Vetting and Evaluating an Online Match before and after you Meet

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The next time you’re shopping in the online man store and maybe trying one on for size, you may have questions beyond whether the guy’s a good fit. Is he who he says he is? Is he a player? Is he losing interest or just not that into you? Is he a keeper? There are things you can do and signs to watch for to help you navigate the dating journey.

Help yourself to some pasta with olive oil, garlic, and parsley while I share my top 10 tips to vet or evaluate a man:

*Do a basic photo check. On a PC or laptop: save the guy’s profile photos and then do a Google image or Tineye search. On a phone: screen shot the photos (as many as possible) and then use an image search app such as Veracity or do a Google image search similar to the way you would do it on a computer. For detailed instructions, see: how to perform a reverse image search.

If the guy doesn’t have a photo, move on. There’s a reason he doesn’t have one.

*Be wary of perfect photos. If the photos remind you of a cover model on GQ, don’t even waste your time searching. These pix are likely “borrowed” from a website or Facebook profile.

*Search the guy’s phone number. Do a Google search or type the number into the search box on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve had great success with the Facebook/LinkedIn number search – even if the guy’s number is “hidden.”

An important aside: You should only give a guy your real cell number, if you’re convinced he’s legit and not a risk. Otherwise, get a Google voice number (free as opposed to a burner number). I usually wait to meet someone before sharing my primary cell number.

*Search the guy’s email address. Try the same search tactics recommended for phone numbers. All sorts of things will turn up. I’ve pulled up a guy’s TripAdvisor reviews, Amazon reviews, listing in a society membership directory, and his profile on a sex site.

*Know the signs of a catfisher. He is often widowed* (e.g., a tragic car accident killed his wife and child), an engineer in the oil or energy industry, works for the UN in some capacity, indicates English is his second language so as not to throw you off should you actually talk on the phone.

*Of course not all widows are catfishers but it appears to be the marital status of choice for those fabricating a profile.

If the guy doesn’t have a profile, move on. There’s a reason he doesn’t have a profile.

*Know the behavior red flags. His dating site messages or texts are sporadic; he answers questions you ask but doesn’t ask anything – or very little – about you; he views you frequently or favorites you but doesn’t communicate; he’s always – and I mean always – online; he doesn’t advance the e-mail conversation and doesn’t suggest talking on the phone or meeting.

*Be aware of a sudden shift in communication patterns. If you have been on a date or two or three and suddenly his good morning texts have stopped, it may not be long before he ghosts you or tells/texts you that it’s just not working out. One guy suddenly stopped his daily texting and then called to tell me that I wasn’t a good match because I lived so far away that he had to use a “pricey” EasyPass. Insert laugh/cry emoji.

*Observe negative behaviors on a date. He monopolizes the conversation, looks at every woman who walks into the bar/café/coffee shop, glances at his phone constantly, all of the above.

*Observe and enjoy positive behaviors on a date. He seems genuinely interested in you, listens to what you say and responds, maintains good eye contact, his body language says he likes you (hand or arm touching, feet pointed toward you), notes that he doesn’t want the date to end/mentions seeing you again.

*Observe and enjoy positive signs that the relationship is advancing. He frequently calls/texts you just to check in or to plan your next get together, he shares more about himself, he mentions doing things in the future, you inevitably spend weekends together, you start to meet each other’s friends.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

App-less April: Nadia Style

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Did you know this is App-less April?

For the second April in a row, Bustle, an online women’s magazine, is challenging readers and staff to delete their dating apps and meet people in real life.

It’s no surprise that online dating frustrates daters of all ages. Whether you’re using apps or websites, most singletons would prefer to meet people in real life.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know about my challenges – from finding men I like enough to date to revoking, ghosting, catfishing, breadcrumbing and just plain crummy behavior.

So, I’ve decided to embark on my own version of App-less April. Won’t you join me in a send-off meal of Tori Avey’s spice-broiled salmon with green apple salad?

This coming Monday morning, I will delete all of my apps and hide my dating profiles for a week (why lose out on the heavy Sunday activity?) After seven days, I will reassess this plan and decide whether I should continue.

Why this short trial period and not an extended detox? Despite its many problems, online dating gives me hope. Every couple of days there’s a new romantic possibility or two. The hope that one of these prospects will be “the one” keeps me going.

There are lots of resources with suggestions on how and where to meet men in real life. The big question is: Will I be able to do more than I am already doing (which apparently is not enough)?

When you rely on apps and dating sites, it’s easy to not push yourself to go out solo, or walk up to that cute stranger. Will knowing that I have no back-up plan waiting for me on my computer or phone motivate me to do more and take more risks? Tune in to future posts for the answer.

For inspiration, I’m ruminating over a recent online dating experience. Encounters like this are not unusual (although I find this one super weird) – and that’s the problem.

