Humans are creatures of comfort. We gravitate to familiarity, even if we know it’s no good for us; repeating the same mistake over and over again.
The same goes for relationships.
In all my years as a sex and relationship writer, I’ve come across some disturbing stories, often asking, “why would you do that?”
And the only answer I could come up with was – maybe it seemed liked a good idea at the time.
Most recently, I read a Twitter thread about a woman who left Limpopo and trekked all the way on a bus to Durban to meet a guy she met on Tinder.
He ghosted her before she even reached her destination. Her situation was laughable yet sad at the same time.
Another woman shared how she refused to date a married man and out of spite, he sent her a picture of his beautiful wife.
These are stories that we’ve all heard of, some of us even experienced. And the one thing they all have in common is that they met on social media.
A friend told me once how a random slipped into his DMs. They started chatting. She sent him pictures of herself. He had fallen hard and fast.
The only problem was she was all the way in Pakistan.
They made plans for her to visit South Africa and she even sent him her flight details.
She never arrived. He stood at airport arrivals for three hours with a wilting bunch of flowers and melted chocolates.
Afterwards, I asked him if he didn’t find it weird she never video-called him. He said “no,” explaining she was always at work when they spoke.
Narcissism – now that’s when alarm bells should go off in your head. Picture: MaxPixel
Strange, when we have love on the brain, common sense goes out the window.
Paul Rider, founder of Christian dating app Salt concurred.
“Just because this is online, don’t check out your logic or any sort of wisdom that you would normally apply if you were to go to a bar or a restaurant or get introduced to someone at a party,” he said.
And second, when chatting to someone online, Rider added, “It’s important to continue to be smart in the way that you make decisions and how you communicate.”
The golden rule is – “don’t share too much too soon.”
Meeting a potential date online also inhibits our ability to spot the red flags, even when first impressions last. Because that’s what we do – we judge a possible partner on first impressions.
While doing research on dating apps and heterosexual matches, PhD student Lisa Portolan found that men tried to portray themselves as handsome and muscular.
Whereas women sought to portray themselves against a cultural idea, meaning they didn’t want to appear as “high maintenance”.
“Ultimately, the ‘high-maintenance’ woman was too much to handle – which confirmed known stereotypes that women are expected to be quiet, subservient, opinion-less, and always amenable,” wrote Portolan in The Conversation.
Let’s be honest, being high maintenance isn’t a red flag. As Portolan put it, it’s just men not wanting to feel emasculated by their partners.
Narcissism – now that’s when alarm bells should go off in your head. Don’t go confusing it with confidence and self-esteem.
The classic traits of a narcissist include exaggerated ambition, grandiose fantasy, sentiments of entitlement, and exhibitionism.
At a glance, they look to be the perfect specimen. Money, career and attractiveness: who can say no to that?
US-based clinical psychologist and author Avigail Lev says a person with this personality type starts with love bombing early in the relationship.
“If someone tells you that they love you within the first couple of weeks of the relationship, that is a red flag,” she wrote while guest-editing for wellness blog Up Journey.
Unfortunately, by the time those red flags surface, you’ve already purchased a bus ticket, at your own expense, to Durban.
A good place to start when dipping your feet into the gene pool of the opposite sex is not to meet someone via social media.
Introducing Filteroff, a video-first dating app that narrows down your chances of being catfished to zero.
Created by Zach Schleien, the app allows singles to date people and not profiles.
“I was sick and tired of swipe apps. I would often meet my dates in person, only to find we had no chemistry,” Schleien told Independent Media.
“I started asking my dates if they’d be open to video chatting before the meeting to ensure we had some sort of chemistry,” he added.
Filteroff works on a simple premise – virtual speed dating.
Start off by setting up your profile and then search and RSVP to a virtual speed dating event.
The app then confirms and schedules your speed dating events.
When asked if people would still be video dating in a post-Covid world, Schleien said: “The pandemic served as a reminder that the intentional dater is here to stay.”
If you’re still insistent on trying your luck on social media apps like Twitter, Mashable curated a list of “phrases” you should avoid like a vampire during full moon.
A photo of someone holding a baby coupled with the clarification, “Not my baby.”“I’m looking for someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.”“Not looking for any drama.”
Looking for ‘no drama’
— Mia Levitin (@mialevitin) January 25, 2021
“Good vibes only.”
“Good vibes only” 🤢 really just means “I’m only interested in sex, please don’t bring any feelings into my life”
— Emma (@emmalinnankivi) January 25, 2021 “Because apparently that matters”