Online Imposters

How to Spot Online Imposters

Fun fact about me: in my twenties, I tried online dating. Back then, online dating was new and taboo. Like Fight Club, the first rule was don’t talk about it; lie about where you met. It was as if I had become a member of some clandestine society, wearing this figurative offline cloak of secrecy. Not only did I not discuss it, I certainly would’ve never considered writing about it. But, here I am and frankly, the statute of limitations has expired. So let’s take a long hard look at online imposters and how to protect yourself from them.

More is Not Always Better

Keep in mind, two decades ago there were only a few players in the online dating market, a stark contrast from today.

It didn’t matter if you were seeking a fellow dog lover, or a faith-focused Christian, maybe even a partner who was living the farm life there was no online platform bigger than Match.com. Yet, their online community was a collective of all walks of life, so niche preferences didn’t make the cut on any drop-down fields when building a profile or searching the profiles of others.

While the online market is filled with countless additions since then, no matter what the URL they all do have something in common—online imposters.

They are filled with attractive men and women, seemingly looking for a committed relationship. They have bios that speak to every disservice or pain-point any reader has or ever will encounter in a relationship.  

This is the first of many red flags.

Can you relate? You read her profile and wonder how she can possibly be single? She’s only 66 miles away. You begin to think you’d travel for someone this incredible. Suddenly your distance deal breaker is negotiable because this woman shouldn’t be single, but you’re glad she is.  

Listen to Your Instincts

This is where I go back to my great-grandmother’s advice (this will be a common reference in my blogs) that lives with me 30+ years later.

If it’s too good to be true, it is.

If you are online, it’s safe to say you have yet to find one single person that captures just a few of your wants. Then all of a sudden, here comes someone who seemingly possesses everything you are looking for. It’s a catch-all sales tactic most often seen on late-night infomercials.    

Okay, so you messaged the wildly attractive no-way-they’re-real profile...no judgement here! I admire people who believe the glass is half-full. However, there are countless good-hearted people who have been scammed by online imposters, so I must advise you to be skeptical as you move forward. 

If within the first few messages you notice any of the following red flags, I urge you to end the conversation and move on: 

  • They give you a different name from the one on his profile.They’re likely on several sites under different aliases.
  • He invites you to message using an app like WhatsApp or Kik
  • They tell you they’re not officially divorced. It’s likely their spouse is not even aware they’re unofficially divorced.
  • Their original location was local, but after you connect, they are traveling abroad, usually urgently.
  • They ask what you do for a living, specifics about your family, what zip code you live in, but refuse to answer the same or similar questions. Ever hear of stranger danger?
  • Beware when you ask a specific, yet common question about their hometown. For example, I once asked a man from Chicago if he was a Cubs or Sox fan. He replied that he wasn’t into basketball.

If your intuition is alerting you to stranger danger, it’s time to listen.  

Spelling & Grammar

Many online imposters will use exceedingly poor spelling and grammar despite often boasting post-graduate degrees. Pay attention, this is where the journalist in me kicks in. It’s one thing to have a misspelling here and there. No telling, they may be on the go, in a hurry, or maybe they just have fat fingers, who knows? 

Does their language style and conversation skills match the profile they’re portrayed? The improper use of words and verb tenses, as well as bizarre punctuation are all big red flags. If your intuition hasn’t kicked in just yet, well, I’m trying to help you here!   

Why are there so many online imposters? What can they possibly gain? There are a million reasons why someone is online and maybe they’re bored just like you? But, other reasons can be far more dangerous and deceitful. 

Use Common Sense

If you met someone in a bar or a social event and they asked you deeply personal questions in a very short time period, it should sound an alarm. Gut-instinct is something we are all born with, but it's a conscious choice as to whether or not we listen and allow it to guide us.  

Be weary of anyone that asks you to talk in great detail about yourself. It’s easy to feel flattered that another person is eager to learn about you. No one can fault you for loving the attention, but don’t lose your sensibilities in the process. We have all been living in quarantine for the last year, so it’s easy to get caught up in compliments, if even you know they’re coming from an online imposter.  

These imposters are very good at what they do. They quickly build a connection with you from what you tell them. The information you give them in conversation is used to craft a script that speaks to your heart. They want to hook you and leave  you with the impression that this stranger truly cares about you.

