Dear Nadia, I Have a Dating Dilemma

Blog pix dating dilemma

Decisions, decisions. Dating is fraught with judgment calls, gut calls, and dilemmas. How do you check out a guy you met in real life? When should you let a guy pick you up at your place or drop by to see you? When do you have sex?

It’s good to talk about these issues with friends and sometimes friends ask me for advice. So, sit back and try some goat cheese and arugula pasta salad while I share a recent exchange with a gal pal. Identifying details have been altered for privacy.

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Dear Nadia, 

As I mentioned, I met this guy, Max, last Saturday while on a Meetup bike ride. We hung out after the ride over lunch – and had a really nice time. I gave him my e-mail and phone number and he emailed me this week. 

Max lives in Baltimore but will be driving through my area this Friday to leave his dog with his sister since he’s going out of town. He suggested swinging by my place on his way. I told him that I live in Kensington. Max works for the Department of Homeland Security and has a high security clearance – so he probably knows my address, favorite color, and everything else about me!

Do you have any good background checking tools? I know his full name, age, and address, which check out, but don’t know anything else. DHS doesn’t have a detailed staff directory online. It seems a bit preliminary to have him come to my house, although maybe he’s trying to make it easy for me. I could meet him at a restaurant or park since he’ll have his dog with him (a yellow lab, I believe).

Aargh…when did dating get so hard?!

Lily

Dear Lily,

Yes, dating IS hard…but in fact you met Max the old fashioned way, which makes it a bit simpler.  For instance, you have some good basic info that has checked out!  To add to the information you have, you could use some of the same tactics I use with an online match when I have very little to go on.

Checking out a guy you met in real life

You could run his Meetup picture through Google image search and see what pops up.  If you haven’t already done so, I suggest separate web searches of his name, phone number, and email address.

Another tactic is checking out Max’s public Facebook page. I think FB collects info on someone’s page visitors so at some point Max might see you in his “People You May Know” alerts but that could happen in other ways too. You could also temporarily change your privacy settings on LinkedIn and anonymously check out his profile.

The purpose of all of this investigation is not to find out every last detail about him but to make sure there are no red flags. Once I have enough information to know that a guy is who he says he is, and there are no concerns, I stop sleuthing.   Too much probing can spoil the all important fun and discovery phase of a relationship. It really is best to learn about a person organically in a face-to-face encounter.

I have used Intelius and Spokeo to run preliminary background checks on matches.  Neither one of these search engines is perfect in terms of accuracy and depth of information but they have proven useful on occasion. I let my subscriptions to these services lapse because I found I could gather most information on my own for free.  I also realized that my gut is fairly accurate!

If marital status is a concern, you could search for evidence of his divorce. Most states have free, public divorce records.

Some additional resources that are likely not necessary in your case:

*Scam digger picture search

*You can check his email address on this romance scam site

When should you let a guy pick you up for a date?

Since you asked for advice, I’ll put on my Jewish mother hat to say that on a few occasions I have been okay with a guy picking me up for a second date at my house but I usually wait until the third date. Sometimes the second date is a deal-breaker and I want to be able to leave if it’s not going well.

I make the “pick me up” decision on a case-by-case basis. This decision is based on how much I know/have found out about a man and my gut impression of the guy.

So, if you feel comfortable, you could certainly say okay to him dropping by. Or you could just offer to meet him at the park or for a drink.

However, at this point, I feel he should ask you out – not just drop by on his way to somewhere else. It feels like he’s doing what’s convenient  – not making a concerted effort to see you and take you out!

Dating computer experts and guys with security clearances

The other issue is dating someone who has a high security clearance or is a computer expert and could do a better background check on you than you could on him! I have gone out with some guys who fall into that category. I never had evidence that they out-sleuthed me but it’s entirely possible. I tell myself that, like me, they want to know whom they’re dealing with…and then I forget about their possible channeling of Sherlock Holmes.

For future reference, here are links to some of my blog posts on security in online dating:

A brief encounter with a catfisher

Catfishing and lessons from a millennial

A bad bagel on Coffee Meets Bagel

Tips for safe online dating

Dating tips and tricks

Dating safety, security, and truth-in-advertising

Keep me posted on Max, Lily!

Hugs,

Nadia

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Dear readers, send me your dating dilemmas and I’ll try to respond in a future blog post!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Anatomy of a Brief Encounter with a Catfisher

cautious-heart

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

 

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