Don’t Date Anyone You Meet Online Unless They Can Pass The Three R’s.
If you’re looking for a long term and committed relationship using the internet you need to know what to look for amongst the thousands of other people online all claiming to be looking for a partner too.
Online dating is a great way to meet a wide variety of people with no geographical limits. And there are many normal, sincere people just like you looking for a new relationship online (I know – because I met one!). But it also means you can’t really tell what someone is like and what they are about – or can you?
Before you even consider meeting up with someone you’ve made contact with online, you need to check that the person meets certain basic criteria for being a prospective long-term partner. I call these “The Three R’s of Online Dating”. First, they need to be Ready for a long-term relationship. Second, they need to be Real in their identity and intentions. And thirdly, they must be Respectful of you as a human being. It doesn’t matter how much the person seems to match your profile or how attractive you find them – if they can’t pass the Three R’s of Online Dating then they are a bad bet for any kind of long term relationship.
These Three R’s apply regardless of any other aspects of a person’s appearance or character that may be important for you as an individual. If a person passes the Three R’s, there is still no guarantee that you are right for each other – but you will have avoided wasting your time with people who are definitely wrong for you.
The good news is that once you are aware of these factors, you can then relatively easily check by looking for telltale warning signals and asking the right kind of questions. If you know what to look for it’s surprising how much you can tell from the way someone has completed their online profile or what they say in those first few emails.
NB – Throughout, I use “they” to denote either “he” or “she” as relevant to yourself.
Are They Ready?
If you’re looking for a long term, committed relationship then you are looking for someone else who wants the same thing. You need to avoid anyone looking for a casual relationship or just some online fun. And you need to avoid anyone who does want the same thing eventually, but isn’t Ready right now.
However great someone is and however much you are attracted to someone, timing is everything – you both have to be Ready at the same time. In short,
“The Right person at the Wrong time is the Wrong person.”
If you are going to have a chance at a successful long term relationship with someone, then both of you need to be emotionally free of any previous romantic relationships. That is, they must have room in their head, heart and life for you, and you must also have room for them. It’s also sensible to notice whether they have any other non-romantic attachments which could affect their ability to give the relationship the time it needs to flourish – such as career, hobbies, family commitments or other consuming friendships.
Of course you might decide that someone is so amazing that you are prepared to wait until they become Ready (i.e. their divorce comes through, they get over their previous partner etc) – but you are taking a risk. Of course all new relationships involve some risk – there are no guarantees that any particular relationship will work out – and of course there are degrees of Readiness – so the final judgement is up to you. But you can only make that judgement if you have the correct information to work with. So how can you tell if someone is Ready based on what they say and do online?…
Telltale signs that someone isn’t Ready
They are still materially attached to an Ex.
For instance, they may be separated but not yet divorced, still sharing a house, still fighting over custody of children, or still owing money to their Ex. (It should go without saying that they should not still be actually married or actively in a relationship when you begin a relationship with them.) When material attachments (i.e. involving legal status, money, property or living arrangements) such as these are still present, their lives are not actually separate. Even if the relationship is emotionally over, these material attachments mean there are significant elements of their logistic and material lives which are being influenced by the Ex. Someone who is emotionally “over” the relationship will be trying to extricate themselves materially as soon as possible. If they are doing this, then you may not have long to wait, but if they are dragging their feet then this is could be sign that there is still some emotional component to the remaining relationship. (The single exception to this is if there are children involved and there are custody and financial agreements in place which are being implemented to everyone’s satisfaction i.e. it has become business as usual and a non-issue).
They compare you to their Ex. Comparison with their Ex, whether negative or positive, means only one thing: the Ex is still on their mind. Negative comparisons (e.g. “You’re not as good looking as Ex” or “You’re not as tidy as Ex”) would likely be an obvious warning signal that this person is not in love with you and isn’t likely to be so anytime soon. But positive comparisons are just as dangerous (e.g. “You’re far more attractive than Ex, or “You’re much better at this than Ex”)
They still have items which remind them of their Ex. Examples include wearing rings or jewelry that the Ex gave them (I’ve even heard of people continuing to wear a wedding ring while dating someone new!), keeping photos on display or “storing” the Ex’s possessions in their house. Admittedly sometimes these actions are about inertia rather than conscious attachment to the Ex – but if the person is really ready for a new start they will respond positively to the idea of having a clear out. If they resist getting rid of the Ex’s belongings, you need to seriously question whether the person has really detached themselves from their previous relationship.
