I can admit that I sometimes dipped my toes into the shallow end of the online dating pool.
There is something similar about the bottom-dwellers in that end of the pool - deception. Either the guy is being deceptive, or we deceive ourselves into making them out to be better than they really are.
Some of what I am about to tell you is based on my personal experience; some is based on the experience of my single girlfriends.
Disclaimers: I have met some wonderful men while dating online. I even married one last year.
Online dating safety is a major concern. I always had a policy that initial meetings would take place in a public place. And I wouldn't drive straight home afterward - just in case they were following me. Google is your friend when you meet a new guy. Find out all that you can about him. See if he's telling the truth.
I also used 411.com to do a reverse phone lookup - see if a woman is listed at that number. And I'd start a conversation about how ugly my driver's license picture is, and ask if theirs was as bad as mine. While gazing at their lovey picture, I'd note their birthdate and address.
If they made it past the initial meeting, I'd tell them that a gal can't be too safe, and ask if they'd mind if I did a background check. Most would laugh and say, "go ahead, I have nothing to hide". A few never talked to me again. And I did run a few background checks - best money I ever spent. Sneaky? Yep. Smart - perhaps. I can happily report that nothing dangerous ever happened to me from these dating adventures.
Final disclaimer: I left out any mention of the three dates I had while I lived in Kentucky - for they simply defied description. Perhaps another time.
Some of the UNDESIRABLE species I found included:
Married but Misunderstood/Looking/It's Complicated
I think this species may be the most damaging to one's self-esteem. They seem very attentive; they compliment you, woo you. But there are rules they establish and excuses they make that should raise a big red flag.
The occasional guy will actually come right out and tell you he's married. While I value his honesty, I was never interested in playing the part of the "other woman". I am sure there are women out there who don't mind that role - and he's sure to find them.
Most of the married/spoken for guys are a lot more sneaky. They establish rules of conduct early - they'll explain that they can only receive calls at work (that their cell phone doesn't work at home), and they'll NEVER give you a home number. Or they'll establish a complicated schedule when phone calls can be received. Or, some will just insist that they'll call YOU.
I'm a pretty good interviewer, and sometimes even listen to the answers guys give me. Pay attention - do they say "my wife" or "my girlfriend" instead of "my ex"? Danger, Will Robinson! These guys may already be spoken for. Watch also for what tense they use when referring to the most recent woman in their life...if it's all present tense, you can be pretty sure that SHE is still present in his life.
Serial Flirters are the guys who have several women in the air at the same time. Some never get past the e-mail or IM stage - they don't want a relationship, they just get their jollies by talking to women. And they'll try their best to get you to participate in some cyber "show and tell" if they can.
They're playing the field, and you are just one more conquest they are attempting to make. Usually, they're charming and witty - and very busy. And evasive. It's hard to pin these guys down. And it's probably best to just let them continue their antics without you on their "dance card" (wink wink).
Friends with Benefits
Speaking of dancing, I've been told that men like the horizontal mambo. And some are none too picky about who they'll take as a dance partner. These guys are typically friendly, and upfront about their desire to "dance", as well as their aversion to any kind of committed relationship. Again, if you too are looking for that "fling", then they're all too happy to oblige you...if they aren't already scheduled to dance with another partner that night.
If you enjoy being told what to do, where to go, how to dress, and how to live your life, this type of guy is the one for you. I, for one, am much too stubborn and rebellious to even consider a relationship with someone like that. But if that sort of relationship gives you the "warm fuzzies", then go for it.
I call this group the 'M&Ms' because from the outside, they seem normal. Your initial messages to each other are funny, thoughtful or witty - or all three. They say the right things. You are led to believe that they might indeed be a catch. They send a picture along - hey, they're even your "type". You agree to meet - and then some guy that resembles a member of the Addams Family shows up. Turns out the picture is 20 years old, or else it's more recent - but before the guy became addicted to potato chips/liquor/hard drugs - or all three.
Now, I'm not one to discriminate against a person for how they look. In fact, I don't have a "type" per se, I have dated tall or short, thin or portly, ponytailed, or bald. How a person looks isn't that important to me. But misrepresenting your physical self is an act of deception I could not tolerate. I mean, I'm going to SEE THEM IN PERSON...would I somehow forget the inaccuracy of the picture they sent to me? Either they're insecure, or they thought I was shallow - either way, it wasn't a good start to a potential relationship.
Therapy Poster Children (AKA, The Fixer Upper)
Ahh, the Fixer Upper. Boy, did that type have MY number! I just wanted to take care of the poor guy. I was a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to lean or to cry on - and once, a reasonable facsimile for an ATM machine. This kind of guy pulled on my heart strings and sent me into Mommy/Florence Nightingale mode. "There, there, my pet, let me make it all better for you."
But it wasn't better for me. This guy will glom onto any woman who is kind and giving - and they take and take until you have no more to give.
Smoke and Mirrors
This guy is a combination of the M&M and the Fixer Upper, only it's not about appearances being deceiving - this deception goes deep. This guy has it all figured out, he's a con man. He knows what to say to lure you into his trap, and uses his charm and fast thinking to disarm or confuse you when you think that you may be getting played. It is not uncommon for this type of guy to be seeking his next victim while he's still with you. He knows you'll catch on, or maybe he just tires of playing with you - as a cat will tire of playing with the mouse that it's caught.
I think that if a woman is careful, and smart, and doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve, it is possible to find that special someone via online dating.
It sure worked for me and The Mister. I met him in the deep end - does that mean I'm in over my head here?