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Specific issues

Is this person for real?

There is much to be said for the anonymity of the Internet when it comes to dating. But it also has to be said that, on occasion, you cannot trust a particularly promising dating profile or even the charming emails you receive. How do you deal with someone who is bending the truth more than a little? And how great is the real risk of being conned on the Internet?

Is this person for real?

You might have heard people saying things like: “If people are so great, why do they need to advertise themselves?” or “People lie through their teeth on the Internet.” Not exactly reassuring - but read on for some guidance on avoiding disappointment or deception.

Is it all a con?

There’s no getting away from it. Some people do lie on the Internet. One survey suggested that, when using online chatrooms and dating services, 35% of women and 80% of men omitted to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth on at least one occasion. But it’s worth examining things a little more closely. Where and why are people telling lies?

Chatrooms are often places for suggestive banter where the literal truth can sometimes be taken pretty lightly, but you are far less likely to get taken for a ride on a more serious forum. There, any lies will probably be fairly inoffensive: maybe someone will shave a couple of years off his or her age, or add a couple of centimetres to his or her height - or a couple of thousand to his or her salary. These little ‘cosmetic improvements’ don’t stop someone from being genuine in his or her desire to find a fulfilling relationship. People who completely invent their biographies are few and far between on trustworthy dating sites and their cover tends to get blown quite quickly. Don’t let these concerns prevent you from trying dating on the Internet. After all, some people would be perfectly capable of coming out with lies to your face at a party or in a bar, and there you don’t have the protection of anonymity.

Spotting a fraud

How do you spot a total fraud? Well, Avril (52) was very taken with Roger after meeting him on the Internet. “He seemed to offer everything I could have hoped for in a relationship.” On the other hand, even six weeks after they had met, she has never been to his home. Not that he hadn’t invited her: he suggested she come over every weekend, but each time the plan was foiled by a last-minute change in arrangements. Avril only became suspicious when Roger revealed to her that his dream was to spend several years sailing around the world - with her, of course. “I was wondering whether he had suddenly come into money, “says Avril. When she asked him questions about his plans, Roger became evasive. “Just trust me,” he said … which is what Avril did, until one day she rang him unexpectedly and got his mother on the line. Now, it so happened that Roger had recently cancelled Avril’s planned visit to his home for a very important reason: his mother, so he told Avril, had just died. Avril now realised it was time to break off with her ‘dream man’. There is no way of knowing exactly how much Roger had invented. Did he live with his mother - or perhaps with his wife? Quite frankly, Avril didn’t care any more.

The lesson from Avril’s experience is that it is fine to start off by assuming someone is trustworthy, but you should keep an eye open for anything that doesn’t ring true in emails, over the phone or face to face. On the Internet, all you know is what the other person has told you - so make sure to keep your instincts and intuition tuned in to intercept any false notes.

Forget the rose-tinted spectacles

If you’ve started some kind of relationship with someone and they don’t want you to visit them at home, then that suggests they have something to hide. The same applies if he or she will only give a mobile or office number - or regularly blows you out when you are meant to get together, or doesn’t introduce you to friends and relations. Of course, there might be perfectly legitimate reasons for all this behaviour, though this shouldn’t stop you from asking a few questions - but not in an accusing manner, of course. What sort of reactions do you get to your questions? Are they ignored, deflected with vague statements like “That’s not important at the moment” or maybe dismissed in dramatic terms with outbursts like: “But love has to based on trust!”?

Habitual male liars like to make big gestures, with grand promises (“But, darling, I can always reach you with my private jet”) or suspenseful stories of their past life. Their female counterparts tend to play the card of sexual enticement, yet only play with a man’s feelings.

Sad to say it, but if everything seems too good to be true, that might just be the case. Take time to see the other person in a number of everday situations. If you are unsure about something, but you don’t quite know why, it could help to discuss the situation with an understanding friend.


You clearly can’t trust someone who pretends they are looking for a long-term relationship, but is, in fact, just looking for a ‘bit on the side’. Liars can also give themselves away by making overclaims on their professional status - a ‘CEO’ who is in fact an assistant manager, for instance. If, though, someone ashamedly confesses during the first phone conversation that they are in fact a few years older than they claimed, or admits to some other minor massaging of the truth, you can readily overlook it and maybe have a little laugh with the other person about it. Everyone has probably considered doing that kind of thing. But habitual liars are skating on thin ice. It’s not a good idea for people to expect you to be something that you are not - and some people have a very low tolerance of any kind of dishonesty. You should make use of opportunities to differentiate yourself - in your profile or in the first messages you send in a correspondence with a recommended partner. For instance, you could say something like “I’m not your typical idea of a granny”, or whatever. Remember too, that Parship is about finding someone who loves you for what you are - that is ultimately what real compatibility is about.

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