Hey, we're in the age of the "Reality TV Star," which means that we and our popular culture are obsessed by the "real" lives of "real" people.
It turns out that college football players fall into the category of people whose personal lives can be of tremendous interest to us. One football player in particular, Manti Te'o of Notre Dame, has made headlines for his online girlfriend--who apparently wasn't real.
There are lots of questions about what exactly happened. You can Google "Manti Te'o" and get the latest news and speculation about him, whether he knew that his "girlfriend" wasn't real, when he knew that his "girlfriend" didn't really die as was previously reported, etc.
But no matter what the truth is, Manti Te'o is in the middle of a dating disaster story. The fact that it's an online dating disaster story makes it even more titilating.
Online Dating DisastersTalk to single men and single women, and you quickly find there's is no shortage online dating disasters. We've all heard stories of both men and women who have lied on their online dating profiles. Men lie about their age (sometimes posting a photo that’s more than 10 years old) and their height. Women lie about their age and their weight. And both genders have been known to lie about their relationship status.
In Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet by yours truly (Chad Stone!), I share the worst online dating story I ever heard. (It's on pages 244-246 if you want to read it.) But there are plenty of other online disaster stories. And those stories are what gives internet dating a bad rep.
Online Dating Tips
So, to keep you from being the victim of an internet dating disaster, I humbly share these personal tips:
1. First and foremost, don't be gullible. Sometimes cyber singles stretch the truth, and sometimes they stretch it beyond recognition. So don’t automatically believe everything you read in an online profile.
2. Some singles are smart enough to protect their "real" cell phone numbers by getting a prepaid cell phone that they use for dating. That's a pretty slick idea. With a dedicated dating phone, you won't have to give out your reall phone number to some jerk who won't take no for an answer.
3. When someone posts an online profile photo that looks too good to be true, guess what--it's probably too good to be true. Don't fall for a photo lifted from the Victoria’s Secret website. Ask for a real photo.
4. It’s too easy to hide behind the anonymity of an online profile. Set up a meet and greet date in a public place before you start falling in love. You'll get to see how truthful your new online friend has been with you.
5. Whatever you do, don't disconnect your brain and DO NOT ignore the red flags in your budding online dating relationship. Almost every online dating disaster story includes several things that should have made it pretty obvious that there were some untruths being communicated. Ignore those warning flags and your heart could get broken.
6. DO NOT make any big changing plans with an online man or women who you haven’t met in person. It's just plain stupid to agree to give money or talk about marriage with a person you haven't met yet.
There ARE Online Dating Success Stories
Be smart when searching for love in cyberspace, and you won’t fall for an online dating hoax (like Manti Te’o). There are thousands and thousands of online dating success stories, too. By staying level headed and not giving away your heart too soon, you can become one of those success stories.
Chad Stone is the author of Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet: One Man’s Brave Adventure into Dating Again in the 21st Century.