Dating Roundup: Safety, Security, and Truth in Advertising

blog post woman on phone

It’s time to revisit safety, security, and fabricated profiles in online dating. It’s an ever-present topic for me as I sift through profiles and interact with matches. When I started online dating, I spent a lot more time vetting matches. I still vet them but I’ve become pretty good at recognizing the scammers so I often don’t need to go through all of the investigative hoops such as doing Google image searches. Along the way, I found some shortcuts and tips.

Pass the salmon burgers with sweet pickle relish while I discuss the issue and the shortcuts. Warning: parts of today’s chat get a bit geeky.

Coffee Meets Bagel recently sent me a good reminder about online safety with a list of common scammer behaviors and profile characteristics:

-Profession in the military or engineering, works out of the country

-Recently widowed with children

-Overly complimentary with flowery, romantic language right off the bat

-Poor English and grammar, but high level of education (Master’s, Ph.D., etc.)

-Quick to get you off the app and into email/some other messaging app, but not text (they don’t have a working cell phone).

I disagree about the texting. I find scammers will sometimes text but rarely will they speak on the phone to you.

One of my go-to security checks is the Google image search mentioned above. This tool searches the web for photos that match the one you’re checking out. So, for example, you can see if a person in another geographic location has the same photo. Sometimes you will find that the photo is of a celebrity in another country.

I’m often using dating apps on my phone or tablet rather than my laptop. I wondered if there is a way to do an image search on these devices.

Mobile Image Search Tools

Of course, consult Google whenever you have a question. Not only are there reverse image apps, but there are a couple of other tricks. A PC Magazine article about image searching from a cell phone identified one strategy: using CTRLQ, a so-called Google Image search “wrapper.” Created by Amit Agarwal, this website tool can be used to search images on mobile devices.

To search an image from a dating app, you must first save it.

How do you save those Tinder and other app profile pictures? Take a screenshot of the image. On an iPhone or iPad, simultaneously press and hold the sleep/wake button on the top or side of your device while also pressing and holding the home button. You’ll hear the click of the camera. Your saved image will be in the camera roll. You can then select that image when using an image search app (see below), CTRLQ, or the desktop version of Google (another way to do an image search on your phone). Try it; it’s an easy process.

If you have an Android phone, you can use a similar technique to save images. Digital Trends reviewed screen shot techniques for a variety of Android devices.

Image Search Phone Apps

If you have an iPhone, type “image search” in Apps and you’ll encounter a number of tools. I downloaded Veracity and found it to be seamless. I’m not aware of any Android image search apps but CTRLQ should work on these mobile devices.

Non-Geek Tips

Safety is not always the issue with false profiles. Sometimes it’s a matter of misrepresentation. For example, how many men have you dated who have obviously lied about age and height?

One possible clue that a man has lied about his age: he is willing to date women 5 + years older. An older age preference doesn’t necessarily mean a man is 5 years older than he says, but look at his picture and see if that could be the case.

Age fabrication may not bother you. However, some of my friends say, “Well, what else is he lying about?” I tend to be forgiving if there is only a couple of years difference…but a bigger lie is more troubling and a likely deal breaker.

Another quick way to check out a new match is to search his screen name. You may find his alias on other dating, sex, and general sites. You can learn a lot from this easy sleuthing.

An Almost Meet Cute

Enough about online issues! I’m still working on meeting men in real life.

I had a brief almost meet cute Friday night. Walking up a long subway escalator after a night of jazz at Westminster Church, a man was about to pass me on the left. “Wanna race?” he asked. I quickly looked at him (age appropriate, too short but nice face), smiled, and went into high gear escalator racing. He laughed and said, “I didn’t think you would.” “I’m very competitive,” I said as I gave him a run for his money (placing first in the Olympic sport of escalator racing). Several children trailed Mr. Racer. Grandkids? His kids? You never know. And I was with friends, so the exchange ended there.