Mr. M., an interesting and quirky guy from Match, sends me a good first message. He clearly read my profile and his email points out what we have in common.

His message ends with:

“I am geographically close by to meet up for coffee some time. It would be a pleasure to meet you.”

I write back with an equally profile-specific email and comment that I’d like to meet for coffee (or wine) too and that I’m free this coming Tuesday.

I don’t hear back for a week but see that Mr. M. is online sporadically. I forget about him and conclude that Mr. M. is another non-responder who has lost interest.

Eight days later, he writes again:

“Sorry about missing the chance to meet with you this past Tuesday evening. No events. Just my own stupidity.

I would like to have the chance for us to meet. I am not a wine drinker. Coffee or hot tea is good by me. So. if you know of a place that serves both, we can both be pleased. 

I am free this Tuesday; but have a speech to hear on Monday, and a film on Wednesday.

I hope to hear back from you.” 

Since I’m a nice person, I decide to give Mr. M. another chance.  I write back noting that I am also free on Tuesday and suggest a place we could meet.

Once again, Mr. M. fails to respond to me. This time he is not online. One week goes, by, two weeks, and then three weeks. Still no response; and he is not online. I fear he is dead or hospitalized. With the few clues I have, I search for him online but I don’t know his last name or phone number (I planned to ask for the latter before meeting).

Then, out of the blue, I see that he viewed me. I’m curious as hell and want to know what happened. At the same time, I realize that the only way I would consider meeting him would be if he had an incredible excuse to end all excuses.

I write Mr. M.:

Hi, At this juncture, I’m curious about what happened to you since you never responded to me. Just trying to make sense of this crazy online dating world and an abundance of mixed messages.

As the more jaded of you have already guessed, he didn’t respond. He’s online frequently now.

What are your suspicions about Mr. M.? Pick one:

  1. Married?
  2. Girlfriend?
  3. Insane?
  4. Typical rude dater?
  5. All of the above?

None of these answers would be wrong. And that’s why I’m going App-less for 7 days.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Update on Dating Sites and an Old School Breakup

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There are dating sites and apps that I like (tolerate may be a better word), ones I used to like but now can’t stand, and sites that never worked for me (so I don’t like them).

Let’s review while munching on pasta primavera with grilled veggies.

OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB) are now in my “can’t stand” category. The reason? They are both overrun with catfishers and scammers. These sites worked for me when I first used them. I even had one of my 3-month relationships with a guy I met on OkCupid. But over time I noticed an increase in members with false or stolen profiles. It got to the point where almost no one I matched with on OkCupid was genuine. I’m not sure why this site above all others contains so many scammers (at least in my dating pool). Perhaps the idea of a free dating venue appeals to guys with less than honorable intentions.

Free may also be the problem with Coffee Meets Bagel. I miss my daily bagel from CMB but more often than not that bagel was bad. It must be a common problem since a number of people find their way to this blog by searching for Coffee Meets Bagel scammers.

I deleted both OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel and now spend less time deleting dishonorable daters and more time on general whining about dating.

An abundance of catfishers is not the only reason to dislike a dating site or app. EHarmony was not my cup of tea, coffee, or glass of wine. After filling out the endless Meyers-Briggs-like questionnaire, I ended up with a pool of boring and geographically incompatible matches. And the inability to search for matches on my own felt very paternalistic (though Coffee Meets Bagel also prohibits searching of members’ profiles).

JDate is another site that never worked for me – and I tried it twice. I wasn’t attracted to anyone in my dating pool. It might be worth trying JDate again since new people are always joining dating sites.  Unless a site is poorly constructed, I will usually consider a second or third membership in a site.

Our Time is now on my “good” list after an unsuccessful first round 18 months ago. I classify a site as good if there are a reasonable number of appealing matches who reach out to me or respond to my outreach and I actually go on dates with some of them.

I like OurTime despite a recent “old school” breakup with a match — if you can call it a breakup after two dates. I’m still confused by it and that’s not atypical in the online dating world. You may never know the real reason why someone doesn’t want to see you again. In this case, at least the man gets points for phoning me to tell me he didn’t think we were a “fit.” The only reason he actually cited was the 1-hour geographic distance between our homes. I was surprised by the break-up – first of all because he had the decency to phone me but also since he appeared to be fairly smitten. Perhaps I’ll probe this interaction more in a future post…and after I have completed a wonderful online class on how to be a human lie detector.

My other go-to dating staples at the moment are Zoosk, Plenty of Fish, Match, and Bumble.

I’m less enthusiastic about Tinder, JSwipe, Hinge, and Fitness Singles but hold out hope that one of these venues might be worthwhile. The Clover app, on the other hand, is almost worthless as a source of reasonable matches and I’ll probably delete it soon.

