on a last minute business trip and someone stole my wallet. Can you wire me $1000?” Or he could do it in an even more manipulative way – like standing you up on a first date, and instead calling 30 minutes later saying that he's in the hospital and needs money. Scam artists are masters of pulling your heartstrings and manipulating you out of your money.
4. The Player
A player is a guy who's looking to have a little fun with a lot of people. Though he might act as if it’s his end goal, a player has no intention of ever being in a real relationship. He's notorious for forgetting details about you, calling you the wrong name, or bringing up a story that he thought you told him but never did.
A player's schedule is very busy and you can generally only get a date with him late at night. If you do snag an early date, he may have to “wake up early the next morning” or otherwise call the night short. To his credit, a player will generally be honest with you about his hopes, telling you that they aren’t looking for a relationship right now.
5. The Already Committed
Obviously, someone who is already in a committed relationship (or married) is looking to have an affair — and NOTHING more.
Married guys might not have a photo up, but instead offer to send a pic upon request. He'll avoid questions about his intentions and will refuse to answer questions about wanting kids or wanting to get married.
If he's open about being married, he may tell you that him and his wife are separated or in an open relationship, or he may say that he has full intentions on leaving his partner. Anything along those lines should put up a GIANT red flag.
If you end up going on a date, it’s often to a random, low-key place where he can request a private table with little exposure to other customers. He will almost always limit communication exclusively to email.
So how do you avoid the traps set by these guys who are up to no go? Ask a TON of questions, including their dating purpose and life stories. Google Image search their online profile photos (so you can see if someone else uses those photos too!), and once you get their phone number or email address, Google that too.
Don't worry too much or become paranoid — a ton of guys who date online are authentically good people looking for real relationships, just like you. If you date smart, pre-qualify suitors, and don’t get overly caught up with guys that seem “too good to be true,” you'll be well on your way to finding love online.