Just another almost meet cute in DC. I’ve got a million of them…. some day, one has got to fully develop.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

An Odd Affliction plus Dating and Non-Dating Adventures

blog tango

It’s early evening and I’m reflecting on this past busy week while sipping wine with a straw. No, it’s not a new trend in drinking and in case any horrified sommeliers are wondering, my straw is not even made from glass. Excuse me while I digress and delete the profile of a God-fearing scammer who just messaged me. Just like swatting mosquitos.

Before I tell you about my week and explain the wine with a straw, let’s share some Passover-themed matzo brei . I like to add chopped fresh spinach or chard to the mixture before cooking. Have some wine too. Straw optional.

Dating Adventures 

Since this blog has a focus on dating, I’ll start with a review of current dating prospects. On Tuesday, after deleting and reporting two Coffee Meets Bagel scammers, I “matched” with Mr. A, a real life non-scammer! He sent a clever opening question and we bantered a bit (my favorite) while I skillfully directed our conversation to an in-person meeting over a glass of wine (no, this is not the straw story).

We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, which is why I’m pretty sure Mr. A is a real boy! Man, that is, though he is younger. Since Mr. A’s email address is his name, it was easy to Google him. His pictures and profile lined up. We’re meeting this week.

If you know me, please don’t ask me about this date. Mr. A could revoke me before we meet or we could have a one-date relationship. I’ll tell you IF/WHEN there is anything worth reporting. Even if this date goes nowhere, I’m enjoying a feeling of HOPE.

Other dating prospects fell by the wayside due to catfishing/scamming, illiteracy, religious dogma, height, and one-sided Bumble interrogation. With the BUMBLE dating app, if both parties like each other, only the woman can initiate a conversation. The man I matched on Bumble this week responded to my initial message but didn’t ask me a question back. So I served a couple more times; he wouldn’t volley. He answered my questions but failed to ask one thing about me – or even comment on my profile or photo. So finally, feeling angry, I asked him what he liked in my profile. After a day, he responded: reading, music, and cooking. I was tempted to say, “Are you the strong, silent type or do you just have trouble typing on tiny phone keyboards?” Instead, I asked, “Do you like those three things too? What type of music do you enjoy?” I’m waiting for a response. I may have to use my strong, silent line if this goes on much longer. I am losing patience.

Non-Dating Adventures

I am classed out (not outclassed, you snide ones). Last Sunday, I went to my hip-hop dance class. Yes, I’m the oldest in the class and have to temper certain moves based on orthopedic issues but still, there’s nothing like channeling your inner Beyoncé once in a while. I call my version, Twerk Lite.

Then on Tuesday, I tried out a beginning Tango class with a female friend. The class consisted of two couples; my friend; an advanced female student helper; Sergio, the Argentinian teacher; and me. When Sergio partnered with me, he came up to my mid-chest. Not the stuff of romantic dreams. Height aside, I found tango more challenging than hip-hop.

On Wednesday, in an effort to improve my pathetic swimming skills, I test-swam a swimming instructor. I’m not sure we’re a fit since she had a very unique way of doing the free style. It may be so unique as to be unheard of in swimming circles. Still, it was a nice reminder of the joys of swimming and the coming summer season.

My final class of the week was Spanish.   No body movement in this one – other than to furiously rifle through the text to check an answer in anticipation of being called on. It’s a déjà vu experience to be in a Spanish class again after so many years. Most of my classmates are in the boomer age range. For the first half dozen classes, we felt nervous and confused (also because the teacher is not that good). Now, we’re more confident and, just as important, we laugh and enjoy an easy camaraderie.

The Kicker of This Story

¿Por qué estaba bebiendo vino con una paja? (Why was I drinking wine with a straw?). I overdosed on chewing gum and lemon. An odd combination but I was trying to curb my appetite and eat lightly and found myself chewing packs of gum and putting extraordinary amounts of lemon juice on enormous salads. The combination of the acidic lemon and the sweet gum gave me what can only be described as a nasty inflamed taste bud. Hence, the wine with a straw.

