Question: How Can I Protect Myself From Serial Cheaters on Online Dating Sites?
Portia asks: As a single mom, lots of people tell me that I should try online dating. However, I've heard that there are lots of serial cheaters out there who post profiles on online dating sites but are really married men or guys who are already in committed relationships. I don't want to waste my time with that kind of nonsense! How can I pursue online dating but be sure that I won't be fooled by a serial cheater?
First, keep in mind that whenever anyone creates an online dating profile, they're publicizing the information they want you to know, and it may or may not be true. In some cases, people exaggerate their height or lie about their weight. In other cases, as you mentioned, people who are already married or in a committed relationship will sign up for an online dating site in order to pursue a second (or even third or fourth) relationship on the side.
Some of the individuals who do this are so adept at spinning their lies that the fabrications are impossible to detect until you're so deep into the relationship that you feel victimized by the fact that you even dated this person. Other times, though, the serial cheater will engage in behaviors that can be recognized as red flags. For example:
- Maintaining Multiple Online Dating Site Memberships - This extends beyond signing up for a few different online dating sites at once to learn more about their features. Serial cheaters keep lots of irons in the fire. If a relationship doesn't work out, they're right back on the same site or another one within 24-48 hours.
- Being Vague - Most serial cheaters don't want anyone to uncover their true identity because this would put their other relationship(s) at risk. Therefore, one strategy they use is to be vague when answering questions about where they live, what they do for a living, and where their work is located. If you detect that the person you're dating doesn't want to share basic information with you, he or she is probably hiding something.
- Not Wanting to Meet in Person- Some serial cheaters don't even want to meet in person. They enjoy the online banter, and may even suggest exchanging explicit photos, but back off or make up excuses when you suggest meeting in person.
- Scheduling Calls at Odd Times - Another trick serial cheaters use is to tell you they work at odd hours and can only meet with you online or over the phone late at night or early in the morning.
- Canceling Dates - While everyone needs to change their schedule now and then, serial cheaters have a pattern of canceling at the last minute because of their other responsibilities. Be on the lookout for men or women whose schedules seem to be at the mercy of some other person or entity.
- Pushing You for Sex Early in the Relationship - Not everyone who expects sex on the first or second date is a serial cheater. However, serial cheaters are more likely to hold up sex as their primary goal in seeking out new dating partners. To protect yourself from being hurt, come up with your own intimacy rules and decide for yourself when you're ready to take your relationship to the next level.
- Avoiding Certain People and Places - If you notice that the person you're dating has a strong desire to avoid certain people or places, he or she may be trying to avoid running into someone who could shed light on his or her past dating relationships.
These are just a few of the signs you may pick up on as you get to know someone better. As with any red flags you encounter while dating someone, don't be quick to disregard these issues. At the very least, take it slow and be sure you're getting to know the real person before you become serious, choose to be intimate, or involve your children in your relationship in any way.