I’m sorry, but...

Online Imposters Do Not Care About You

Sadly, they craft messaging around the very private information you share with them. You could go on wasting your time or worse, losing money. Some ask for you to send them unused gift cards, bank account information with the end goal—money. Don’t fall for the scheme. 

You are talking to a scam artist, not your future husband or wife. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received thousands of reports of romance scammers who created fake online relationships only to steal their victims’ money. 

Signs of a scam are always evolving, but the FTC boiled it down quickly:

  • Tell you they love you quickly.
  • Are from the U.S. but are overseas either for business or military.
  • Ask for money in an attempt to lure you off the dating site.
  • Promise to visit but an emergency prevents them from doing so.

Please be smart. While I’m warning you, I’m not the U.S. government, and even they know this is dangerous territory.  

View the FTC’s report here.

When you’re online, lead with your head, not your heart. All of the cues we are privy to in person: body language, mannerisms, eye contact or validation of one’s appearance are absent online. An online photo on a dating site isn’t confirmation that someone looks like that today or ever.

So, whatever method you opt to use to find love, be sure to properly vet them or employ others to do the work for you. It’s a jungle out there, so arm yourself with your weapons of gut-instinct and common sense. It will help save your heart and perhaps, your wallet!  

Stay safe in your quest for love, 

Jodi 

*If you feel as if you have been a victim of an online dating scam, please report your incident to reportfraud.ftc.gov and the respective online dating site.


Imbalance in Your Relationship

Imbalance in Your Relationship: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Nothing in life is even, fair, or balanced. There is always a give and take, credits and debits. But what happens when there’s a significant imbalance in your relationship for a long period of time? When one of you isn’t pulling your weight and the other's love tank is running on fumes?

Relationships are never 50/50, despite couples unfairly using this as the golden rule. Sometimes the split is 60/40 or even a 25/75 ratio. Shifting efforts is common and expected.

When it becomes a problem is when those inequities remain imbalanced long-term. Partnerships don’t run on autopilot. Both parties must take the driver’s seats at times. Great partnerships have two sets of keys and you both need to drive from time to time.

You Get Out What You Put in

My great-grandmother would always give me this advice:

With anything you do, the outcome will always reflect the amount of effort you put into it.

If you’re not expending the energy it takes to keep your relationship going, it will suffer. 

Relationships aren’t passive pleasures. They require continual effort and constant work. When one person stops actively participating, both people feel the effects. One person can only carry the weight for so long before it fails.  

Don't Put Your Effort Into Overdrive

So what happens when there is an imbalance in your relationship and your partner is perfectly content with cruising along in the passenger seat? If your primary Love Language is quality time or acts of service, you probably tend to make life pretty easy for them.

Years ago, I had a boyfriend whose job required him to move every two years. It was a financially sound, yet nomadic life best suited for someone single. When we first met, we were only an hour apart. But soon, visiting him required a flight instead of a tank of gas.

Before every move, we set expectations of how often we needed to talk on the phone and see one another before he moved on to the next new town.

I should note, made a conscious decision to view each of his relocations as a positive thing. Now, we could experience so many new firsts together.

So, taking two planes to see him was an adventure resulting in new shared experiences instead viewing it as a detriment of distance. After years of this, I paused one day and realized how much inequity of effort there really was in my relationship. His life became so easy. He no longer had to get on a plane, or drive to see me because he knew, even expected, me to do all the leg work of travel. He no longer had to try, because he knew I would.

Does the Weight of Your Effort Need to Go on a Diet?

I realized that all of the growth, strength of this long-distance relationship was solely attributed to the heaviness of the sacrifices and effort that I put in.

So, I stopped. I went on an effort diet. I stopped getting on planes. I stopped driving hours through multiple states. I stopped getting a house sitter for my pets. I simply stopped putting that level of effort into us, with the belief that he would jump into the driver’s seat.  

Guess what? We crashed and burned. Connectivity and communication halted. It is not easy to let go of the heaviness of your efforts, but at what point do you demand to fix the imbalance in your relationship? When it was his turn, he dropped the ball. I often would talk to him about it, inviting him to visit or join in on various activities in my city to no avail.  