What I’m really worried about is that, when I meet Mr. A this week, and should the mood be right, I won’t be able to kiss him properly.

Now, that would be a hardship.

If you liked this post or any past ones, subscribe and get regular e-mail delivery. Follow me on Twitter and

Facebook.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

How to Handle the Top 11 Dating Types

blog woman typing computer

Have your single friends ever sighed, downed that last sip of wine, and asked in frustration, “Where are all the God-Fearing men?” Unlikely? I can tell you these men are camped out by my dating profile, in line behind all the other distinctive online dating types. (Side note: I may be easing off the online dating life but I haven’t given this tactic up.)

It may be related to my current jaded perspective but within 5 seconds I can easily characterize a prospective love interest’s “type.” It’s not genomics science. Will you join me in some potato pizza with kale pesto while I share my guide to online dating types and suggested approaches for handling them? These men are scarily similar to real life dating types.

Mr. Hot ‘n Cold

Mr. Hot ‘n Cold can’t seem to decide whether he wants to date. One date never progresses to two. And yet, he keeps viewing you. Or Mr. HNC may have reached out to say he likes you but “you live too far away to date.” Despite this, he keeps looking at your profile. Approach: Ignore.

The Perfect Man

Ivy League Schools. World Traveler. Trophied athlete. Hobnobs with celebrities. Charity events. Grade A physique. Too perfect to be real. You guessed it. Scammer. Approach: If you have proof of scamming/catfishing – report and block.

Short Man in Vegas

These men are half or all the way across the country and do not match you on anything. They write a sweet note and comment appropriately on your profile but there’s no hope of a future here. Approach: Write a nice email saying thanks but no thanks.

OMG: The God-Fearing Man

Nothing in your profile screams religion is an overriding force in your life and yet you may attract men who call themselves God-Fearing, are searching for eternal love, and list the Bible first on a list of things they can’t do without. Perhaps you are just “blessed” with a devout smile. Approach: Ignore.

The Eliterit Eeleterate Illiterate Man

He means well but if your inner editor surfaces every time he writes or says something, this is not the guy for you. Approach: Ignore. 

The Hot Rodding Fisherman

Ten photos, 5 of his 1968 Plymouth Road Runner with 426 Street hemi, 5 of him holding a prize Marlin, and one blurry main photo of 6 guys. Approach: Respond if you like cars and fish; ask for another picture.

Baby Bear

He’s two scores younger, confident, and hunky. His philosophy: age is not a barrier. Approach: with caution; consider his older brother.

The Depressed Loner

His screen name is Lonelyboy911, he’s shy, and he hasn’t dated in 10 years. Home is a small rural town. Approach: Be kind and thank him for his note but move on.

The Player

He’s always online, lets you know right away that sex is very important to him, and even specifies his fetishes. Approach: Avoid, avoid, avoid.

The Picky Man

His profile is 90% about his bad dating experiences, what he doesn’t want, and a list of attributes/interests that are essential to him. Approach: Delete and block.

The Questioner

This one can’t wait to ask how long you have been on a particular dating site. It’s often his first or second question, which is followed by, what has been your experience with dating online, and are you having any luck? Is he worried you are past your shelf life? Or is he suffering from a lack of imagination and these are the only questions he can come up with? Approach: Call him on it. Ask why he is interested in your dating memberships and point out that the important point is that you are online now.

If you enjoyed this post, sign up for regular e-mail delivery and never miss an exciting update. Follow me on Twitter and

Facebook.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Dating Roundup: Tips and Tricks

 

blog woman thinking

It’s time for a dating roundup: tips to make your dating life easier.

Help yourself to some arugula blend salad with pomegranate dressing while I share my latest dating hacks and suggestions.

Set up alternate profiles (without pictures) on all of the sites you are on.