Even if they are harboring negative feelings towards their Ex, it means two important things: (1) there is a part of their energy, heart and mind which is not available for you; (2) when they look at you they are not really fully looking at You, they are looking at you AND their Ex and comparing you with them. Now it is quite reasonable for someone to mention their Ex SOMETIMES – it is a part of their history along with their family history, work history and so on – but finding yourself being compared to them is a difficult place to be. You deserve to be seen on your own terms, without being compared to someone else. You want to find someone who is looking for You – not a replica of their Ex or the complete opposite of their Ex. Again, judgement is required here. One or two comparisons with the Ex might be fine – but if it’s frequent or consistent, then it’s worth questioning whether this person really has emotional space for you.
They are only recently split from their Ex.
If someone has recently split up from a relationship it is all too easy to sign up to an online dating service one night while feeling bored, lonely, depressed or even a bit drunk, feeling the desire to “find someone”. Your job is to distinguish between the people who are genuinely ready to enter into a new commitment and those who are seeking relief or distraction from the pain of recently losing one. This does not mean that someone recently out of a relationship is lying when they say they want a long term relationship – but often what they mean is that they want the long term relationship they were just in and are hoping to find someone who can fit the bill. It can almost be a way of avoiding feeling grief over the lost relationship by re-instating the previous state of affairs with someone new. Again, this means that they won’t be really looking at You, but seeing you through the filter of their previous relationship. This is the classic “rebound” effect and you need to be aware of it, however much the person protests that they are Ready for a new relationship. So what does “recent” mean? Some experts insist on at least one month recovery for every year of relationship. I think this is woefully insufficient time to properly recover and be ready to start meeting new people free of the effects of a previous relationship – but it will vary very much on the personality of the person and on how the break-up occurred, but as a minimum guide be wary of anyone less than 6 months out of a relationship of over 2 years; or less than a year out of a relationship of over 5 years or a marriage of any length. It’s not always the chronological length of the relationship that matters here – it’s the depth of emotional commitment: someone married for a year may be an emotionally attached and committed as someone who has dated someone for 3 years.
Their relationship history strongly indicates they will never be Ready. Someone who has made a strong commitment before is capable of making another one, given enough emotional time. Someone with a history of very short term relationships which they have terminated, or even long term relationships which did not lead to meaningful commitment, implies a personality which is either commitment-phobic, or which simply does not know how to create, develop and maintain a strong emotional relationship. Of course each person has their own specific circumstances and you can’t make snap judgement based purely on the surface facts – you need to get some idea of how strongly they felt about previous partners, the circumstances of the break-ups and so on. You can make allowances for youth of course – people can and do mature – so don’t judge someone in their 30’s or 40’s for how emotionally ready they were when they were 21. If you feel you don’t have enough evidence about the person’s romantic relationships, look at their non-romantic relationships. Do they have long-lasting friendships which demonstrate mutual commitment and support? Do they have good, adult relationships with siblings, parents or other family members? Are they “there” for friends and family when support is asked for? If they do, then it’s highly likely they can bring these qualities into a romantic relationship. If they don’t, then it’s highly unlikely that they will be able to magically start demonstrating these relationship skills when they are in a relationship with you.
Their profile says they want to “be friends first and see what develops”.
Assuming they have subscribed to a dating service, this statement is rather odd. They haven’t even met you and they are already setting up the fence against getting too involved. This statement either means that in general they are very wary of relationships or that they are still getting over a previous one – either way – they are not Ready! This statement creates a difficult situation for whoever responds to this profile. Suppose you go on a date with someone who has stated they want to “be friends first”. Suppose the date goes well and you meet again, and again and again. At what point do you transition from “being friends” to being in a relationship with them? Unless it is discussed explicitly, you could easily think that you are in a relationship, only to have them back off later reminding you that you agreed to be “only friends first”.
They fall in love with you before meeting you.
Believe me, this can happen online! Although there are stories of people falling in love this way and it working out, you also need to be aware of what this MIGHT mean. Someone falling in love with someone they have never met (even if they have seen a picture, spoken on the phone and emailed many times) is someone who has fallen in love with an idea – a projection of what they want – not the real You. An exception MAY be if you have corresponded extensively and got a real sense of each other’s characters, but until you actually meet, you should never assume that someone can be truly in love with you (or you be truly in love with them) – because they haven’t experienced the full You yet! Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t develop a real and genuine attraction for someone you meet online – but until you have met them, you can’t honestly say you are in love with them – there should be some small degree of reservation until you have experienced the real physical person. However easy or exciting it is to get carried away with an online relationship, beware of anyone who claims to be in love with you before you’ve met – this could be a person who isn’t really Ready for a real, honest relationship with a real person, but is instead more focused on fulfilling a fantasy.
