Safe Online Dating

Dating online is a lot of fun. Used properly, an online dating site can be the gateway to romance. However, as you embark on what could be the adventure of your life, it’s important to do so safely.

Remember you are dealing with strangers

Not everyone online is who they say they are, so apply some caution. It’s perfectly normal to do some preliminary online searches to ensure the person you’re meeting is who he or she says they are. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter should normally confirm a basic ID check, and a number of sites now offer this function for you. Facebook can be particularly useful if you establish you have a mutual friend in common, who can vouch for him or her.

Never give out personal details online

This can sound tough, when you’re trying to get to know someone. But steer clear of telling a stranger your date of birth, place of birth, and other details which could be used for identity fraud. Remember things like the name of your first pet, or your first ever job may also be used by online banking sites, so be careful about giving specific details to anyone.

Never give money to someone you meet online

This may sound obvious, but online scams trick thousands of people worldwide each year. Never give someone you’ve never met, or only just met, money – no matter the reason. Often scammers will suggest they need the money to come to meet you, or for urgent family reasons. No matter how emotionally tied you feel to the person, remember they are still a stranger. The same applies in the early stages of a relationship. It is not normal for someone you have recently begun a relationship with to ask you for large sums of money. Try to keep your wits about you, no matter how quickly your heart is falling for someone.

Always tell someone where you are going

If you’re going on a date with someone you’ve never met before, make sure to tell a friend or family member your plans. Let that person know where you’re planning on going, and roughly how long you think the date may last. Check in with them when you’ve met your date, and again when you’re home. Nowadays there are a number of tracking apps which allow you to check in at the touch of a button. There are also apps which will transmit your location to a loved one.

Always meet in a public location

Again, this might sound like obvious advice, but it can be easy to get caught up on the romance of a situation, particularly if someone suggests cooking for you, or watching a movie together. Until you have the measure of someone, meet up in busy, public places. Stations are a great spot to meet. Not only are they busy, but they allow you an easy escape if the person turns out to be not who he or she seemed online.

I hope you have found that useful, and wish you good luck in your quest to find someone new.

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Single Parent Dating

Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

I’ve been single for a while and have been on various dates but it seems quite a struggle trying to date with having kids. I don’t seem to always find the time to arrange a date with someone new when i’m so busy with the kids. When I think I have found the perfect person and plan to meet them I find myself either running around getting the chores done or stressed. This then leads to losing the excitement of a date and instead turns to worry. If you can give me some tips on where i’m going wrong – is it me or my lifestyle. Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth

It’s very hard for single parents who have the care of their children and trying to go dating at the same time. There should be a balance and the best way to overcome this is to plan ahead. If you and your new date plan a time to meet ensure that everything is ready in advance so when the time approaches you have done all your chores and you are stress free. If you have childcare if the children are young ask for their assistance in either arriving early or dropping them off early which will give you good time to relax and unwind before you meet your date. Single parent dating can be difficult but there’s no reason why you can’t put yourself first every now and again and have some time for yourself to give yourself the best chance of finding a new partner. Life shouldn’t stop just because you have kids so take time out and have the best of both worlds.

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Sharing Cost 50/50 in a relationship

Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

I been seeing this guy for about 4 months now. When we usually go out he pays for dinner, movies, or anything else we do. I help to pay here and there. Mostly he is the one paying. The other day, he asked that we should share the cost 50/50 and that its getting a little out of hand. We do go out every week so I can understand it can be pricey. I told him we don’t need to go out everytime. I don’t mind staying home and cook and just watch tv. No biggy. I don’t know how to take this? Because none of the guys I have been with before have asked me to go 50/50.

Don’t guys usually pay for everything. However, I don’t know his financial situation. I don’t know how these things work, thanks Jodie

Hi Jodie

It’s a difficult one as he’s offered to pay initially and because of that you naturally expected him to pay each time you went out as he seemed okay with it. He more than likely doesn’t want to make it an issue either, perhaps offer to contribute half especially if what you are doing together is costly. If you sit down and discuss with him splitting the cost or like you say not going out as much if money is tight, there are plenty of things you can do as a couple that doesn’t cost a penny! Things like picnics if the weather is good, sports like a game of tennis, punting, swimming etc there are plenty of things you can do without breaking the bank. The best thing you can do is talk about it otherwise it will only fester in to a potential argument which is no good for any new relationship.

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Meet Up Quick, Honest!

If there were ten commandments of dating in 2015, the first one would have to be ‘thou shalt meet up quickly!’

