Safety Articles

Online Dating Safety – Persona Versus Reality

A new study of teenagers has produced some enlightening results that also bring to the forefront why you can’t always believe what a person puts in their online dating profiles.

The survey, done by Kidscape in the UK, found that many teens are happier online than in real life. And in what supports other studies, many lie online too. A different survey several years ago by Keynote found that the majority of online daters tell lies in their online dating profiles – some little white lies and others bigger lies.

A comment by one of the teens that took the survey also sums up what you must be careful with online. The teen said:

“It’s easier to be who you want to be, because nobody knows you and if you don’t like the situation you can just exit and it is over.”

Many online daters complain that they were communicating with someone online and that person just “disappeared” and they never heard from the person again. This is not unusual.

“Online dating is very popular with Americans and with people around the world.  Some argue it is the way most of us will meet our romantic partners in the future,” says Hancock. “Understanding how these online profiles work is important, especially when it comes to deception and trust.”

Jeff Hancock, Cornell associate professor of communication, has also conducted research into online dating profile lies. The study found:

“Liars psychologically distanced themselves from their deceptions by producing fewer self-references and more negations. They also wrote shorter self-descriptions, presumably in an effort to avoid contradictions with prior profile statements.

A surprising result was that liars produced fewer, rather than more, negative emotion words. This could be due to the fact that people who lied more were more eager to make a good impression, and thus avoided sounding negative – which is usually a turnoff in dating situations. Future work is needed to clarify the nature of this indicator.”

Hancock says,

“Online dating is very popular with Americans and with people around the world.  Some argue it is the way most of us will meet our romantic partners in the future. Understanding how these online profiles work is important, especially when it comes to deception and trust.”

It’s not easy to spot when someone is lying, but it’s important to understand that computers are showing you a persona (online dating profile) created by someone who may not be being entirely honest. Romance scams and online dating scams thrive on this reality. Scammers know they can produce a 100% fake persona then use that throughout their scams that can last several months. They try to get you to fall in love with the persona they created to use that to eventually get money from you. There will always be “promises of meeting” but no actual meeting.

How can you avoid falling into such traps?

1) Look to date people only in your city who are close enough to meet.

2) Don’t continue communicating with someone who says they are out of state (on business, etc.)

3) If a person keeps making excuses not to meet then stop communicating with them. It’s likely a scam or person that is married.

4) Run your own background check on someone once you learn their full name. There’s also the popular Googling of someone.

5) When meeting someone, meet in a public place and make sure friends and family know where you are and who you are with.

What’s important to remember is that what you read is not necessarily the reality. And if you find, when meeting someone, that they told white lies in their profile (height, etc.) then keep in mind that if you continue to date them, the lies will carry over into your relationship.

Ultimately you want to meet someone online that is honest from the start. There are millions out there – it just sometimes takes some digging and research to find them.

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Posted by Joe Tracy - February 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

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