Nowadays with technology at your fingertips it is easier than ever to meet different people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Dating in the 21st century is vastly different from how our parents used to date. There is no more coming to the house and asking permission to date your daughter. We aren't getting married at 15 and having 11 children. There really isn't even a “courtship” in the traditional sense anymore. Everything moves so fast that people really don’t even take the time to get to know each other before they sleep together. New age dating has played a major role in the social scene. People are looking for love and they are looking online because meeting someone physically has become an arduous task. There are many reasons people turn to online dating, some of which include: demanding job, socially inapt, shy, desperate, unattractive, lonely, no quality people around, or any other host of reasons. There are a number of ways to meet people through paid dating sites such as Match, EHarmony, Christian Mingle, Black People Meet or through social networking like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and the like. However, how do you know the person in the profile pic is really them or the person they are presenting themselves to be is really them?
Enter Catfish. The television show on MTV about people in online relationships with people they have never met. Unsuspecting people find themselves in love with a person who they have never met, seen and at times never even talked to on the phone. They invest their time, feelings, and sometimes money into a relationship that they think is real and fills a void in their lives. These people want to be loved and to love. They connect with someone who says all the right things and makes promises they have no intention on fulfilling or can’t fulfill because they have misrepresented themselves the entire time. The whole premise of Catfish is to connect these people with the loves of their lives so the truth can be revealed or they can walk off into the sunset together, which from what I have seen has only happened once and they both lied to each other.
However, for every one Catfish there are probably 100 success stories (I’m guessing). There is always the chance that you could be caught up in a Catfish, but then again you may meet the love of your life. The way I look at it is that you should not assume that every person you meet online is lying or hiding something just because they are online. We encounter people every day that lie looking us dead in our eyes so how does that make the situation any better? No matter how you meet a person you should always do your homework. Find out things about them by asking questions about who they are, their family, schooling, work, previous relationships, interest, hobbies, etc. If you are meeting online ask for pictures that aren’t posted. The maker of Catfish have great suggestions on asking them to send you a picture of themselves while holding up your name or doing a Google image search to see if their picture shows up online anywhere else under another name. Plan to meet in a public area sooner than later. Don’t waste a whole year of your life in a relationship with someone who may not be the someone you have fallen in love with. Bottom line in all cases is to trust your gut. Don’t ignore that feeling that something is wrong and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You have to protect yourself at all cost.
My top Red Flags when dating on and offline:
1) There are no or limited pictures – I wouldn't waste any time engaging in a conversation with someone that I have no idea what he looks like. I have to be attracted to the man I’m dating because I’m not making babies with your words. We should at the very least be able to Skype, Tango, or Face Time and if not that’s a problem.
2) You have limited or no verbal conversations – If online then this could mean they are not who they are portraying themselves to be or if in person they are involved with someone else. Don’t invest anytime in someone who is restricted in their time for you. I should be able to call you at 2 in the morning after leaving the club and you pick with a “Hey Boo.”
3) You never meet or see them – Online dating, depending on distance, can make it difficult to meet up. However, there should be some solid hard core plans made to make a physical connection at some point. If the other party is always breaking plans or have an excuse not to meet – Move on. Something is fishy and I don’t like the smell of fish. If you are not online dating and you have limited accessibility to the man you are dating then again he is probably involved with someone else – Move on.
4) Asking for money – I don’t believe a man should EVER ask the woman he is dating for money. There are only certain circumstances (dire straits) that I should be asked and I’m a last resort. Dating is when a man is proving himself to be a provider and protector and asking me for money is showing you are neither. If a man I have never met or only been dating a short while asks me for money for any reason especially to finance our meeting then we are no longer dating or meeting.
5) Inconsistencies or no personal information – Pay attention to the things they say and do. If they are offering limited information or information that doesn't make sense then he may be lying. If you haven’t met any of their family or friends that should raise some eyebrows.
I think in life you have to take chances and step outside your comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with taking chances in dating and meeting new people as long as you are smart about it. Pray on it, ask for discernment and do what makes you comfortable. Everyone won’t be supportive or even understand it at times, but do what works for you. You will have a great story regardless of how it ends.