Doctor’s Advice
Kay Kuzma gets serious about love and dating.                                                                              [Main Story]

Many young people are joining Internet dating services or chat rooms to see who’s out there,” writes Kay Kuzma, Ed.D. In her 2009 book, Serious About Love, Kuzma devotes a section to online dating, sharing that “online dating has become an accepted way of finding a great mate, but it’s not without some major hazards.” Kuzma gives specific advice finding a service and submitting a profile and provides a listing of what she considers “red flags.” Below is a shortened version of this list, which is found on pages 33 to 35.

1. Don’t be gullible. Internet dating is one of the easiest places for someone to cheat on their spouse or the person they’re seriously dating or engaged to. Don’t be too trusting. When a person doesn’t want you to call during the evening and weekend, or if after a reasonable time the person won’t give you a home phone number, that’s a major red flag. If you begin to suspect the person is telling ”white” lies, ask straight out about his or her living arrangement. If the person lies in the beginning of a relationship, don’t kid yourself into believing the person will miraculously change.

2. When you’re first getting acquainted, don’t be too specific about giving out identity information. When asked where you live, give the country, not the exact city or street.  Ask for their number first and say you’ll call them—and make sure you can’t be identified by caller ID.

3. Be careful in sending out photos. Once you do, that person can do anything with them. Once you get acquainted, ask the other person for a few recent photographs. Sometimes the one posted on the Internet is computer-enhanced—or was taken a number of years ago.

4. Don’t disclose what you possess—or how rich your dad is! Be careful about giving information about how much you have in the bank, what real estate you own, and what kind of car you drive.

5. Ask for references. Once you become interested in this person, it’s not unreasonable to ask for three or four names and numbers of individuals who are willing to talk to you about the person’s personality and character. If the person has nothing to hide, this shouldn’t be a problem. And it’s always better to actually talk with these individuals than to e-mail.

6. After becoming acquainted, ask the other person to remove their Internet profiles and listings. If they don’t want to, that’s a sign that they are really not that interested in you.

7. After a reasonable amount of time, meet the person. As you plan that first meeting, be safe! Meet during the day and in a public place surrounded by other individuals, preferably family and friends. Don’t get into their car alone unless you have carefully checked out the person’s character and are convinced you’ll be safe. Always tell someone where you’re going and what time you’ll be back. Don’t let yourself get talked into doing something you don’t want to do. And just in case the person isn’t whom you were expecting, plan an exit strategy so that you won’t have to spend a lot of time together. Make the first date a short one—and somewhere you will enjoy regardless of whom you are with.

For more on this and other dating topics and situations, check out Kuzma’s book, available from your local ABC, or online at:

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