Each of us has our own mate selection screening process and must-haves list.
We have our own "red flags,” boundaries, and "deal breakers.”
Generally speaking, if something doesn't feel right to you, it's probably not right for you.
Most people regret not listening to their inner voice or ignoring the irrational.
Avoid The Catfish
Most people are familiar with the term catfish, as in someone creating a fake dating profile using another person's image. However, in some instances, people use outdated photos of themselves to increase their number of matches and potential dates.
People also have been known to lie about their age, weight, height, occupation, and just about anything else to lure prospects. Many of these catfish believe their sense of humor and charismatic personality will cause you to overlook the lies they told you. Some catfish never plan to meet. They're often people who create fake profiles to fill their need to engage with other people.
Once you have someone's name, you will want to look for any digital footprint they may have (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google searches).
Potential red flags that you're dealing with a catfish:
Their photo is too professional.
They have no social media presence. If they do, they have no friends, or the same images are being used on their dating profiles.
They refuse to video chat and are reluctant to meet in person after communicating for a couple of weeks.
You can save and download their images for uploading on Google to see if those same images appear elsewhere online. Some background sites offer limited free information that may confirm who you are dealing with.
Creating a file to document conversations as a quick reference source can help you identify any inconsistencies or lies told over time.
You're probably dealing with a catfish if you live within a 1-2 hour drive and have been in contact for a month without meeting or even by video chat.
Avoid Romance Scammers/Love Bombers
One thing most romance scammer scenarios have in common is they usually involve long-distance online dating relationships.
You'll likely avoid eighty percent of romance scammers by simply refusing to engage with anyone who does not currently reside within a 1-2 hour drive.
Romance scammers tend to employ the same tactics as a catfish; only their primary goal is to separate you from your money. Initially, they start by "love bombing" you and showering you with compliments. In almost no time, they may be professing their love or asking for exclusivity.
There have been instances where people became "engaged" to someone they've never met in person or had a single video chat with.
As many Hollywood movies and romance novels have taught us, every "great love story" needs obstacles for lovers to overcome. Almost nothing beats the storyline whereby "the love of your life" is stuck in a foreign country and needs money to be with you.
The best romance scammers don't even ask you for money. They've mastered the art of "dry begging" or weaving a tale of woe which pulls at your heartstrings. You'll find yourself volunteering to send them money to help them out. After all, this is your fiancé, the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with. To add icing to the cake, this person has more money than you, but unfortunately, they can't access it until they can get back home.
Numerous times the Dr. Phil show and others have featured guests who were conned out of hundreds of thousands of dollars from romance scammers. Often, fake images are used to create a dating profile, and the scammer is based somewhere in Nigeria.
One major giveaway is if the scammer's alleged native language is English, but the wording combinations in their messages seem off.
However, beware that not all romance scammers are long-distance or avoid meeting their victims.
The limited TV series "Dirty John" and the movie "The Tinder Swindler" come to mind. Both are based on real-life events, reminding us to proceed cautiously when meeting people online and offline. It is important to have and activate a verification process before becoming too involved with anyone.
According to the FTC, romance scammers in the U.S. took a record $547 million in 2021, and over $1.3 billion has been lost in romance scams in the past five years. It's safe to assume that not everyone who is a victim of romance scams reports it to the authorities.
If you think romance scams just happen to online daters, over one-third of the victims were approached on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
Never separate your mind from your heart when making relationship decisions.
The purpose of the mind is to protect your heart and your wallet.