Why do some people fail at getting lucky in love online? When presenting on this subject, I am always reminded of what happened to my friend Kevin.  As the story goes, his newly engaged ex met her match online, which was just the impetus Kevin needed to give online dating a second try. A bottle of wine and a quick photo shoot later, Kevin’s personal profile was posted and by ten o’clock that evening he had sent a Flirt to 3 women. By morning Kevin called me in a state of self-doubt and distress. “I’m short, bald and destined to be alone” he shouted into the phone just as I was still rolling out of bed.  All this because, less than ten hours later, most of which transpired past any grown adult’s reasonable bedtime, his e-mail inbox remained empty.

Now, you don’t need me, a therapist or a dating coach to realize that my newly bachelorized friend was reacting irrationally.  What you don’t know that makes Kevin’s outburst worse is that he sent out those notes on the same night as the Academy Awards®, when most single women from St. Paul to Montreal were glued to the tube and interested only in a fellow named Oscar®.

People get busy. Someone is sending you playful pokes one minute, and you find their profile has been deactivated the next time you log on to your account. Circumstances like this happen every day in cyberspace, in great part because the time spent there is muddled by the very things that make the technology such a wonder – anonymity, variety, abundance and immediacy.

When you date under these conditions, certain types of characters are bound to emerge — these are the ones you should learn how to spot and make sure to avoid:

The Jane or John Doe Dater: Anonymity can have strange effects on people – and yes, some will behave sneakily and disrespectfully simply because they can do so without being held accountable. It’s not always underhanded (like choosing to leave out the fact that you’re temporarily unemployed to boost profile rankings), but occasionally you’ll stumble upon a perpetrator who is abusing the system. The Jane or John Doe daters are the ones who offer up little or even false information in their profile and act deplorably when it comes to calling, emailing or locking down plans…Get the point?

The Hyperactive Serial Searcher: Online dating should be handled in moderation and approached with healthy respect, but not everyone knows how to control their appetite. When faced with a smorgasbord of tempting options, some have a harder time than others staying focused on one person at a time.  If they seem diverted or distracted it’s because they are. The hyperactive serial searcher is known for booking back-to-back dates, engaging in multiple conversations simultaneously and contacting you via email, phone or instant message relentlessly as they are hurriedly trying to manage their planning.

The Guilty Pleasure Seeker: Before Internet-enabled dating, getting lucky required at least some amount of persistence and persuading. Now that we can flirt in cyber-time and score in real-time, many are out there lurking for instant gratification of a sexual kind. The guilty pleasure seekers are easy to detect because they tend to troll the net for their next casual fling victim or phone sex conversation, often at odd hours of the day or night with inappropriate jokes, gestures or invitations.

The Roaming Opportunist: Ah, variety.  It is, after all, the spice of life and it can be particularly tempting when the odds of finding someone better are but just one click away. Hard to detect at first, roaming opportunists come across as serious “relationship” contenders, but are often dipping their toes behind the scenes to see what new and exciting matches may be out there. Many play on multiple dating sites to avoid getting caught and are known to play hot and cold during the getting-to-know-you phases of a relationship.  While there are no set rules when you are just starting a relationship, and exclusivity is something that should be discussed forthrightly when the time comes, keep a wary eye out for those with roving eyes and keyboards.

The games these people play on the internet are not that different than in real life – only online there is little risk of getting caught and no intermediaries to hold them accountable. It is up to you to conduct your own due diligence and weed out the good guys and gals from the bad ones – we promise they are out there!

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