They emphasize physical looks when they say what they are looking for.
This can be a sign that the person is focused much more on finding a sexual relationship than on finding a truly compatible life partner. Of course it’s quite reasonable to say something about what they prefer physically – it is an important factor in the overall attraction to a person – but if it’s ALL they talk about, then this should be an alarm bell. Also look out for the level of specificity they give for physical versus character qualities. For instance, wanting someone to be “tall, blonde, slim and under 30”, is a lot more specific in terms of physical characteristics than wanting someone to be “nice and easy to be with” in terms of
personality characteristics. This implies that less thought has gone into their personality requirements than the physical requirements – and that therefore the person is much less interested in the long-term compatibility of their partner than how attractive they find them.
They don’t complete their online profile, especially the free-text fields.
Someone who can’t commit to completing their online profile is unlikely to be someone who has much commitment to really finding a long-term partner. In particular, always check what they have put in the free-text fields, however good the rest of their profile seems. Most sites offer “free-text” space to answer general questions such as “Is there anything else you’d like to say about yourself?” or “What kind of partner are you looking for?” It is here that you get your first vibe about the person’s intentions and other features of their personality that can’t be conveyed in a questionnaire type profile. Empty free-text fields can indicate a variety of things – none of them good. It might mean that this person is lacking in either effort or commitment in looking for a relationship and couldn’t be bothered. It could also simply mean they are not very literate and found this part difficult. Or it might mean they lack imagination or creativity and just didn’t know what to say about themselves. Only you know whether commitment, literacy or having something to say are important to you in a partner. If the user is new to the system it is possible that they are still working on their profile – but if it’s still empty a week later, then this isn’t the reason. If they haven’t said anything about what they are looking for in a partner then it’s a reasonable bet that they haven’t really given it much thought. People who are seriously looking for a committed relationship will have already put some thought into this and will have something to say on the matter – and if they haven’t yet, then they will be willing to discuss it via email.
They want to meet you right away.
Someone who is looking for a truly compatible long-term relationship should be as concerned to check that you are right for them as you are and not to waste time on dates where no real compatibility has been established. Wanting to meet straightaway is a sign of someone being overly eager to enter into relationship status before really finding out who you are or whether you have much in common.
They stop talking to you online once a date has been arranged. Someone who is genuinely interested in you as a person, will be interested in keeping on talking to you even if a date has been arranged. If this stops once a date is arranged this does heavily imply that they are primarily interested in talking to you only as a way to get you to meet with them. To be fair, some people feel more comfortable communicating in person than online and are relieved when the relationship moves into the physical meeting stage where they feel more at ease. But you need to judge whether you feel the same – in which case you may very well be compatible – or whether you would still like to maintain the online communication as a way of getting to know each other better. If you do but they don’t, (or vice versa) this could be your first sign that you have fundamentally different communication styles and preferences – in which case you need to think about what this might mean for your long-term compatibility.
Are They Real?
The vast majority of people on a subscription online dating service will be who they say they are, especially those who state that they are looking for a committed relationship – because any genuine person who is looking for genuine relationship knows that lying is pointless and that they will be found out sooner rather than later.
But occasionally you may come across someone who isn’t who they say they are, in some or many respects. In other words, they’re not “Real”. In dating terms, someone is “Real” when:
They are who they say they are and the details on their profiles are accurate in terms of appearance, age, gender, current relationship status and so on.
They are looking for what they say they are looking for i.e. a long-term relationship, not a casual fling or something else.
When looking for a partner online, it’s all too easy to simply believe what someone tells you without paying attention to any behavior that might indicate that the person isn’t quite as Real as they seem. Of course, most people will be Real – and hopefully it will be the exception if you come across someone who isn’t – but it could save you a lot of time and potential anguish to know in advance what might give someone away who isn’t Real.
Telltale signs that someone isn’t Real
There are inconsistencies in what they tell you.
