I have been using online dating sites for several years now. While I think the sites have gotten better about identifying and booting scammers, I have been "scammed" more than a few times by miscreants, usually foreigners, who prey on lonely hearts, particularly those who list their professions and incomes. They can be quite sophisticated AND PATIENT in hooking unsuspecting victims, before trying to reel them in. Luckily, I learned to recognize them before falling prey, but sometimes it's difficult to know. They can be very clever.

Moreover, as in the world at large, there are A LOT of "players" online--people who are extremely dishonest. Typically, they post old photos from when they were 100 pounds lighter and 10 years younger, or they post photos that hide their body shape, which is not just a physical attribute, but a commentary on their lifestyle. I've had more than a few claim to love physical fitness and healthy eating, only to confess upon meeting, at which point it becomes obvious, that they actually do neither. If they lie and obfuscate what will become readily apparent upon meeting, what other, more important, character traits are they lying about? More importantly, that they don't see the problem inherent in the dishonest representation is a huge red flag.

People online, as in traditional dating, are also often dishonest about the status of their relationship with an ex-partner. Some are still in a relationship, or in the break-up stage, using online dates as pawns in their relationship drama. Or they haven't processed and grieved the break-up, using someone new to distract them from their feelings.

On a similar theme, many will say that they are emotionally available for a relationship, when, in fact, they are not. I have discovered a large number of emotionally avoidant people, who find it difficult in the extreme to invest emotionally, even in developing a friendship. These types generally want to be "pen pals" for months and months before ever wanting to have more personal communication (phone, Skype, face-to-face meeting). If the friendship progresses beyond superficial communication, they usually stop communicating and disappear, leaving you to wonder what happened. Dating online, especially by email, makes it very easy to just disappear without a trace. Few feel the need to provide a kind explanation before disappearing. But I guess that's true in traditional dating, as well.

Finally, online dating, particularly long-distance, brings significant challenges. First, friendships/relationship generally begin with emails, which can be useful for sharing information and testing the waters, but are fraught with communication limitations. I have found that misunderstandings and misinterpretations of information AND EMOTIONS related by email are common, even among those like me who have excellent writing skills and are freely emotive. Those who are shy or socially anxious prefer endless email exchanges, but emails are tedious, time-consuming, and a primitive form of communication.

Second, those who live in a major metropolitan area can "shop" online locally, and thus avoid the difficulties of dating long-distance, but for those who live in more rural areas, or who are LGBT, for example, long-distance dating may be necessary. Distance obviously makes it harder to meet in person. Technology can provide alternatives, but obviously there's nothing like spending time with someone in person to see how they behave in different circumstances, in relation to you and others around them. Moreover, once a friendship/relationship develops, the distance can create frustration when you both want to spend more time together, but can't. It also adds financial stress, since commuting can be expensive (and time-consuming). Finally, spending long weekends here and there with each other can create an artificial environment, more like mini-vacations, that make it hard to simulate day-to-day life, and thus make it hard to accurately assess compatibility of lifestyles. If you're both already feeling the rush and excitement of the connection, spending time together in a vacation-like setting does not afford an accurate opportunity for a realistic assessment of the relationship. While this can be true of traditional dating, long-distance dating doesn't allow the parties to spend short bits of time together, doing everyday chores, but creates rather intense, action-packed weekends, between which you are relegated to technology while you each try to share your lives with each other.

In other words, long-distance dating is not for the faint of heart. They are VERY challenging. One should seriously think about the logistics of long-distance dating, especially what might happen if you fall in love with someone far away. Will you give up everything and move to where they are? Will they? I've had my heart broken a few times when women whom I had fallen in love with decided the relationship was just too stressful, too time-consuming, too expensive, and required too much change. Later, they admitted that they hadn't even considered the logistics of long-distance dating when contacting me. Ultimately, many want the fairy-tale romance without having to invest time, energy, money, and emotion. Again, that's true of traditional daters, but online dating, particularly long-distance dating, requires an even greater investment, which many don't consider before making contact.