As I’ve mentioned before, dating in the twenty-teens is a numbers game. With so many people dating online, it can feel as if you have infinite choices. And to some degree you do. It’s by no means a bad thing. Dating can be an exciting, exhilarating carousel ride, if you play the game correctly.

Like most people, my first contact with online dating was the film You’ve Got Mail and so when I first began online dating, I believed the key was to make a real connection with someone before meeting up. To look carefully for ‘The One’, and only once I thought I had found him, to then meet up. As a result, I chatted to guys for several weeks, trying to learn everything about them, before I committed to going on a date.

However in reality, it’s very difficult to get to know someone simply over emails and messages. It’s also particularly difficult to work out whether there will be any attraction in real life.

The problem with waiting to meet a date in person, is that in the build up to meeting, you begin to create a false impression about who you are texting or emailing. Without hearing the tone of their words, or seeing their face as they say things, you begin to attach unfounded attraction and expectation to the person. An attraction and expectation which may prove difficult to live up to in person.

In reality, ten people could say the exact same thing to us, but, when those same words are said by someone who you are attracted to, they produce a very different response to when anyone else says them. The problem with meeting someone online, and sharing lengthy correspondence before meeting up, is that you assume that you are going to fancy one another, simply from photos and brief online descriptions. You fill in the gaps with assumptions of attraction, and will view the things they say and do more favorably because you’re excited and invested. And at the same time, that person is doing a similar thing.

Obviously sometimes the person you’ve been getting to know will be just as attractive and as good a match in person as they were online. However more often, if you chat for too long, you either create a false impression which your match won’t be able to live up to, or one of you gets bored of simply feling like pen pals. Even if there is an attraction in real life, you need to experience it early on, in order to continue investing time in the ‘relationship’. After all, we all know how many other options there are online.

The easy solution is to meet up quickly. Once you’ve established you like each others’ profiles, and that you can communicate easily enough online, try to take things offline at the quickest opportunity. Don’t mistake haste for naivete. You should still pay close attention to your personal safety, and still apply thought to the date. Make it fun, and do something you want to do any way, so that even if the person doesn’t turn out to be as good a match as you first thought, you still have fun.

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Will I ever trust again

Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

I had been in a relationship for a handful of years and got engaged. The lead up to the wedding seemed fine until a few weeks beforehand when I found out my fiance had been having an affair with a good friend of mine. Yes it was my worst nightmare and a couple of years down the line I’m still not over it. I do want to start looking to the future and meeting someone special but I am finding it difficult to know if I will ever trust anyone again. Vanessa

Hi Vanessa

You have taken a knock in confidence and to trust someone again when wanting to start a new relationship will be undoubtedly difficult for you. I have a lot of emails that come in asking for advice and I must admit this is within the top 10 worst situations to be in. Remember though no matter how bad it can be there is always light at the end of the tunnel. It helps to talk about things may I suggest if not a close friend or family member that you may need some form of counselling to deal with your trust issues. Talking about a problem if it is affecting your life can do you a lot of good, to get things off your chest and put things into perspective that all men are not like your ex. Learning to cope with upset and trying new techniques will help you get over this. Time is a good healer too so with this combined even though you won’t forget you will move on successfully.

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Making the First Move Online

Of all the aspects of online dating, sending the opening message is the part we often overthink. In a face-to-face situation, approaching someone can be really tough. You don’t know whether they’re single. You don’t know they’re intentions. You don’t know who or what they are looking for.

By contrast, approaching someone online should be a lot easier. You already know far more about them than you would in a bar – you know they’re single and looking, and often you will also know their name, age, sexual persuasion, and a whole host of other details about him or her, before you even speak.

There’s also the fact that approaching someone online is a lot less awkward than speaking to someone face to face. Online, if someone isn’t interested in you, they simply won’t reply – making rejection a lot more passive, and less awkward than it is in real life. But how can you try to minimize the online rejection, and strike up conversation online?

1) Make sure you have a strong profile

Online, the success of a message is often far more reliant on who is sending it, than what the message actually says. Ten different people could say ‘Hello’ to you, and you might respond completely differently, according to who was approaching you. When you send someone an online message, he or she will click on your profile before deciding to reply. So make sure your profile is a good representation of you.

The first hurdle is always the profile picture. When your message appears, so too will a thumbnail. Popular online daters may not even get past your thumbnail, so make sure it’s is a good one. Stand out from the rest. Bold colours and backgrounds work well, and remember to smile!

2) Message a number of people

The online game is a numbers one, and it is important to remember that. Whilst you may have favourites, you should never restrict your approaches to one person at a time. Not everyone online is actively using the service, and you shouldn’t place all your hopes on one person at such an early stage. Spend time exploring one or more dating sites, and approaching a whole range of people. This is just stage one of the dating process, so don’t restrict your options too early on.

