“But he seemed like such a great guy.”
Ever told yourself that?
You thought you’d met someone really special. You got that tingling feeling when you looked at his profile pic or shook his hand. You had this intuitive hit that he was going to be important to you in some way.
The more time you spent together, the more you knew you were right about him. He said all the right things. He made you laugh. You felt warm and fuzzy when you read his messages.
Maybe you said no to something he wanted you to do.
Maybe you made a casual comment he took the wrong way.
Maybe you asked to meet his friends.
Whatever it was, he lashed out at you.
He made you feel dumb and small.
You’d never seen this side to him before. Sarcastic. Mean. Almost enjoying putting you down.
So you drew the only conclusion that made sense under the circumstances:
It was you. You did something wrong.
You didn’t communicate clearly enough, offended him, or pushed for too much too soon.
Because this guy was too amazing for it to be him. You don’t meet guys who make you feel like THAT every day.
And you didn’t want him out of your life. It was way too nice chatting with him, looking forward to seeing him again, dreaming of what might happen if all goes well.
So you apologized, and he accepted. His old charming self came back, with only the occasional dig to remind you that you still owed him. You were more careful around him. You didn’t want to see him mad again.
Is this story ringing any bells?
I wish I could say I’m not intimately familiar with this scenario, but it wouldn’t be true. I’ve been that woman many times.
And recently I almost stepped into that same trap again.
But this time, I knew the right question to ask.
The Dangers Lurking Online
We all know that online dating requires extra caution.
After all, that gorgeous, funny guy could be a mass murderer, a rapist, or a woman from Nigeria seeking to scam you.
One researcher found that 1 in 10 new dating profiles are fakes. Men’s profiles are more likely to be fake than women’s profiles.
Although these fake profiles might have been created with the fairly innocent intention of getting more hits or checking out the online scene anonymously, some are created for a darker purpose:
These are scams whereby a person or group convinces a lonely, vulnerable bachelor/bachelorette that they’ve met the love of their life … only to bilk them out of thousands of dollars.
The average victim of a romance scam loses more than $100,000, according to the FBI. Women are the main targets, although about 1 in 5 victims are men.
And romance scams are getting more common.
In 2016, nearly 15,000 complaints were made, reporting losses of over $230 million. Most of that money was never recovered.
How do you protect yourself against getting scammed?
You pay attention … to what he does when you say no.
Falling in Love Online
You’d think it would be a red flag when someone you met online asks you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable…
Whether it’s meeting them too fast or loaning them money.
But what if someone close to you, someone you loved very much, asked you for a small loan to help them through a tough time?
Most of us would at least consider the idea.
It’s hard to see red flags when we’re emotionally close to someone.
And it’s REALLY easy to get emotionally close online.
Mediated by technology, we share intimate details of our lives faster. We spend more time with our online suitors. We’re never more than a text message away. We talk about deeper subjects. We show off our best side.
We find ourselves falling in love … and we’ve never even met the guy.
Online relationships are intensely enjoyable, even if they never go offline. They serve a purpose. They make us feel special, chosen, connected. They give us something to look forward to, something to fantasize about. They’re a consistent source of pleasure in our lives.
Which is why we can find ourselves doing things we never meant to do.
We’re in too deep. We feel as if we know everything about this person. We care about him. We want him to be happy.
And why wouldn’t we help him, if his request was within our means?
Finding the Courage to Say No
A while back, I found myself chatting with an incredible guy online.
He checked all the right boxes. Smart, funny, warm, and into all the same things.
I couldn’t wait to see if he was all that in person. But I’d already made weekend plans. So I suggested we connect via Skype or something similar in the meantime.
He accused me of wanting to be his pen pal. He said that, if we didn’t meet the very first weekend, we’d never meet at all. He accused me of never having had any intention of meeting him.
I was shocked. And then dismayed.
Could my instincts be so wrong? I’d had such high hopes about this one.
And now he was attacking me because I wouldn’t break my weekend plans for him?
My first response was to read back through my messages to him. Had I miscommunicated? Had I written something that could have been taken the wrong way?
Wait a second, I thought. Even if I HAD miscommunicated, surely he could have asked if I intended to meet him, rather than making assumptions.
Then I asked myself the crucial question:
Did I really want anything to do with someone capable of guilt-tripping me?
My answer, I’m happy to report, was no.
When a man attempts to shame you, coerce you, or pressure you into doing what he wants, then he’s not a good fit—online or offline.
In healthy relationships, both parties respect each other’s free will.
That includes respecting each other’s right to say no.
So the next time you’re dating, whether online or offline…
Pay attention to what he does if you say no.
If he tries to make you feel uncomfortable for turning him down, consider it a red flag.
Maybe his intentions are pure, but relationships are a coercion-free zone.
That attitude will keep you safe…
And help you spot REAL love a whole lot faster.