This won’t work for Facebook-based apps such as Tinder or Bumble but you will find it immensely helpful for traditional sites such as Match, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish. First of all, having an alter ego will allow you the freedom to browse any profiles you are interested in without your “target’s” knowledge. Bonus: you won’t have to pay for premium private browsing.

By the way, “private” isn’t really private on OkCupid. I’m constantly seeing fleeting glimpses of guys who think they are hidden when viewing me. Hidden is not totally hidden and, if you’re online, you will briefly see the voyeur with his screen name.

Your alter ego’s profile should be somewhat similar to your “real profile” but not so similar that one would guess it’s the same person. Change the age by a couple of years, change your height slightly, choose a different eye color (remember you won’t have a photo), and pick a nearby city within your desired geographic area.

The advantage of not creating a drastically different profile is that it will increase your chance of matching with some guys you will like. You will get some of the same matches as your real profile but will also receive some new previously unseen matches. If you’d like to contact these new guys using your real profile, just search for them by user name.

I find it interesting and curious that some men will write to my alter ego even though I don’t have a picture. There’s hope for the male population after all!

Log into your dating sites if it’s cold and rainy

It may be obvious but more guys are online when the weather outside is frightful – even if they’re watching a game while checking their dating apps.

What to say to your Tinder or Bumble match when there is zero information in their profile:  

Suggested message:

Since you didn’t have any info about yourself or your interests in your profile, I hope you won’t mind if I ask you “the elevator speech” question.  I think it’s easier than 10 back and forth texts.  If we were in an elevator and you had 20 seconds to tell me about yourself, what would you say?

How to reply to an 88-year-old man who asks you out:

Thanks for the invitation. You’ve got a great profile but I don’t think we are an age match. Good luck.

How to reply to a 20-year-old man who asks you out:

I don’t date men younger than my children.

What to do when you need new dating ideas:

Look at upcoming or past activities of Meetups even if you’re not a member (unless the group blocks viewing by non-members). You’ll find lots of good ideas from people who spend time coming up with activities. In addition to trying one of the activities on a date, consider joining one of these groups.

What it means when a Tinder or Bumble match’s location changes drastically:

When a match’s distance from you changes from 15 miles to 5500 and then back to 15, it usually means he’s a scammer operating on the other side of the world. He just hasn’t figured out how to alter his location to be consistent. Just Google: how to change your location on your phone (or on Tinder) and you’ll find a number of hacks.

Unless this location-shifting guy is really a big-time international traveler (and he might say he is), chances are he’s not legitimate.

My latest scammer on Tinder said he was in South Korea on business as a marine engineer. See my previous post on dating scams. Engineering is a favorite occupation of catfishers.   And of course, these guys often say they are widowers.

What to say (via text) to a Tinder or Bumble match you haven’t heard from in several days (unlike traditional dating sites, you can’t tell if a Tinder or Bumble match is online):

Hi,

Thought I would say good morning and ask if you’d like to continue corresponding. I’m a straight shooter and I appreciate that in return.  So my bottom line is I enjoyed getting to know you a little bit and I’d be happy to continue with a goal to meet in person.  However, if you think we are not a match, for whatever reason, please let me know and I’ll “unmatch” you on Tinder.  No hard feelings either way!

Personal note regarding this message: I sent this exact message today and I received a response within 10 minutes. Mr. M said he has been swamped at work and would like to continue getting to know me and to meet and see where “it” goes from there. Hope springs eternal!

Do you have any tips, tricks, or insights into the dating life? Let me know!

If you liked this post or past ones, become a subscriber to Dating, Sex, and Life in your 60s. This blog loves subscribers.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

A Bad Bagel on Coffee Meets Bagel

blog pix detective

Although I frequently encounter online dating scammers via email, I finally had the “pleasure” of speaking to one on the phone.