Try to keep note of who you’ve approached, if the website hasn’t done so for you. It can be embarrassing approaching the same person repeatedly. And don’t copy and paste messages. If you accidentally send the same person the same message twice, it will look lazy and as if you don’t actually care.

3) Don’t overthink things

In my experience, people overthink the online approach. In reality, what you’re doing is showing that you’re interested in the other person, and testing the water to see if he or she might be interested in you. As a result, you need to stay true to yourself when chatting online, and remember, that if that person doesn’t respond to you in the way you want, then maybe they’re just not the right person for you. Be friendly, casual, and above all normal! Don’t use contrived chat up lines, unless that’s genuinely you’re sense of humour. Compliments about how someone looks or their noted achievements are likely to come across as tacky or slimy. Avoid talking about what the other person looks like, and if you refer to something noted in his or her profile, don’t overthink it. By contacting them, you’re already showing an interest, there’s no need to suggest you’ve memorized their profile!

Questions can work well, as they give the person answering something to base their reply on, but try to avoid turning it into an interview. Don’t be afraid to make the other person think. Rather than asking about him or her, ask their opinion on something, or try a fun ice-breaker, like ideal celebrity dinner guests.

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Interfering Ex Girlfriend

Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

I have been dating for 6 months now and met a really nice guy i’ve found a connection with, the problem is his ex is interfering in our new found relationship. Before I get too serious with this guy I want to know a) he’s totally over his exes and b) cut them off for the sake of his new relationship with me. When we go out socially his exes are always around and come up to talk to him and just make me feel really uncomfortable. He knows I feel awkward but not to the extent of how much it’s really bothering me which could affect our future together. I don’t want a silly misunderstanding to ruin what could be a good thing. Jessie

Hi Jessie

It’s never easy when there are exes lurking in the background for any new relationship. There may not be any cause for concern, there’s a reason they are exes and until you are proven otherwise I wouldn’t worry. Getting things off your chest and letting him know how you feel is the best option for you to move forward. By bottling up your feelings can only make the situation worse with your fear his exes are getting in the way. He needs to re-assure you they are not a threat in any way, he’s devoting his time to date you so try to be positive and it will all naturally fall into place.

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Dealing with Anxiety while dating

Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

Trying to date while suffering with anxiety is proving very hard for me. I had been diagnosed recently even though i’ve had brief attacks over the years. I am now single and looking at online dating but since my anxiety attacks I feel like this could ruin any chance of going out on dates. I’m fine talking to potential dates behind a computer or even on the phone but when it comes to the thought of meeting up I clam up and start panicking. I don’t want to be single forever and would like some ideas on tips to help me with my condition when dating. Henry

Hi Henry

There are various natural techniques to use to keep yourself calm using meditation. Try something like Yoga which is a good relaxing exercise for the mind body and soul. This can be done in the privacy of your own home or in a group environment whichever you feel comfortable with. Give this a go before you know you have arranged to go on a date you may be surprised. There are other techniques such as Primordial Sound Meditation (PSM, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes, Zen is also referred to as Zazen, which literally means “seated meditation.” all could be useful to you. Dating can be daunting for the average person but it can heightened for those with anxiety. You never know dating in itself could be a good form of relaxation too, you may find your dates may have a calming effect on you once you get into conversation face to face. If all fails do seek guidance with your doctor if your anxiety is stopping you from living a normal life.

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Getting Out of the Dating Rut

I can’t count how many times single men tell me how bored they’re getting of dating. “It’s the same date every time.” “I just go to the same place, and end up on the same date!” “It’s like Ground Hog day … same date, different girl!”

Don’t get me wrong, dating can be exhausting! These days, no one has much free time, and if you’re actively dating, it can take up a lot of your spare time. But if meeting new people ever starts feeling like a chore, then there’s no point continuing to go on dates. I frequently say that a date should never feel like a job interview. But it also shouldn’t feel like hard work!

So how can you get out of a dating rut?

Know when enough is enough

Dating can get tiring. If nothing is developing from them, the highs and the lows can start to get a bit dull after a while. The key to successful dating is to recognise when it’s getting too much for you. Change things up a bit. Give yourself a few weeks away from dating all together, or try something different. Check out a live singles event instead, or put your single status to the back of your mind entirely and focus on other stuff instead.

