I met my husband on Match.com. So, it’s no surprise, I’m a fan of online dating. I think it makes sense. New studies show one third of all newly married couples met through online dating. Studies also show married couples who met via online dating have a lower divorce rate. However, a lot of people are still hesitant to look for love online. The number one reason most women don’t want to give it a go is because they are afraid of being scammed.
Fear of scamming is a realistic consideration. There have been some very high profile cases of online dating scams, commonly referred to as “catfishing”. Most of the time people are catfished, for money. Sometimes, it’s just a cruel sport. I personally know several people who’ve been through it in varying degrees.
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However, the truth is it’s rare. The vast majority of people who make love connections online are for real. It’s really easy to avoid being targeted by a catfishing scam. What I recommend is a very simple rule of thumb. I call it the rule of four. It goes like this.
No more than four emails before connection via phone. No exceptions.
No more than four phone calls before a face to face meet up. No exceptions.
No more than four failed attempts at a face to face meet up. No exceptions.
Now I realize a lot of people like the slow build up and perceived safety of getting to know someone online. The rule of fours might seem like a very fast pace. However, I think it’s critical to be very honest with yourself when you’re doing online dating. Do you want to “play” relationship or do you want to be in a relationship?
The bottom line is you can’t be in a real romantic relationship with someone you haven’t met, in person, face to face.
It’s very easy to build something that feels like intimacy in the virtual world. However, don’t kid yourself. Virtual intimacy isn’t real. That said, scammers count on the intensity of this false chemistry. They know what to say and when to say it. Super smart women, and men, have fallen for it, because the scammers are professionals. They are very, very good at what they do. A victim will fall hook, line, and sinker, long before anyone asks for money or a credit card number.
The thing about a professional online “love” scammer, is you will never, ever meet them. So, the rule of fours prevents you from falling before you’re in trouble.
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Beyond the rule of fours, we all know the rules of the road for staying safe. Meet in a public place. Make sure someone knows where you’re going. Most of all, follow your intuition without apology. If something feels “fishy” it probably is. You don’t need to explain yourself to unhook.
Lisa Hayes is a Relationship Coach and Author of How to Escape from Relationship Hell and the Passion Plan. She is also co-founder of Good Vibe Coaching Academy, specializing in LOA Coach training. To get Lisa's FREE Audio, "How to Talk to a Man" Click here.