Obesely Speaking

The brain and obesity

12 Secrets About Lurking Online Dating Hazards

Being romantic and smart are not mutually exclusive concepts
Billi Gordon, Ph.D.
This post is a response to Internet Sex: Infidelity or Practicality by Billi Gordon, Ph.D.

Many people are lonely, especially overweight and older people.  As I have said many times before, I say again, compulsive overeating is about living problems, not eating problems.  Today, we are going to talk about the problem of protecting yourself while looking for love on line.  

Looking for love is instinctive, finding love fortunate, and finding bad love is very likely.  As the world grows more complex and work-demands increase, time becomes more of a commodity than ever before.  Fortunately, computers and the Internet have made everything much easier, including the search for love.  Computer dating site are great because they eliminate dozens of dates with Mr. or Ms. “Not even on the Twilight Zone,” and allow you to meet Mr. or Ms. “Maybe,” and hopefully Mr. or Ms. “Right.”  They also allow you to get to know people in the comfort of your own home.    It might take dozens of dates and hundreds of dollars to achieve the level of closeness that can occur quickly over the Internet.  It is also more comfortable and safe than traditional dating.  It is much easier to argue about religion, politics, and confess past failures over the Internet.  Regrettably, it is also much easier for criminals and sociopaths to commit predatory acts. 

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself. 

1)    Download their profile picture, and do a reverse image search.  There are a number of reverse image search sites.  Google is very popular, but I suggest using a couple of them, especially if you are suspicious.

2)    Ask for the person’s email address after a few sessions.  If a person is reluctant to give you his or her e-mail address, it is a red flag.  That does not necessarily mean he or she is a maniacal killer, con artist or married.  Some people are very private.  However, at some point, they should be willing to share their personal email address.  That point should be long before you loan them money, send them airplane tickets, agree to pick-up and forward a package for them, or meet them in person. 

3)    Check the person’s IP Address, and the Geo-location of the IP address to see if the person actually lives where they say they do. To do this Google: “how to find a person’s IP Address”

4)    Ask specific checkable questions.  For example: “Where did you go to High School?” They say, Cass Tech in Detroit.  You respond by saying I went to (whatever high school you attended), and then starts filling in information such as we were the Chieftains, what was your high school mascot?  What was your favorite subject?  Who was your favorite teacher?  However, be sure to pose the question like this: “My favorite teacher in high school was Mr. Hammond, he taught chemistry, who was your favorite teacher and what did he teach?”   These things are easily checkable.  You cannot question the person as if you are a KGB agent, because that might discourage a legitimate person. You have to be tactful, and it should be natural.  Just be mindful as you communicate to think about asking verifiable questions.  In addition, this is more effective if this occurs gradually and naturally inserted into the conversation.

5)    Slow and steady wins the race.  Be wary of anyone who wants to move too quickly.  Yes, I know, you are fabulous and phenomenal, and somebody wants what you are working with as bad as you do.  However, when on line dating do not book a flight on Air-Ego. If someone falls head over heels in love with you and says you are exactly what they have been looking for—also a red flag.  How could they know that without really knowing you? 

6)    Nobody agrees with everything you say.  If a person does, then they probably have an agenda.  Test it.  Say something ridiculous, and pretend you mean it and see what their reaction is.  If they agree, then something is wrong—no matter what the reason is.  If they call you out on it, then you can confess that you were just yanking their chain… LOL :-) move on.

7)    If the person presses you to leave the dating website and only communicate through email, or private messaging right away, more than likely he or she is a scam artist after your money. 

8)    If the person claims to be from the U.S. but is traveling or working overseas, he or she is probably after your money. Your best bet is to say, “Call me when you are stateside.”

9)    If the person makes plans to visit you, but then suddenly has a tragic event, and needs money or an airline ticket: 1) do not send it, and 2) report them to the FBI because they are creating a database of these predators. 

10) Do not let your guard down just because you have chatted with the person online over a period or months. More importantly, just because the person sends you flowers etc., does not mean that they are real or their sentiments and intentions are genuine. 

11) Create a “Ruthie Levine” (aka dummy profile), of a person that is exactly the opposite of you in all regards except for financial resources.  If your Romeo or Juliet starts wooing that person, then you know right away. FYI: The term "Ruthie Levine" comes from a girlfriend of mine who created a Ruthie Levine profile on J-Date to catch my former boss cheating on her (and his wife).  

12) Know that you are fabulous and there is some one out there just waiting to find you and embark on your lives together.

Most people do not want to be alone. However, romantic love, in the classical sense is not a guarantee in this life, nor is it essential for everyone. What is essential for you is what life gives you.  The traditional male-female nuclear family has outlived its usefulness as a staple of the social diet. We are over-populated, we do not need more children, we need to feed and the education the ones we have. Not everybody needs to pair bond, although religion, the media, and our sluggish evolutionary biology, tells us a different tale.  

What humans need is connection.  The terms of the connection are as variable as humanity itself.  We need humans that love and respect us that we can count on.  Maybe you have a monogamous sexual relationship with that person (s), maybe you do not.  Even those who are compatible with  traditional romantic love, and find it in its purest form will lose it someday, because everything has a beginning, middle, and an end; sunrise, noon, sunset. Life is a series of inevitabilities. 

Therefore, what we have is the moment.  We do not have yesterday; we do not have tomorrow; we have right now. It is our responsibility to graciously accept whatever it is that life gives us, even if we must change it, or discard it. The Universe is not wicked.  It gives us all love.  Recognizing that love is our responsibility.  Likewise, there is rapture in solitude.  Thus, when you find yourself on a lonely shore, with darkness all around, seize that rapture.  Rapture is rapture, whether emanating from the arms of ardent lover, or the pensive watch of a crowd a stars as you walk alone in the night.  Remain fabulous and phenomenal. 

CLICK TO REPORT AN ONLINE DATING/INTERNET CRIME TO THE FBI

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Billi Gordon, Ph.D., is  Co-Investigator in the  Ingestive Behaviors & Obesity Program, Center for the Neurobiology of Stress, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

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