If they tell you about something in one exchange and tell you something else which contradicts that some time later, this could be a sign that someone isn’t Real and their information is designed either to impress you or to hide something they don’t want you to know about. Anytime there appears to be a contradiction, ask about it. If there’s an explanation, Real people will all too readily be able to tell you about it – although people who aren’t Real may be too! You should certainly be suspicious if someone evades the question, changes the subject or tries to make you feel stupid or impolite for asking about it. Of course some people are very private and some people can feel genuinely put out if asked too many personal questions – but if they have already discussed a topic with you then it’s reasonable to ask about it without it being an invasion of privacy. A specific type of inconsistency to look out for is between what they have said on their profile and what they say to you personally about (for instance) their age, occupation, income, academic qualifications, hobbies, where they’ve traveled etc. Although it might be tempting to spice up a profile to make them appear more interesting, it implies that they don’t see the process as Real, and perhaps have no idea of how such inconsistencies might appear to a Real person.
They are evasive over basic details of their life such as job, or where they live.
Of course it makes sense for security reasons not to reveal some kinds of personal identifying information straightaway. But it’s still possible to say “I’m a nurse” or “I live in Yorkshire” without threatening your security in any way. And as the online relationship progresses it is normal for both parties to progressively reveal more and more personal information. There is a big difference between someone saying “I don’t want to tell you that yet”, and someone saying “Oh, that’s not important, let’s talk about something else”. The first is creating an honest boundary. The second is evasive and an avoidance tactic.
They have created a “joke” profile that can’t possibly be real.
Often it’s possible to answer the questionnaire part of the profile in such a way that it’s almost inconceivable that any real person could fit that description. For instance if someone says they are under 4 feet tall, weighs 20 stone, is black-skinned with blue eyes, red hair and blonde sideburns and is a social worker earning half a million pounds a year, you might be right to question whether this person really wants a long term relationship. Now, there is a huge diversity of very interesting people on the internet – and it’s possible this person is Real – but you’d be wise to check. The good news is that on a dating website you can anonymously and safely talk to this person and find out more. Some people do create joke profiles as a way of standing out from the crowd – but it also means that if someone is doing a search based on these features, they probably won’t show up on anyone’s search results – so it’s a bit counter-productive.
They look significantly younger or older in their photo than the age they have stated.
While many people might shave a year or two off their age in the hope of appearing younger, it is surprising how many people use pictures of themselves when they were much younger (i.e. ten years or more). While this might be seen as innocent or understandable vanity, unfortunately it does imply a disconnection with the reality of what they are doing – that they have not really understood that eventually they will be found out. Also beware of people who say they are younger but have used a much older looking photo. What they might be trying to do is get included in the search results of a much younger age range, and hope that once they get talking to someone they won’t care about the age. Either way, both behaviors are somewhat manipulative, even dishonest, and should make you question the Real-ness of a person who is so able to disconnect from the reality of themselves and of the overall process.
They always have a reason why they can’t meet you.
In any online relationship, there comes a time when the next logical thing to do is to meet up in person (taking appropriate safety precautions as usual). If the online exchange has been going on for a reasonable amount of time (“reasonable” is of course subjective but sufficient to ensure that all safety concerns have been covered) and it seems “time” to meet, it is usually fairly clear to both parties when this moment is reached. If someone says they aren’t ready to meet you after a few days or even a few weeks, then it could well be the case that they genuinely want to talk more online and get to know you better. If it gets to several weeks or even months and they still won’t meet you, it either means they are VERY scared of the process, or that they have so lied about themselves they don’t want to be found out, or that they have personal circumstances which make physically meeting up impossible without arousing suspicion from a partner. If they are scared of the process, then there is usually some way of arranging to meet which ensures total safety – e.g. bringing a friend or family member with them, meeting in a public place, and so on. If none of these suggestions help, then it’s likely that they aren’t really interested or that they have something to hide.
They are not available at normal times to talk online.
It’s classic sign of the married or cohabiting person that they are unavailable on evenings, weekends and public holidays. A person who can only ever talk to you (or meet you) during the day will have a reason for this. If they can’t give you any substantial reason for this (e.g. being a single parent could legitimately limit times they are available for adult socializing) then you need to check the person’s true marital status. This may not appear as an issue straightaway in an online relationship, since it is quite common for initial contact to happen asynchronously, or late at night (and it is quite common for initial meetings to take place as lunch dates). What you need to look out for is if there is no “progression” beyond this, especially if the relationship begins to get sexual. In terms of the online stage of relationship development, look out for people who can only chat to you (online or on the phone) during the daytime and never in the evenings. If emails from them are quick notes in the evening but much longer when sent during the day, this could imply snatched moments away from the partner or family in the evenings.