You may think I’m on too many dating sites/apps. However, I look at online dating as a numbers game and the more times I present myself to eligible men, the more likely I’ll find Mr. Right. In the meantime, I’m also putting myself in “real life” situations and activities that not only interest me but also have the potential to expand my romantic horizons.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Anatomy of a Brief Encounter with a Catfisher

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The Bumble alerts provided the first clue that something might be fishy (as in catfishy) with my new Bumble match. Although his profile said his name was Bill, the alerts referred to him as Evans. I filed that away in my increasingly dating- weary brain while I juggled playing “let’s get to know each other” with impersonating Nancy Drew.

Let’s chow down on some shrimp scampi while reviewing the evidence.

As soon as I matched with Bill last Saturday morning, I followed the Nadia Standard Operating Procedure (NSOP) – a reverse image search of all of his photos on my phone using the Veracity app. There were no matches but that didn’t mean Bill/Evans was legitimate.

We texted and I learned he was a widower. As I’ve written before, catfishers/scammers often say they are widowers. I filed this second piece of evidence away.

After I got another Bumble alert announcing a message from “Evans,” I decided to ask this guy for his last name.

Side note: Lately I have been asking for the last names of any guys I suspect might have a false profile. The men always give me a name (real or not) that I can then research. So far, every suspect dude has turned out to be a scammer that I then report and unmatch.

Dear readers, if you’re unsure about a guy and decide to ask for his last name, here’s a suggested script in case he asks for yours: I’m asking for your last name for safety and security reasons but I don’t give out my last name until after I have met someone in person. If the guy makes it an issue, I say good riddance!

Back to the story: Bill gave me his last name – and it wasn’t Evans. I now had a full name to search. I was particularly motivated since Bill wanted to know what led to my late-in-life divorce. This is not a question to be addressed via text before you have met someone.

I searched Bill’s full name and immediately found his Facebook page – with one of his Bumble profile photos as his main — and only — photo.

Here were the final pieces of incriminating evidence: Bill’s Facebook page was virtually empty except for the one photo, which was loaded a week ago. Where does Bill live? His Bumble profile said Arlington, VA (a suburb not too far from me). Facebook, however, showed his location as San Francisco. The only personal information about Bill was his marital status – widowed — and his employment — “self employed.” There was no mention of the job listed on his Bumble page. Bill had only one Facebook page like – a media company called, Faith, Family America (this would be enough to turn me off regardless of his status as a catfisher).

My work was almost done. I reported Bill to Bumble and unmatched him (after taking a few screen shots of our exchanges to use as notes for this blog post).

It was only 1 in the afternoon but I felt the need for a glass of wine.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

The Rise of Offline Dating and the Promise of the Singlepin

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I have many complaints about the online dating world. Problems abound, including catfishing and extreme window-shopping.

No surprise – I’m not the only one feeling frustrated by the virtual world. Singletons around the globe are finding it difficult to meet quality matches through the various sites and apps. And they’re taking action.

Let’s chow down on some summertime crunchy noodle salad and review the evidence:

*Rob, a single man in New Zealand, recently posted an “Off-Line” Dating Sign/Want-Ad in hopes of meeting a “fun, adventurous and gorgeous lady.”

Rob

*In a counter-move to online dating, a wearable Singlepin launched in the U.K. The pin identifies the wearer as a single person open to meeting and connecting with other singles.

*An increasing number of daters are supplementing online dating with offline dating or switching to meeting and pursuing their matches in real life.

Of these three examples, I’m most intrigued by Rob in New Zealand and the Singlepin. I don’t know how to find Rob (though an investigative trip to New Zealand would be wonderful). I was able to track down artist Dianne Harris, the inventor of the Singlepin, in England.

“Singlepin represents real life connection and is a reaction to online dating,” wrote Harris in an email. “(It’s) a wearable icon for people to instantly connect and recognize each other.”

“Singlepin is a very good ice breaker,” added Harris, “and (it) gives people an excuse to talk to each other – in reality!”

“Online dating has gone one step too far and there are thousands and thousands of people disillusioned by it and (they) are now finding meeting people in reality very hard,” she said.

Harris was inspired to develop the pin after hearing about the many negative experiences online daters were having. “Why should we continue to put up with being ‘catfished,’ lied to or misled?” she asked in an article in The Telegraph.

Thousands of Singlepins have been sold since the unisex sterling silver jeweled icon debuted for £15.00 last February.   A portion of the sales profits will be donated to The British Heart Foundation, said Harris.

What happened as a result of these purchases? Lots of dates are being reported, said Harris, but with only a few months since launch, it’s too soon for marriage announcements.

The pin has not launched in the U.S. but it’s available via the website: http://bit.ly/29Lwmtn.  I think we need the Singlepin in America and I plan to wear one. It’s a real-life alternative to my fantasy wearable tech device, the Attracto Band-Ring.