Mr. O was my first “match” or connection on Coffee Meets Bagel, a dating app I recently downloaded to my phone (for a review of other apps, see Dating Sites and Apps: A Rodeo Roundup). For those unfamiliar with this free app, it provides daters with a section for a brief profile and photo and sends you a daily match or “bagel” at noon, provided the bakers or rather matchmakers in charge find someone for you. If there are no quality bagel matches, CMB may send you some “also rans.” You can take these imperfect matches or give them away to your friends. Unfortunately, there are no options to search on your own.

From our first exchange, I was a bit suspicious of Mr. O but I found his profile and photos appealing. I decided to play along safely for a while to confirm my suspicions – or not – and flex my investigative muscles. I hoped I would be proven wrong and that Mr. O was the real deal.

Let’s have some vegetable torte while I tell you this tale.

The Mr. O interlude was a slow unveiling of some odd, unusual or inconsistent “facts” that one/I could easily overlook in a search for romance.

For example his profile claimed two bachelors degrees – one from the University of Stavenger in Norway and one from the University of Sydney. In an early email, I asked Mr. O if he was Australian given the Sydney degree. He wrote that he had taken a short course there. Despite this inconsistency, I forged ahead.

Mr. O wrote he was Hungarian and noted that people had a hard time understanding him in conversation because of his accent. When I was confused about something he wrote, he asked me to remember that English is not his first language. Of course, that’s a ready-made excuse to explain inconsistencies.

Here’s a quick round up of other troubling details, provided for your learning pleasure.

  • Despite two bachelor’s degrees (or not depending on whether the Australian stint was a class or a degree), Mr. O wrote that he had been in the gem stone business before becoming a contractor in the construction field. During one of our two phone calls he revealed he was a civil engineer. There’s nothing wrong with being an engineer but this occupation seems to be the fake job of choice of scammers. And the gem stone business is a rather exotic and unusual job that got me wondering.
  • On two occasions, Mr. O referred to his efforts to secure funding for his construction projects. A need for funds is associated with scamming. I also don’t think of civil engineers as people who do project fund raising.
  • Mr. O’s profile said he lived in Delaware and yet his cell phone number was from North Carolina. When I texted him about this, he didn’t respond but transitioned to another topic.
  • He didn’t pick up on any of my witty banter (one could argue that might only mean he is humorless) or my banter is lacking.
  • He was widowed 10 years ago and had not been intimate with anyone since his marriage. Widowed engineers are “classic” scammer types. An update on his sex life was TMI for an early get-acquainted correspondence.
  • Mr. O wrote that he was a cancer survivor. Along with being a widower, surviving great personal tragedy is another favorite story of scammers.
  • During our second phone conversation, Mr. O said he travels all over the world for his work and was planning a trip to Singapore. International travel alone is not a reason to indict someone but it falls into the common profile of a scammer, along with widowed engineers.
  • There were lots of clichés in his emails. How many times have you seen this line or a version of it?

“There is nothing finer than a woman who looks good in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and can still dress up for a formal party when the occasion calls for it.”

Before our phone conversation, I dutifully searched Mr. O’s email address and cell phone number as well as unique sections of his profile on Google and romancescam. I searched his phone number on a security ID site. I wanted to search his photos on Google image search and TinEye. However, since there is no online version of Coffee Meets Bagel, I couldn’t save his photos from a web site. So I used my iPad to take a photo of Mr. O’s profile photo on my phone and then cropped it in iPhoto – creating a searchable jpeg file. Still nothing.

During our second phone call, however, I noticed Mr. O’s Hungarian accent periodically drifting into an African one. (Quick aside: if you ever want to identify an accent, check out this website with recordings — http://www.dialectsarchive.com.)

The accent shifting fueled my determination. I had to out him. I went back to romance scam and searched several unique sentences in the emails he sent me. One of the excerpts was a match. Mr. O was a known scammer.

A eureka moment like this is more sad and frustrating than joyful. Even when you’re suspicious of someone, your heart can start to engage.