Basic details on their profile change for no reason.
Believe it or not, I have experienced being emailed by someone whose profile said they were one age, and then being emailed by them again only to find they were now a full 7 years younger than they were the week before. Similarly, some people “play” with their profile, altering things like income level, hair color, height and so on, in the hope that other people will find them more attractive or acceptable if they do so. Now of course, a lot of this type of not being Real is down to pure vanity rather than the person being fundamentally not who they claim to be. The person may simply be desperate to get any attention even if it’s with someone who wouldn’t otherwise find them attractive. Or the person may be deliberately and willfully aiming to mislead someone in the hope of getting some short term satisfaction. Either way, you are dealing with someone who feels OK about playing fast and loose with the truth – not the best bet if you want a long-term relationship based on trust and honesty.
They never talk about the future.
People who aren’t Real about their intentions towards you are only interested in what they can get from you now or in a few days time. Mentally, you won’t be in the picture they have of their future – so when they talk to you they won’t ever think of talking about their longer term plans with you because it’s just not something that’s part of their mindset. Of course, you shouldn’t expect to start long term life planning with someone you have only just started talking to that evening. But assuming you’ve been talking online a while and that you are both attracted, it is a natural thing for new partners to have the kind of conversation that goes “If we went on holiday together, where would you like to go?”. These conversations are part of the natural bonding process of people who are looking forward to spending time together in the future. People who know they will never want or be able to go away on holiday with you, will shy away from conversations like these, or make a joke and change the subject.
They keep bringing the conversation round to sex.
Beware of anyone who either approaches you in a sexual way from the beginning, or who very quickly starts talking about sex and doesn’t want much of a conversation about anything else. Of course, as a genuine relationship develops it’s normal for sexual matters to be discussed or referred to along the way – you are after all looking for a compatible romantic relationship. But someone looking for a long-term committed relationship is going to be interested in finding out other things about you, such as your family, your career aims, your hopes and dreams, your hobbies and so on. A constant or even predominant focus on sex, despite your attempts to change the subject, strongly indicates their intentions are not Real.
Are They Respectful?
Respect is at the heart of any successful relationship, whether romantic, friendship, family or business. And at the heart of Respect is an ability to relate emotionally to other human beings and to empathise with their needs and how they might be feeling. Someone who is able to relate in this way is going to be a far better bet as a long-term partner than someone who finds it hard to really consider or understand anyone else’s feelings.
One of the risks of meeting someone online is that the experience can seem less than real compared to talking to a person face to face. Some people find it hard to really think of the text they send over the internet as being read by and emotionally affecting a real live person with feelings. This is especially a problem for people who find it hard to really relate emotionally even to real people. When you’re talking to someone online you need to look for evidence that the person is able to treat the interaction like an interaction with a real person (which it is!). This means following the same social rules for things like respect for privacy and personal space, and being able to reciprocate materially and emotionally. Even though the online environment may be thought of as “artificial” in some ways, people tend to behave online in a way which is a true reflection of a their attitudes and behavior to people “in real life”.
When you start talking to someone new online, you are not so much looking for whether this person has Respect for YOU specifically (since they don’t know you yet) – you are looking for evidence that the person has Respect towards people in general, with their behavior towards you as representative of that. It’s hard to demonstrate and maintain Respect for just one person while disrespecting everyone else – so the chances are the Respect they show you during the online interaction is a reflection of how respectful they are of people in general. Here are some ways in which behavior online can betray a general lack of Respect.
Telltale signs that someone isn’t Respectful
Their initial approach is over-familiar or sexual.
Some people begin their online conversations with complete strangers (who they presumably would like to respond positively to them) with quite bizarre or inappropriate opening lines. Examples include use of pet names (“Hello babes, how are you this evening”), or immediate reference to their or your sexual attractiveness (“Wow you look really hot, fancy a naughty chat?”). Of course, you will have your own ideas about what you find acceptable or off-putting and it may be that you don’t personally have a problem with either of these examples – but we are assuming that you are looking for a long term relationship and that they are too. However broadminded you may well be, they don’t know that yet and really shouldn’t assume so until they have got to know you. Such openings presume a level of familiarity that doesn’t yet exist between you. This is a very subjective area – so the key is to trust yourself and ask yourself “If someone said that to me in a bar or in the street as a way of starting a conversation with me, would I find it acceptable?”.
