Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Predators and Online Dating

I recently decided to dip my big toe into the frightening world of online dating and chose a site that I thought would be safer than most.  But predators do not respect the sanctity or security of others so no site is really all that safe.  It kind of reminds me of trying to swim in shark-infested waters with the hope of finding a goldfish.  I'm sure there are great individuals on each of the sites but there are predators as well.  Let me tell you about my experience with one such individual.

The site I subscribed to has a strict moderation policy, that is, they carefully screen all essays, written introductions as well as photos before allowing the material to go live.  So "Barry, aka nicemaninin46360" contacted me prior to really knowing who I was or what I looked like.  He was quite the charmer, I have to give him that, but he is a predator pure and simple.

So let's explore what we know about predators and I'll provide the comic relief by telling you about Barry (I feel no qualms about using his "name" because it isn't really his name).

They will tell you what they perceive you want to hear.
"I love your smile."  You are just the woman I have been looking for."  Note this was before he had seen my smile or any of my profile information other than the very basics.

They appeal to your kindness, charity, human decency and trust.
"Why would you ask me if the pictures I want to send you are obscene?  Don't you know that I would never do that?"  But then the pictures he sent me were not of him.  I wonder what Neil and Tom would think if they knew he was using their legitimate pictures to lure someone into his net?  Thank God for Google Image Search and for a friend who told me about it.

They will warn you about who they are or what they intend to do but you have to learn to read the subtitles of their script.
"In this digital age, you need to know that I am a real person."  While reassuring me that he was real and not representing himself as something he wasn't, he was fraudulently representing himself.  He warned me of who he was right from the start; I just needed to pay attention to his subtitles.   

They will push your boundaries.
"I know you don't want to share your phone number or email address with me this soon in the process but my computer is acting up.  I want to get to know you, I really do.  Can't we talk on the phone?"  And to reinforce these statements, he had to reboot his computer repeatedly--at least that is what he said.

They will manipulate the reality of your interaction with them.
"But I am trustworthy and God-fearing.  You should trust me, you need to trust me."  They will attempt to sound like a person of faith and integrity but in actuality they are a wolf in a poorly designed sheep costume.

They will slowly but surely groom you to accept more and more unacceptable behavior.
"I'll be glad to tell you all that you need to know about me," except for who I really am and what I'm really trying to get out of you.  They will attempt to ingratiate themselves to you very early in the game, calling you endearing names far too early in the relationship.

They will lie.
Have you heard of the Rule of Threes?  "When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibilities he or she has.  Make the Rule of Threes your personal policy.  One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding instead.  Two may involve a serious mistake.  But three lies says you're dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behavior."  (The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout, p. 157)

If you stay in relationship with them long enough, they will exploit the relationship, steal your trust (and maybe your money) and abandon you when they have accomplished their purpose.

So after an online chat, several email exchanges, text messages and one voicemail, how do I know without a doubt that "Barry" is a predator?
  • His story lacks consistency and believability.  He indicated that he earned a MA degree from a University in England and in another place indicates that he has an Associate's degree.
  • He is unable to write grammatically correct sentences or express himself as one would expect from someone in the profession and with the education he claims to have.
  • He has lied to me in that he sent me pictures of Neil and Tom and indicated they were images of him.
  • His accent and word choices reveal that English is not his native tongue.
  • His first email went into my spam folder, along with all of the other nefarious "solicitations."  It appear that Gmail was quicker than I was in detecting the scam!
Fortunately, I'm familiar with the tactics of predators so poor Barry is history.  He was a great teacher for me, however.  He reminded me once again that predators are always looking for their next target, that I should trust my gut always.  And contrary to how most of us in "civilized society" think, I need to suspend judgment--either good or bad--on individuals I meet in person or online until they give me evidence one way or another.  Goodbye Barry!  I'm onto you.    

For online dating safety tips, click here


  1. Thank you for putting this information out there, it's so important for each of us to be educated on the manipulations of online dating, stalkers, predators, etc. I appreciate you having the courage to tackle this subject and hoping it helps someone stay safe.

    Also, I looked through your blogroll and I love Bone Sigh Arts! Good minds think alike :-)

  2. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have followed Terri at Bone Sigh Arts for a very long time. Her poetry and art always touch the deepest part of me.


  3. Ha, my favorite scammer was a guy who wouldn't answer my questions about his life and faith (and they were pretty chatty, innocent questions).

    He said he wanted to take things slowly because he had a 10 year old daughter, but the next paragraph said he wanted to be my best friend for life. Imagine!

  4. Very funny, Anonymous. I have found that when I start probing for more details on their faith they jump ship pretty fast.


  5. Anyone who tells me what I need, want, think, should do, or ought to do gets a flag on the play. That's manipulative language; an attempt to define reality. Don't tell me what I need.

  6. Ugh, so sorry that happened! Great sense of humor about it, though.

    Both of my parents met their second partners through match.com in their 50s- after lots. and lots. and lots. of email conversations and first and second dates with people that ranged from decent but no future to hilariously awkward to miserable. My sister and I LOVE our stepparents and think both of our parents found wonderful fits- in people who had suffered through their own divorces and years of online dating and well-intended friends setting them up. Way to be brave! I'm hopeful for you.

  7. Thanks for your encouragement, Emily. You have a very mature attitude towards your parents' remarriage.