It took awhile but I’m finally an experienced dater. So here are the dichotomies. I am not only more aware of and able to detect falseness but I’m also more vulnerable. I may have a discerning eye but I’m also tired of the game and willing to overlook some details.

Scamming aside, I am more likely to consider someone who at first glance might not seem like a match. I wonder if there’s a potentially good book underneath that used, slightly tattered cover. But I’ll also make damned sure that the book isn’t plagiarized.

Postscript of safety measures taken:

I always kept my guard up with Mr. O. I did not reveal my last name and used my dating email address. After finding sections of his email on romance scams, I blocked his number on my cell phone and set up a filter so I didn’t have to see any future correspondence.

If you enjoyed this post or past ones, please subscribe to this blog. For those who like to read everything on a kindle, Dating, Sex, and Life in your 60s is now available as a kindle blog.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

A Curious Addiction

Embed from Getty Images

We have all heard of computer game addiction, social media addiction, and online dating addiction. Online dating addiction refers to people who can’t stop searching for the next best thing – someone new to date even if they have met and started dating a great match. Online dating check-in addiction is a variant that I have discovered…because I am suffering from it.

It started out innocently enough — checking my matches and my dating in-boxes while having my morning coffee. I’d follow up later that evening with a “peak time” check-in around 6 p.m. Then, it progressed to checking, browsing, and proactive emailing before bedtime.

So, that was 3 times a day — plus time spent responding to any emails received in between those time periods. I was starting to feel like a blackberry-addicted worker, but wait it gets worse.

Since I’m an early riser, I have my morning coffee pretty early – sometimes 6:30 a.m. So I reasoned that I really should check the dating sites again at 8:00 a.m. since a lot of guys might be online at that time.

Then I thought, “Well a lot of men who are still working and not retired like I am are often online at lunch time…so I should see if they are viewing me. Maybe if I reach out at this time of day, I will get some good responses.”

I now had a 5-times-a-day habit. I then progressed to hardcore addiction – checking about once an hour. I often checked from my phone or iPad and I started to get carpal tunnel syndrome and finger stiffness from too much searching and typing on mini-keyboards.

Did I appear to be “always online” to potential dates? Did it matter? Did they think I was online responding to hundreds of emails from the gorgeous guys flooding my inbox? Who knows? Doubtful anyone was tracking my viewing habits! Plus they were likely responding to hundreds of emails from gorgeous women. This irrational thinking is characteristic of someone with an addiction issue.

I was starting to feel a pronounced and almost constant craving to check the latest happenings on my sites. It was time for an intervention. However, I hadn’t told anyone about this problem, so I would have to intervene with myself. Can this be done without an element of surprise and friends and family showing up unexpectedly at my house?

Yes. It’s called willpower.

So I reached deep last weekend when I did not have a date (note that the addiction intensifies during a dating dry spell) and vowed to check only two times a day – first thing in the morning and right before bedtime. It worked! That Saturday I felt free and when I finally checked, it was so nice to see the emails and views. By letting them “pile up,” there were more to ponder and respond to. Wonderful.

But when Sunday rolled around, I felt the old craving return. I thought, “What’s the harm in looking during lunchtime?” So I did. Then I thought, “It’s Sunday mid-afternoon. Guys are thinking about the week ahead and I should see what’s happening online.” Well you know the rest of the story.

Just like a cigarette smoker often has to quit a number of times before there’s a breakthrough, I had to try again and I am happy to say that I am not checking my inbox as frequently. This may be partially due to the fact that I am fed up with the latest wave of wannabe scammers reaching out to me (see my post on online security) and I don’t even want to check! I also am trying to fill my time with other activities – the way a smoker might take up yoga or running to reduce the craving. So life goes on.

Has anyone else experienced online dating check-in addiction? I would love to know if/how you cured it.

Until next week, happy dating – or not dating!
XXXOOO
Nadia