They talk about people of your gender in dismissive or disrespectful ways, while protesting that it doesn’t apply to you.
If someone seems to have a negative attitude towards your gender generally, but online they tell you that you’re OK because “you’re different”, then this is because they do not really perceive you as a person yet. At this point, they are simply projecting their idea of their ideal man/woman onto you. It is almost inevitable that if you actually meet then the projected ideal will fall away and they will have to realize that you are a real live man/woman. Even “jokey” references can be revealing. Saying “Women, eh?” or “Bloody men” is asking you to buy into their view of women/men. Implicitly – and probably unconsciously – they are obtaining your permission for them to direct their disrespect of men/women to you in the future whenever you behave in a way they don’t like.
They tell you about behavior you consider to be disrespectful.
Whether the disrespect was directed at an Ex or at any other person, you should be alert to what this means. People are generally pretty consistent in their attitudes and behavior. If they can behave with disrespect towards an Ex or other significant person in their life, then they can do it to you too. It’s important to note whether they tell you with remorse or pride. It can be a positive sign for someone to reveal something they did that they aren’t proud of – revealing personal information is a way of demonstrating and building trust in a relationship. But if they seem proud of the behavior – perhaps telling it to you in the form of a humorous anecdote – and they aren’t giving you any mitigating circumstances to explain their behavior, what they are really doing by telling you about it, is informing you of something they will happily repeat in the future and hopefully get your tacit agreement to do it to you in due course.
They don’t reciprocate with messages, emails and so on.
A basic measure of Respect is reciprocation – responding in kind when someone communicates with you. If you approach someone new online with an instant message or email and they don’t respond, it’s very clear what this means – that they are not interested and don’t want to speak to you. But what about if you have been talking for a while and the other person seems to take a long time to respond or doesn’t respond very often? If you have become emotionally attached to someone online then instead of assuming that they aren’t interested, it’s all too easy to begin making excuses for them not replying. This applies to communication even if it’s not online (e.g. phone calls).
They call you at unsociable hours or at times you have said you are not available.
Online relationships often progress to phone communication after a while before a meeting is arranged – and in fact this is a good way to find out more about a person (speaking is so different to writing) before you meet them. However, while it is fine to send someone an email at 3 am (if the recipient isn’t online then they can read it next day when they are free), phoning someone at 3 am requires very specific permission. If you haven’t given someone permission to call whenever they want, then calling in the middle of the night is an intrusion of personal space as well as lack of consideration. Similarly, calling you at work if you have told them not to, also shows disrespect.
They start to display jealousy or obsessive behavior.
Some online dating systems allow you to see who else is online so you can send them messages. This means it is possible for someone to see you are online and talking to other people. Even without this feature, it is possible for someone you are corresponding with to want to know details about what you are doing, why you were or were not online at a particular time and so on. Possessive or jealous behavior from a person you haven’t even met, is a sure sign of no Respect. What it means is that they see you not as an independent human being with their own life, but as a potential possession – i.e. an object whose purpose is to satisfy their need to own and control.
They only talk about themselves.
Talking only about oneself implies they aren’t really interested in getting to know you as a person. If they don’t want to hear about what you’re interested in, why do they want any kind of relationship with
you? Someone who talks only about themselves isn’t actually looking for a genuine relationship – they are looking for a person who will provide them with things, especially attention. Later on in the relationship they will probably look to get more and more attention and things from you. This type of person isn’t interested in giving you anything or sharing anything with you – they are only interested in your ability to make them feel good about themselves. A more subtle version of this is displayed by people who have picked up the advice that it’s good to ask people questions about themselves – but somehow after your initial reply they find a way to bring the subject back round to themselves. Of course it is OK for them to talk about themselves SOME of the time – but it should feel like a roughly 50:50 split over time.
Don’t waste your time going on a date with anyone you meet online unless you have first checked that someone can pass the Three R’s of Online Dating. This means that they are who they say they are and are looking for the same thing as you, that they are ready and capable of embarking on a long-term relationship, and that they can demonstrate basic levels of respect for other human beings, especially you.
The online medium may be new or unfamiliar – but it’s not artificial. The way people behave with you online will be representative of their attitudes and behavior more generally. By paying close attention to how people behave and what they say within the online medium you can do a lot of weeding out of unsuitable people before you even meet them or even before you talk to them. You can then really get the benefits of the choice and privacy that online dating has to offer.