Could I have continued as I had been? Yes. But, why would anyone opt to stay with someone who consciously chooses to not try? As a result, our relationship faded away, but sometimes break ups are positive things

Divorce Your Effort

If there is an imbalance in your relationship, and things aren’t 50/50 don’t panic. Just like life, relationships consist of constant ebb and flow. If there is no shift in the weight of your effort compared to your partner’s for a significant length of time, that’s when you need to take action.

Relax your level of effort and allow your partner to take the wheel. 

You will quickly see whether they’re a true partner, or your relationship’s success falls solely on your shoulders. If that’s the case, disengage from the imbalance in your relationship and reinvest that effort into yourself.

Self care is healthy for you and for your future relationship. Then, you can focus on finding a partner who wants to invest in you. Never doubt it, you are worth the effort.


Putting Yourself Out There

Putting Yourself Out There: Ready for a Relationship or Just Want Attention?

If you are single, chances are you have been putting yourself out there in some form, whether it be with a matchmaking service, posting an online profile, or venturing out in public situations with a goal of meeting someone.

People can often be nomadic, roaming from various forums to find someone to connect with on whatever the level they can. She may be quick to seek out a companion. But she will often become much less hasty when it comes time to define what she truly wants.

So, before you go putting yourself out there, think about what it is that you are really seeking. And if you don’t know, maybe this will help you consider defining what you are looking for in the first place.

Don't Go Putting Yourself Out there for Just Anybody

For starters, if their dating profile says any iteration of the following—do yourself a favor and run.

I’m recently divorced, so I’m just seeing what’s out there. I’m not really sure what I want.

This is a red flag. If it’s your desire to find a lasting relationship, don’t waste your time on someone who is just playing the field.

It is easy to assume when someone openly discusses being single or talks about being lonely, that he or she in fact, wants a companion. But, that can mean different things to different people, so you need to define the context. 

Clarify expectations before you ever meet someone. This will go a long way in deciphering if it is even worth getting gussied up. Find out if they’re looking for a relationship or just a body to fill in the void of loneliness.

So many of us have been siloed because of the COVID Pandemic. What we’re craving now more than ever, is connectivity to one another. Unfortunately, this often causes people to act out with attention seeking behavior.

Don't be Fooled by Attention Seeking Behavior

Desiring the attention of others is simply the need to be heard or validated by another. It’s an intrinsic Maslovian need all humans share. But just because someone displays attention seeking behavior, it does not necessarily mean they want a relationship.

As we slowly transition back to our semi-normal lives, a lot of people have blurred the lines between truly wanting a relationship and just seeking attention. We have all lived in a bubble lacking the simple interactions that we used to take for granted.

Interacting with someone at the post office or talking to the salesclerk at our favorite store, perhaps greeting the Principal as we dropped our kids off at school—all these routine communications helped with the balance sheet we all have that tracks our need for human interaction.

For many people, these tedious interactions fed our appetite for attention, even when we weren’t consciously processing them as such.

But living for the last year without those day-to-day errands or interactions in our lives, our inherent nature to be validated in even the smallest of ways has met a deficit. These interactions for many have become extinct, forcing our attention balance sheets into the red.

This has created an influx of daters on the scene with varying intentions. You’re putting yourself out there with individuals who have both clear and murky intentions.

Don't Expect a Relationship to Fix All Your Problems

Be sure to clarify their intent before meeting. Are they looking for attention or a relationship?

A relationship is presumed to include positive and affirming attention. Although successful relationships are built on attentivity to one’s partner, it should not be construed that every relationship has this successful pairing. Meaning, if you have a relationship, you will therefore reap attention from your partner.

In fact, marriages often fail because a partner feels disconnected, isolated, or alone. This leads to a breakdown in communication, and lack of such. Much of this is tied to simply not paying attention to one’s partner and validating him or her in a positive way.

Keep in mind no one puts themselves out there without having some reason in mind for doing so. Do not be fooled. Often singles will say they do not know what they want, but put themselves in the peripheral of others who are fully in touch with their desires.

Think about what motivated you into putting yourself out there in the first place. Were you looking for true love or a bit of validation?

It is okay to be lonely, it is okay to want a relationship, it is okay to simply want the attention of another. Simply own it and say so. Putting yourself out there, means revealing your wants and needs.

So, speak your truth, regardless of your intentions. Align yourself with a partner seeking the same as you. No one can fault you for being honest.