Don’t let dating be your only hobby

Dating is just a mechanism to meeting new people. Yes, it might take up a lot of your time, but it should certainly never become your only hobby. Getting a date is only the first hurdle of a long dating process. If you want to find a long-term partner, then you need to attract him or her. And people are attracted to interesting people who have hobbies and passions. If dating has become your only pass-time, other than work, you’re going to make for a rather dull date! Take a step back! Have a think about what defines you. What do you love to do? What makes you the person you are? Once you’ve answered those questions, take some time out to focus on those things. The other person should never complete you. You need to be a whole person before you start to look for a partner to complement you.

Mix it up

You are in charge of your own dating destiny! If things start to feel rather repetitive and dull, than make some changes. Do something different. If you keep finding yourself on dinner dates, or pub dates, and you’re getting bored, then say something. Suggest something different to your date. There are heaps of fun first date options out there. Look around the town or city you live in, and see if anything appeals. Is there a show you’ve been wanting to go to? An exhibition at a gallery or a museum? Do you love playing a particular sport? Remember, you’re using your free time to date. How do you want to spend that free time? If you suggest something which you love to do, as an alternative to a more traditional type of date, you may learn a lot about your compatibility with the other person. Also, by going on a more active date, you will reduce a lot of the first date pressure, and the situation will create a number of ice-breakers to help you on the date.

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The Break-Up Formula

So, you’ve recently been through a difficult and emotion ­filled break­up and you’re wondering how long you’ll need to heal? The answer to this question is definitely not an easy one to find, it depends on the person, the relationship and a plethora of other factors.

The theory most people rely on states to fully get passed a break up it takes half the time of the relationship. For example, if your last relationship lasted 2 years, it’ll take 1 year to get over that guy or girl. This may be a good starting point, but of course there are so many other factors you can’t ignore. Things that happen before, during or after the relationship willl affect how the break­up will pan out. It’s only after we address these elements, does the question of how long it will take to get over the break­up will become clear.

  • The first factor we’ll look at is what I call the ‘it’s already over’ moment. This is the moment during the relationship when the harsh reality hits you; it’s not going to last forever. As a rule of thumb, the longer the time between this moment and the end of the relationship, the less time is needed to fully get over your relationship. Now for certain people this specific moment may have come about weeks before the actual official end, simply spending the time between just putting up with the relationship, hoping something will change so that they can stay together. In this example, the time required to heal is extremely short. On the other hand, some people don’t find out it’s not actually going to last forever until the very moment their partner breaks up with them. Sadly for this unlucky camper they’re going to need a lot more time to fully heal.

  • Ask yourself what number relationship this is? Is this your first or your hundredth? The number of notches on that all important relationship counter changes how the break­up will pan out. This directly affects how long you are going to have to wait until that glue fixing your broken heart will take to harden. If this is your first love, then I’m sorry to say this isn’t going to be an easy end. If it’s your second time it will be a little easier. Your third? Even shorter, and so on and so on.

  • The final question we need to ask is: How have you been spending this post­break up period? It’s not going to surprise you to hear that your behaviour and general day to day life changes dramatically after breaking up with someone. How you act changes, you do things you wouldn’t think you’d normally do, your personality alters, etc. Sleeping with more people than usual, checking your phone constantly for missed calls or texts, losing your temper when you’re actually a calm person ­ these are all examples of how your very being can change after the end of a relationship. These behaviour and personality changes may be a side effect of break­up­itis, but it is also a good indicator if you’re looking to find out how much time you need to heal. When you get over this period you’ll return to your normal self, you’ll return to the kind of person you were before the terrible break­up. Say there’s a big difference between this current self and your past self, that means there’s a long way to go. The closer you two get there is less time needed to end this post­break up sadness.

    With all these complicated factors it may seem impossible to see when happiness will return. Don’t fret however, mathematics isn’t such a fickle mistress. Simply answer the questions below and do a little bit of high school maths and you’ll finally see how long you’ll have to endure this post­break up period. Protip: keep a calculator handy.

    Start with the number of months your relationship lasted, Divide that by two, subtract the number of weeks between the ‘its already over moment’ and when you broke up, On a scale of 1 ­ 3 (with 1 being the least and 3 being the most) how different would you say your behaviour is to your usual self? Multiply what you’ve got so far by this number, Is this your first relationship? Then add 3. If this is your second then add 2, your third add 1, if
    it’s anymore than your fourth then just add 1.

    And there we go, whatever answer you’re left with it’s how long it’ll take, in months, to officially get over your relationship. By the way, if your answer is anything less than 0 then chances are you’ve moved on already.

    Whatever your answer may be, whether it be 1 or 12 months, just remember there is light at the end of the tunnel, the darkness will fade and you will be happy again.

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