Would you wear a Singlepin? Let me know!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Fizzling, Catfishing, and Lessons from a Millennial

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Fizzling

I was feeling too cocky – thinking I had defied the odds by getting responses to my proactive dating messages. I thought I was finally getting somewhere. But getting a response to your virtual pick-up line is only the first of many hurdles in this online dating sports event.

Let’s review my recent experiences while enjoying some Independence Day appropriate herby picnic potato salad.

One recent afternoon, I dropped my line into the Plenty of Fish pond when I noticed an attractive man had viewed me. His profile appealed and he said he was looking for a relationship. I pondered my opening line to him. I noticed that he had a garden so I decided to incorporate that into my message. “Do you grow basil in your garden?” I asked, “I need a supplier for my pesto.”

A short time later, Gary wrote back. “Basil is awesome,” he replied. “We could discuss this over a drink.”

Pay dirt, I thought.

“That’s possible,” I replied.

“Will you be in DC on Tuesday?” he asked.

“I will be in DC,” I responded, “attending a writing workshop in upper N.W. It ends at 6:15.”

“Is it near 12th & H Streets?” Gary asked.

This question immediately put me on guard. I recently had lunch with a man who drove from West Virginia for our first meeting and Gary appeared to be balking at a distance of under 5 miles.

“No,” I wrote, “I’ll be around upper Connecticut Avenue.” I then suggested a couple of venues in the vicinity of my class and asked if either one of these worked for him.

But Gary never replied. I’m not sure if this counts as ghosting since we had only exchanged a few messages. I’ll refer to it as fizzling. And it’s certainly rude.

Imagine having an in-person conversation with a guy and he walks away mid sentence. It feels almost as bad when this happens online.

Could Gary’s “fizzling” be related to the fact that I am 10 years older than him?

The problem with fizzling or ghosting is that you never know what happened or even if the runaway person’s reaction has anything to do with you.

Catfishing

It was time to move on to other possible targets of my affection. Next, I sent a message to Robert on Tastebuds, a mixed-use (dating, friends, concert buddies) site. We liked some of the same music and he was attractive, tall, and single. His profile contained little information so it was my job to ferret it out. Oh, and he was Bahamian, a “fact,” if true, that would play a key role in the end of our non-relationship.

I emailed Robert and asked about his favorite local music venues. We then corresponded about our jobs (in my case, retirement), marital status, and our children. I learned Robert was single and had a married son who had recently moved out of his house/apartment.

Here’s his verbatim message:

I have a son but his Married and he just moved out of the house that makes me very lonely .. Please can I have you mobile number ? I will be honored

Yes, I know Robert’s English and grammar are questionable but I decided to play along in hopes that (1) he was intelligent but that English was his second language and (2) the keyboard was not his friend.

Give me some slack. I’m in a dating dry spell and willing to entertain false hope.

Still I was suspicious of a declaration of loneliness and his career also had me wondering:

Am into art works importations and sales and I also do artworks interior decorations for homes and offices

I decided to give Robert my Google voice number so we could text. When he sent his number, I searched it and found it to be a Voice over Internet Protocol Washington state number. Strike 3 – almost out.

Once we started texting, it didn’t take long for my suspicions to be confirmed. Ultimately, he did not want to speak on the phone due to his thick accent.  Classic catfishing behavior.

The only thing I’ll share from my second catfishing encounter of the week was a tip I learned to help you search photos of matches on Google image search. If you crop the image closely to cut most of the background, Google is more likely to find the photo’s match. This helped me identify a Coffee Meets Bagel match from Virginia who in realty (no pun intended) was a realtor in Texas. The real guy is single and cute so maybe I should message him via Facebook and tell him someone stole his photo for nefarious dating purposes.

Lessons from a Millennial

I was sharing my frustrating non-dating week with my daughter. A tall, natural beauty in her late 20s, my “baby” hasn’t gone more than few months without a boyfriend since age 15. And this is without Facebook, which she refuses to join.

“I’d never do online dating,” she declared.

Daughter has met men in Starbucks, at various jobs, volunteer experiences, and through friends.

She instinctively knows how to send the right signals to a man she’s interested in.

“I just position myself,” she explained.

“Would you go up to a stranger and start talking?” I ask.

“Yes,” she said. “Men are afraid of rejection too. If I see an attractive man at a bar, I sit next to him. I might wait for him to talk to me. Depends on how I feel. Or I might start talking.”

She’s a natural. I have watched her masterfully look at an attractive man, look away, and return her gaze in the classic flirt maneuver.

It’s surreal when you’re in your 60s to get dating advice from your daughter. But it’s also fun and usually helpful. My plan is to channel my millennial daughter’s attitude and energy the next time I’m in a situation where I might meet men in real life.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia